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This vegetarian Taco Pasta Salad is the ultimate crowd-pleasing side for potlucks and barbecues. Dressed in a chili-lime yogurt sauce and loaded with black beans, cheese, and veggies, it’s sure to be a hit at the party!
This Taco Pasta Salad puts a Mexican-inspired spin on the average pasta salad recipe! Made from a colorful mix of black beans, corn, tomatoes, and avocado and dressed in a zesty chili-lime yogurt sauce, you’ll have a hard time not reaching for seconds at the barbecue or potluck.
It’s a taco pasta salad made without meat, making it a fantastic side dish or main for vegetarians or to serve for Meatless Monday. You can also make it your own with all kinds of add-ins! Use extra veggies, sauces, spicy peppers, or even meat to put a spin on this recipe.
No matter how you choose to customize it, this easy taco pasta salad will remind you of the goodness of a classic taco salad and your favorite Taco Tuesday spread.
- It’s an easy vegetarian pasta salad recipe made with all of your favorite Mexican-inspired ingredients, like black beans, corn, tomatoes, avocado, and shredded cheese.
- Each bite is coated in a chili-lime yogurt sauce. This smoky, zesty, and creamy dressing makes the salad completely irresistible!
- This recipe makes enough for a crowd, so you can bring it to the potluck, picnic, or barbecue.
Pasta - Use small pasta with ridges if possible, like small or medium shells, farfalle (bow-tie), rotini, or orecchiette. This way, the sauce and vegetables get trapped in the nooks and crannies, giving you more flavorful bites. You could also use gluten free pasta!
Black beans - Canned black beans are an easy and convenient way to add protein to this taco salad. Pinto beans would be a great substitute.
Shredded cheese - I used shredded pepper jack cheese but sharp cheddar, cotija, queso fresco, chihuahua, monterey jack, or colby jack would also be good options.
Avocado - Only add the diced avocado until right before serving because it starts to oxidize and brown very quickly.
Jalapeño - For a kick of heat! Feel free to leave it out if you don’t do spicy food.
Chili lime sauce - This creamy yogurt sauce is made from a simple mix of Greek yogurt, lime juice, honey, olive oil, and dry spices. It’s zesty, warm, and smoky, and the best dressing for this pasta salad! I highly recommend saving the extras to serve with tacos, fajita bowls, and burrito bowls.
Step 1: Mix everything together. Add the cooked pasta, black beans, corn, tomatoes, green onion, cheese, avocado, and jalapeño to a large bowl. Set aside.
Step 2: Make the dressing. Whisk the yogurt, lime juice, taco seasoning, cumin, chili powder, olive oil, honey, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl.
Step 3: Assemble and serve. Pour the dressing over the pasta salad and toss to combine. Serve right away and enjoy!
Tips and FAQs
- Rinse the pasta with cold water as soon as it’s done cooking. This cools it down really quickly and prevents it from cooking the pasta salad vegetables.
- Want a lighter version? Swap the pasta for mixed salad greens, romaine lettuce, or kale.
- For a deeper, more delicious flavor profile, assemble the taco pasta salad and let it chill in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours before serving.
- To make the pasta salad ahead of time, keep the cooked pasta, beans, and veggies in a covered mixing bowl for up to 1 day. The dressing can also be made 1 week in advance and kept in a sealed container or jar in the fridge.
Can you add meat to this taco pasta salad?
Yes, you can add meat to the salad if you want. My shredded chipotle chicken and vegan-friendly walnut taco meat would both be delicious, or you can keep it simple with taco-seasoned ground beef, chicken, or turkey.
How do you make vegan taco pasta salad?
In the dressing, replace the yogurt with plain vegan yogurt or mayo and swap the honey for maple syrup or agave. Omit the cheese from the salad or replace it with your favorite vegan shredded cheese.
What else can you add to this salad?
Put your own spin on this pasta salad by using any of these suggestions as substitutes or extras:
- Vegetables: Sliced black olives, red onion, iceberg lettuce, or bell peppers.
- Beans: Pinto beans, chickpeas, or kidney beans.
- Meat: Blackened shrimp, taco-seasoned ground meat, or shredded chicken. Vegan ground meat would be delicious, too.
- Sauces: Swap the chili yogurt sauce for my chipotle aioli or a zesty lime vinaigrette instead.
- Garnishes: Once it’s ready, finish the salad with fresh cilantro and crushed Doritos for crunch!
Refrigerator: Store the leftover pasta salad in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 to 3 days. Just know that the avocado will brown as it sits.
More pasta salad recipes
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Taco Pasta Salad
For the dressing:
For the pasta salad:
- 16 oz pasta cooked and drained and run under cold water
- 1 can black beans drained and rinsed
- 10 oz frozen corn cooked and cooled
- 1 pint grape tomatoes sliced in half
- ¾ cup green onion chopped
- 1 ½ cups shredded pepperjack cheese (or sharp cheddar)
- 2 avocados chopped (wait to add until before serving)
- 1 jalapeño chopped (optional)
- Add all of the pasta salad ingredients – cooked pasta, black beans, corn, tomatoes, green onion, cheese, avocado (see notes), and jalapeño if using – to a large bowl and set aside.
- Next, make the dressing: whisk the yogurt, lime juice, taco seasoning, cumin, chili powder, olive oil, honey, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl.
- Pour the dressing over the pasta and toss to combine. Enjoy!