Mexican Pasta Salad is an unbelievably easy and flavorful pasta salad that is filled with colorful ingredients like black beans, tomatoes, and corn. With a creamy dressing and spices from onion, cilantro, and cumin, this delicious pasta salad will be the hit of your summer barbecues for sure!
Mexican Pasta Salad
Summer calls food that is easily portable and can be made ahead, and most importantly something that is going to be a huge hit with everyone on your block! Pasta salads are the perfect dish that checks all those boxes. They are a frequently requested side that is easy to make ahead and travels well. One of the best things about this recipe is that I usually have all the ingredients on hand. Well, except for the tomatoes, but soon I will have plenty of fresh tomatoes in my garden!
The dressing is a creamy salsa dressing and makes this salad so flavorful. Make sure and use a jarred salsa that you really like, since that is where a lot of the flavor will come from. I used salad macaroni (aka salad roni or ditalini), because that is what my mom always uses, but you can use another type of pasta if you prefer. This mexican pasta salad is the perfect side dish recipe, and you will be so happy you found it just in time for your summer barbecues!
What’s in Mexican Pasta Salad?
So, I pretty much think Feta cheese is the best thing ever. I put that stuff on everything. I love, love, love it on Mexican food. So, when I found this Mexican pasta salad included Feta cheese, I was sold! The creamy crumbles add so much flavor and I loved it (as always) in this pasta salad! You can either stir some into the salad, use it as a garnish on top, or leave it out completely if you are not a super fan like me.
- Macaroni: Use a small salad rotini noodle or ditalini that can easily be scooped up in a bite with the other ingredients.
- Black beans: Rinse before adding into mixture.
- Corn: Drain then add to the mixture for sweetness and texture.
- Roma tomatoes: Dice so that they will mix into the salad and you will be able to scoop up some of the sweet flavor in every bite.
- Green onions: Finely chopped these give great color to your dish and a bright earthy flavor.
- Onion: Finely chop so that you do not bite into a big piece of onion. The sharp flavor is great with some of the other more mild ingredients.
- Cilantro: My cilantro is growing like crazy in my garden right now. When I chop up some to add to the mix the scent is amazing!
- Feta cheese: Optional if you want a creamy burst of flavor.
- Salsa: Use a fresh salsa with flavors you love.
- Sour cream: Adds texture and flavor
- Mayonnaise: Adds creaminess to the dressing.
- Garlic:minced or pressed
- Cumin: Great earthy spice gives this dressing a hit of flavor.
- Salt and pepper: To taste
- Lime juice: To taste- this will add some freshness to the salad. Don’t skip it!
How to Make Mexican Pasta Salad:
The steps for making this Mexican pasta salad are so easy to follow and there is no way to mess this recipe up! Really, once you have this process down you can make any kind of pasta salad you want. Just swap out the ingredients for your favorites, following the same steps and you will have a homemade pasta salad ready to go!
- Cook pasta: Follow package directions; drain and rinse with cold water. Rinsing with cold water will help prevent it from sticking together. Set aside and allow to cool and dry completely.
- Add remaining ingredients: When dry, add the beans, corn, tomatoes, green onions, onion and cilantro.
- Whisk together dressing and combine with pasta: In a separate bowl, combine all the dressing ingredients and add to pasta mixture. Stir together until everything is evenly coated in sauce.
- Optional Variations: You can either stir the Feta cheese into the salad or use it as a garnish on top. Taste and adjust any ingredients as needed.
- Serve: Refrigerate until ready to use. This is best served on the day it is made. Serves 8-12 people.
What Do I serve with Mexican Pasta Salad?
Pasta salads remind me of classic southern food. So, I like to pair it with other southern foods like barbecue baked beans, corn on the cob, and fried chicken. Also, this pasta salad is great alongside any grilled meat. Whether you are grilling chicken and steak, or hamburgers and hot dogs, this salad is so versatile it will fit right in on any menu. I especially love to put a spicier meat with this pasta salad because of the yin and yang of the hot and cold and spicy and creamy. For example spicy wings or ribs with a spicy barbecue sauce. It’s a perfect match!
Easy Ingredient Swaps:
This recipe as written is delicious, but sometimes not all ingredients work for everyone. Or maybe you are out of just one thing and you don’t want to run to the store. I get it. Here are some easy ways to adapt this recipe if needed.
- Pasta: Use any type of pasta noodle you love. This recipe calls for Rotini or Ditalini. Other popular varieties include elbow and shells.
- Food sensitivity: Gluten free noodles will also work great in this recipe.
- Heat: Adjust the spiciness of your Mexican pasta salad by using hot, medium, or mild salsa.
- Cheese: There are many different varieties of cheese that would be amazing in this pasta salad. Try Monterey jack or any that you love!
Best Macaroni Salad Tips:
The success of this Mexican Pasta Salad depends greatly on the pasta! It is important to not over or under cook the pasta. You want the noodles to absorb some of the dressing but not so much that it becomes gummy. Cook them until al dente (firm to the bite) so that they will absorb the perfect amount of dressing. Drain and rinse pasta in cool water to stop cooking right away. Be sure the pasta is completely cooled off before adding in the dressing.
Storing your Mexican Pasta Salad:
Make this recipe ahead of time and store it for an even more convenient side dish. Just be sure that it sits no more than 2 hours before you store it. Bacteria loves to grow between 40 and 140 degrees so you want to move this pasta into a refrigerator or freezer for storage. Be sure to wrap tightly in an airtight container or resealable bag.
- Refrigerator: Cooked pasta salad will store well for 3-5 days in the refrigerator.
- Freezer: When properly stored pasta salad will be good in a freezer for 1-2 months. After thawing in the refrigerator eat within 3 days. If you thaw in the microwave eat immediately then discard.
More Amazing Pasta Salad Recipes:
- Lemon Chicken Pasta Salad
- Balsamic Chicken Cobb Salad with Pasta
- BLT Tortellini Pasta Salad
- Greek Broccoli Pasta Salad
- Mediterranean Pasta Salad
Mexican Pasta Salad
A delicious Mexican Pasta Salad covered in a creamy salsa dressing.
- 1 package salad macaroni 16 oz.
- 1 can black beans 15 oz., drained and rinsed
- 1 can corn 15.25 oz., drained
- 3 Roma tomatoes diced
- 3 whole green onions finely chopped
- 1/4 cup onion finely chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro chopped
- 1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese opt., crumbled
- 1 c. jarred salsa
- 1 c. sour cream
- 1/4 c. Mayonnaise
- 1 clove garlic minced or pressed
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- salt and pepper
- 1 lime juiced
- Cook salad macaroni according to package directions; drain and rinse with cold water. Rinsing with cold water will help prevent it from sticking together. Set aside and allow to cool and dry completely. When dry, add the beans, corn, tomatoes, green onions, onion and cilantro. In a separate bowl, combine all the dressing ingredients and add to pasta mixture.
- Stir together until everything is evenly coated in sauce. You can either stir the Feta cheese into the salad or use it as a garnish on top. Taste and adjust any ingredients as needed. Refrigerate until ready to use. This is best served on the day it is made. Serves 8-12 people.