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Cowboy Pasta Salad

This colorful Cowboy Pasta Salad is guaranteed to bring the flavor to your pasta salads menu. It’s so hearty, it can double as a side dish or an entree.

Cowboy Pasta Salad

Easy Cowboy Pasta Salad Recipe

This pasta salad is another one of our favorite recipes that does double duty. Like my uber popular chicken bacon ranch layer salad and BLT layered pasta salad all of which can make a complete meal themselves. Colorful salads  are eye candy on the table and they always looks stunning on the table regardless of the type of gathering, Be it a casual game day soiree, or a holiday event. To make quick Cowboy Pasta salad with ground beef:

  • Beef – Lean ground beef or ground sirloin.
  • Pasta – One pound bow tie pasta.
  • Bacon – Cooked and crumbled classic bacon.
  • Vegetables – Onion, cherry tomatoes, green onions, jalapeno pepper (or green bell pepper), canned sweet corn  and black beans.
  • Cheese – Shredded colby-jack, cheddar or pepper jack cheese
  • Garnish – Cilantro and jalapeno.
  • Dressing – Mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, sour cream, dry Ranch salad dressing mix and taco seasoning.
Step-by-step preparation images and ingredients for cowboy pasta salad

How to Make the Best Cowboy Pasta Salad Recipe

What is Cowboy Pasta Salad? It’s just a fun name given to this hearty beef pasta salad that includes taco seasonings, jalapeno pepper and Tex Mex flavors.

  • Ingredients you’ll need to make homemade Cowboy Pasta Salad: Bow tie pasta, lean ground beef, bacon, onion, cherry tomatoes, green onions, jalapeno pepper, black beans, corn, chopped cilantro and two cups shredded colby jack or pepper jack cheese.
  • For the dressing you’ll need: Mayonnaise, sour cream, barbecue sauce, one packet of dry Ranch salad dressing mix and taco seasoning.
  • Kitchen gadgets you’ll need: A large skillet to cook the ground beef and bacon, a sharp knife and chopping board, measuring cups and spoons, a pasta pot, large mixing bowl, cheese grater and a large silicone spatula or spoon to mix everything together.
  • Don’t be intimidated by the ingredient list. The ingredients aren’t difficult to find, and consider that you’re making the dressing homemade as well.
  • You can swap out pinto beans or light red kidney beans for the black beans.
  • The dressing for this salad has a bit of a spicy-sweet vibe, but not too sweet. The barbecue sauce lends some smoky notes to the mayo and can be adjusted depending on the brand you use.
  • The dressing for this salad recipe can also be prepared one day in advance and chilled until assembling the entire salad.
  • I love making this dish with bow tie pasta but of course, you can use your favorite shape of pasta in the same amount.
  • I recommend that you wait until the very end to adjust the salt. The Ranch salad dressing mix (i.e. Hidden Valley) and taco seasoning will likely have an ample amount. Since salt is completely subjective, it’s fine to wait and then adjust to your own taste.
  • You can also garnish this salad with crushed Fritos or tortilla chips just before serving.
  • Store leftover Cowboy Pasta Salad in an airtight container chilled in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Cowboy Pasta Salad

More Southern Style Cowboy Inspired Recipes to Make

My family loves anything dubbed “cowboy.” These recipes remain on a regular rotation on our dinner and appetizers menu. More mouthwatering recipe to try:


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Cowboy Pasta Salad

Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Chill time2 hours
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cowboy-pasta-salad, pasta-salad-recipes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 520kcal


  • 1 lb bow tie pasta cooked to al dente
  • 1/2 lb bacon cooked and diced reserve 3 Tbsp drippings
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 bunch green onions thinly sliced
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper (or green bell pepper) seeded and diced
  • 1 14.5 oz can sweet corn drained
  • 1 14.5 oz black beans drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups shredded colby-jack, cheddar or pepper jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro may adjust to taste (optional)
  • Dressing:
  • 1 cup real mayonnaise
  • 1 8 oz sour cream
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce (i.e. Sweet Baby Ray's or your favorite)
  • 1 1.0 oz packet dry Ranch dressing mix
  • 1 1.0 oz packet taco seasoning


  • Cook pasta in salted water until al dente per the package instructions. Drain well.
  • Meanwhile, in a large skillet, fry bacon until crisp over medium-high heat. Remove using a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain, then dice. Reserve 3 Tbsp drippings in skillet.
  • Add ground beef and diced onion to drippings. Cook over medium-high heat until no pink remains, drain excess fat from pan.
  • In an extra large mixing bowl, add cooked pasta, ground beef, bacon, cherry tomatoes, green onions, jalapeno, shredded cheese, corn, black beans and cilantro.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, barbecue sauce, Ranch dressing mix and taco seasoning. Whisk until fully combined. (This can be done in advance and chilled until assembling.)
  • Add dressing to salad. Mix well. Taste and adjust salt, if needed.
  • Place into an airtight container and chill for at least 4 hours before serving.
  • Store chilled in an air tight container.


  • I recommend that you wait until the very end to adjust salt. The dressing mix and taco seasoning will likely have ample. Adjust to your own taste.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 520kcal | Carbohydrates: 56g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 58mg | Sodium: 648mg | Potassium: 587mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 454IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 37mg | Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @melissassk or tag #melissassk!


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