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Cowboy Pasta Salad is always a crowd favorite. It is creamy, delicious and loaded with simple ingredients. The perfect summertime pasta salad.

Cowboy Pasta Salad in a white bowl with a wooden spoon
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Pasta Salads are a great side dish to just about any meal. There are a variety of ways you can enjoy a pasta salad, but this Cowboy Pasta Salad is always a family favorite.

Anytime we have family and friends over for a BBQ, I always make sure that we have a cold pasta salad to serve. This Cowboy Pasta Salad is one I make often because it is meaty, cheesy, and creamy. The perfect combination for a delicious pasta salad. You may like this Tuna Macaroni Salad.

I personally love the bow tie pasta in this salad. If you love them too, try our other Farfalle Recipes.

What is Cowboy Pasta Salad?

Cowboy Pasta salad is loaded with Tex-Mex flavoring. It is loaded with ground beef, bacon, corn and black beans. These ingredients are tossed with pasta, seasoning and a tangy barbecue sauce to make a delicious pasta salad.

If you are looking to change up your classic pasta salad, this is the one to make. 

Ingredients 

Pasta salad ingredients - bacon, ground beef, pasta, corn, black beans, tomatoes, cheese, onion, bell pepper, onions

Scroll to the bottom for the full recipe and ingredients in the recipe card.

Variations Ideas

  • Ground Beef – You can make this pasta salad recipe with ground turkey if you prefer. You can even do half ground turkey and half ground beef.
  • Pasta – Feel free to change the pasta to what you prefer. Any small size pasta such as macaroni, penne, or rigatoni are great options.
  • Vegetables – You can add in different types of vegetables if you prefer. If you don’t like tomatoes, you can easily leave them out. Canned Jalapenos are always a great option and add so much flavor.
  • Red Pepper Flakes – If you want an extra hint of spice, add in red pepper flakes.

How to Make Cowboy Pasta Salad 

Cooking ground beef in a skillet

Step 1 – Prepare Ground Beef – Brown ground beef is a large skillet.  Drain off any excess grease and allow to cool to room temperature. 

Cooking bacon on a baking sheet

Step 2 – Prepare Bacon – Cook the bacon in a separate pan.  Cook the bacon until crisp and then crumble. 

Combining dressing ingredients in a bowl with a spatula

Step 3 – Combine Dressing Ingredients – In a small bowl whisk together the dressing ingredients.  Set aside. 

Adding the pasta ingredients in a bowl

Step 4 – Stir Pasta Ingredients – In a large bowl gently stir together all the pasta salad ingredients except for the green onions. This includes the corn, black beans and tomatoes.

  • Step 5 – Combine Pasta and Dressing – Pour the dressing mixture over the pasta salad.  Gently toss to coat the ingredients with the dressing. 
  • Step 6 – Serve and Enjoy – Serve topped with the sliced green onions or chill until ready to serve. You can even squeeze fresh lime juice over the top.

Recipe Tips

  • Cooking Pasta – Prepare your pasta ahead of time by cooking it the night before. Make sure to not over cook the pasta. You want it to be cooked al dente or according to the package. Make sure to rinse and drain pasta to stop it from cooking.
  • Bacon – We recommend using thick cut bacon for this recipe. When mixed with the creamy dressing and the other ingredients, it upholds its meaty texture.
  • Cool Pasta – Before mixing in the other ingredients and the dressing, you want to make sure your pasta has cooled.
  • Prepare Dressing – If you like to plan ahead, make the salad dressing and store in the fridge. We think the dressing taste better after it has stored for a couple of hours.
  • Combine Ingredients – Combine the pasta ingredients and the dressing in a large mixing bowl until everything is covered.

What is the Dressing for Loaded Cowboy Pasta Salad?

The dressing for this pasta salad is just as good as the pasta ingredients. It is creamy, tangy and just right amount of spice.

We love that the ingredients are staple ingredients that you probably already have. You can even add in more flavor by mixing in Chipotle or Cilantro.

  • Mayonnaise 
  • Barbecue Sauce 
  • Worcestershire Sauce 
  • Spicy Brown Mustard 
  • Hot Sauce 
  • Cumin 
  • Salt and Pepper

You may even substitute the BBQ sauce with ketchup, but we love the tangy flavor the barbecue sauce gives the dressing. Feel free to adj the hot sauce for something milder if it is to spicy.

Cowboy Pasta Salad in a white bowl

How long does Cowboy Pasta Salad last?

If stored properly the Cowboy Pasta Salad will last about 2 to 3 days.

Can this be Prepared Ahead of Time?

Yes, you can prepare parts of this pasta salad and combine when ready to serve. Cook the bacon and the ground beef separately and store in the fridge. Chop and prepare vegetables that you are mixing in the pasta salad and store in the fridge.

We do suggest if you are not serving this pasta salad immediately, wait to add the dressing. If you are planning on storing leftovers, leave the bacon out and just crumble on top of the individual servings.

Cowboy Pasta Salad in a bowl with a wooden spoon

Frequently Asked Questions

How to Store Leftover Pasta Salad

Refrigerate the leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 day. You can serve this pasta salad warm or cold. You can even heat it up for about 10 seconds to serve room temperature. If the pasta salad is a little dry after storing, you can toss it with a teaspoon of olive oil.

When Making Pasta Salad do you rinse the Pasta?

After draining the pasta, I do like to rinse the pasta to cool the pasta off. It also removes any gummy texture from the pasta.

More Easy Pasta Salad Recipes

We love to hear from you. If you make this cowboy pasta salad recipe, please leave us a comment or a star review.

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Cowboy Pasta Salad

5 from 6 votes
Cowboy Pasta Salad is always a crowd favorite. It is creamy, delicious and loaded with simple ingredients. The perfect summertime pasta salad.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 10
Cuisine American
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Calories 671

Ingredients

For the Pasta Salad:

  • 10 slices bacon cooked crisp and diced
  • 1 pound Ground Beef browned and drained
  • 16 oz pasta cooked and cooled bowtie or rotini
  • 1 can Corn 8.5 oz can, drained
  • 1 can Black Beans 15 oz can, drained and rinsed
  • 8 ounces Cherry Tomatoes halved
  • 8 ounces Cheddar Cheese cubed
  • 1/2 Red Onion diced
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper chopped
  • 5 Green Onions diced

For the Dressing:

Instructions

  • Brown ground beef is a large skillet.  Drain off any excess grease and allow to cool to room temperature.
  • Cook the bacon in a separate pan.  Cook the bacon until crisp and then crumble.
  • In a small mixing bowl whisk together the dressing ingredients.  Set aside.
  • In a large bowl gently stir together all the pasta salad ingredients except for the green onions.
  • Pour the dressing mixture over the pasta salad.  Gently toss to coat the ingredients with the dressing.
  • Serve topped with the sliced green onions or chill until ready to serve.

Recipe Notes

If you are not serving this pasta salad immediately, wait to add the dressing and bacon until right before serving.  
Refrigerate the leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Nutrition Facts

Calories 671kcal, Carbohydrates 62g, Protein 25g, Fat 36g, Saturated Fat 11g, Polyunsaturated Fat 11g, Monounsaturated Fat 10g, Trans Fat 1g, Cholesterol 65mg, Sodium 537mg, Potassium 635mg, Fiber 7g, Sugar 9g, Vitamin A 605IU, Vitamin C 19mg, Calcium 211mg, Iron 3mg

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About the Author

Hi, I’m Carrie. Welcome to Eating on a Dime!

I’m on a mission to help you cook delicious meals without busting your budget. Together we are going to cook real food… for real families!

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