Taco Pasta Salad Recipe 2023



  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 box (16 oz) rotini tri-color pasta
  • 1 small can sliced black olives, drained
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small package grape tomatoes, sliced
  • 3/4 package shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4-1/2 bottle Ortega taco sauce (adjust to taste)
  • Crushed nacho Doritos (for serving)


  1. Cook Taco Meat:
    • In a skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef. Drain excess fat and add the taco seasoning according to package instructions. Allow it to cool.
  2. Boil Pasta:
    • Cook the rotini pasta according to the package instructions. Once cooked, drain and let it cool completely.
  3. Prepare Vegetables:
    • Chop the yellow onion, slice the grape tomatoes, and drain the sliced black olives.
  4. Mix Ingredients:
    • In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooled taco meat, cooked and cooled rotini pasta, sliced black olives, chopped onion, sliced grape tomatoes, and shredded cheddar cheese.
  5. Add Taco Sauce:
    • Pour the Ortega taco sauce over the mixture. Start with a quarter bottle and adjust to your desired level of sauciness. Mix everything thoroughly to coat evenly.
  6. Chill the Salad:
    • Cover the bowl and refrigerate the taco pasta salad for at least one hour. Chilling allows the flavors to meld and enhances the overall taste.
  7. Serve Cold:
    • Before serving, give the salad a final toss. Serve it cold for a refreshing experience.
  8. Top with Crushed Doritos:
    • When serving individual portions, sprinkle a handful of crushed nacho Doritos on top. This adds a delightful crunch and additional flavor to each serving.
  9. Optional Garnishes:
    • Enhance the presentation by adding optional garnishes such as chopped green onions, fresh cilantro, or a dollop of sour cream.
  10. Enjoy!
    • Serve your Taco Pasta Salad as a flavorful and satisfying dish, perfect for picnics, potlucks, or a quick weeknight dinner.


  • Feel free to customize the recipe by adding ingredients like diced bell peppers, avocado, or corn for extra texture and flavor.
  • Adjust the amount of taco sauce based on your preference for spice and sauciness.
  • This salad can be made ahead of time, making it convenient for meal prep or entertaining. Just add the Doritos just before serving to maintain their crunchiness.

Here are some helpful tips to make your Taco Pasta Salad even more delightful:

  1. Use Fresh and Ripe Ingredients:
    • Opt for fresh and ripe tomatoes, as well as crisp onions. Using quality ingredients enhances the overall taste and texture of the salad.
  2. Choose Colorful Bell Peppers:
    • Add more color and crunch by incorporating diced bell peppers, such as red, yellow, or orange. This not only enhances the visual appeal but also adds sweetness.
  3. Customize Taco Seasoning:
    • Consider making your own taco seasoning for a more personalized flavor. Adjust the spice level and experiment with additional herbs and spices for a unique touch.
  4. Add Avocado:
    • Include diced avocado just before serving for a creamy and buttery texture. Avocado adds richness and complements the other flavors in the salad.
  5. Mix Cheese Varieties:
    • Experiment with a blend of cheeses. Mix shredded cheddar with Monterey Jack or pepper jack for a more complex and flavorful cheese layer.
  6. Adjust Taco Sauce:
    • Tailor the amount of Ortega taco sauce to your taste preferences. If you like it spicier, add more sauce; for a milder flavor, use less.
  7. Fresh Herbs for Garnish:
    • Sprinkle freshly chopped cilantro or parsley on top just before serving. Fresh herbs add brightness and freshness to the dish.
  8. Marinate Vegetables:
    • If time allows, marinate the chopped onions and tomatoes in a bit of taco sauce before adding them to the salad. This infuses more flavor into the vegetables.
  9. Make it Ahead:
    • Prepare the salad a few hours or even a day in advance. The flavors will have more time to meld, resulting in a more flavorful dish.
  10. Serve with Lime Wedges:
    • Provide lime wedges on the side for a squeeze of fresh lime juice. The citrusy zing adds a refreshing element to the salad.
  11. Add Black Beans or Corn:
    • For additional texture and flavor, consider adding drained black beans or corn kernels to the salad. They provide a sweet and savory contrast.
  12. Drizzle with Olive Oil:
    • Just before serving, drizzle a bit of extra virgin olive oil over the salad for added richness and a silky finish.
  13. Adjust Doritos Crunch:
    • If you prefer a crunchier texture, reserve the crushed Doritos until just before serving. This ensures they maintain their crispiness.
  14. Customize Heat Levels:
    • Offer hot sauce or jalapeños on the side for those who enjoy an extra kick of spice. This way, everyone can customize their spice level.
  15. Serve in a Chilled Bowl:
    • To keep the salad cool and refreshing, serve it in a chilled bowl. This is especially helpful if you’re serving the salad outdoors.

By incorporating these tips, you’ll elevate your Taco Pasta Salad with additional flavors, textures, and visual appeal, making it even more delightful for your taste buds!

Popular Questions and Answers:

Here are some potential questions and answers that might arise regarding the Easy Taco Pasta Salad Recipe :

Q: Can I make Taco Pasta Salad ahead of time?

A: Yes, Taco Pasta Salad can be made ahead of time. In fact, allowing it to chill in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight enhances the flavors. However, add the crushed Doritos just before serving to maintain their crunch.

Q: Can I use a different type of pasta?

A: Absolutely! While the recipe calls for rotini, you can use other pasta shapes like bowties, penne, or shells. Choose a shape that holds the taco seasoning and other flavors well.

Q: How do I store leftovers?

A: Store leftover Taco Pasta Salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It’s best consumed within 2-3 days. Keep in mind that the Doritos may lose their crunch over time.

Q: Can I make it vegetarian?

A: Yes, you can make a vegetarian version by omitting the ground beef. Consider adding more veggies, beans, or plant-based protein alternatives for a delicious meatless option.

Q: Can I use a different brand of taco sauce?

A: Certainly! Feel free to use your preferred brand or flavor of taco sauce. You can also experiment with different levels of spiciness to suit your taste.

Q: Can I serve it warm?

A: While Taco Pasta Salad is traditionally served cold, you can serve it warm if you prefer. Keep in mind that chilling allows the flavors to meld, so if serving warm, consider adjusting seasonings accordingly.

Q: Can I add more vegetables?

A: Yes, feel free to add more vegetables to suit your taste. Diced bell peppers, corn, or black beans are excellent additions that contribute both flavor and texture.

Q: How can I make it spicier?

A: To make the salad spicier, increase the amount of Ortega taco sauce or add diced jalapeños. You can also include a pinch of cayenne pepper or hot sauce for an extra kick.

Q: Can I use a different type of cheese?

A: Certainly! You can experiment with different cheese varieties or blends. Pepper jack, Monterey Jack, or a Mexican cheese blend can add different flavor profiles to the salad.

Q: Is it suitable for a potluck or picnic?

A: Yes, Taco Pasta Salad is an excellent choice for potlucks and picnics. Prepare it in advance, and it’s easy to transport and serve. Ensure it stays chilled, especially in warm weather.

Q: Can I make it without Doritos?

A: Yes, you can make the salad without Doritos if you prefer. However, the Doritos add a unique crunch and flavor, so consider substituting with tortilla strips or omitting them entirely based on personal preference.

Feel free to customize these answers based on your preferences and any specific considerations you might have!

Here are some secrets to achieving the perfect Taco Pasta Salad:

  1. Balance the Flavors:
    • Aim for a well-balanced mix of flavors – the savory taco meat, the tangy taco sauce, the creaminess of cheese, and the freshness of vegetables. Adjust seasonings to achieve a harmonious taste.
  2. Let It Chill:
    • Allowing the salad to chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving enhances the flavors and lets the ingredients meld together for a more cohesive taste.
  3. Fresh Ingredients Matter:
    • Use fresh and high-quality ingredients for the best taste. Fresh tomatoes, crisp onions, and quality ground beef contribute to the overall deliciousness of the salad.
  4. Customize Spice Levels:
    • Adjust the spice levels to suit your preference. If you enjoy more heat, consider adding a pinch of cayenne pepper to the taco meat or opting for a spicier taco sauce.
  5. Add Avocado Last Minute:
    • If including avocado, dice and add it just before serving to prevent it from browning. The creamy texture of avocado adds a delightful touch.
  6. Layer Ingredients:
    • When assembling, layer the ingredients evenly to ensure that each bite has a bit of everything – pasta, taco meat, veggies, and cheese.
  7. Mix in Stages:
    • Mix the ingredients in stages rather than all at once. This helps evenly distribute the taco seasoning and sauce throughout the salad.
  8. Experiment with Cheese:
    • Try different cheese varieties or blends. Smoked cheddar, pepper jack, or a Mexican cheese blend can impart unique flavors to the salad.
  9. Fresh Herbs for Garnish:
    • Sprinkle freshly chopped cilantro or parsley over the top just before serving. The fresh herbs add a burst of color and a hint of freshness.
  10. Drizzle with Lime Juice:
    • Drizzle a bit of fresh lime juice over the salad just before serving. The citrusy brightness enhances the overall flavor profile.
  11. Maintain Doritos Crunch:
    • If you prefer the Doritos to remain crunchy, crush and add them to individual servings just before eating. This ensures they retain their texture.
  12. Consider Color Contrast:
    • Incorporate colorful ingredients for visual appeal. Tri-color pasta, red tomatoes, green lettuce, and black olives create a vibrant and appetizing presentation.
  13. Season the Pasta:
    • Season the pasta water with salt before boiling. This adds flavor to the pasta itself and contributes to the overall taste of the salad.
  14. Customize Vegetables:
    • Feel free to customize the vegetable mix based on personal preferences. Add diced cucumbers, bell peppers, or any other veggies you enjoy.
  15. Serve in Chilled Bowls:
    • Chill the serving bowls before serving to keep the salad cool and refreshing, especially if you’re serving outdoors.

By incorporating these secrets, you’ll create a Taco Pasta Salad that’s not only visually appealing but also bursting with well-balanced flavors and textures. Enjoy your delicious creation!