Mexican Pasta Salad

5 from 1 vote
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Sure to be a hit at the barbecue or alongside any summer meal, this Mexican Pasta Salad is loaded with black beans, corn, red peppers, and so much more. A creamy Southwestern Dressing gives it a kicked-up zesty flavor, but Greek yogurt keeps it light. Plus you can make it with gluten free noodles!

blue serving bowl of mexican pasta salad with creamy southwestern dressing with a wooden serving spoon

Mexican Pasta Salad with Creamy Southwestern Dressing

Macaroni salad or pasta salad are summertime staples. But sometimes you need to change things up a bit. Or, more specifically, kick them up with some Tex Mex-inspired ingredients. With bold flavors, a bit of spice, and a rainbow of ingredients, I’m sure you will love this dish as much as we do. It’s a quick side or even cold lunch that you can make any day of the week. But if you bring it to a picnic or party, everyone will be begging for the recipe.

And it’s so simple. Just cook the pasta, stir together the dressing, and toss everything together. Speaking of the dressing, unlike your typical pasta salad recipes that can be very heavy with a mayo- or oil-based dressing, this one is super light but still ultra-creamy. It’s based on my Creamy Southwestern Dressing using the Greek yogurt option. So yes, that also means it is packed with protein.

Also, you can definitely use gluten free pasta, just as I did!

closeup of the rotini pasta, black beans, corn, peppers, tomatoes, and red onions coated in a creamy dressing with a garnish of cilantro

Ingredients

For the Pasta Salad

  • Uncooked pasta: I like to use rotini, but any short pasta will do, suich as penne or elbow macaroni. And yes, gluten free pasta can also be used.
  • Canned black beans: Make sure you drain and rinsw them.
  • Corn: This can be frozen (just be sure to thaw it), from a can (drain off the liquid), or cut right off the cob. You can even grill it if you want a little smoky flavor.
  • Grape tomatoes: Slice them in half.
  • Red onion: Mince it nice and small.

For the Creamy Southwestern Dressing

  • Plain Greek yogurt: Nonfat, low fat, or whole will all work fine.
  • Salsa: Use your favorite, whether you like it hot or mild.
  • Olive oil
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Salt
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Chili powder: You can always add more if you like a little spice.
  • Cumin
  • Black pepper
  • Fresh cilantro: Mince it and set a little aside to garnish your pasta salad when it’s done.
bowls of uncooked pasta, corn, black beans, chopped red pepper, halved grape tomatoes, minced red onion, greek yogurt, salsa, and cilantro, olive oil and vinegar in small measuring beakers, and a plate with spices

How to Make Southwestern Pasta Salad

Prep the Ingredients: Boil your pasta according to the package directions. Then run it under cold water to chill it down. You can even stick it in the fridge while you do other preparations. Thaw the corn, drain and rinse the beans, and wash and chop the vegetables. Add the pasta, beans, corn, tomatoes, and onions to a bowl.

bowl of cooked pasta topped with red pepper, black beans, corn, halved grape tomatoes, and minced red onion

Make the Dressing: Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and stir them together.

Finish the Mexican Pasta Salad: Pour the dressing over the top and stir everything together. Garnish with a little cilantro, if you like, then dig in!

looking down at a blue bowl of mexican pasta salad topped with a sprinkling of cilantro with a wooden serving spoon in it

Tips for Success

Make It Gluten Free: Yes, you can definitely make this a gluten free pasta salad. Because it might sit around for a few hours before you eat it, I recommend a heartier gluten free pasta like quinoa or chickpea pasta. I also recommend cooking the pasta slightly al dente so it doesn’t break apart.

Prep it Ahead: You can enjoy it right away, but letting it sit for a few hours will really allow the flavors to develop and come together. If you want to make it more than just a few hours in advance, you can prepare the dressing the day before and even cook the pasta and leave it covered in the fridge. Then just mix it all up the day you want to serve it.

Double It: This recipe is based on using 8 oz. of pasta which is the typical size box of gluten free pasta, or half a box of regular pasta. It makes about 6-8 servings. So if you want to bring it to a party, just double all of the ingredients.

Storing Leftovers: Covered tightly, this Southwestern Pasta Salad will keep in the refrigerator for up for 2-3 days if you use regular pasta. Gluten free pasta does tend to break down or get a little mushy, so I recommend enjoying it by the next day. If it has dried out a little, you can add a little more yogurt and oil or vinegar (or a little of both).

Add Some Protein: Try mixing in some cooked chicken or shrimp to make it a little heartier if you want to enjoy it as a meal.

Make it Your Own: Add some avocado, swap the red bell peppers for another color, mix in cheddar or cotija cheese, add some olives or jalapenos. The possibilities are endless.

mexican pasta salad served on a white plate

What to Serve with Mexican Pasta Salad

This easy Mexican pasta salad can be a light meal on its own or if you mix in some chopped rotisserie chicken, grilled shrimp, or even Chili Lime Steak Bites. But of course, pasta salad is a classic side dish to serve with dinner or bring to a party!

Make it a Meal
creamy southwestern pasta salad in a blue serving bowl on top of a multicolored striped napkin

Things You’ll Need

Brianne Recommends
  • If you are making gluten free pasta salad, I recommend a quinoa or chickpea pasta, as these tend to hold up better than rice-based pasta.
  • I love having plenty of silicone spatulas and bowls on hand for mixing everything together. You’ll need a couple to make this dish.
striped napkin on a white picnic table with a blue bowl of mexican macaroni salad
5 from 1 vote

Mexican Pasta Salad

Sure to be a hit at the barbecue or alongside any summer meal, this Mexican Pasta Salad is loaded with black beans, corn, red peppers, and so much more. A creamy Southwestern Dressing gives it a kicked-up zesty flavor, but Greek yogurt keeps it light. Plus you can make it with gluten free noodles!
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 25 mins
Servings: 8

Equipment

  • Bowl

Ingredients

For the Pasta Salad

  • 8 oz. uncooked rotini pasta or another short pasta, gluten free if needed
  • 15 oz. can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup corn, from a can, thawed if frozen, or cut from the cob
  • 1/2 cup halved grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • minced cilantro for garnish, if desired

For the Dressing

Instructions

  • Prepare the pasta according to the package directions, cooking slightly al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water to chill the pasta. You can also put it in the refrigerator while preparing the other ingredients.
  • Prepare the dressing by adding the Greek yogurt, salsa, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, cumin, black pepper, and cilantro in a bowl. Stir together until smooth.
  • Add the cooked and cooled pasta, black beans, corn, tomatoes, and red onion to a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the top and stir together to combine. Garnish with cilantro, if desired.
  • Serve immediately or store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days.
Nutrition Facts
Mexican Pasta Salad
Amount Per Serving (1 serving)
Calories 248 Calories from Fat 63
% Daily Value*
Fat 7g11%
Saturated Fat 1g5%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Cholesterol 2mg1%
Sodium 408mg17%
Potassium 326mg9%
Carbohydrates 37g12%
Fiber 5g20%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 11g22%
Vitamin A 202IU4%
Vitamin C 4mg5%
Calcium 64mg6%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

More side salads

Every picnic menu needs a good selection of salads. Here are some of my favorites.

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