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This Creamy Taco Pasta Salad is the perfect way to usher in picnic season. A Creamy Taco Dressing tops tender pasta, flavorful ground beef and all of your favorite taco toppings to create a crave-worthy pasta salad that everyone will love.
This taco pasta salad is meant to invoke the idea of your favorite Ground Beef Tacos. Add whatever you’d add to your taco! It’s a super yummy salad that’s great for potlucks and can really feed a crowd!
Table of Contents
Why I Love This Taco Pasta Salad
- The perfect warm weather meal, This taco pasta salad recipe is perfect for summertime. It’s got all the main things you need to make a complete meal, so just add a salad, or some tortilla chips and guacamole on the side and you’re good to go.
- It’s a fun way to shake up your usual taco night. and it’s a great dish to bring to picnics, potlucks or barbecues. There isn’t a ton of prep-work and the whole salad comes together in about 20 minutes.
- Great for a crowd. It’s so yummy and great for large gatherings like potlucks and BBQs. You can make a little or make a lot to suit the crowd you’re preparing it for.
- Easy to Customize – If you’d put it in a taco, you can put it in this taco pasta salad.
- Creamy, spicy dressing. The creamy taco salad dressing is a combination of spices, sour cream, salsa and a little mayo for creaminess. If you don’t want to mix up all of the spices, a tablespoon of packaged taco seasoning mixed with the sour cream would work just as well.
- Onion – I small white, yellow or red onion.
- Ground beef – 1 pound of lean ground beef. I prefer an 85/15 or 90/10 ratio.
- Garlic – Fresh is best, but minced from a jar will work, too.
- Macaroni – Some kind of small pasta like shells or macaroni are perfect. Rotini are a little bigger but will still work.
- Shredded Cheddar Cheese – Grated fresh off the block.
- Toppings – Diced tomatoes, green onions, sweet corn, sliced olives, ripe avocado, crushed tortilla chips. You could also add some cilantro.
- Salad Dressing – Sour cream, mayonnaise, salsa, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cumin, salt, black pepper.
- Optional additions and variations – Try adding some black beans or pinto beans for added protein, shredded lettuce for more veggies, diced bell peppers, shredded carrot or some diced jalapenos for a spicy kick.
How to Make Taco Pasta Salad
Cook ground beef. Add oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook onion, ground beef and garlic until meat is not longer pink. Drain excess grease and season with salt and pepper.
Cook pasta. Add your pasta to a pot of boiling water and cook according to the package directions. Drain and set aside to cool.
Make the dressing. Combine the ingredients for the creamy taco dressing in a small bowl.
Mix with beef and pasta. Pour the dressing over the macaroni and beef mixture and stir until completely coated.
Add toppings. You can add these ingredients into the salad, or serve them on the side so everyone can customize their own pasta salad.
Stir until well coated. Mix everything together until all coated. Top with garnished with diced avocadoes and crushed tortilla chips.
Cover and refrigerate. Serve immediately or keep in the fridge for up to 24 hours. If the salad seems a little, you can add a couple more tablespoons of sour mayo.
You typically do not want to rinse pasta that is going to be smothered in sauce so it will absorb and help thicken the sauce. In this case, we don’t want the pasta to be too starchy, so rinsing under cold water is ok.
If you would prefer not to measure all the seasonings, then yes, you can go ahead and use about half of a 1-ounce pack of taco seasoning. Or 1-2 tablespoons of your own personal flavor mix.
Nope. You can use sour cream or plain Greek for all of it if you like. The dressing may not be as creamy, but it will still be good. Or try adding a little ranch dressing or a creamy vinaigrette with some chipotle sauce.
I like to enjoy this salad at room temp, right after it’s all mixed together and the meat is still a little warm.
But you can also store it in the fridge for a day or two until you’re ready to serve it. Just be sure to save the diced avocado and tortilla chips and add them right before serving so they’ll stay fresh.
- Be sure to rinse your pasta and drain it well. This help to cool the noodles and also rinses the starches away.
- Crumble the meat into small pieces, but large enough that you can still find them in the salad.
- It’s helpful if all of the ingredients are cut to about the same size.
- Instead of plain tortilla chips, add some flavored Doritos or corn chips for extra flavor.
- I am not a fan of cilantro, but you can definitely add that here for a colorful garnish.
More Delicious Pasta Salad Recipes
- Turkey, Cranberry and Walnut Pasta Salad
- Zesty Italian Pasta Salad
- Creamy Chicken Pasta Salad
- Tuna Pasta Salad
- Balsamic Strawberry Pasta Salad
- Lightened Up Broccoli Pasta Salad
- Lemon Chicken Pasta Salad
Creamy Taco Pasta Salad
Creamy Taco Dressing
- 1/2 cup salsa
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Taco Pasta Salad
- 1 small onion diced
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 teaspoons garlic 2 cloves
- 1 pound small pasta like macaroni
- 2 tomatoes diced
- 1 bunch green onion chopped
- 1 15- ounce can sweet corn
- 1 3- ounce can sliced olives
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 avocado diced
- 1/2 cup crushed tortilla chips
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, ground beef and garlic and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until meat is no longer pink. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain and cool.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. Drain and set aside to cool.
- Once cooled, gently stir ground beef into macaroni.
- Combine Creamy Taco Dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Pour over macaroni and beef mixture and stir until completely coated.
- Gently stir in tomatoes, green onions, corn, olives and cheese. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Top with diced avocado and tortilla chips just before serving.