Taco Pasta Salad

This Taco Pasta Salad is a family favorite!  It’s perfect for BBQs, potlucks and big family gatherings!

This Taco Pasta Salad is a family favorite! It's perfect for BBQs, potlucks and big family gatherings!

Growing up with two older brothers, I always wanted a sister.  I remember one year for Christmas I actually asked my parents for a twin sister, because I was kind of a punk as a kid.

They gave me a mirror.

I wonder where I got my punkiness from.

This Taco Pasta Salad is a family favorite! It's perfect for BBQs, potlucks and big family gatherings!

And then after growing up with two brothers, I married a man with FIVE.

But the thing about all those brothers is that it has actually meant sisters!  Seven sister in laws!

Don’t tell anyone, but one of my very favorite sister in laws is the wife of the brother who is just one older than Nathan (did you follow that?).  Deanna has been part of my in law family the longest, so I have known longer than almost all of my other sister in laws.  She is so many awesome things, but I enjoy her most as an aunt and as a friend.  She seriously loves my kids so much, it is the greatest thing to watch.  And even though right now she lives on the other side of the stupid planet (remember when I made this Pina Colada Sangria for her send off?) and when I text her I’m either interrupting her breakfast or keeping her awake too late, she is one of my favorite people text with . . . I always end up cry laughing ????

This Taco Pasta Salad is a family favorite! It's perfect for BBQs, potlucks and big family gatherings!

So this is her recipe.  She has made it for tons of family functions, and I loooooove it.  I snarf it down every time she makes it.  The secret ingredient to this, if you can believe it, is French dressing.  I know that sounds super totally weird, but it is all the exact right flavor combos.

This makes a HUGE batch, so it is perfect for BBQs and family functions.  You can make it ahead of time, but just wait to add the dressing and chips until right before you serve it otherwise the chips and the lettuce will get all soggy and weird.


This Taco Pasta Salad is a family favorite! It's perfect for BBQs, potlucks and big family gatherings!

Taco Pasta Salad


  • 1 pound beef, cooked and drained
  • 1 pound rotini, cooked and drained and rinsed with cold water
  • 1 oz or 4 TBSPs taco seasoning
  • 1 green pepper, diced small
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced small
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar jack cheese
  • 3 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
  • 1 1/2 cups French dressing
  • 9 3/4 oz bag Nacho Doritos, crushed


  1. Stir together the beef and the taco seasoning.
  2. In a very large bowl, mix together the beef, noodles, green pepper, onion, tomatoes, lettuce, and cheese.
  3. Mix in the French dressing until everything is well coated. Then stir in the chips. Enjoy right away.

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This Taco Pasta Salad is a family favorite! It's perfect for BBQs, potlucks and big family gatherings!


  1. ColleenB.~Texas says

    Look delicious. For my son in laws I will have to add a few sliced jalapeno peppers or have them on the side ( on the side would be better for those you wouldn’t want the peppers in their salad) and they can add the peppers themselves .
    Roughly; about how many servings would this make?

  2. Caroline says

    Sorry to be the grammar police but my grandfather was an English teacher so these things drive me crazy….. the plural of sister in law is “sisters in law” (not sister in laws….. the sisters are multiple, not the law). Same rule for things like “secretaries of state” or “jacks in the box” or whatever. Sorry for the correction but thanks for the recipe…. looks delicious!

    • Pam says

      Caroline, I appreciate good grammar as well, but seriously, is that all you took away from this delicious recipe? You don’t always have to comment – keep some things to yourself.

        • Cindy Quinton says

          I also AM a teacher, or at least was for many years. I have a school of thought on correcting other’s grammar. Unless you are someone’s parent or teacher, it is inherently rude to correct people. So, unless you are being intentionally rude or have been asked for advice, don’t. Even your children and students may not care to be corrected in a public forum.

          • Kacie says

            Completely agree! Having a husband who was born deaf- whom often does not hear words correctly and quite honestly never properly learned how to spell and two children who struggle daily with spelling. They never text anyone outside of immediate family, won’t ever post on social media, question every word written because people can’t follow the golden rule. Is the placement of an S really your business? I can guarantee- it’s not worth pointing out to make someone else.

      • Kathy Duff says

        Any reason to wait and add the taco seasoning after meat is cooked instead of adding to hamburger while cooking? Maybe more flavor when added after? Am making tomorrow. When I make Taco Salad I always use hot sauce and Catalina on it and love that, so this will be sooo good. Thank you.

        • says

          I thought it would add more flavor, and honestly, when I was making it I was making a video and it was just easier this way. You could do it both ways and I think it would be delicious.

      • Becky says

        I can’t wait to try this recipe! I was wondering about how you served it too (hot or cold)…so I’m grateful I checked the comments. Thanks so much for the recipe.

  3. Tammy L says

    is there a specific brand and flavor of french dresssing that you use? i have a similar recipe that calls for Catalina French (its sort of sweet)

  4. Emily says

    Skip the French dressing and use good ‘ol Dorthy Lynch. Only made here in Nebraska! It will blow any other dressing out of the water. I promise, you won’t regret trying it!! (You may have to find it on the internet!)

  5. staci naab says

    I make mine with miracle whip instead of French dressing and I don’t add pasta. Instead I use Doritos and chili cheese fritos..but the next time I make my recipe for it,I’m going to just add pasta to my original recipe and try it

  6. Katie says

    sounds delicious and will be making some soon, could you recommend another dressing please as French dressing here in the uk is not tomato based with spices. Would thousand island dressing be a good substitute? Thanks in advance

  7. Audrey says

    Do you add water with your homemade taco seasoning to the meat like you would if you were using a packet mix?

  8. Paula says

    I’m making this today….I think I’ll use chopped cabbage instead of lettuce because it’s what I have and it doesn’t wilt as fast but otherwise follwing the recipe. Thanks…I really like your site.

  9. Wanda says

    Excellent recipe. If you serve the Doritos on the side instead of adding to the whole salad, the salad will be just as good the next day as the first without having soggy Doritos.

  10. Jenny says

    Oh my gosh, just made this last night and it is GREAT! I found a LITEHOUSE Salsa Ranch Dressing at Safeway, do you think that would work as well ?
    Also the Sister in laws is just fine.


  11. Jodi says

    Funny, I didn’t even read the story until after all the comments, I was too busy drooling over the recipe. I can’t wait to try this today for a Birthday party!!

    • says

      Hi Ed! I haven’t done the calculations for the servings on this. Can I recommend My Fitness Pal? It’s a great app that is super easy to use and gives you the calorie output for different dishes. You can even enter the link for this recipe and it will pull all the ingredients and give you an approximation. I just did it for this recipe and it said 354 calories per serving if there are 20 servings.

  12. Deb Roefs says

    What would you suggest serving with it? I’m making a light evening meal for a few people that don’t have a lot of time to eat it as they are popping in when they aren’t judging dance events.

    • says

      This is such a great question, Deb! I have only really had this as a side amongst a bunch of other dishes. If you really want it to be a light meal, I would suggest just putting out a veggie tray with some hummus and ranch dips and a fruit tray.

  13. Sandy says

    I was surprised there was lettuce in this, as I couldn’t see it from the picture. Was thinking this would be a great alternative to taco salad because it wouldn’t get soggy (and one of my girls doesn’t like lettuce salads). Do you think it would be OK without the lettuce?

      • Julie says

        I was wondering g about not adding letter too..im dying to make this but need a group large enough to enjoy. Memorial day it’s happening. Would western dressing be ok on it. .. thanks for sharing….yes I know my punctuation is not correct…im busy. Lol

        • Katie Borkowski says

          I made mine with Western dressing. And I also added the lettuce on the side. I figured this way I could keep the leftovers and not have soggy/wilted lettuce.

          It turned out great. Even my picky husband ate seconds and asked for leftovers to take for lunch the next day. This is highly unusual for him, so it really says something about how good this was!

          I also did a combo of green and red peppers, but that is a minor change.

  14. Leslie Crowder says

    I fixed this salad for my parents’ 50th-anniversary celebration this weekend and it was a huge hit! I have given out several copies of the recipe, linked folks to it on Facebook and pinned it to one of my more popular Pinterest boards. I made it with seasoned ground turkey because my dad is allergic to beef and no one questioned it. Super easy to make ahead of time–I waited and added the lettuce and Doritos right before serving. I will definitely make this again! Everyone else at it cold but my husband ate his warmed and loved it!

  15. Tina says

    Was looking for a recipe to make for our Cinco De Mayo potluck at work, and this is perfect! Can’t wait to try it, thanks for sharing!

  16. Diane says

    I am making this for my high school girls’ tennis tournament, tomorrow. I have a recipe for pizza pasta and they beg me to make it each time we have a tournament. I told them I was making something different and they cried until I showed them the photo! Stay tuned!

  17. Heytrn says

    I added corn and left out the Doritos. I also used turkey and gluten free noodles. It was great kids loved it a lot!

  18. Liv Greenfield says

    I grew up eating this with 3 changes. 1) no noodles…it was specifically a salad 2) Tostitos or Fritos instead of Doritos 3) western dressing instead of French.

    I’m very excited to try it with pasta.

  19. Laura says

    Thank you for sharing this! I was trying to think of something a little different than the usual potato, pasta etc salad for my church picnic and a friend at work told me he just shared it on Facebook. I looked it up and now am so happy to have this recipe! I know it will be a crowd pleaser. Thank you for the tips on waiting to add the last couple ingredients 🙂 I will be looking forward to more recipes from you 🙂

  20. Cathy says

    I need to make several batches of this for a school luncheon. Can I make the noodles and beef 2 days in advance?

  21. Brooke says

    Hi. I’m making this for Memorial Day tomorrow and I follow a recipe to a T bc I’m kitchen illiterate. lol I noticed that the recipe says for taco seasoning, 1oz or 4 TBLS., but 4 TBLS is actually 2oz, so I was wondering if it’s actually 4 or 2 ounces?

    • says

      Hi Brooke! I’m so sorry I’m so late in answering this! So, I just measured, and a 1 oz (net weight) taco seasoning packet amounts to 4 tablespoons. So if you make the homemade version, I would stick with 4 TBSPs, otherwise buy the 1 oz packet (28 grams) and call it a day 🙂

  22. Nicole says

    I have been making this taco salad for over 10 years but I use Italian dressing. I also never put pasta in it. I am definitely trying that next. When I go to parties I am always asked to make taco salad. Everyone loves it. I have made it so much that I don’t eat it anymore. Lol. I did use Catalina dressing one time and it wasn’t a big hit so I went back to the Italian dressing. Definitely not good reheated or if it sits too long.

  23. Kristin Towle says

    This is great! I added a can of black beans and used Fritos instead of Doritos…. makes a lot… and was gobbled up!! Great leftovers for summer lunches. Thanks

  24. says

    I have never used noodles, but I have made Taco salad the sauce I always use is 1 jar of taco sauce and equal amount of Helmans mayo and plain tortilla chips crushed. Very good.

  25. Thomas says

    This looks amazing! It combines two of my favorites, pasta and taco salad. I look forward to making it soon. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  26. Joanne DeBolt says

    I would think that if you left the chips out until you got your plate, it would keep better, so you wouldn’t have soggy chips the next day.

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