A Spicy Perspective

Creamy Southwest Ranch Pasta Salad

Our refreshing and delicious Creamy Ranch Pasta Salad recipe features lots of Southwestern flair like black beans, corn, cilantro, and bold spices. It’s a chilled pasta salad that’s perfect for all of your spring and summer gatherings, and can easily be made gluten-free and vegan-friendly!

creamy ranch pasta salad southwest gluten-free recipe

Creamy Ranch Pasta Salad Recipe (Southwest)

The sun is out and it is officially pasta salad season! There is just nothing better for sharing at potlucks and barbecues than a big bowl of refreshingly cold, perfectly tender and tangy pasta salad.

And oh my goodness, the varieties are nearly endless… From classic Macaroni Salad and Italian Pasta Salad to fun and fresh Zesty Greek Pasta Salad, Hawaiian Macaroni and Potato Salad, and Cool Chicken Taco Pasta Salad, you can easily create delicious versions that feature any flavor profiles you like!

You might have noticed, we are big fans of Southwestern flavors ’round here. So we decided to make this creamy pasta salad featuring all of the bold Tex-Mex goodies we love! Our Creamy Ranch Southwest Pasta Salad includes tender noodles, lots of veggies like peppers and sweet corn, black beans, bright spices, and a creamy, cool cilantro-lime ranch dressing.

This recipe is great to make for summer parties, weekly meal preps, and is popular with kids! Plus, it’s simple to customize Creamy Southwest Pasta Salad with gluten-free noodles and/or vegan-friendly ranch dressing to please nearly any tastes.

Southwest Pasta Salad with creamy ranch dressing

What Ingredients You Need

This fabulous pasta salad is loaded with fresh goodies and pantry staples. Together they make a creamy, crunchy, absolutely irresistible pasta salad that everyone will love!

To make this Southwest Pasta Salad recipe you need:

  • Small pastawe like to make tri color pasta salad with fussili, but feel free to use any small pasta you like
  • Black beansdrained
  • Grape or cherry tomatoeshalved
  • Frozen cornthawed
  • Red bell pepperseeded and chopped
  • Red onion chopped
  • Cilantrochopped
  • Sliced black olivesdrained
  • Jalapeno (optional) seeded and diced

For the creamy ranch dressing you need:

  • Ranch dressingyour favorite thick and creamy version
  • Lime juicefreshly squeezed
  • Spiceschili powder, ground cumin, salt and pepper
chopped cilantro, onion, tomatoes, peppers

How to Make Southwest-Style Creamy Ranch Pasta Salad

It takes less than 30 minutes to prepare this easy recipe for Southwestern Pasta Salad with tangy ranch dressing. However, I do recommend that you make it ahead, if possible… When the pasta salad is chilled in the fridge for at least a few hours the flavors have the opportunity to mix and mingle. And isn’t pasta salad just the best when it’s really cold?

Follow these simple steps to make Ranch Pasta Salad for your next picnic or potluck:

First, place a large pot of salted water over high heat on the stovetop. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Then drain – do not rinse! – and set aside to cool. 

While the pasta is cooking, chop all of the fresh ingredients.

Next, set out a large salad bowl. Add the cooked and cooled pasta, black beans, tomatoes, corn, chopped bell pepper, onion, cilantro, olives, and jalapeno. 

bowl of chopped southwest veggies, cilantro

In a separate bowl (or measuring pitcher) combine the dressing ingredients. Mix well, taste, and add salt and pepper as needed.

Get the Complete (Printable) Creamy Southwest Ranch Pasta Salad Recipe Below. Enjoy!

pasta salad dressing

Now gently mix the dressing into the pasta salad. Stir with a spatula or large spoon to throughly coat the pasta and veggies.

pouring dressing onto veggies and gluten free noodles

Cover the bowl and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour for the best taste. Allowing the pasta salad ingredients to rest with the dressing longer creates a better overall flavor.

Serve cold at summer gatherings, or keep in the fridge to enjoy throughout the week as a side dish or snack!

pasta salad with creamy ranch dressing, veggies, cilantro, and black beans

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I make this Southwest Pasta Salad gluten-free?

Simply swap traditional pasta with your favorite gluten-free noodles!

Can I make this a vegan-friendly Creamy Ranch Pasta Salad recipe?

Absolutely! For a vegan Creamy Pasta Salad use your preferred plant-based vegan ranch dressing.

How long does homemade pasta salad keep well?

This recipe is excellent to make ahead! In fact, I think I love eating it even more the day after it’s made. Homemade Southwest Pasta Salad with ranch dressing will keep well for up to 4-5 days in the fridge.

Looking for More Easy Potluck and Picnic Recipes?

creamy ranch pasta salad
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Creamy Southwest Ranch Pasta Salad Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 23 minutes
This recipe for refreshing and delicious make ahead Creamy Ranch Pasta Salad has lots of Southwest flair like black beans, corn, and bold spices.
Servings: 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound small pasta we used fusilli
  • 15 ounce black beans drained
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 cup frozen corn thawed
  • 1 red bell pepper seeded and chopped
  • ½ cup chopped red onion
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • 3 ounce sliced black olives drained
  • 1 jalapeno seeded and diced (optional)

For the Dressing –

Instructions

  • Place a large pot of salted water over high heat. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions, then drain and set aside to cool.
  • Meanwhile chop all necessary ingredients.
  • Set out a large salad bowl. Add in the cooked pasta, black beans, tomatoes, corn, chopped bell pepper, onion, cilantro, olives, and jalapeno.
  • In a separate bowl (or measuring pitcher) combine the ranch dressing, lime juice, chili powder, and cumin. Mix well. Then taste, and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Mix the dressing into the pasta salad and gently stir until well coated.
  • Cover and chill for at least 1 hour. (Allowing the pasta salad ingredients to rest with the dressing longer creates a better overall flavor.)

Notes

It’s ok the make the dressing a little extra salty so it seasons all the ingredients in the past salad well. If you are worried about over-salting, you can add just a little, and add more later.
This recipe is excellent to make ahead! Homemade Southwest Pasta Salad with ranch dressing will keep well for up to 4-5 days in the fridge.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup, Calories: 322kcal, Carbohydrates: 45g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 7mg, Sodium: 339mg, Potassium: 394mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 626IU, Vitamin C: 26mg, Calcium: 36mg, Iron: 2mg
Course: Appetizer, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Southern, southwest
Author: Sommer Collier

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2 comments on “Creamy Southwest Ranch Pasta Salad”

  1. This salad is perfect for the summer! It’s great with bbq or even tacos. I love the olives- such good flavor!

  2. oh my goodness this recipe is just amazing! We did decide to add in the jalapeño and the ranch cooled it down to make this the best pasta Salad I think I have ever tried!