Southwestern Chicken Pasta Salad

Southwestern chicken pasta salad combines spicy Mexican flavors with an easy to make pasta salad. Perfect for entertaining at a barbecue or potluck or as an easy lunch, this pasta salad will leave you and your guests hungry for more.

Southwestern chicken pasta salad served in a large glass mixing bowl

I have to admit, this is one of my favorite chicken pasta salads.

The combo of taco and fajita seasonings in this is *chef’s kiss* perfection.

My family loves it too and it’s always a hit at potlucks and barbecues since it is so full of flavor.

I love it because it’s easy to make, and perfect the next day or served right away.

Southwestern chicken pasta salad served in a large glass mixing bowl

Ingredients

You’ll need to have the following ingredients on hand to make this spicy chicken pasta salad:

  • Chicken breasts – Use boneless, skinless breasts and trim the extra fat off.
  • Bacon – Use your favorite variety and make sure to cook it up so it is crispy so that you can easily crumble it.
  • Spiral pasta – If you don’t have a spiral pasta, you can use a different variety like ziti or penne.
  • Ranch dressing – You will need the dressing, not the dry mix.
  • Salsa – You should use a regular tomato based blend. You can choose your level of heat.
  • Taco or fajita seasoning – You can use your favorite brand and heat level.
  • Tomato – You can use whichever tomato variety you like best.
  • Mexican blend cheese – You could also use cheddar cheese or a combination of cheeses. 

Southwestern chicken pasta salad served in a large glass mixing bowl with tomatoes and green onions in the background

How to make

This easy to make pasta salad is comes together quickly once the pasta and chicken are ready.

Here’s what you need to do.

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Next, generously season the chicken with either taco or fajita seasoning and bake for 30 minutes or until cooked through.

Allow the cooked chicken to cool slightly and then dice or shred.

Set the chicken aside or place, covered in the fridge to help it cool down.

Next, cook the pasta according to the package directions and then set aside to cool.

While the pasta is cooking, you can cook up the bacon.

Make sure it gets nice and crispy and then drain as much grease as you can using paper towels. When it has cooled, use your hands to crumble.

Right before assembling the pasta salad, chop up the tomato.

Finally, in a large bowl combine all ingredients. Mix until well combined.

You can serve it while it is still slightly warm or allow it to chill in the fridge for an hour or two.

Southwestern chicken pasta salad served in a large glass mixing bowl with tomatoes and green onions in the background

Serving and storing

This tastes great when you first make it, but I find I like it best when it has chilled in the fridge for at least an hour.

Since it gets better with some chill, you can easily make this the day ahead and serve it for lunch or bring it to a get together.

To store, scoop the pasta salad into an airtight container.

It should keep in the fridge for about 3 to 5 days.

If you plan to make ahead, you can prepare the chicken, bacon, and pasta easily and store in separate containers.

Tips and tricks

  • You can slightly hack the recipe by using a rotisserie chicken. If you do this, dice or shred the breasts and then generously season and toss with the taco or fajita seasoning.
  • To change the heat or spiciness, you can mix and match your salsa and taco seasonings. You should be able to find mild to hot versions of both. If you love heat, you can use hot of both, but if you prefer a milder flavor, you can use just mild flavors.
  • Make sure to use Ranch dressing, not the dry mix. The dressing gives the pasta salad its creamy sauce.

a wooden spoon scooping up a serving of Southwestern chicken pasta salad from a glass mixing bowl

Other pasta salad recipes 

Southwestern chicken pasta salad is winner at picnics, potlucks and barbecues!

Make it for your next gathering and enjoy!

If you love pasta salads and other tasty, easy picnic sides check out some of my other favorites:

If you’ve tried this SOUTHWESTERN CHICKEN PASTA SALAD, or any other recipe on the site, let me know in the comment section how it turned out, we love hearing from our readers! You can also follow along with me on PINTERESTFACEBOOK, and INSTAGRAM to see more amazing recipes and whatever else we’ve got going on!

Southwestern chicken pasta salad served in a large glass mixing bowl

Southwestern Chicken Pasta Salad

Southwestern chicken pasta salad combines spicy Mexican flavors with an easy to make pasta salad. Perfect for entertaining at a barbecue or potluck or as an easy lunch, this pasta salad will leave you and your guests hungry for more.
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Course: Pasta, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 328kcal

Ingredients

  • 3 chicken breasts seasoned with taco or fajita seasoning
  • 1/2 pound of bacon cooked crisp and crumbled
  • 12 oz package of spiral pasta
  • 1/2 cup Ranch dressing not dry mix
  • 1/2 cup salsa regular NOT a fruity blend
  • 1 teaspoon taco or fajita seasoning
  • 1 fresh tomato chopped
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese or cheddar cheese

Instructions

  • Generously season the chicken with either taco or fajita seasoning and bake for 30 minutes, or until cooked through, at 350 degrees.
  • Allow the cooked chicken to cool slightly and then dice.
  • Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Set aside to cool.
  • Cook the bacon until it's nice and crispy. Allow grease to drain by putting the cooked bacon on some paper towels and when cool, crumble it.
  • Chop the tomato.
  • In a large bowl combine all ingredients, stirring to mix everything together.
  • Serve as is, or cover and refrigerate until chilled first.

Notes

  • You can slightly hack the recipe by using a rotisserie chicken. If you do this, dice or shred the breasts and then generously season and toss with the taco or fajita seasoning.
  • To change the heat or spiciness, you can mix and match your salsa and taco seasonings. You should be able to find mild to hot versions of both. If you love heat, you can use hot of both, but if you prefer a milder flavor, you can use just mild flavors.
  • Make sure to use Ranch dressing, not the dry mix. The dressing gives the pasta salad its creamy sauce.

Nutrition

Calories: 328kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 58mg | Sodium: 452mg | Potassium: 380mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 221IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 124mg | Iron: 1mg

recipe originally posted July 9, 2014

 

15 thoughts on “Southwestern Chicken Pasta Salad

    1. Thanks, Lori! I did too and it was an absolute hit. It’s become a summer time tradition around here (not that that stops me from making it any other time of year though).

      1. That’s fun that it has become a summer (and sometimes the rest of the year) tradition! 🙂 That’s when you know its good! 🙂

    1. Sadia, you won’t be disappointed regardless of the time of day you make it. If I had to pick a midnight snack, this would be it. I can’t confirm or deny that leftovers haven’t been used as such before.

  1. Hi there – I am one of the co-hosts this week, of Fiesta Friday. Thank you so much for bringing this delicious summery pasta salad with you – cooking off a lot of chicken breasts to have as standby is a really good tip. On another note, I noticed that you have not included a link to Angies post on FF#24 – please would you edit your post to include it so that you can be considered for a feature next week. Thanks for sharing this recipe and Happy Fiesta Friday!

    1. Hi there, Selma! I believe the link is the ping back under Lori’s last comment. Angie linked it herself. Was that what you’re looking for or was it something else? If it is something else let me know so I can correct it. Thanks!

      1. Hi Lovely – in your post you should say something like you are taking this over to the Fiesta Friday #24 party, hosted by Angie and then link Fiesta Friday #24 bit to Angie’s blog post so that your readers who may not know about the party can take a look and see what’s going on and hopefully join in too – the more the merrier right? Take a look at some of my FF posts to see what I mean xx

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