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Cowboy Pasta Salad

overhead shot of Cowboy Pasta Salad in a bowl with a large wooden spoon
This cowboy pasta salad is packed with protein, pasta, veggies, and cheese for one of the heartiest salads around.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Servings 12
Calories 650 kcal


Macaroni Salad

  • 16 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound smoked bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 15.25 ounces whole kernel sweet corn, drained
  • 15.25 ounces black beans, drained and rinsed
  • cups halved cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cup thinly sliced green onion
  • 2 cups finely shredded cheddar cheese


  • 1 cup mayonnaise, your favorite brand
  • 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce, your favorite brand
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons sriracha sauce
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper


  • Cook the elbow macaroni according to the package directions. Drain the hot water off and rinse with cold water to stop the noodles from cooking. Be sure to drain very well.
  • Once drained, add the pasta to an extra-large mixing bowl. Pour the 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over the macaroni and toss. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator.
  • Add the ground beef and red pepper flakes to a 3 to 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring often. Drain any excess grease.
  • Add the mayo, barbecue sauce, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, sriracha sauce, kosher salt, and fresh cracked black pepper to a small mixing bowl. Whisk to combine thoroughly. Set it aside.
  • Remove the macaroni from the refrigerator.
  • Add the cooked ground beef, crumbled bacon, corn, black beans, tomatoes, sliced green onions, and shredded cheddar.
  • Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat the ingredients thoroughly. Serve immediately, or cover the salad and chill in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve.


  • This cold pasta salad can be made the night before you plan to serve it.
  • Be sure to drain the pasta very well so that you don’t have extra moisture in your pasta salad.
  • If you are making this salad the night before, leave out the tomatoes as they can soften the noodles.


Sodium: 710mgCalcium: 170mgVitamin C: 11mgVitamin A: 508IUSugar: 5gFiber: 6gPotassium: 618mgCholesterol: 75mgCalories: 650kcalTrans Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 12gPolyunsaturated Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 12gFat: 39gProtein: 27gCarbohydrates: 49gIron: 3mg