taco pasta salad in a bowl

This taco pasta salad is so very easy to prepare ahead of time! Made with simple ingredients, this is a go-to salad your family is sure to love. Serve this taco pasta salad as a main course, or as a side. It’s a favorite to dish to pass at get-togethers. There won’t be any leftovers to bring home!


I like to use either lean ground beef or ground venison in this recipe. The ground venison we have in the freezer is so handy to use! And there’s never any fat to drain. That helps make this an even lower calorie dish.

The recipe lists spiral pasta, but I usually use whatever pasta I have in the pantry. I’ve already used pasta shells, radiatorie, or even macaroni!

ingredients for the taco pasta salad

Yes, this salad does have Doritos in it! But they add just the right amount of yummy crunch!! For less calories you can skip this ingredient, but I don’t think you’ll want to! Plus, the rest of all fresh ingredients will make up for these few sinful calories.

Prepare the Taco Meat and Pasta

The greatest thing about this salad is how quick it comes together!! While the ground beef and pasta are cooking, you can prepare the other ingredients. Just keep an eye on the items cooking, stirring occasionally!!

browning the ground beef and onion in the skillet

Even though the package of dry taco seasoning calls for 3/4 cup water, I only use 1/4 cup. It’s a personal preference. I like my taco meat less juicy. Prepare the taco meat however you prefer it!!

I like to cook the pasta until tender. Again, cook it according to your personal preference. Just follow the directions on the pasta box!

While the meat and pasta are cooking, as you keep an eye on them you can prepare the rest of the ingredients!!

chopped cherry tomatoes, sliced green onions, and cilantro leaves

You can use whatever type of lettuce you prefer in this salad. I like to use romaine lettuce. A lettuce mix is fun to use in this taco pasta salad too!!

Assemble the Salad

I really love to make and prepare all the ingredients for this salad ahead of time!! All the prepared ingredients can be stored in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble them. When you are ready to eat, mix everything together in a large bowl, mixing well. You can also assemble individual salads, and let everyone add more or less of the ingredients they like.

This salad works great to take prepare ahead, and take to a picnic or camping. Just keep all your ingredients in the cooler, and throw it together for a really quick meal your family will gobble up! So easy!! Enjoy!!!

taco pasta salad in a bowl
taco pasta salad in a bowl
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Taco Pasta Salad

This easy spin on a taco salad will leave you craving more! Serve this taco pasta salad as a side or on its own as the main course. So easy to make ahead on those busy days!
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Course: Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 6
Calories: 564kcal

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  • 1 pound lean ground beef can substitute for ground venison
  • 1 package dry taco seasoning
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 8-12 ounces spiral pasta, 1/2-3/4 box (uncooked)
  • 1 head lettuce, cut or torn into small pieces
  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 bag Doritos (9 ounce bag), crushed
  • 6 ounces lite Western dressing

Optional Items You May Like to Add:

  • avocado
  • black olives
  • canned corn
  • black beans
  • cilantro leaves
  • green pepper


  • Prepare taco meat. In a large skillet or frying pan on medium heat, brown and fully cook the lean ground beef along with the chopped red onion (really any onion can be used, I like to cook the meat with the onion for flavor!). Crumble the ground beef as it cooks. When it's cooked through, reduce heat to low and add the taco seasoning and 1/4 cup water. Stir well just so it's all mixed through, remove taco meat from stove. The taco meat can be served hot or cold in the salad, whichever you prefer.
  • As you're frying the ground beef and onion, you can be cooking the pasta! Cook 1/2-3/4 box pasta according to directions on the box (I use the longest cooking time so the pasta isn't firm, it's up to you which way you prefer it).
  • While the ground beef and pasta are cooking, you can prepare the other ingredients for the salad. Tear or cut lettuce into bite-sized pieces. Slice the green onions and cherry tomatoes. Break Doritos into small pieces. Prepare any optional ingredients, if you choose to add them.
  • When you're ready to serve, mix all ingredients (including the dressing) together in a large bowl. If you'd prefer, you can also make up individual salads and add dressing on top of each. Add more or less of any ingredient you prefer. Enjoy!!

Your Own Private Notes


Calories: 564kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 86mg | Sodium: 1010mg | Potassium: 672mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 1830IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 323mg | Iron: 4mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @lakegirlquilts or tag #lakegirlquilts!

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