This Southwestern Pasta Salad is a fun and easy side dish that adds some Tex-Mex fun to your picnic, cookout or pitch in. Tender pasta is paired with tons of fresh veggies and a chili lime dressing adds the perfect amount of spicy zing! It’s a great vegetarian side dish and can easily be made vegan too!
Why You Will Love This Southwestern Pasta Salad
- BOLD FUN FLAVORS – Move over boring, normal pasta salads! This Southwest Pasta Salad is full of Vibrant Tex-Mex flavors that will transport you south of the border. And it’s all held together with our homemade zesty Chili Lime Dressing!
- VERSATILE – One of the great things about pasta salad recipes is that they are so easy to improvise. If you don’t like a certain ingredient, omit it! If you want to add something, add it! You really can’t mess this recipe up!
- GREAT “THEME” DISH – This is a great dish to bring to an Mexican Themed Party, like a Cinco De Mayo celebration. But it’s also just a perfect recipe for a BBQ, Cookout, Picnic or Potluck.
Southwestern Pasta Salad
It’s a little sweet, a little spicy, tender and crunchy all at the same time. Full of fun flavors and taste, it’s like a symphony for your senses. This is super easy to make. For step-by-step instructions, check out the printable recipe card below. But here is what you’ll need to get started.
Pasta Salad Ingredients
- Rotini Pasta (or any cooked pasta)
- Yellow Bell Pepper (Or red bell pepper)
- Grape Tomatoes (Halved)
- Black Beans, Drained
- Avocados, Pitted and Diced
- Salt and Black Pepper – to taste if desired.
- Shredded Cheddar Cheese
- Cotija Cheese (optional)
- Chili Powder
- Onion Powder
- Garlic Powder
- Olive Oil
- Lime Juice
- Fresh Cilantro
Storage and Freezing
Store leftover pasta salad in an airtight container in your refrigerator. It will be good in your fridge for about 4 days.
I would not freeze this recipe.
Notes, Tips and Variations
We hope you enjoy this recipe for Southwestern Pasta Salad. I just love the combination of flavors and looks so beautiful will all of the colors. Here are a couple ways to mix things up, and a couple of tips I’ve discovered to help out.
- VEGAN?- This dish is super easy to make Vegan friendly! All you have to do is take out the cheese! But.. man… I LOVE cheese.
- USE ANOTHER DRESSING – You certainly don’t have to use our dressing. You can use any store-bought dressing that sounds good. I chipotle ranch would be perfect.
- OTHER VEGGIES?- I’ve come across some Southwestern Pasta Salad recipes that have fresh, chopped red onion in them. I’m not a fan, nor is anyone in my family. So we didn’t make our with that in there. But, if that sounds good to you, go for it! You could also add roma tomatoes, green onions, cherry tomatoes, red peppers, green peppers or any other vegetables that sound good.
- CUBED CHEESE- Instead of shredded cheddar cheese, try dicing a block of cheddar cheese into tiny cubes. This could give your recipe another layer of texture. And the cubed cheese may also hold up to the dressing a little longer.
- EXPERIMENT WITH PASTA- I honestly wanted to make this recipe with Bow Tie Pasta but my grocery store didn’t have it. What the heck!?!?! So, I went with my second favorite pasta, Rotini. But, if you’ve got Bow Tie Pasta, go for that and let me know how it turns out. Penne pasta or Elbow Macaroni would also be delish.
- WHERE ARE THE OLIVES?- Again, some versions of this recipe include black olives. But we don’t like them. So we left them out. But, if that’s your thing, go ahead and add some.
- ADD CHICKEN- If you wanted to add a protein, you could certainly stir in some diced grilled chicken to this dish. Or you could add shredded chicken by buying a rotisserie chicken from our grocery store. Just let it cool in the fridge and use that!
- DRY YOUR PASTA – After rinsing your pasta under cold water, allow the noodles to dry completely before assembling the pasta salad.
- ADD SOME SPICE – Dice up a jalapeño and mix it in for some kick!
We hope you enjoy this Southwestern Pasta Salad Recipe. Let us know how it turns out in the comments section. Thanks and bye!
LOOKING FOR MORE PASTA SALAD RECIPES? CHECK OUT:
Southwestern Pasta Salad
- 12 ounces Rotini Pasta
- 1 Yellow Bell Pepper
- 1 Cup Grape Tomatoes Halved
- 1 Can Black Beans Drained
- 1 Can Corn Drained
- 2 Avocados Pitted and Diced
- Salt and Black Pepper To Taste
- 1/4 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
- 1/4 cup Cotija Cheese (optional)
- 1 tsp Chili Powder
- 1 tsp Onion Powder
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
- 3 Tbsp Lime Juice
- 1 tsp Cumin
- 1/4 cup Fresh Cilantro
- Cook the pasta to al dente.
- While pasta is cooking, dice the yellow pepper, open and drain the cans of beans and corn. Chop the Grape Tomatoes in half.
- Once the pasta is cooked, drain and rinse under cold water. Make sure pasta is well rinsed.
- In a large bowl, mix together the pasta, yellow pepper, beans, corn, cheddar cheese and tomatoes.
- In a medium bowl, mix together Olive Oil, Lime Juice, Chili Powder, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Cumin and Cilantro.
- Toss the pasta salad with the dressing and refrigerate for at least two hours.
- Add the Avocado and Cotija Cheese (if desired) just before serving.