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Vegan Taco Pasta Salad Recipe

This Taco Pasta Salad recipe is accidentally vegan, simple to make, has all the flavors of tacos, and is a mayo-free pasta salad.

For more ideas of what to serve it with, check out all of our vegan recipes.

This vegan Taco Pasta Salad is, by far, the best pasta salad I’ve ever made. Honestly, I should just end the post there because if that doesn’t sell it, I don’t know what will.

But seriously, this pasta salad is so good. Everyone who has had it was actually shocked at how delicious it is.

Because, sure. Taco Pasta Salad doesn’t really sound that great. And the recipe calls for an entire bottle of Catalina dressing, which sounds like it would make this so sweet, but it doesn’t.

And, the good news is this easy vegan taco pasta salad is accidentally vegan. I didn’t set out to make it vegan; it just happened. So you don’t have to leave out any ingredients or make any substitutions (like adding vegan cheese) to make it vegan. It’s just vegan as is.

Which is great if you’re having a barbecue and you’re not sure of everyone’s dietary restrictions.

Tri colored pasta with blue cheese, olives, and tomatoes in a white bowl with the words "Pasta Salad Recipes" digitally written on top.

This recipe is just one of the pasta salads we have on the blog. For more ideas, check out all of our Pasta Salad Recipes.

There’s also another vegan pasta salad on that list too.

Vegan Taco Pasta Salad Recipe

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The ingredients we use for this recipe are all vegan as is. If you need to assure this is vegan when you make it, be sure to double check all the ingredients you purchase to make sure there are no animal products in them.

Vegan Taco Pasta Salad Ingredients:

How To Make Vegan Taco Pasta Salad:

This Taco Pasta Salad is accidentally vegan, incredibly simple to make, has all the flavors of tacos, and is a mayo-free pasta salad.

Boil the garden rotini pasta according to the package. Drain the pasta, but don’t rinse it. Let it cool.

Put the cooled pasta into a large bowl.

Cut the grape tomatoes in half and add them to the bowl.

This Taco Pasta Salad is accidentally vegan, incredibly simple to make, has all the flavors of tacos, and is a mayo-free pasta salad.

Slice the black olives in half, then into five slices. Add the sliced olives to the bowl.

This Taco Pasta Salad is accidentally vegan, incredibly simple to make, has all the flavors of tacos, and is a mayo-free pasta salad.

Cut up the fresh cilantro and add it to the bowl.

This Taco Pasta Salad is accidentally vegan, incredibly simple to make, has all the flavors of tacos, and is a mayo-free pasta salad.

Cut the white off the green onions and set it aside. You don’t need it for this recipe, but you can use it to regrow green onion. Slice the green portion and add it to the bowl.

Add in the taco seasoning. Stir the entire bowl together until the ingredients are evenly distributed.

Set the bowl in the fridge to cool, at least an hour.

Immediately before serving, pour the entire bottle of Catalina dressing on top. Stir until combined.

This Taco Pasta Salad is accidentally vegan, incredibly simple to make, has all the flavors of tacos, and is a mayo-free pasta salad.

Break the tortilla chips over the salad. Stir until combined.

A couple quick tips abut the tortilla chips:

It’s easier if you break a third the chips into the salad, then stir, then break another third and stir, then the final third and stir. If you try to break the entire bag in at once, it’s hard to stir.

Also, plain tortilla chips are your best choice for this. It’s tempting to grab a nacho cheese tortilla chip, because those tasty, but you’re not looking to add any flavor to the vegan Taco Pasta Salad with the chips. Rather, you’re using them to add texture. So plain tortilla chips work best.

If you look closely at the photos, it does look like the tortilla chips are red, like a nacho cheese tortilla chip is. But, that’s just coloring from the Catalina dressing.

This Taco Pasta Salad is accidentally vegan, incredibly simple to make, has all the flavors of tacos, and is a mayo-free pasta salad.

Vegan Taco Pasta Salad: Frequently Asked Questions

Can you make vegan Taco Pasta Salad ahead of time?

If you’re having a barbecue and you’re trying to make your life easier by making things ahead of time, you can definitely make the bulk of this pasta salad ahead of time.

Boil the pasta and stir in all the ingredients, except the dressing and the tortilla chips. Cover the pasta salad and store it in the fridge. You can make this a couple nights before if you need to, but I would suggest only making it the night before.

If you are making this ahead of time, don’t add the dressing and tortilla chips until you are ready to serve the Taco Pasta Salad. The tortilla chips will get incredibly soggy if they sit in the dressing and will defeat the purpose of adding them.

How can you store and serve leftovers?

If you have leftovers, you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

When you serve the leftover pasta salad, crush some new tortilla chips into the salad and stir until they’re incorporated. The leftover tortilla chips will be really soggy and won’t add the texture that fresh tortilla chips do.

And that texture is so necessary. The softness of the ingredients contrasted with the crunchy tortilla chips really makes this a delicious pasta salad.

Can you use cherry tomatoes instead?

​If you can’t find grape tomatoes in store, cherry tomatoes are a great substitution.

This Taco Pasta Salad is accidentally vegan, incredibly simple to make, has all the flavors of tacos, and is a mayo-free pasta salad.

Taco Pasta Salad Variations

Protein-Packed Vegan Taco Pasta Salad

If you want to add extra protein to this pasta salad, rinse a can (15 oz.) of black beans and add it to the pasta salad when you add the other ingredients.

You don’t need to cook the black beans before you add them to the salad, but you do need to rinse them.

Meat Lovers Taco Pasta Salad

If you don’t generally eat vegan, you can make a meat lovers version of this taco pasta salad.

Brown ground beef in a pan. Drain any fat, then generously season with garlic salt and onion powder. Set the meat aside to cool.

Make the salad, then add the cooled ground beef when you add the rest of the ingredients.

Spicy Taco Pasta Salad

If you want to add a little kick to your pasta salad, and you are okay with it not being vegan, cut some pepperoni and add it to the pasta salad when you add the other ingredients.

If you don’t want to cut the pepperoni, you can add mini pepperoni instead. The spiciness from the pepperoni will add a nice punch of flavor to the taco pasta salad.

Chickpea and spinach vegan burger on a plate.

More vegan barbecue recipes:

If you’re planning a summer BBQ and you want to add some vegan and vegetarian options, start with our list of Tasty Vegetarian Grilling Recipes. That has main courses and sides, but they’re not necessarily vegan.

If you want vegan-only, try our Chickpea And Spinach Vegan BurgersVegan Orzo Pasta Salad, and Grilled Asparagus.

Yield: 8 Servings

Vegan Taco Pasta Salad

This Taco Pasta Salad is accidentally vegan, incredibly simple to make, has all the flavors of tacos, and is a mayo-free pasta salad.

This Taco Pasta Salad will be your new FAVORITE pot luck recipe.
It's accidentally vegan, incredibly simple to make, has all the flavors of tacos, and is a mayo-free pasta salad.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 16 oz. box garden rotini pasta
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 6 oz. can of black olives
  • 1/3 bunch of cilantro
  • 3 green onion sprigs
  • 1 packet (1 oz.) taco seasoning
  • 1 bottle Catalina dressing
  • 1 bag (11 oz.) tortilla chips

Instructions

    1. Boil the garden rotini pasta according to the package. Drain the pasta, but don’t rinse it. Let it cool.
    2. Put the cooled pasta into a large bowl.
    3. Cut the grape tomatoes in half and add them to the bowl.
    4. Slice the black olives in half, then into five slices. Add the sliced olives to the bowl.
    5. Cut up the cilantro and add it to the bowl.
    6. Cut the white off the green onions and discard it. Slice the green portion and add it to the bowl.
    7. Add in the taco seasoning. Stir the entire bowl together until the ingredients are evenly distributed.
    8. Set the bowl in the fridge to cool, at least an hour.
    9. Immediately before serving, pour the entire bottle of Catalina dressing on top. Stir until combined.
    10. Break the tortilla chips over the salad. Stir until combined.

Nutrition Information

Yield

8

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 147Total Fat 4gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 0mgSodium 248mgCarbohydrates 23gFiber 2gSugar 2gProtein 4g

Have you tried this Vegan Taco Pasta Salad? Let us know what you thought in the comments.

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