Tex-Mex Macaroni Salad

This creamy Tex-Mex Macaroni Salad is perfect to serve at your next cookout. Flavourful and easy to make, this macaroni salad can be served with a variety of dishes to complement any BBQ or potluck.

A small bowl of tex-mex macaroni salad with a large bowl of salad and a lime in the background.


Pasta and vegetables in a creamy salad that is perfect for any BBQ, this dish is sure to satisfy a crowd. Tex-Mex Macaroni Salad is becoming one of our most requested side dishes at our BBQs.

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Ingredients For Tex-Mex Macaroni Salad

For this recipe, there is a mix of fresh ingredients, dried herbs and spices along with a couple of fridge and pantry staples.

  • Macaroni. Classic elbow shaped macaroni or any type of macaroni can be used. Rotini and fusilli are also good choices for pasta salads.
  • Sweet Peppers. Red, yellow, or orange sweet peppers are used to add sweetness to this dish. We like to add a mix of all three for colour.
  • Corn. Fresh corn on the cob is our go-to, especially in the summer when corn is in season. Frozen corn can also be used by thawing and draining it first.
  • Olives. Black olives are what we use in this recipe. For a saltier flavour, green can be used in place or in addition to the black olives.
  • Green Onions. Milder than white or sweet onions, green onions add colour as well as flavour.
  • Jalapeno. Diced fine, jalapeno adds a touch of heat without overpowering the other ingredients. More than one jalapeno can be added for more heat, if desired.
  • Cilantro. This complements Tex-mex flavours.

Dressing Ingredients

  • Mayonnaise. The base of the creamy dressing for this dish. A vegan mayo also works in this dish if you prefer.
  • Salsa. Mild, medium or hot salsa can be used for the dressing.
  • Lime. The juice and the zest is used for the dressing.
  • Garlic Paste. This type of garlic blends best in the dressing. If you don’t have garlic paste, garlic powder can be used.
  • Chili Powder. No Tex-Mex dish is complete without some kind of chili powder. For a spicier taste, we sometimes used ground ancho chili powder.
  • Cumin. Another spice that is used in most Tex-Mex dishes and goes well with chili powder.
  • Mexican Oregano. This type of oregano doesn’t have a lemony flavour and is our choice when cooking. Regular oregano can also be used.
  • Salt. Fine Sea Salt dissolves better in a dressing so it is what we use, but kosher salt can also be used.
  • Pepper.

Additions For Macaroni Salad

Besides the ingredients listed in the recipe, there are other ingredients that can be added to change the dish a little.

  • Make it a meal by adding chopped meat. One of our favourites is adding leftover brisket, but chicken is also a great addition. We have also added diced cooked chorizo.
  • Green olives add saltiness. These can replace the black olives or as an addition.
  • Black Beans add not only flavour but protein for a meatless alternative to make this a perfect lunch. The beans should be rinsed before adding them to the macaroni salad.



Tips For Making This Macaroni Salad

Although this recipe is easy to make, there are a few tips to make this side dish.

  • For full flavour in the dressing, make it a head of time. Cover and refrigerate while cooking the pasta and chopping the vegetables. This allows the flavours to come together.
  • Allow the pasta to cool after draining for 15-20 minutes before adding the vegetables and dressing. Hot pasta will cook the vegetables and they won’t be crisp.
  • To save time, chop the vegetables while the pasta is cooling and the dressing is chilling.

What To Serve With Tex-Mex Macaroni Salad

Tex-Mex Macaroni Salad is the perfect side dish for many BBQ meats. It can be eaten on its own as well for lunch.

Our favourite way to serve this salad is with brisket. Tex-Mex and brisket go well together. We serve brisket on the side or on a bun with this side dish.

A small serving of this salad is great with tacos as well. We serve small ramekins filled with macaroni salad with pulled chicken or beef tacos.

Serve Tex-Mex macaroni salad for a potluck or picnic for a dish that is filling and easy to serve and eat.

What To Do With Leftover Macaroni Salad

If you have leftovers, refrigerate covered for up to 3 days. Serve cold for lunches or dinner.

Bowl of Tex-Mex Macaroni Salad with cilantro leave on top and a sliced lime in the background

Tex-Mex Macaroni Salad

This creamy Tex-Mex Macaroni Salad is perfect to serve at your next cookout. Flavourful and easy to make, this macaroni salad can be served with a variety of dishes to complement any BBQ or potluck.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Cooling Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 32 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Tex-Mex



  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 lime, zest and juice
  • 1 Tbsp garlic paste
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp Mexican Oregano
  • ½ Tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • ¼ cup salsa


  • 4 cups dry macaroni (1 pound)
  • 1 sweet pepper, diced (red, yellow, or orange)
  • 1 jalapeno, finely diced
  • 4 green onions, finely sliced
  • cups fresh corn
  • ½ cup black olives
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro



  • In a bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients except salsa, until well blended and smooth.
  • Fold in salsa.
  • Cover and place in fridge.


  • Cook pasta according to package directions.
  • Drain well and allow to cool for 15- 20 minutes.
  • Gently stir vegetables into the pasta.
  • Fold in the dressing.
  • Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.
Keyword macaroni salad, pasta salad, side dish

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