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Mexican Pasta Salad

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If you're tired of the same ol' pasta salads, you HAVE to try this easy Mexican Pasta Salad! It has so much flavor thanks to a secret ingredient in the dressing, and is seriously easy to make.

It's a great side dish or weeknight dinner idea when you don't feel like cooking.

Mexican Pasta Salad with salsa in a bowl

Like a burrito bowl... but with macaroni!

My husband says this Mexican Macaroni Salad tastes like a burrito bowl, but with pasta. That's a pretty accurate description, if you ask me!!

mexican macaroni salad with black beans on a fork

This Mexican-inspired pasta salad is loaded with black beans, corn, cilantro, tomatoes, and green onion. It's a great bunch of healthy veggie-forward ingredients to balance out the pasta.

ingredients for mexican macaroni salad in a bowl: corn, black beans, tomato, cilantro, macaroni

And the dressing is super easy to make and just makes this macaroni salad taste fantastic.

Related recipe: Broccoli Ranch Pasta Salad

Pasta salad dressing with salsa

Salsa is the secret ingredient in this pasta salad dressing. I *LOVE* using salsa as part of a dressing, and I use it in my 3-ingredient chicken salad and my 3-ingredient tuna salad recipes. It just adds adds so much flavor and it's so easy to use.

I combine store-bought salsa (I love this Pace salsa for cooking!) with sour cream and mayo and it makes a great base for a creamy salad. If you want to go a bit healthier, skip the mayo and use low-fat sour cream, or sub some of the sour cream for plain unsweetened Greek yogurt.

I actually prefer packaged store-bought salsa for these kinds of dressings as opposed to fresh homemade salsa. There is something about the bottled salsa that makes it PERFECT for adding flavor to dressings.

I am always stocked up with several jars of salsa in the pantry for easy snacking and dressings. And it is AMAZING on top of chicken breast in the Instant Pot.

The other seasonings in the dressing are: cumin powder, chili powder, dried oregano, and fresh diced jalapeño.

sour cream and salsa dressing in a bowl

Related recipe: Tuna Pasta Salad

Adjust the heat to taste

If you want to make a spicy Mexican pasta salad, then by all means add 1-2 diced jalapeños (even use the seeds, if you want), and use medium or hot salsa for the dressing. 

But if you want to keep this pasta salad kid-friendly, I recommend using a mild salsa, and only adding ¼ - ½ jalapeño, or even holding off on the jalapeño if you are not sure your family would like that. You can always add a splash of hot sauce if there is not enough heat, but you can't undo it once the jalapeño has infused into the dressing.

If your chili powder is spicy, go easy on that too.

mexican pasta salad in a bowl

Other fun add-ins for this pasta salad

This pasta salad is pretty darn good as it is, but here are a few ideas for how to switch up this salad:

  • Sliced, halved, or whole olives (make sure the pits are removed)
  • Shredded cheese, or queso fresco, or cotija cheese
  • Diced ham, or grilled chicken for protein
  • Diced bell pepper
  • ¼ to ½ Finely minced yellow onion or shallot instead of green onions
  • Minced garlic
  • Pickled jalapeños (this is also a little less spicy than fresh jalapeños!)
  • Banana peppers

However you choose to make this pasta salad, I guarantee that you will love it! If you make this salad, please take a picture and tag me on Instagram or Facebook. You can find me at @babaganoshblog on both. I love seeing your creations!

Looking for more easy recipes?

If you enjoyed this recipe, let me know with a comment and a star rating below. And don't forget to share it on Facebook and save it on Pinterest for later!

Mexican pasta salad graphic for pinterest

Yield: 4 Dinner servings, or 6-8 side dish servings

Mexican Pasta Salad

Mexican pasta salad in a bowl

If you're tired of the same ol' pasta salads, you HAVE to try this easy Mexican Pasta Salad! It has so much flavor thanks to a secret ingredient in the dressing, and is seriously easy to make. It's a great side dish or weeknight dinner idea when you don't feel like cooking.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes

Ingredients

For the pasta salad

  • 8 oz uncooked macaroni, or pasta of your choice (half of 1 lb box)
  • Salted water for cooking pasta
  • 1 large tomato (or 2 Roma), diced
  • ½ bunch cilantro, stemmed and chopped
  • 3-4 green onions, diced
  • 1 (15-oz) can corn kernels, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed well
  • Optional: Juice of ½ - 1 lime (~1-2 tablespoons lime juice)

For the dressing

  • ½ cup sour cream (full fat or low fat, or sub half with plain Greek yogurt)
  • ½ cup salsa (mild or medium)
  • ¼ cup mayo
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeds removed and chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste (about ¼ - ½ tsp each to start)

Instructions

    1. In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients for the dressing and mix well (see notes about the jalapeño!). Let the flavors infuse into the dressing while you prepare the salad.
    2. Prepare the macaroni according to package directions, drain, and set aside.
    3. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the pasta salad, including the cooked macaroni. Stir in the dressing. Mix well, and season with salt, pepper, and lime juice, if desired. Serve immediately or chill and enjoy within 3 days.

Notes

  1. One full jalapeño makes a pretty spicy salad. You can start with ¼ or ½ jalapeño , and add more, if you are not sure about the heat level. Or use pickled jalapenos for a vinegary burst of flavor and less heat
  2. I used full-fat (regular) sour cream for the most flavor, but a low-fat or fat-free sour cream can be used, or sub some of the sour cream for plain fat-free Greek yogurt
  3. Other fun add ins:
  • Sliced, halved, or whole olives (make sure the pits are removed)
  • Shredded cheese, or queso fresco, or cotija cheese
  • Diced ham, or grilled chicken for protein
  • Diced bell pepper
  • ¼ to ½ Finely minced yellow onion or shallot instead of green onions
  • Minced garlic
  • Pickled jalapeños (this is also a little less spicy than fresh jalapeños!)
  • Banana peppers

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 324Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 312mgCarbohydrates: 46gFiber: 6gSugar: 9gProtein: 9g

The nutritional information displayed is just an estimate assuming 6 large side dish servings, and will vary depending on the actual ingredients and brands used and the exact amounts used. Please consult with a dietitian or nutritionist if you are actually tracking nutritional information for health reasons.

This recipe was inspired by the pasta salad from Recipe Diaries, but I've made it so much and tweaked it and made it my own. I hope you love it!

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