Taco Salad is great. Pasta Salad is great. So why is it that the two haven’t joined forces to make one super great salad? It was high time it happened. So I give you Taco Pasta Salad, a beefy zesty best-of-both-worlds side dish that steals the show at any potluck. I love how easy this is and that while it’s made up of just a few ingredients, it’s hearty enough to make a meal out of. (Lunch prep, I’m looking at you.) Also because, hey, anytime a recipe manages to successfully combine chips and pasta is a win in my book.
This all starts with ground beef. You don’t often see a pasta salad that starts with ground beef, but it should happen more often because what it does is take this from a side dish to something that can definitely stand on its own as a main. That beef is (perhaps predictably) seasoned with taco seasoning, but it’s the perfect zesty base for this salad. This is pretty versatile so you can switch it up, but pair that with some red onion, black beans, bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, cheddar cheese, and curly pasta to catch all that dressing (more on that in a minute) and you’re in business.
So how about that dressing? Well, it’s easy — like super easy — but it’s sure delicious. It’s just bottled French or Catalina dressing dressed up with a little bit of sour cream. That makes it a little bit creamy but still lets the sweet and tangy flavor shine through. It’s not too sweet though, the taco seasoning and fresh veggies balance it out just beautifully.
And I promised you chips! As far as I’m concerned, this wouldn’t be taco salad with a few crunchy chips thrown in, so we’ve definitely got them here. You can use tortilla chips or even doritos if you want an extra hit of nacho flavor — they’re both delicious and add that extra little bit of irresistible crunch.
Taco Pasta Salad
10m prep time
15m cook time
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 packet taco seasoning (or 2 tablespoons)
- 1/2 lb curly pasta such as rotini, gemelli, or fusilli
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 3/4 cup French or Catalina dressing
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 cup tortilla chips or Doritos, roughly crushed
- In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- While pasta cooks, brown ground beef over medium-high heat. Add taco seasoning, drain grease as needed, and set aside.
- In a large bowl, toss together the ground beef, cooked pasta, bell pepper, red onion, cherry tomatoes, cheddar cheese, black beans, dressing, and sour cream. Add tortilla chips just before serving. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Amanda's Cookin.