Easy 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.

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!

Mexican Pasta Salad in a bowl.

Mexican Pasta Salad

Pasta salads are on repeat in my house throughout the summer! It’s my go-to choice because the entire family loves it, there’s no need to turn on the oven, and it’s quick to prepare.

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–hi Easy Macaroni Salad), but this pasta salad is much lighter.

This pasta salad has a dressing made of vinegar and olive oil that is fresh and zesty from the lime juice. It has spices that make it tasty and a little bit spicy. With this flavor-packed dressing, you won’t miss the typical mayo filled pasta salads!

Pasta being cooked; dressing being made; and all the ingredients being added on top of pasta.

Ingredients

Salad:

  • Pasta: Don’t dump the whole box of pasta in, we’re only using 3 cups! Rinse the pasta as soon as you drain it to prevent sticking.
  • Corn and black beans: If you choose to use fresh corn, grilling adds a delicious smoky flavor.
  • Bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and red onion: These give everything crunch and color. Cut all the vegetables the same size so they spread out evenly in the salad and every bite tastes similar.
  • Cilantro and avocado: Add avocado right before serving to prevent browning. If you’re not a cilantro fan you can leave it out or swap it for chopped parsley.

Dressing:

  • Olive oil and rice vinegar: Form the base of the dressing, balancing richness and acidity.
  • Lime juice, sugar, and seasonings: These ingredients make the dressing tangy, sweet, and spicy. If you don’t like much spice, use less cayenne pepper. If you love spice, use more.

QUICK TIP

Tomato cutting trick: To quickly cut many cherry tomatoes, place them on an upside-down plate with a raised edge. Put another plate on top, press gently, and slice through the tomatoes with a sharp serrated knife.

How To Make Mexican Pasta Salad

  1. Cook pasta: Boil the pasta until soft but firm, then cool it under water. Salt the water for flavor.
  2. Prepare veggies: Chop peppers, tomatoes, onion, and cilantro. Grill or raw chop the corn. 
  3. Mix salad: In a big bowl, combine pasta, veggies, corn, and beans. 
  4. Make dressing: Mix olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, sugar, and spices. Adjust the taste, adding more oil or vinegar as needed.
  5. Dress salad: Pour dressing over salad and toss. 
  6. Serve: Mix in avocado last.

Mexican Pasta Salad, ready to be served.

Mexican Pasta Salad Tips

  • I suggest using small pasta. If the pasta has lots of ridges or lines, it’s even better! These textures help the sauce stick to the pasta better, so it doesn’t all just fall to the bottom of the bowl.
  • Toss often. This Mexican pasta salad’s dressing can go to the bottom or soak into the pasta if it sits for a while. Keep stirring it and add more dressing little by little to keep the salad tasty.
  • Wash the pasta with cold water. After draining it, rinse with cold water and mix it with a little bit of the dressing. This stops the pasta from sticking and makes it taste good with the dressing flavor.
  • Add enough salt to the pasta water when you cook it; this is your only chance to make the pasta tasty by itself. If you don’t salt the pasta, the whole salad won’t taste as good. Usually, I put 1 teaspoon of salt in 4 cups of water, which means I use about 1 tablespoon of salt for the noodles in this Mexican Pasta Salad.

The dish in a bowl showing all the ingredients.

STORAGE

Make Ahead And Storage

  • Make Ahead Of Time: You can make this salad ahead of time. If you do, put together all parts of the salad except the avocado and make the dressing. Keep the salad and dressing in different sealed containers in the refrigerator.
  • When it’s time to eat, mix the salad with the dressing and then put in the avocado. Add the avocado right before eating to keep it fresh and green. If you have leftover salad, only put avocado in the part you’re going to eat now.
  • Leftovers: 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.

More Pasta Salad Recipes

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Mexican Pasta Salad

5 from 11 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.
Mexican Pasta Salad in a bowl.
Print Recipe

Mexican Pasta Salad

Mexican Pasta Salad in a bowl.
5 from 11 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.
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
Chelsea Lords
Calories 651kcal
Cost $6.72

Ingredients

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

Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons 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: Cook 3 cups of pasta as directed on the package, salting the water (I add 1 teaspoon to every 4 cups of water). If using frozen corn, add during the final minute of boiling. Drain, rinse in cold water, and let 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, Note 1.
  • VEGGIE PREP: Meanwhile, drain and rinse one cup of black beans. Chop/prepare all veggies.
  • SALAD: Mix cooled pasta, corn, black beans, sweet peppers, cherry tomatoes, onion, and cilantro in a large bowl. Add avocado (and only to what you are eating; don't add to any salad you have planned for leftovers).
  • DRESSING: Mix all dressing ingredients in a resealable jar and shake. Gradually add to the salad, tossing to combine, and reserve some for refreshing the salad later if needed.
  • MAKE AHEAD: Store mixed ingredients and dressing separately in airtight containers in the fridge. Combine when ready to serve, adding avocado last.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Preheat grill to 400Β°F. Shuck corn, remove silk, and coat with 1/2 teaspoon oil and lightly sprinkle with sea salt. Grill, covered, turning every 3-5 minutes (check at 3 minutes, flipping 4 times total) for even charring, until crisp-tender. Cool slightly 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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5 from 11 votes (1 rating without comment)

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Recipe Rating




45 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™‚

  15. 5 stars
    This was soooo good! The dressing is perfect with all the other ingredients. Thank you for a new addition to my top 10 list! πŸ™‚

  16. If I prepped this the morning of an event, and it sat in the dressing for 5 hours would it still be ok? I’m afraid mixing right before would not give it enough time to meld.

  17. 5 stars
    This was delicious. A very rrefreshing salad. I will definitely be making this again, maybe even adding some.chicken for a nice summer supper.

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