Today, I’m bringing you a customizable recipe for chipotle ranch pasta salad. If you like things a little spicy, you’ll really enjoy this chipotle macaroni salad with Mexican-inspired flavors.
The chipotle dressing is ranch-based and it’s nice and smoky with a little heat to it. Feel free just to make the dressing and serve it as a dip for chips or vegetables. But why not go one step farther and mix it into your favorite short pasta shapes?
I really hope you guys enjoy this Mexican macaroni salad. Feel free to add whatever Mexican or Tex-Mex ingredients you like. I have a similar recipe for Mexican pasta salad you can use for inspiration.
For ease of browsing, here are all of my pasta recipes and side dishes.
A great one to try is pasta salad with lentils.
First, Make the Dip
Really, pasta salad is just cooked pasta and cut up vegetables and cheese (and maybe meat) folded together with a thick dressing.
So, the dressing for this particular pasta salad is a spin on Moe’s Chipotle Ranch Dressing. But I make it thick as a dip rather than thin like a dressing.
The base of a ranch dip is basically half mayonnaise and half sour cream or plain Greek yogurt. To that, add some salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder, and that’s a basic ranch dip.
PRO TIP: Basic ranch dip is equal parts mayonnaise and sour cream or Greek yogurt plus salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder. Add other spices/herbs/mix-ins to suit your taste.
To spice it up for the pasta salad, I minced up some chipotle in adobo and added some of the sauce as well.
Some smoked paprika, ground cumin, and a bit of hot sauce, and we were in business.
If you like just a touch of sweetness to your dip, go ahead and add in a teaspoon or two of sugar, agave, or honey.
Since I was making a pasta salad, I cooked half a box of penne–about 8 oz.
While that was cooking, I added:
- a can of Ro-Tel
- half an onion, diced
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- jarred roasted red pepper, diced
- diced pepper jack cheese
Why did I add those? Because that’s what I had on hand. No need for a special trip to the store or an emergency Instacart order.
Here are some other delicious options to use:
- canned black beans, rinsed and drained
- fresh or canned corn, drained
- diced avocado
- minced pickled jalapeno if I wanted it even spicier
This is your Mexican-inspired macaroni salad, so make it with the Mexican or Tex-Mex ingredients that inspire you and that you have on hand.
Make It a Meal
You can turn this easy chipotle pasta salad recipe into the main event by adding shredded rotisserie chicken. You could even stir in some of my Mexican-style crack chicken. That could actually be really, really good!
Serve it with some smoky charro beans or as a side for a great smashed burger or a chicken guacamole sandwich.
Making something with leftover pulled pork? This salad would make a great accompaniment.
Store any leftovers in the fridge in a covered dish or bowl. The salad will keep for up to 7 days in the fridge but is best if eaten within the first 1-3 days.
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Chipotle Ranch Pasta Salad
This pasta salad is easily customizable based on what you have in the house. If you have everything in the ingredient list, use all of it. if not, use what you have. And as a bonus, just make the "dressing" part and serve it as a spicy dip for vegetables or even chicken wings!
- 8-12 oz penne or other short shape pasta cooked to al dente (depending on your sauce-to-mixin-to-pasta preference)
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can corn, rinsed and drained (or use kernels cut off of 3 ears of sweet young corn)
- 1 ripe avocado, diced
- 1 can RoTel
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- 1 medium bell pepper, diced
- 1/4 cup minced pickled jalapeno (optional if you like things really spicy)
- 1 medium roasted red bell pepper, diced (from a jar or made fresh)
- 3 oz pepper jack cheese, cut in very small cubes
For the Dressing
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
- 1 minced chipotle in adobo, or 1/2-1 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
- 1 teaspoon adobo sauce from the canned chipotles (optional)
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2-1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- several shakes of your favorite hot sauce
- 1-2 teaspoons sugar, honey, or agave (optional)
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions for "al dente."
- While the pasta is cooking, add the black beans, corn, avocado, RoTel, onion, and bell pepper, jalapeno, and roasted red pepper to a large bowl.
- Drain the pasta and rinse under cold water for a few seconds. Drain well.
- Dump the drained pasta on top of all the prepped vegetables and beans.
- Whisk together all the dressing ingredients and taste for seasoning. Adjust as necessary.
- Pour the dressing on top of the pasta and then gently but thoroughly fold everything together until the pasta and vegetables are evenly coated with the dressing.
- Taste and adjust again if necessary.
- Cover and chill for at least 4 hours.
Please feel free to leave out what you don't like or don't have, or if you have an ingredient you'd like to add, go for it.
You can also cook up to 12 oz of pasta for this salad if you like. You may want to go a little heavier on the mayo and sour cream though, just to make sure you have enough dressing.
The pasta will absorb a lot of the dressing as it chills and especially as it sits overnight. If the salad seems a little "gooey," it should be just right after refrigerating it.
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Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 549Total Fat 33.9gSaturated Fat 11.5gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 32gCholesterol 70mgSodium 849mgCarbohydrates 51.3gFiber 6.2gSugar 8.1gProtein 13.6g
The stated nutritional information is provided as a courtesy. It is calculated through third party software and is intended as a guideline only.
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And there you have it, friends!
Enjoy the salad, take care, and have a lovely day.
What Others Are Saying...
I am very excited about the ranch dressing recipe. I’ve never made it but want to. It’s so much fun to use as a dip but I prefer to avoid the processed ones in the store so I’ve stopped eating it. Gonna try this and put a little spin on it of my own!
Jennifer Field says
Yes, spin away! So adaptable! To turn it into a dressing, it’s equal parts mayo, sour cream, and buttermilk, and then go crazy! 🙂