This Taco Pasta Salad is the perfect opportunity to use up leftover ground beef from your last taco night. My version of my mom’s original recipe is revamped with a Greek yogurt dressing, homemade taco seasoning and whole wheat pasta.
I know what you’re thinking. Carrots and broccoli in a taco pasta salad? While it may not be traditional, that’s the beauty of this dish – anything goes!
This was one of my mom’s go-to recipes when we all needed lunch for work or school. Whenever we had tacos, she would often prepare extra meat just to make this pasta salad. All we had to do was boil up some pasta, chop up whatever vegetables we had in the house, throw it all together and we had lunches for the week!
In my version of this recipe, I’ve lightened up the dressing with Greek yogurt, mixed up a quick homemade spice mix and opted for whole grain pasta for a bit of extra fiber. On the other hand, I’m sticking with my non-traditional veggies, just like mom used to make.
Homemade Taco Seasoning Ingredients:
Instead of buying taco seasoning packets from the store, I often like to make my own spice mix. This way I can control the amount of salt I add to a dish. If you prefer to use pre-made, opt for the low-sodium version if you can. However, you likely have all the spices on hand if you want to give homemade a whirl! Here’s what you’ll need:
- Chili powder
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Dried oregano
- Chili flakes
Taco Pasta Salad Ingredients:
The rest of the salad is really quite simple. You’ll need:
- ground beef: simply brown and combine with the homemade taco seasoning. Alternatively, use leftover meat from your last taco night! If it’s already seasoned, just leave out the spices in this recipe.
- pasta: short shapes like macaroni, bow ties or penne generally work best. Go for whole wheat for some added nutrients.
- vegetables: If you want to go traditional taco-style, try cherry tomatoes, peppers or even corn. This is also a great opportunity to use up whatever is in your fridge!
- cheddar cheese
- dressing: mix up some plain Greek yogurt, a bit of mayo, vinegar, S+P and get drizzling.
More Lunch Ideas You’ll Love:
If you liked this recipe, here are some of my other recipes that make quick and delicious lunches!
Did you make this recipe? Leave a comment and rating below!
P.S. don’t forget to follow along on Instagram for all my new recipes and nutrition posts!
Mom’s Leftover Taco Pasta Salad
Homemade Taco Seasoning
- 1 ½ tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp chili flakes
- 2 cups whole grain macaroni, dry
- ½ pound lean ground beef
- 1 medium carrot, chopped
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- ½ cup cubed cheddar cheese
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp vinegar
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
For the Taco Beef
- Brown the ground beef and drain any excess fat. Meanwhile, combine all taco seasoning spices. Add the taco seasoning to the browned beef along with ¼ cup water and simmer for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.
For the Pasta Salad
- In a large pot of water, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well.
- Whisk together dressing ingredients.
- In a large bowl, combine the drained pasta, taco beef, vegetables and cheddar cheese. Toss pasta salad with half of the dressing. Reserve the other half for serving, as the pasta salad will soak up dressing as it sits in the fridge.