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Taco Pasta Salad

This flavorful Taco Pasta Salad is simple to make and so delicious! It has all the best parts of a taco but served as a pasta salad instead and topped with Doritos!

A CRAVE-WORTHY PASTA SALAD

Ditch the normal pasta salads for a party and whip up this easy Taco Pasta Salad instead. Trust me, everyone will want the recipe! This tasty pasta salad is cheesy, crunchy and so simple to make. It’s topped with crunchy Nacho Doritos that really pull this dish together. With the perfect balance of cheese, meat, veggies, pasta, and more, this is truly soooo flavorful that you’ll definitely want seconds!

Looking down on a plate of pasta salad with taco seasoning.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

Do I have to use Doritos?

Personally, I absolutely love the crunch from the Doritos and the extra pop of flavor that they add to the pasta salad. But if you don’t want Doritos in your pasta salad then you can certainly leave them out!

Can I use different chips?

You can use any other crunchy, cheesy chip to top this pasta salad. Additionally, you could just use plain tortilla chips on top. The dish won’t be as flavorful but it will still be good.

What other vegetables can I add?

Want to make this even more of a filling dish? Try adding some black beans, corn or bell peppers.

Can I use different shaped pasta?

Certainly! We used rotini because the dressing sticks nicely to that shape of pasta but you can use any other small pasta.

What spice level of taco seasoning do I use?

For this recipe, since I tend to serve it to a crowd, I try to keep it mild so anybody and everybody can enjoy it. So, I used mild taco seasoning, but if you have a group who likes more heat, feel free to use any kind of taco seasoning that you prefer. You can also use homemade seasoning instead of a packet if desired.

Can I make this ahead of time?

You bet! In fact, this is usually a good thing since the flavors already need a few hours to meld and chill in the fridge together. Just wait to add the chips on top until you serve so they don’t get soggy.

Why do you rinse the pasta?

You rinse the pasta so it stops the cooking process. You don’t want the pasta to continue to cook while it’s warm so using cold water to rinse it helps stop the cooking process. It also helps to keep the pasta from soaking up too much of the dressing.

How to store leftovers?

Leftover pasta salad should be stored in the refrigerator and can be kept for 5 days. I don’t recommend storing it with the chips on it since they’ll get soggy. So wait to add the chips until you’re serving.

A plate of Taco Pasta Salad.

INGREDIENTS NEEDED: (FULL RECIPE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE POST)

  • dried rotini pasta
  • ground beef
  • taco seasoning
  • cherry tomatoes
  • green onions
  • shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • Catalina dressing
  • crushed nacho cheese Doritos
  • fresh chopped cilantro (optional)
Rotini pasta, ground beef, taco seasoning, cherry tomatoes, scallions, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, shredded Monterey Jack cheese, Catalina dressing, crushed nacho cheese Doritos, and cilantro.

HOW TO MAKE TACO PASTA SALAD 

Cook the rotini pasta per the directions on the back of the package. Drain, and rinse under cold water. Let drain well and set aside. In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef, breaking it up into crumbles until there is no pink left, 8-10 minutes.

A skillet of cooked ground beef.

Add the taco seasoning to the beef and stir it in until combined. Take off the heat.

Ground beef with taco seasoning in skillet.

Add the pasta, ground beef mixture, cherry tomatoes, scallions, cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, and Catalina dressing into a very large bowl. Stir until combined and everything is coated in the dressing.

Bowl of pasta, ground beef mixture, cherry tomatoes, scallions, cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, and Catalina dressing.

Cover and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours to chill.

A mixed up bowl of most of the ingredients for Taco Pasta Salad.

Right before serving, mix in the crushed Doritos and cilantro.

A glass bowl with Taco Pasta salad and crushed Doritos and cilantro.

Serve immediately and enjoy.

A bowl of taco pasta salad with tomatoes.

CRAVING MORE RECIPES?

A plate of rotini taco pasta salad.
A plate of taco pasta salad with doritos crumbled on top.

Taco Pasta Salad

This flavorful Taco Pasta Salad is simple to make and so delicious! It has all the best parts of a taco but served as a pasta salad instead and topped with Doritos!
5 from 10 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Chill Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 40 minutes
Servings: 12 servings

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Cook the rotini pasta per the directions on the back of the package. Drain, and rinse under cold water. Let drain well and set aside.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef, breaking it up into crumbles until there is no pink left, 8-10 minutes.
  • Add the taco seasoning to the beef and stir it in until combined. Take off the heat.
  • Add the pasta, ground beef mixture, cherry tomatoes, scallions, cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, and Catalina dressing into a very large bowl. Stir until combined and everything is coated in the dressing.
  • Cover and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours to chill.
  • Right before serving, mix in the crushed Doritos and cilantro, and serve immediately.

Notes

  • Don’t skip rinsing the pasta, it’s an important step.
  • If you are not planning on eating this all right away, I suggest adding the Doritos just to the serving you are going to consume. Once it sits too long, they will become soggy.
  • More yummy veggies you can add, corn, black beans and/or bell pepper.
  • Keeps in the fridge for up to 5 days. I do not suggest freezing.
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: American

Nutrition

Calories: 441kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 27g | Sodium: 871mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 8g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“The Country Cook” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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