Tantalize your taste buds with a delicious and refreshing twist on traditional pasta salad – Mexican Pasta Salad! This colorful lunch, dinner or side dish is full of zesty Mexican flavor.

Mexican Pasta Salad is like a fiesta in a bowl. Bowtie pasta is tossed in a cilantro lime vinaigrette and topped with fresh cheese, tomatoes and jalapeños creating a Mexican side dish you won’t forget!

mexican pasta salad in a white bowl
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Mexican Pasta Salad is packed full of jalapeño, garlic, cheese and tomatoes, and tossed with a light and refreshing Cilantro Lime Dressing.

Why You’ll Love It

  • Versatile – You can customize this easy recipe by adding your favorite ingredients.
  • Quick – This dish takes under 30 minutes to make, making it the perfect summer side dish.
  • Flavorful – This great recipe uses a flavorful mix of Mexican-inspired ingredients to make it a memorable dish!
bow tie pasta covered in cilantro lime vinaigrette

Ingredients and Substitutions

See printable recipe card for complete ingredients and instructions.

Mexican Pasta Salad Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Cilantro – Fresh cilantro is the highlight of this recipe.
  • Lime – Fresh squeezed lime juice or 100% lime juice give the dressing bright flavor.
  • Garlic – Fresh minced garlic adds a lot of flavor in this simple dish.
  • Jalapeño – Jalapeño adds a little heat and a pop of color. Learn how to How to Cut a Jalapeño here.
  • Red Wine Vinegar – The foundation of the vinaigrette that adds a little tang while keeping it light and refreshing.
  • Salt – Thick flakes of sea salt bring out all the other flavor.
  • Spicy Mustard – Mustard binds the dressing while adding a hint of flavor.
  • Olive Oil – Extra virgin olive oil balances vinegar and coats that pasta to perfection.
  • Pasta – Opt for noodle with ridges, nooks or crannies to help the dressing adhere better to the pasta. Bow tie, fusilli, rotini, and penne are all excellent options.
  • Queso Fresco – Fresh crumbled cheese is rich in flavor and so moist. Substitute with chihuahua cheese or Monterey jack.
  • Tomato – Tomato adds flavor and a pop of color.


pouring cilantro lime dressing onto pasta in a white bowl

How to Make Mexican Pasta Salad

  1. Prepare Pasta – In a large pot of salted water, boil noodles until al dente. Drain and rinse in cold water to shock the noodles.
  2. Make the Dressing – In a food processor, combine ingredients and purée. 
  3. Toss – Toss pasta and dressing until completely coated.
  4. Garnish – Top with fresh crumbled cheese, tomato, cilantro and jalapeño.
easy fiesta pasta salad recipe | Mexican pasta salad

Tools to Use

  • Food processor or blender to make the dressing without effort.
  • Salad Servers to toss.
ingredients in a food processor


  • Prepare pasta al dente and shock the noodles by running them under cold water to prevent it from becoming soft and mushy.
  • Use fresh ingredients for the best flavor.
pasta salad in white dish

Serving Suggestions

With a little bit of Tex-Mex flavor, this pasta salad serves beautifully with classic main dishes like burgers and brats. Or, serve with tacos or your favorite wraps – and don’t forget a margarita!

How to Store

Refrigerate – To store leftover pasta salad, transfer it to an airtight container and place it in the refrigerator. It’s best to eat it the next day or so.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some good additions to pasta salad?

There are many great additions you can add to pasta salad, such as black beans, cherry tomatoes, red onion, black olives, sweet corn, and green bell peppers. Feta cheese and cotija cheese are also great toppings.

Can I make pasta salad ahead of time?

Yes, you can make pasta salad ahead of time. Just be sure to store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve it.

What is the best type of pasta to use in pasta salad?

The best type of pasta to use in pasta salad is a short pasta, such as bowtie pasta or corkscrew pasta. Cook it al dente according to the package directions, and rinse it under cold water to stop the cooking process.

What are some good main dishes to pair with pasta salad?

Pasta salad makes a great side dish for grilled meats, such as carne asada. It can also be a main course on its own by adding protein like grilled chicken or shrimp.

How can I make a spicy Mexican Pasta Salad?

Add some spice to your pasta salad with chili powder, cayenne pepper, or black pepper. This will give your dish a little kick!

pasta salad in a bowl

More Pasta Salad Inspiration

pasta salad recipes
mexican pasta salad in white bowl
5 from 14 votes
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Fiesta Mexican Pasta Salad

Easy, fresh and flavorful Mexican Pasta Salad recipe that’s the perfect summer side dish!
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 11 minutes
Total: 21 minutes
Servings: 8
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  • ½ bunch cilantro
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ½ jalapeno de-stemmed {remove seeds for less kick}
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • teaspoon salt thick flakes preferred
  • ¾ teaspoon spicy mustard
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound dry pasta
  • ¼ cup queso fresco
  • 1 roma tomato diced


  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.
  • Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine cilantro, lime juice, garlic, jalapeño, red wine vinegar, salt, spicy mustard and olive oil. Set aside.
  • Add pasta to water and boil noodles 10-11 minutes or until al dente. Stain and run under cold water to shock the pasta.
  • Pour pasta into a large bowl and toss with dressing. Top with diced tomato, queso fresco and jalapeño.
Calories: 289kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 3mg | Sodium: 427mg | Potassium: 188mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 206IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 1mg

Estimated nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is not guaranteed.

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5 from 14 votes (8 ratings without comment)

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  1. 5 stars
    this pasta recipe is incredible. bursting with flavor and so fresh. i loved making my dressing from scratch!

  2. 5 stars
    This salad looks super simple, easy to make, & so tasty!! Pasta salads are my go-to all spring/summer, so I will be adding this to the menu!