When it comes to pasta salad recipes, taco pasta salad is an all-time favorite among friends. It’s got a cool creamy base, rich savory flavors and enough of a refreshing kick to wake up the senses!
Pasta Recipes are a dime a dozen but occasionally, you come across something truly special and this taco pasta salad fits the bill! It’s not just taco meat and pasta. It’s a unique blend of meaty taco, creamy pasta, cheesy goodness, refreshing herbs and the perfect amount of crunch.
It’s the perfect pleasure that is taco pasta salad!
I love that this taco pasta salad awakens each of the senses and hits almost all the benchmarks of a perfect dish. It’s savory, refreshing deliciousness with just the right amount of crunch and it’s ideal for potlucks or large gatherings. Here are even more reasons to love it.
- Deliciousness reimagined
- Savory and satiating
- Feeds large crowds
- Works as a main dish
- Appealing to all the senses
Taco pasta salad is so easy to make but it doesn’t sacrifice one bit of flavor! It’s kind of a two-parter in the sense that you combine most ingredients and toss it in the fridge. Then you fold in the cheese, crushed Doritos and avocados just before serving for the perfect combination of flavor and crunch.
This recipe makes a generous amount of taco pasta salad. It will serve 12-15 people conservatively and even more at a potluck.
Making taco pasta salad calls for spiral pasta and it seems to be the best choice for this recipe. Believe it or not, pasta shape does matter! It should catch the perfect amount of sauce (or dressing) in every delectable bite.
Cooking your pasta al dente works best with this recipe. If you undercook it then you end up with cardboard and if you overcook it then it turns mushy.
Storing your taco pasta salad in the fridge in an airtight container will keep it fresh and tasty. Just remember that a few of the ingredients are added at the end before serving for best results.
Usually there aren’t any leftovers to contend with because taco pasta salad is always a crowd-pleasing favorite. If you happen to mix up a batch for a smaller crowd, then you can divide it in half and just add the last-minute ingredients to the bowl you are immediately serving.
Can You Freeze This
In a word, Nope – Unfortunately, you cannot freeze taco pasta salad. The creamy dressing base and fresh summer veggies just can’t stand up to the freezing temperatures.
Make Ahead Tips
I know a lot of people do food prep and there are a couple of things you can do to prepare for this recipe ahead of time. Depending on how far you are preparing ahead, the taco meat can be prepared and frozen in pre-portioned baggies for time-saving convenience.
Mix up the dressing and store it in a sealed jar in the fridge until you are ready to make your salad. Chop the veggies on prep day and store them in an airtight container next to the dressing. The day before serving your salad, go ahead and thaw your taco meat and cook your pasta.
Combine your ingredients and let them get acquainted with each other in the fridge overnight. Toss in your last-minute ingredients and garnish before serving to some extremely lucky crowd.
How Long Can You Keep This In The Fridge?
According to the USDA, your taco pasta salad will keep in the fridge for 3-5 days when stored properly. They recommend storing cold foods below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
This is your baby so you can tweak things to suit your taste. Some people like to add a little cumin or omit the avocados, which is totally fine, but it will change the way your taco pasta salad tastes.
For best results, I recommend making the recipe according to the directions the first time.
Can I Change The Dressing In This Recipe?
Of course, you can, but then is it still taco pasta salad? Probably not.
If you want to make a pasta salad with a different dressing, try my pesto pasta salad full of scrumptious aromatic herbs that taste as good as they smell! Lose the cream-based dressing altogether by making pasta salad with Italian dressing. It’s a beautiful bowl of tangy goodness you’ll come back to again and again.
Can Bacon Be Added To This Recipe?
I understand that bacon is awesome but it kind of takes away from the whole taco vibe. However, I haven’t met a bacon fanatic yet who didn’t absolutely love my bacon ranch pasta salad – heavenly is an understatement!
A BLT Pasta Salad also makes a nice addition to any meal and it’s a fantastic lunch all by itself. Who doesn’t love BLT?
Can I Add Seafood?
The taco pasta salad is definitely not a dish you want to add seafood to. It may sound ok to some people, but it just doesn’t work – trust me. Now my shrimp pasta salad, on the other hand, will tame even the wildest seafood enthusiasts. It’s a decadent blend of bay shrimp and creamy deliciousness that practically dances down to your tummy.
Tuna Pasta Salad is another popular favorite for seafood lovers. The pasta breaks up the tuna just enough without distorting the subtle oceanic flavor.
Can I Make It With Mediterranean Twist?
Mediterranean pasta salad is a whole new tasty ballgame. Fresh rich flavors gently marry to please the palate and satisfy the soul.
Another refreshing non cream based pasta recipe is this exquisite Italian Pasta Salad. It is simple, elegant and appropriate for many different occasions.
Can I Use Tortellini Instead?
Using tortellini in your taco pasta salad will change the flavor just a tad. You will taste more pasta than with the original recipe. If you are already making tortellini pasta salad for a different occasion, I can see the appeal of convenience.
However, tortellini salad is specifically designed to highlight the best characteristics of the pasta itself with an added flavor enhancement that is out of this world!
Taco Pasta Salad
- 1 Cup Mayonnaise
- 3/4 Cup Sour Cream
- 3/4 Cup Milk (Plus More As Needed)
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons Lime Zest
- 1/4 Cup Cup Fresh Lime Juice
- 1 Small Jalapeno Pepper, Seeded, Ribs Removed, and Finely Chopped
- 1/2 Teaspoon Granulated Sugar
- 1 1/4 Teaspoons Black Pepper
- 1 Pound Spiral Pasta
- 2 Pounds Ground Beef, 80/20
- 2 Envelopes Taco Seasoning
- 3/4 Teaspoons Salt
- 1 1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper
- 3/4 Cup Red Onion, Small Chopped
- 1 Medium Red Pepper, Small Chopped
- 1 (16.5 Ounce) Container Grape Tomato, Cut in Half
- 1 Cup Cilantro, Chopped
- 1 1/2 Cups Sharp Cheddar, Shredded
- 1 1/2 Cups Monterrey Jack Cheese, Shredded
- 1 (14.5 Ounce) Bag Nacho Doritos~Divided, Crushed
- 2-3 Avocados, Firm But Ripe, Diced
- 2 Tablespoons Cilantro, Chopped
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients until well mixed and smooth. Set aside.
- Cook pasta according to package directions just until al dented. Rinse, drain, and cool.
- In a large skillet, cook the ground beef until no pink remains. Remove fat, stir in both taco sesonings, and cool.
- In a large serving bowl, toss together pasta, beef, dressing, red onion, red pepper, tomatoes, and cilantro until evenly coated. Cover and refrigerate for 4-6 hours, or overnight, for best flavor
- Just before serving, toss and adjust seasoning. Add more milk (I generally add about 1/4 -1/2 cup), as needed, to loosen dressing. Gently fold in cheeses, 3/4 of the bag of Doritos, and avocado. Pour onto decorative platter and garnished with more of the remaining crushed Doritos and 2 tablespoons of cilantro and serve. serve. Enjoy!
Pasta salad recipes are typically simple, refreshing concoctions that satiate large crowds and add a touch of variety to the plate. Taco pasta salad does just that with an added whirlwind of luxurious flavors and it makes a fantastic lunch, too!
When you’re ready for something different, simply try another recipe. Here are some of my favorite pasta salad recipes fit for almost any occasion
Using pasta salad recipes (and taco pasta salad specifically) is an easy, cost-effective way to add a myriad of flavors and textures to your menu plan or your next occasion to feed a crowd. It’s a metropolis of tasty pleasure that you can eat with a fork and almost everyone loves tacos.
Next time you need a crowd-pleasing pick-me-up or something a little different to spruce up the next potluck meal, try making taco pasta salad. It doesn’t disappoint!