Chicken Taco Pasta Salad

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Great for summer potlucks or weekday lunches, this taco pasta salad features chicken, plenty of classic taco toppings, and a creamy avocado dressing.

While some might think that pasta salad has a season, I personally love eating it any time of year. What’s not to love about a bowl of pasta mixed with your favorite crunchy veggies and a wonderfully tangy dressing?

A white bowl filled with pasta salad containing rotini pasta, diced tomatoes, red onions, and parsley. A larger casserole dish with additional pasta salad is in the background. An avocado and lime are nearby.

I love how many possibilities there are when it comes to pasta salads, so you can always change things up to suit your mood. 

My taco pasta salad has chicken instead of ground beef, which makes it great for using up any leftover chicken you might have from a previous meal. Even better if it’s leftover from taco night!

Like any other pasta salad this comes together quickly, so you are only minutes away from a crowd-pleasing dinner, pass-around dish, or lunches for the week.

Ingredients for taco pasta salad

Full list of ingredients including quantities is located in the recipe card.

Various ingredients for a meal are laid out in bowls on a countertop, including pasta, shredded chicken, cheese, lime, avocado, taco seasoning, cilantro, tomatoes, sour cream, mayo, salsa, onion, and bell pepper.

You’ll need:

Pasta – Any pasta shape will do for this salad. I like to use shapes that will hold the dressing well, like rotini or the rotelle I’ve used in the photos here.

Cooked chicken –  Slice, cube, or shred the chicken. A mix of white and dark meat tastes best!

Cherry tomatoes – I always prefer to use cherry tomatoes for salads. Halve or quarter them depending on the size.

Bell pepper – Use your favorite color bell pepper.

Red onion – Red onion provides a nice sharp bite in the salad. Mince it for uniform flavor throughout, or cut into half-moon strips so diners can easily remove if desired.

Shredded cheddar – Sharp or mild cheddar will work. I prefer to use smaller shreds so it mixes evenly in the salad.

Cilantro – Use fresh chopped cilantro.

For the dressing, you’ll need:

  • Mayonnaise
  • Sour cream
  • Avocado
  • Salsa
  • Lime juice
  • Taco seasoning
A white dish of rotini pasta salad with cherry tomatoes, shredded chicken, and herbs, next to an avocado, a lime, and a wooden serving utensil. A small portion is served in a bowl with a fork.

How to make this recipe

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions, just to al dente. Make sure to not overcook the pasta, as it will soften further as it soaks up the dressing and rests in the refrigerator.

When the pasta is ready, drain and rinse with cold water until the pasta is no longer hot to the touch. Pour into a large bowl.

While the pasta cooks, chop the mix-ins and make the dressing. I recommend using a small food processor or a blender to mix up the dressing.

Add the mayonnaise, sour cream, flesh from 1 avocado, salsa, lime juice, and taco seasoning to the bowl of a processor. Close and puree until smooth and creamy. 

Taste and add more salsa or taco seasoning as desired. If your seasoning isn’t very salty you might want to add a pinch of salt. If the dressing is too thick for your liking, add a tablespoon of water at a time until it thins out.

Add about half the dressing to the cooled pasta and mix well. Then add the chicken, tomatoes, bell pepper, red onion, cheese, and cilantro, along with the remaining dressing, and mix again until everything is evenly coated.

The taco pasta salad can be served immediately, or cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

A rectangular dish of rotini pasta salad with sliced cherry tomatoes, shredded chicken, and a variety of chopped vegetables on a marble surface. A yellow and white striped cloth is beside the dish.

Storage tips

Pasta salad keeps in the refrigerator, covered, for about 3 days. 

If you are serving this at a cookout, make sure to not leave it out of refrigeration for longer than two hours.

Recipe suggestions

You can add your other favorite taco ingredients to this salad, too.

Some of my favorite options are seasoned black beans, roasted corn, or chopped pickled jalapenos.

Crushed tortilla chips make for a great crunchy topping, or you can toss with shredded iceberg lettuce just before serving. (Don’t add the lettuce ahead of time or it will be soggy and unpleasant to eat.)

A bowl of creamy pasta salad with rotini, cherry tomatoes, red onions, bell peppers, and cilantro, garnished with a lime slice. An avocado and a baking dish of the pasta salad are in the background.

More summer salad recipes

Craving more cookout salad ideas now? Tortellini pasta salad is a summertime classic, or try a twist on the traditional with lemon grilled potato salad.

Creamy balsamic chicken pasta salad is one of my favorites, while roasted tomato pasta salad is basically a BLT in a bowl! Linguine pasta salad is also a great refreshing option.

Crisp jicama salad and Mexican fruit salad are perfect for backyard barbecues, or you can cook up the whole meal with a grilled chicken Caesar salad

Make this taco pasta salad for your next potluck party!

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It means so much when you enjoy my recipes, so let me know how it goes and leave a comment if you have any questions.

A bowl of creamy pasta salad with rotini, cherry tomatoes, red onions, bell peppers, and cilantro, garnished with a lime slice. An avocado and a baking dish of the pasta salad are in the background.

Chicken Taco Pasta Salad

This simple taco pasta salad features chicken instead of ground beef. The creamy avocado dressing is so good!
Author : Megan Myers
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Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 492 kcal


  • 16 ounces rotini pasta, or other shape
  • 3 cups cooked chicken
  • 2 cups cherry tomato, halved
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

For the dressing

  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 large avocado
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons taco seasoning, plus more to taste


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions, just to al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water until pasta is no longer hot to the touch. Add to a large bowl.
  • While the pasta is cooking, slice, cube, or shred the cooked chicken, halve tomatoes, and chop the bell pepper.
  • To make the dressing, add all of the ingredients to a food processor or blender and purée until smooth. Taste and add more salsa or seasoning as desired. If the dressing is too thick, add water 1 tablespoon at a time until it thins out.
  • Pour half the dressing over the pasta and mix well. Add the chicken, tomatoes, bell pepper, cheese, onion, cilantro, and remaining dressing and stir to evenly coat the ingredients.
  • Serve immediately or cover and chill until ready to eat. Enjoy within 3 days.


Calories: 492 kcalCarbohydrates: 49 gProtein: 25 gFat: 21 gSaturated Fat: 6 gCholesterol: 62 mgSodium: 259 mgPotassium: 545 mgFiber: 4 gSugar: 4 gIron: 2 mg

Nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate based on online calculators. Any nutritional information found on Stetted should be used as a general guideline only.

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About Megan

I focus on fresh ingredients and easy methods, with spins that keep meals interesting. Dinnertime shouldn’t be stressful or complicated, and I’m here to help you enjoy the time spent in the kitchen. Read more…

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