Cowboy Pasta Salad

This Cowboy Pasta Salad is not just good, it’s a gastronomic adventure! Unlike your typical pasta salad, this one boasts a unique blend of bold flavors that are usually not associated with salads. Imagine a dish with the smokiness of barbecue sauce and cumin, the heat from red pepper flakes, Worcestershire, and hot sauces, and the pungent zing of brown mustard – each element contributing to an explosion of flavors that will clear your sinuses and delight your palate.

This isn’t just any macaroni salad; it’s a fusion of Tex-Mex elements that elevates it to a hearty meal. Packed with macaroni, ground beef, crispy bacon, sweet corn, black beans, ripe tomatoes, and loaded with cheddar cheese, every ingredient plays a vital role in creating a rich, full-bodied dish.

While the list of ingredients might initially seem daunting, trust the process and watch as it all comes together seamlessly. This salad is a powerhouse of flavors, offering the right amount of kick that can be adjusted for those with a milder palate. It’s the perfect dish for a summer lunch or dinner, versatile enough to be a satisfying side or a standalone main course.

This Cowboy Pasta Salad is so irresistible that it might be challenging to stop at one serving, especially if you want to save room for dessert. Each bite is packed with ingredients and flavor, making it a dish you’ll crave all summer long. Once you give it a try, you’ll understand why it’s such a hit – it’s a true celebration of flavors and textures, making it a standout dish for any occasion.


1 pound pasta shells or macaroni, cooked according to package instructions and tossed with 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled, plus extra for garnish, optional
3/4 pound lean ground beef
1 (15.25 oz.) can whole kernel corn, rinsed and drained
1 (15.25 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, halved
1/3 cup green onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons hot sauce


In a medium bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce, and set aside until ready to use.
Cook beef in a large pan or skillet over medium-high heat until browned on all sides. Season with cumin, garlic powder, onion powder and red pepper flakes, and season with salt and pepper.
Once beef is cooked, drain fat, then transfer to a large bowl and add cooked pasta and bacon, corn, black beans, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, green onion and cilantro.
Pour dressing over salad mixture and toss to combine, sprinkle reserved bacon over the top before serving.

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