Mexican Macaroni Salad

Mexican Macaroni salad offers a zesty blend of pasta, veggies, and a tangy dressing. There’s a fiesta of textures, a spicy kick, and refreshing Southwest flavors.

Mexican Macaroni Salad made with Barilla Pasta takes just under 20 minutes to prepare and is perfect for picnics, potlucks and other social gatherings.

Your family will love this Mexican Macaroni Salad because it offers a satisfying mix of textures and flavors. The chewy pasta, crunchy veggies, and zesty dressing create a well-balanced dish with a hint of spice. It’s a straightforward yet tasty option that’s sure to appeal to their taste buds.

Mexican Macaroni Salad with creamy dressing being poured on top.

Ingredients for Mexican Macaroni Salad

From chewy pasta to creamy avocado, each ingredient adds something special. The zesty salsa dressing and fresh veggies make a delicious mix of textures and flavors. Get ready for a simple yet delightful dish!

  1. Elbow Macaroni: Provides the base, offering a chewy texture to the salad.
  2. Yellow Corn: Adds sweetness and a crunchy element, enhancing overall texture.
  3. Black Beans: Brings protein and a hearty texture to make the salad more satisfying.
  4. Avocado: Offers creaminess, healthy fats, and a rich taste.
  5. Roma Tomatoes: Provides juiciness and a burst of freshness.
  6. Red Onions: Adds a sharp flavor and crunch, balancing the dish.
  7. Anaheim/Poblano/Green Bell Pepper (optional): Adds a mild heat and additional crunch.
  8. Fresh Chopped Cilantro: Enhances freshness and adds a distinctive herbaceous flavor.
  9. Salsa: Forms the base of the dressing, contributing a zesty kick.
  10. Sour Cream: Adds creaminess and balances the acidity of the salsa.
  11. Garlic: Introduces a savory element, enhancing the overall flavor.
  12. Cumin: Provides warmth and depth of flavor.
  13. Salt and Pepper: Seasoning for a well-balanced taste.
  14. Limes (optional): Offers a citrusy brightness, elevating the dish.

Optional Garnishes:

  • Mexican Crumbling Cheese: Adds a salty and tangy kick.
  • Fresh Chopped Cilantro: Enhances freshness.
  • Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice: Adds a burst of citrus flavor.

The ingredients for Mexican Macaroni salad in a bowl ready to be tossed with dressing.

How to Make Mexican Macaroni Salad

Create the perfect Mexican Macaroni Salad with easy steps. From preparing the zesty dressing to tossing crunchy veggies, follow along for a simple yet delicious culinary adventure. Your taste buds are in for a treat!

  1. Drain and rinse corn and beans.
  2. Mix all dressing ingredients.
  3. Combine macaroni, corn, beans, tomatoes, red onion, and cilantro.
  4. Pour 3/4 of the dressing, and toss. Chill 2 hours.
  5. Just before serving, add the remaining dressing, and garnish with cilantro, lime, and cheese!

Why this recipe works

The simple preparation makes it accessible for busy schedules, while the nutrient-packed ingredients ensure a wholesome and satisfying meal. With the option for customization and make-ahead convenience, it caters to the diverse preferences and practical needs of a family, making it a delicious and family-friendly choice for any occasion.

  • Family-Friendly Appeal: The simple preparation and diverse flavors make it appealing to all ages. It’s a crowd-pleaser, ensuring everyone at the table finds something to enjoy.
  • Nutrient-Packed: Packed with veggies, beans, and avocado, this recipe offers a nutrient boost, making it a wholesome and satisfying choice for family meals.
  • Make-Ahead Convenience: The ability to prepare in advance and chill allows for convenient meal planning, fitting seamlessly into a busy family schedule. It’s a practical and delicious option for any occasion.

Recipe tips and kitchen tricks

  1. Quick Prep: Use pre-cooked and cooled Barilla Elbow Macaroni for a time-saving shortcut.
  2. Efficient Dressing Mixing: Shake the dressing ingredients in a sealed jar for a quick and thorough blend.
  3. Chill Strategically: Place the salad in the freezer for a short time to speed up the chilling process, especially if you’re short on time.

Recipe Variations

  1. Spicy Twist: Add diced jalapeños or hot sauce to the dressing for a spicier kick.
  2. Protein Boost: Incorporate grilled chicken, shrimp, or ground beef for a protein-packed variation.
  3. Mango Delight: Introduce diced mango for a sweet and tropical twist, balancing the savory flavors with a touch of sweetness.

 Serving Suggestions

  1. Taco Night Side: Serve alongside tacos, enchiladas, or any Mexican main dish for a complete meal.
  2. Picnic Perfection: Pack it for a picnic or outdoor gathering as a refreshing and easy-to-share dish.
  3. Lunchbox Filler: Portion it into individual containers for a tasty and satisfying lunchbox option.
  4. Potluck Favorite: Bring to potlucks or gatherings; its vibrant colors and flavors make it a standout dish.
  5. Grilled Delight: Pair with grilled meats or veggies for a delightful side dish.

family-friendly side dishes

  1. Chicken Quesadillas: Simple and cheesy, a hit with both kids and adults.
  2. Beef and Bean Burritos: Filling and customizable, perfect for family members with varied tastes.
  3. Vegetarian Enchiladas: Stuffed with beans, veggies, and cheese, a flavorful meatless option for everyone to enjoy.

Storing, freezing, and reheating instructions

Storing: Place Mexican Macaroni Salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It stays fresh for up to 2-3 days, maintaining its flavors and textures.

Freezing: While the pasta may become slightly softer upon thawing, you can freeze the salad for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before serving.

Reheating: For a warm option, gently reheat portions in the microwave, adding a splash of water to maintain moisture. Alternatively, enjoy it cold straight from the refrigerator for a quick and refreshing dish.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I use a different pasta shape?

Yes, feel free to choose your preferred pasta shape. Adjust cooking time accordingly.

Is the salad spicy?

The spice level depends on your preference. Adjust by adding or reducing jalapeños or hot sauce.

Can I make it ahead of time?

Absolutely! Prepare the salad in advance, and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight for best result

Wine, Cocktail, and Beer Pairings

Wine Pairings:

  1. Sauvignon Blanc: Crisp and citrusy, it complements the fresh and zesty flavors of the salad.
  2. Rosé: Its light and fruity notes harmonize with the diverse textures, adding a touch of elegance.
  3. Malbec: The bold red wine pairs well with the robust flavors, especially if you add protein like grilled meats.

Cocktail Pairings:

  1. Margarita: The classic citrusy and salty notes enhance the Mexican theme of the dish.
  2. Paloma: Refreshing grapefruit flavors cut through the richness, creating a perfect balance.
  3. Cucumber Mint Cooler: A non-alcoholic option with cucumber and mint complements the salad’s freshness.

Beer Pairings:

  1. Mexican Lager: A light and crisp lager that complements the dish without overpowering it.
  2. Wheat Beer: Its subtle fruity and spicy notes pair well with the diverse flavors of the salad.
  3. Pale Ale: The hoppy bitterness contrasts with the creamy dressing, creating a well-balanced combination.
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Mexican Macaroni Salad made with Barilla Pasta takes just under 20 minutes to prepare and is perfect for picnics, potlucks and other social gatherings.

Mexican Macaroni Salad

Ronda Eagle | Kitchen Dreaming
Mexican Macaroni Salad made with Barilla Pasta takes just under 20 minutes to prepare and is perfect for picnics, potlucks and other social gatherings.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 12 servings
Calories 247 kcal


For the Salad:

  • 1 pound Barilla Elbow Macaroni , cooked and rinsed with cold water
  • 1 can (15.25 oz) yellow corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15.25 oz) Black Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 Hass or 1 green (Florida) avocado, peeled, pitted and chopped
  • 6 whole Roma Tomatoes , seeded and chopped or 1-pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/2 whole Red Onions , Finely Diced
  • 1 large Anaheim , Poblano or green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced fine (optional)
  • fresh chopped cilantro

For the Dressing:

  • 1 cup jarred Salsa
  • 1 cup Sour Cream1 clove Garlic , minced or 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin
  • Salt And Pepper , to taste
  • 2 Limes , Juiced (optional)

Optional Garnishes:

  • Mexican crumbling cheese ,
  • fresh chopped cilantro
  • fresh squeezed lime juice


  • Drain and rinse the corn and beans and set aside.
  • Combine all the dressing ingredients in a bowl and stir until combined.
  • Place the macaroni, corn, beans, tomatoes, red onion, and cilantro (if using) in a large bowl. Pour 3/4 of the dressing over the top and gently toss until all the ingredients are coated.
  • Add the final 1/4 of the dressing if you think it needs it.
  • Cover and chill for 2 hours or overnight [See Note 1].
  • Garnish with cilantro, lime wedge, and Mexican crumbling cheese!


  1. As pasta salad sits, it soaks up some of the dressing. So if you are making this ahead of time, reserve some dressing to mix in again just before serving. I usually make a little more than I need and toss to coat again just before serving.


Calories: 247kcalCarbohydrates: 35gProtein: 7gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 174mgPotassium: 374mgFiber: 4gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 315IUVitamin C: 15.5mgCalcium: 47mgIron: 1mg
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