Mexican Pasta Salad

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The ultimate BEST EVER MEXICAN PASTA SALAD with an easy delicious chili-lime vinaigrette. via chelseasmessyapron.com

This Mexican Pasta Salad starts with mini bowtie pasta and is loaded with veggies and black beans. A delicious chili-lime vinaigrette tops this salad and ensures a fresh, lively flavor.

Craving a Mexican-inspired pasta salad with a creamy dressing? Try this Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad — it’s a fan favorite on the site!

Overhead image of Mexican Pasta Salad.

Mexican Pasta Salad

Most pasta salads tend to be on the heavier side with lots of mayo (and trust me, I’m not complaining about those because I love them), but this pasta salad is much lighter. It has a vinegar and olive oil-based dressing that tastes fresh and lively, thanks to the lime juice. The spices add a great depth of flavor and a mild hit of spice. With this flavor-packed dressing, you won’t miss the typical mayo-laden pasta salads!

Process shots-- images of the pasta being cooked; dressing being made; and all the ingredients being added on top of pasta.

Mexican Pasta Salad Tips

  • I’d recommend using small pasta. The more ridges or grooves in the pasta, the better! With more texture on the pasta, the dressing clings better instead of completely pooling at the bottom of the bowl.
  • Toss often. As this Mexican pasta salad sits for any length of time, the dressing tends to settle at the bottom of the dish or absorb into the pasta. Toss it often and add dressing slowly as needed to refresh the salad.
  • Rinse the pasta in cold water. Once the pasta has been drained, rinse it in cold water and toss it with a few tablespoons of the dressing. This keeps the pasta from sticking together as it finishes cooling and infuses it with the delicious flavor from the dressing.
  • Make sure the pasta is well-salted as it cooks; salting is the only chance you have to season the actual pasta. Without seasoning the pasta, the salad as a whole will taste underwhelming. As a rule of thumb, I add 1 teaspoon salt to 4 cups of water, so about 1 tablespoon of salt when cooking the noodles for this Mexican Pasta Salad.

Overhead image of Mexican Pasta Salad, ready to be served.

Prepare In Advance

This is a salad that can easily be made ahead of time. If you choose to do this, prepare the salad components (besides the avocado) and dressing, but keep the two separated. Store the salad and dressing in separate airtight containers in the fridge.

When ready to serve, toss the salad and dressing together and then add the avocado. You want to add the avocado just before eating so it stays fresh and green. If you want to enjoy this salad as leftovers, add avocado to only the portion you’ll be eating.

Storage

Only combine salad and dressing for what will be enjoyed the same day. Leftovers of this salad don’t store well once dressed. The dressing gets absorbed into the pasta and also softens the veggies.

Up-close image of Mexican Pasta Salad, showing all the ingredients.

QUICK TIP

Tomato cutting hack: If you want to cut your tomatoes quickly, easily, and all at once, here’s a hack I use often. Grab a plate with a lip on the bottom and set it upside down on a clean cutting surface. Place the cherry tomatoes on top inside that lip and then place another plate (with a lip on the bottom) on top of the tomatoes. Gently press the top plate down and using a sharp serrated knife, cut through all of the tomatoes at once. (Visual Here)

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Mexican Pasta Salad

5 from 7 votes
This Mexican Pasta Salad starts with mini bowtie pasta and is loaded with veggies and black beans. A delicious chili-lime vinaigrette tops this salad and ensures a fresh, lively flavor.
Print Recipe

Mexican Pasta Salad

5 from 7 votes
This Mexican Pasta Salad starts with mini bowtie pasta and is loaded with veggies and black beans. A delicious chili-lime vinaigrette tops this salad and ensures a fresh, lively flavor.
Course Main Course, Salad, Vegetarian
Cuisine Healthy, Mexican, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword Mexican Pasta Salad
Prep Time 25 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 6 -8 as a side
Calories 651kcal
Author Chelsea
Cost $6.72

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (260g) mini farfalle/bowtie pasta, measured when dry
  • 1 cup (135g) corn (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup (147g) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup (70g) assorted sweet bell peppers, chopped (or just 1 bell pepper)
  • 1 cup (135g) cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup (33g) red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup (10g) packed cilantro, finely chopped, (~1/3 a bunch)
  • 1 avocado, pit removed and chopped

Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons (40g) olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons (40g) rice vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons (70g) squeezed fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon ground chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Instructions

  • PASTA: Prepare the pasta according to package directions. (Don't cook all the pasta; only use 3 cups!) Make sure to generously salt the water (I add 1 teaspoon to every 4 cups of water), or the whole salad will taste under-seasoned. If using frozen corn, add it in with the pasta for the last minute of boiling. Drain pasta, rinse under cold water, let cool, and allow to dry. Optional: toss the pasta in a few tablespoons of the dressing as it finishes cooling.
  • FRESH CORN: If using fresh corn, either grill the corn (our favorite way) or cut the corn off the cob raw and add to salad (still delicious!). If grilling the corn, see Note 1.
  • VEGGIE PREP: Meanwhile, drain and rinse one cup of black beans. Chop/prepare all the veggies.
  • SALAD: In a large bowl, combine the cooled pasta, corn, black beans, sweet peppers, cherry tomatoes, onion, and cilantro. Add avocado last (and only to what you are eating; don't add to any salad you have planned for leftovers).
  • DRESSING: In a resealable jar, combine all of the dressing ingredients. Shake until combined. Pour the dressing over the salad, slowly (You may not want to use all the dressing at once; it's nice to have some to moisten the salad again as it sits - so add it in gradually). Toss to combine.
  • MAKE AHEAD: Mix the ingredients and the dressing separately. Store in airtight containers in the fridge and then combine when ready to eat. Add the avocado last!

Recipe Notes

Note 1: If you're grilling the corn, preheat the grill to 400 degrees F. Shuck and remove silk from corn. Rub oil all over the sides (about 1/2 teaspoon) and lightly sprinkle with sea salt. Place corn on the grill and with the lid closed, turn every 3-5 minutes (check at 3 minutes, flipping 4 times total) until the corn is nicely charred and crisp-tender. Remove corn from the grill and allow to slightly cool before cutting off the cob.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 651kcal | Carbohydrates: 71g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 2117mg | Potassium: 932mg | Fiber: 13g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 3042IU | Vitamin C: 62mg | Calcium: 84mg | Iron: 5mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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37 Comments

    1. THANK YOU so much for sharing. Made a double batch because it was the meal rather than a side. NO LEFTOVERS! Did avocado & cilantro on the side (I have haters) and added diced,grilled chicken. Unanimous vote for again AND often.

      1. So thrilled this was a hit!! Thanks so much for the comment and review Christy πŸ™‚

  1. You stole my heart at “30 minutes,” Chelsea! This pasta salad looks fantastic and is a great take-along for a BBQ!

    1. 5 stars
      Just a sideline after i noticed the posts about lime issues…. I used Italia brand lime juice from the squeezy container and it didn’t hurt the recipe at all.

  2. This sounds really yummy… I love the flavors in the dressing. A nice change from the typical Italian dressing or mayo pasta salad!

  3. Beautiful looking salad! I love all the colors and am such a fan of southwest flavors, I can definitely see myself bringing this to a BBQ in the near future!

  4. Ok, this is definitely happening in my kitchen…SOON! That looks so good, thanks for another stellar recipe πŸ™‚

  5. This salad is gorgeous Chelsea! I love how bright and pretty your salads all look not to mention super yummy! Aaw, so nice that despite the long line, Grey was able to giggle and smile so much and that the man was nice and smiled back πŸ™‚

  6. Would love to invite you to share your food photos with us over at Food Foto Gallery . com – There’s no complicated approval process like the big guys. Any photos related to food (that are not watermarked) are accepted & get posted automatically. We also share our daily faves on social media, giving exposure to food bloggers when we can. Let me know if you have any questions and hope to see you at the site πŸ™‚

  7. I love all of your quick meals, Chelsea! They are easy to make ahead of time and bring to work for lunch.

  8. What a fabulous salad! This is the perfect thing to bring to a get-together this summer. Your pictures are absolutely gorgeous, Chelsea. I am loving the light :).

  9. Yum! This quick pasta salad sounds delicious Chelsea! I love the flavours and as always, the bright colours.

  10. 5 stars
    This is really good! The dressing mix is perfect. I love basic recipes like this that lend themselves to be altered, although I didn’t this time; one could definitely add olives, cubed cheese, etc.

  11. love it! have searched and searched for a pasta salad with lots of veggies and a great dressing. Thank you! Am making it for my contribution to a “back to school” luncheon for parents and PTA members. πŸ™‚

    1. That sounds like fun!! This is one of my family’s favorite salads and one of my personal favorites so I hope everyone loves it πŸ™‚

  12. 5 stars
    This was truly delish! The dressing is great and also a fabulous way to use leftover pasta! Thanks for the recipe!

  13. This salad looks incredible! And you take the most beautiful pictures. Can the rice vinegar be substituted? It’s the only vinegar I don’t have on hand.

    1. To make ahead: mix all the ingredients and the dressing separate. Store in airtight containers in the fridge and then combine when ready to eat. Add avocado last!

  14. 5 stars
    This is a delicious salad! Thank you for the great recipe. It was a hit with the family! I made minor adjustments of slightly less salt and extra black beans πŸ™‚

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