Western Dressing Pasta Salad

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Western Dressing Pasta Salad is full of all your favorite taco toppings. Containing both ground beef and rotini pasta, this is hearty enough to make a full meal or can be eat as a side dish.  Prep it the night before, and share with your friends at your next potluck. I promise they’ll be begging for the recipe.

Western Dressing Pasta Salad Recipe:

Western Dressing Pasta Salad goes by many names including Sombrero salad, western pasta salad, cowboy pasta salad, and taco pasta salad. No matter what you call it, it’s sure to be delicious.’

Think of your favorite taco recipe combined with your favorite pasta salad.  It’s the perfect summer recipe when it’s super hot outside but you have a hankering for tacos.

This taco pasta salad is served cold and can be made ahead.  Make it at night when it’s cooler and then serve it the next day.

Originally called Sombrero Salad in my Major Hospital cook book, I was immediately drawn to this easy taco pasta salad recipe.

What’s another name for rotini pasta?

At the grocery store, you may find fusilli or spirals instead of rotini in the pasta aisle.  All three are interchangeable. Looking for something unique? Try tri color rotini.

What makes tri color pasta or rotini?

In a box of tri color pasta, you’ll find green, orange and the regular yellow pasta.  To make green, spinach powder is used, and for the orange, tomato or beet powder is used to make the vibrant colored pasta.

Western Dressing Pasta Salad has all your favorite taco toppings. Containing hamburger and pasta, it's hearty enough to make a full meal.

What is Western dressing?

Western-style salad dressing is a vibrant orange color that comes from a tomato-base.  It’s seasoned with onion and garlic and is also noticeably thick in viscosity.

Are Western Dressing and Catalina the same?

While similar, these two dressings are not the same.  Western tends to be a darker orange color, and thicker in texture than Catalina. However, you can use them interchangeable in recipes if you only have access to one type of dressing.

Western Dressing Pasta Salad has all your favorite taco toppings. Containing hamburger and pasta, it's hearty enough to make a full meal.

Taco Pasta Salad Ingredients

Ground Beef

Onion, Diced

Dry Taco Seasoning Packet

Water

Rotini, tri-colored or regular

Bell Pepper

Tomato

Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Western Dressing (or Catalina)

Western Dressing Pasta Salad has all your favorite taco toppings. Containing hamburger and pasta, it's hearty enough to make a full meal.

How to Make Sombrero Salad (taco pasta salad):

  1. Cook spiral-shaped pasta according to package instructions; drain well and let cool.
  2. In a large skillet, brown ground beef and onions; drain excess grease if needed.
  3. Add water and taco seasoning to the ground beef mixture; simmer until thick.
  4. Remove ground beef from heat and let cool.
  5. In a large bowl, mix cooled pasta and ground beef mixture, diced green pepper and tomato, shredded cheese and Western salad dressing.
  6. Refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour before serving.

For the full instructions and ingredient list for Western salad, scroll to the bottom of this post.

Notes About Western Dressing Pasta Salad:

  • I used tri-colored rotini pasta but the regular version would work too.
  • Try subbing in any type of your favorite pasta shapes for rotini.
  • Substitute Catalina dressing for Western dressing if desired.
  • Add sliced black olives, if desired.
  • Add black beans or kidney beans, if desired.
  • Swap red, orange or yellow peppers for green.
  • Love raw onion? Add it to the salad instead of cooking with the ground beef.
  • Colby Jack, Taco-Blend Cheese or even Monterrey Jack cheese would all be great in this salad.
  • Be sure the pasta and ground beef mixture are both cooled before mixing together this western pasta salad.  This prevents the cheese from melting and the vegetables from losing their crunchy texture.
  • Prepare this the night before to make for an easy dinner.
  • If the taco pasta salad seems a bit dry after sitting in the refrigerator, add more dressing.
  • Check out our Amazon Store for our favorite pantry and kitchen essentials! This is an affiliate link.

Taco Inspired Recipes

We have so many great taco-inspired recipes on the blog. Here are some of our favorites.

This Taco Salad with Homemade Dressing is perfect for your next pitch-in or as a fun weeknight dinner for the family.

Taco Salad (with homemade dressing)

Instant Pot Authentic Beef Barbacoa is a simple, no fuss shredded beef taco recipe.  A blend of spices gets rubbed into a beef chuck, and then pressure cooked for a tender-fall apart meal that can be served in tortillas or over rice.

Authentic Beef Barbacoa

There's only 5 simple ingredients between you and this warm, cheesy Taco Dip with Meat and Beans.  Ground Beef, Re-fried beans, Ortego Taco Sauce, Sour Cream and Shredded Cheese.  This simple appetizer is soon to be your go-to for game day, holidays, family gatherings or Taco Tuesday. 

Cheesy Ground Beef Taco Dip

Mexican Style Crock Pot Pork Chops are a slowed cooked pork chop recipe in an easy 3 ingredient green chili sauce. Try serving over rice to absorb all the extra southwest flavor.  

Mexican Crock Pot Pork Chops

Mexicorn Crack Dip is a corn dip with Rotel and ranch seasonings.   With only six simple ingredients, it's an easy corn dip to prepare and easier to eat.  Serve at your next party or holiday with a bag of tortilla chips.  

Crack Mexi-Corn Dip

Linking up to Weekend Potluck.

Western Dressing Pasta Salad

Western Dressing Pasta Salad has all your favorite taco toppings. Containing hamburger and pasta, it's hearty enough to make a full meal.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time0 mins
Refrigeration Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 20 mins
Course: Entree, Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cowboy pasta salad, how to make sombrero salad, is western and catalina the same, sombrero pasta salad, sombrero salad, taco inspired recipes, taco pasta salad, western dressing pasta salad, western salad, what is another name for rotini pasta, what is tri color pasta, what is western dressing
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 588kcal
Author: Barbara

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces rotini or spiral pasta
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 medium diced onion
  • 1 ounce dry taco seasoning
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 large diced green pepper
  • 1 large diced tomato
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 15 ounces Western dressing

Instructions

  • Cook pasta according to package directions; drain well and let cool.
  • In a skillet, brown ground beef and onions; drain excess grease if needed.
  • Add water and taco seasoning; simmer until thickened. Remove from heat and let cool.
    Western Dressing Pasta Salad has all your favorite taco toppings. Containing hamburger and pasta, it's hearty enough to make a full meal.
  • In a large bowl, combine cooled pasta and meat mixture, diced green peppers and tomatoes, and shredded cheddar cheese. Stir gently to combine.
    Western Dressing Pasta Salad has all your favorite taco toppings. Containing hamburger and pasta, it's hearty enough to make a full meal.
  • Refrigerate for one hour minimum before serving.
    Western Dressing Pasta Salad has all your favorite taco toppings. Containing hamburger and pasta, it's hearty enough to make a full meal.

Notes

  • I used tri-colored rotini pasta but the regular version would work too.
  • Try subbing in any type of your favorite pasta shapes for rotini.
  • Substitute Catalina dressing for Western dressing if desired.
  • Add sliced black olives, if desired.
  • Add black beans or kidney beans, if desired.
  • Swap red, orange or yellow peppers for green.
  • Love raw onion? Add it to the salad instead of cooking with the ground beef.
  • Colby Jack, Taco-Blend Cheese or even Monterrey Jack cheese would all be great in this salad. 
  • Be sure the pasta and ground beef mixture are both cooled before mixing together this western pasta salad.  This prevents the cheese from melting and the vegetables from loosing their crunchy texture. 
  • Love anything taco? Try all our favorite taco recipes
  • Prepare this the night before to make for an easy dinner.
  • If the salad seems a bit dry after sitting in the refrigerator, add more dressing to this pasta taco salad.

Nutrition

Calories: 588kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 70mg | Sodium: 1163mg | Potassium: 334mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 639IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 232mg | Iron: 2mg

Western Dressing Pasta Salad has all your favorite taco toppings. Containing hamburger and pasta, it's hearty enough to make a full meal.

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