Bowl of Taco Pasta Salad

Brimming with Mexican-inspired flavors, taco pasta salad is a hearty, one-of-a-kind salad that is a tasty blend of pasta salad plus taco salad.

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Table of Contents
  1. Taco Pasta Salad
  2. Taco Pasta Salad Ingredients
  3. How to Make Taco Pasta Salad
  4. What kind of pasta should I use? 
  5. Can I use Ranch dressing? 
  6. Can I use tortilla chips? 
  7. Can I may this salad ahead of time? 
  8. How to Store Taco Pasta Salad 
  9. JUMP TO RECIPE
Bowl of Taco Pasta Salad Ready to Serve

A one-of-a-kind salad, taco pasta salad is a tasty blend of pasta salad plus taco salad that is delicious as a main course or a side dish. Loaded with flavor, this cold salad combines tender pasta with your favorite taco toppings and a satisfying Dorito crunch. 


MORE RECIPES: Bacon Pasta | Carbonara Pasta | Pasta Salad


Taco Pasta Salad

A family favorite, taco pasta salad is brimming with Mexican-inspired flavors. This easy pasta salad recipe is perfect for potlucks, barbecues, and picnics. 

Savory, cool, and crunchy, taco salad is made with seasoned ground beef, tender pasta, crunchy nacho cheese chips, and a delicious creamy dressing. The perfect summertime dish, the salad is enhanced with your favorite taco toppings including tomatoes, green onions, avocado, and shredded cheese. 

Hearty enough to be served as a meal or a side dish, this mexican recipe is the perfect dish to bring to gatherings with friends and family. Complete the meal with cherry cheesecake tacos or apple enchiladas for dessert. 

Taco Pasta Salad Ingredients

  • Pasta – rotini pasta, cooked, drained, and cooled
  • Ground beef
  • Taco seasoning
  • Water
  • Cheesegrated cheese
  • Tomato
  • Lettucehead iceberg lettuce
  • Avocado
  • Cilantro fresh cilantro
  • Green onionsgreen parts of green onions
  • French dressing
  • DoritosNacho cheese Doritos

Customize your taco pasta salad by switching out the toppings for your favorite taco toppings. Bell peppers, sour cream, guacamole, hot peppers, and even bacon bits would be great additions to your salad. 

If you aren’t a fan of Doritos, you can use either plain tortilla chips or tortilla strips in your taco pasta salad. While cheddar cheese is a classic option, you can also take it up a notch by using shredded nacho cheese or even a jalapeno Monterey jack for more spice. 

While this is already a hearty dish, you can also add a can of drained and rinsed black beans. For a different flavor twist, try making your salad with a different dressing, such as Catalina or even Ranch dressing.  

How to Make Taco Pasta Salad

FIRST STEP: Cook pasta according to package instructions.  Drain and run cold water over the pasta.  Set aside.

SECOND STEP: Brown ground beef over medium-high heat in a medium skillet.  When no pink remains, add taco seasoning and water.  Bring mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until all liquid is absorbed.  Remove from heat and cool.

THIRD STEP: In a large salad bowl, mix together cooled noodles cooled taco meat, grated cheese, tomato, lettuce, avocado, cilantro, and green onions.

FOURTH STEP: Pour French dressing over salad and toss to combine.

FIFTH STEP: Just before serving, add crushed Doritos and toss once more.

SIXTH STEP: Serve immediately.

What kind of pasta should I use? 

The recipe calls for rotini, but you could use other fun pasta shapes as well. Bowties (farfalle), penne, or shells would all be excellent choices for this pasta salad. 

Can I use Ranch dressing? 

You could swap out the French dressing for Catalina or even Ranch for a different twist on this taco pasta salad.

Can I use tortilla chips? 

If you aren’t a fan of Doritos, you can use either plain tortilla chips or tortilla strips in your taco pasta salad. 

Can I may this salad ahead of time? 

The chips and lettuce will become soggy after a few hours. The salad will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days without the chips and lettuce mixed in.

How to Store Taco Pasta Salad 

IN THE FRIDGE:  The chips and lettuce will become soggy after a few hours. If you anticipate storing many of the leftovers, consider mixing chips and lettuce into individual servings only. The salad, without the chips and lettuce mixed in, can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

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  • 16 oz. package of rotini pasta cooked, drained, and cooled
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ¼ cup taco seasoning
  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ cup grated cheese
  • 1 tomato diced
  • ½ head iceburg lettuce chopped (about 3-4 cups)
  • 1 avocado
  • ½ cup cilantro chopped
  • 2 Green onion parts sliced
  • 1 cup French dressing
  • 2 cups crushed Nacho cheese Doritos
  • Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and run cold water over the pasta. Set aside.

  • Brown ground beef over medium-high heat in a medium skillet.  When no pink remains, add taco seasoning and water.  Bring mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until all liquid is absorbed.  Remove from heat and cool.

  • In a large salad bowl, mix together cooled pasta, cooled taco meat, grated cheese, tomato, lettuce, avocado, cilantro, and green onions.

  • Pour French dressing over salad and toss to combine.

  • Just before serving, add crushed Doritos and toss once more.

  • Serve immediately.

Calories: 889kcal | Carbohydrates: 94g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 47g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 16g | Monounsaturated Fat: 16g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 47mg | Sodium: 1305mg | Potassium: 655mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 1145IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 174mg | Iron: 3mg

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