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Creamy Cilantro Ranch Pasta Salad



Like many of my recipe creations, this idea for creamy cilantro ranch pasta salad, came to be while exercising on my Peloton. 

I basically think about food all the time 🙂 For real. Even while exercising I am thinking of what I can make next. It’s bad really. But sometimes it’s good when ideas like this pasta salad pop in your head. 

One of my favorite places to eat is Cafe Rio. If you know anything about that place, then you know they are famous for their creamy cilantro ranch dressing. 

Which is why I thought a homemade creamy cilantro ranch dressing would make the most perfect dressing for a pasta salad. 


Spiral Pasta – You can use any spiral shaped pasta you want. Just make sure the box is the 16 oz size. I normally use rotini pasta but sometimes I can’t find that one in the 16 oz box so I end using a fusilli pasta or something similar. 

Black Beans – Make sure to drain and rinse these well!

Canned Corn – Again, be sure to drain and rinse well.

Cherry Tomatoes – I like to use red and yellow ones in my pasta salads but all red cherry tomatoes will work just fine. I just love the pretty color of the red and yellow tomatoes together. 

Red Onion – Use as much or as little as you prefer. I normally use about 1/3 cup.

Monterey Jack Cheese – Cut this into really small cubes for the salad. If you want some spice then use Pepper Jack cheese in it’s place. 

Homemade Cilantro Ranch Dressing – This is based off of my very popular recipe for homemade ranch dressing. I just added some fresh lime juice, chopped jalapeno, and a bunch of cilantro. I always take the seeds and the white membrane out of the jalapeno, but if you want the added heat then leave the seeds in. 


– This recipe as written has mild spice to it. My kids ate it just fine. If you want to up the heat factor then leave the seeds in the jalapeno and/or add some cayenne pepper in with the ranch dressing. Or even some chili powder would do the trick. 

– As with any pasta salad, as it sits in the fridge it will thicken up and the pasta will absorb the dressing. Just add some additional cilantro ranch dressing (leftover from when you made it) and stir to mix together. If you don’t have extra dressing, then add some ranch dressing and give it a good stir. 

– I like to serve this pasta salad within a couple of hours of making it. The pasta is rinsed in cold water which helps cool the salad, and I make the dressing first and then leave it in the fridge while I am cooking the pasta and getting the mix-ins ready to go. 


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Creamy Cilantro Ranch Pasta Salad

Creamy Cilantro Ranch Pasta Salad is filled with spiral pasta noodles, black beans, corn, red onion, cherry tomatoes, and cubes of cheese with a super creamy (and yummy!) homemade cilantro ranch dressing.

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Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chicken pasta salad, cilantro ranch dressing, creamy cilantro ranch pasta salad, pasta salad recipes
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 14 (1 cup) servings
Calories: 282kcal
Author: Jessica


Creamy Cilantro Ranch Dressing

  • 1/2 cup full fat mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk low fat is fine
  • 1/4 cup full fat sour cream
  • ½ teaspoon dried parsley
  • ½ teaspoon dried dill weed
  • ½ teaspoon dried chives
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno (take out seeds for less heat)
  • juice of 1 lime about 1 tablespoon

Pasta Salad

  • 1 box (16 oz) spiral pasta (like rotini or fusilli)
  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans drained and rinsed well
  • 1 can (15 oz) corn drained and rinsed well
  • 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 block (8 oz) Monterey Jack cheese cubed really small
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion more or less to taste


  • Combine all ingredients for the cilantro ranch dressing into a blender. Blend until smooth and combined. Keep in fridge while you prepare the pasta salad.

    * I only use half a jalapeno and I take the seeds out. If you want more heat then leave the seeds and use the entire jalapeno.

  • Cook pasta according to package directions. Don't forget to add about 1 teaspoon salt to the boiling water to flavor the pasta. Drain pasta and rinse with cold water.
  • Add drained pasta, black beans, corn, cherry tomatoes, Monterey Jack cheese, and red onion into a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine.
  • Add the sauce into the pasta salad and stir. If wanted, reserve some of the dressing (about 2 tablespoons or so) to moisten refrigerated leftovers.
  • Serve immediately or refrigerate for 1-3 hours before serving. Leftovers are fabulous, but as with any pasta salad the pasta soaks up most the dressing once refrigerated for hours. Just add in a couple tablespoons of reserved dressing and stir to moisten back up.


If you want more dressing or more for later to re-moisten the leftovers then 1 1/2 times the dressing recipe. This will yield closer to 2 cups of cilantro ranch dressing. Here are the measurements. 

3/4 cup mayo

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup sour cream

3/4 teaspoon of each of the spices, and salt

heaping 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

heaping 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

leave the jalapeno, cilantro, and lime juice the same

If wanted, feel free to not make the homemade cilantro ranch dressing and instead use any bottled dressing you love. You will need about 1 1/4 cups of dressing, more or less to taste. 


Calories: 282kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 239mg | Potassium: 233mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 510IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 150mg | Iron: 1mg

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