vegan southwest pasta salad recipe

everyone loves this vegan southwest pasta salad recipe! it’s the PERFECT vegan pasta salad recipe for summer entertaining because it can be made-ahead then served hot, room temp, or cold. it’s also great for weeknight meals – simply add your fave grilled dinner chicken kebabs, steak, etc. on the side. and the vegan southwest dressing? omg. it’s time to try out a cashew dressing if you haven’t yet!vegan southwest pasta salad in a bowl.

pin this vegan southwest pasta salad recipe for later!!!

creamy vegan southwest pasta salad: a new summer staple!

we’re doing a thing today & it’s called taking all of the greens out of salad & replacing them all with pasta but still calling it salad. for the record, 1) THAT IS MY KIND OF SALAD, & 2) whoever first decided we could still call it salad despite being a big bowl of noods is probably the greatest unsung hero of our time. right?! 

pasta salad, ilysm. vegan southwest pasta salad in a bowl.

pin this vegan southwest pasta salad recipe for later!!!

the summer entertaining season is here & i couldn’t be more excited about it. but! if i’m being totally honest, the only kinda stressful part of all of the summer fun with friends & family is making sure everyone has something to eat at the table. the more & more i entertain, the more i realize many of our closest friends & family have food allergies or dietary preferences that limit their ability to enjoy some summer party staples we all know & love.

& as someone who puts a lot of thought & love into party menus, the idea of serving our vegan/vegetarian/dairy-free friends some bland veggie burgers or cruidté & hummus feels a little sad. know what i mean? 

so! that’s what we’re doing today! a new summer staple that everyone at the table can enjoy. specifically, a creamy & flavorful pasta salad that’s totally delicious, make-ahead friendly, perfect for summer entertaining, & can be enjoyed by all since it’s vegetarianvegan, & dairy-free (but i promise you, no one would even know!). 

say hello to the superstar of your next summer party: vegan southwest pasta salad

pin this vegan southwest pasta salad recipe for later!!!

made in 30 minutes or less, this vegan southwest pasta salad is packed with flavor. a creamy, dreamy cashew-based southwest dressing gets tossed into spiraly noodles with red onion, red bell pepper, fire-roasted corn, tomatoes & black beans. the veggies add a pop of freshness (& crunch!) to every bite, while the southwest dressing delivers the perfect touch of smoky, tangy heat.

it’s summertime perfection, whether you’re serving it at a party or for a weeknight dinner, & the best part? it couldn’t be easier to throw together! 

how to make this vegan southwest pasta salad recipe: vegan southwest pasta salad recipe ingredients layered in a clear mixing bowl

pin this vegan southwest pasta salad recipe for later!!!

this easy pasta salad recipe takes less than 30 minutes to make, & it couldn’t be easier to throw together. be sure to check out the recipe card below for the complete rundown, but here’s an overview: 

  1. boil some pasta. be sure to cook it in heavily salted water (it’s the only chance to season the pasta itself!) & cook ’til just al dente to avoid a soggy pasta salad (the worst!). when it comes to vegan pasta salads, delallo’s whole wheat pasta is my absolute favorite. it has the best texture & flavor, & all of their whole wheat pastas are also vegan-friendly.  
  2. blend up the vegan southwest dressing. my vegan southwest dressing recipe is cashew-based, which gives it the perfect creamy texture without needing any dairy. you can make it up to 1 week in advance, & if you have a high-speed blender, you don’t even need to worry about soaking the cashews! 
  3. assemble the salad! toss together the pasta salad with black beans, corn, onions, tomatoes, bell pepper, cilantro, & the southwest dressing. 

& that’s really it! so simple, & so flavorful! i can’t wait to see you make this one – it’s definitely in the ranking for best pasta salad recipe ever.

creamy vegan southwest dressing recipe: pouring creamy vegan southwest salad dressing overtop pasta salad ingredients.

pin this vegan southwest pasta salad recipe for later!!!

we need to talk about the dressing for my vegan creamy pasta salad. it’s made with cashews, taco spices & lime juice. it’s similar to my chipotle lime cashew cream on these tacos, which you guys have legit raved about. i’ve seriously lost track of the messages & comments i’ve gotten on that crema. SO GOOD!!!

if you’ve been on the fence about cashews in dressing, now is the time to try it out. you won’t even believe what they can become with a few other simple ingredients and a biltz in the blender. 

how to make vegan pasta salad ahead of time:vegan southwest pasta salad in a bowl.

pin this vegan southwest pasta salad recipe for later!!!

one of the many, many reasons i love this healthy southwest pasta salad is that you can make it ahead of time which is especially helpful for both summer entertaining AND weeknight dinners with your fave grilled dinner (veggie kebabs, chicken, steak, etc.). 

simply make the easy vegan southwest pasta salad & then store it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve. we actually like it best after it has sat for a few hours – the flavors really meld together beautifully so i always make it ahead of time. 

and you can serve it a variety of ways. this vegan pasta salad can be served hot, room temperature, or cold (one of the benefits of a mayo-less salad!) so anything goes. just how i like my summer recipes to be. 🙂 

more pasta salad + summer recipes:  

so you are probably aware of this, but i have a major thing for pasta salads. they are the perfect addition to any summer table & so portable which is helpful for summer months when you just want to eat, drink, be, & live outside. (if you’ve experienced minnesota winters, you know the feeling!)

here are some of my favorites for now…& you can probably expect a few more to come this summer. 😉 

be sure to follow along with me on instagram, facebook, & pinterest for more easy, modern recipes & fun!

thank you so much for reading & supporting plays well with butter. this post includes affiliate links for products i truly love & use on the reg in my own home. all opinions are always my own! should you make a purchase using one of these links, pwwb with earn a small commission at no extra cost to you, which helps me continue to bring you great original content.  ???

vegan southwest pasta salad in a bowl.

vegan southwest pasta salad recipe


everyone loves this vegan southwest pasta salad recipe! it’s perfect to make-ahead for parties & quick dinners. learn how to make my EASY vegan pasta salad!



  • 16 ounces whole wheat pasta (see Recipe Notes)
  • 16 ounces cherry/grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 14-ounce can black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 2 cups fire-roasted corn (frozen is fine!)
  • Kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season

for the creamy vegan southwest dressing: 

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup roasted, unsalted cashews
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 23 chipotle peppers packed in adobo sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt


  1. Boil the pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, generously salt the water. Add in the pasta and cook to al dente, according to package directions. Drain the pasta, rinsing with cold water, and set aside.
  2. Make the creamy vegan southwest dressing: Add all listed ingredients to a high-speed blender. Blend until smooth and creamy. Set aside, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  3. Assemble the vegan southwest pasta salad: Add the halved tomatoes to a large bowl. Season with 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, tossing to combine. Add in the bell pepper, red onion, cilantro, black beans, corn, and cooked pasta. Pour the creamy vegan southwest dressing over top. Toss to combine, seasoning with additional Kosher salt & ground black pepper as needed. 
  4. Serve & enjoy! You can serve this pasta salad immediately, though we like it best after it has sat for a few hours (the flavors come together even better!). Will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. 


  • Pasta: Obviously, to make this pasta vegan, use your favorite vegan pasta. I love DeLallo’s whole wheat pastas – they’re totally vegan-friendly. While I prefer a textured short noodle for this vegan southwest pasta salad recipe (it clings to the sauce really nicely!), you can use whatever shape you like best.

don’t forget to pin this vegan southwest pasta salad recipe for later!!!vegan southwest pasta salad in a bowl.

Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.


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  1. 6.18.20
    JL said:

    This recipe is amazing! It is so flavorful. We will definitely take this to many summer potlucks.

    • 6.24.20
      jess said:

      Ah, so glad to hear that!!! Definitely potluck-worthy! xx

  2. 3.2.20
    L.A said:

    I’ve found when making cashew cream sauces that it really thickens as it cools, does that happen with this sauce?

    • 3.2.20
      jess said:

      Yes, that’s absolutely the case with the pasta salad dressing in this recipe – resist the temptation to adding more cashews when you blend it because as the salad sits, it’ll set up to the perfect consistency.

  3. 11.29.19
    Laurel said:

    This was a hit for Thanksgiving! It was the main for the vegans and a side for the carnivores. The dressing was wonderful! We used wheat pasta instead of gf this time. Thank you for the recipe!

    • 12.20.19
      jess said:

      So glad you loved it Laurel! Keep it in your back pocket for summery parties next year! xx

  4. 11.21.19
    Jenn said:

    So perfect! I used red lentil pasta and only used 8oz.

    • 11.25.19
      jess said:

      Red lentil pasta sounds like a great addition! So glad you enjoyed it, Jenn!

  5. 10.7.19
    julie said:

    Do the cashews need to be soaked in water for a while so they are soft for blending?

    • 2.14.20
      jess said:

      Hey Julie! If you have a high-speed blender (such as a Vitamix or Nutribullet), there’s really no need to soak the cashews; the blades of the blender will be powerful enough to break them down. If you do not have a high-speed blender (or want to soak them, just in case), you have 2 options: soak overnight at room temperature or soak in hot water for 15-20 minutes prior to making the dressing. Drain & discard the soaking liquid, then proceed with the recipe.

  6. 7.17.19
    Pat said:

    Could I substitute tahini for the cashews? How much would you recommend?

    • 7.18.19
      jess said:

      hey pat! that’s a great question. i’ve not tested this recipe using tahini in place for cashews, but it should work! i’d swap the water & cashews as written in the recipe for 1/4-1/3 cup tahini. you can mix the dressing in a bowl or food processer (vs blender), thinning out with water to your desired consistency (i’d start with a couple tablespoons and go from there). the dressing should be loose, but creamy. if you try it out, be sure to let me know how it goes!

  7. 7.10.19
    Brittany Basden said:

    Can this pasta be frozen? We made way too much!

    • 7.18.19
      jess said:

      hey brittany! thanks for the comment. i’m honestly not sure – i’ve never tested freezing & thawing it. in theory, it should be okay but i’d refrain from freezing fresh tomatoes. let me know if you give it a try!

      • 11.17.19
        Jenn said:

        LOVED this! Even my meat eating BF can’t get enough.

        • 11.25.19
          jess said:

          Ah, I’m so glad to hear that!!! My meat-lovin’ hubby loves this pasta salad too. Here’s another good one to try, if you like Italian flavors! =)