Cajun Pasta Salad

Cajun Pasta Salad.  Now, that’s something special.

Nothing spells summer much more than a good outdoor BBQ.  And the best BBQ’s have amazing side dishes.

This Cajun Pasta Salad recipe is one of our all-time favorites.

A large white bowl of freshly prepared Cajun Pasta Salad.


You can easily prepare the pasta ahead of time, as well as the dressing.

Right before serving, mix the dressing with the cooled cooked pasta (and a little more water, if needed), and you’re good to go!

Watch us show you how easy it is to make Cajun Pasta Salad!


There is a slight kick to this pasta salad, but it’s a good kick!.

The flavors compliment each other so well.

Of course, if you don’t like bell peppers or shallots, just leave them out! But we think they add a nice, but subtle, dimension to the salad.

Sprinkle chopped parsley on top of the cajun pasta salad for garnish.

The seasonings in the dressing really provide a delicious depth to the salad.

If you can’t find cajun seasoning, just get a large bowl, and mix together 1 tbsp of the following:

  • Garlic powder
  • Italian seasoning
  • Paprika
  • Kosher salt

And then 1 tsp of the following:

  • Black pepper
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Ground thyme
  • Onion powder

If you are interested in other amazing BBQ side dishes, try one of these favorites:

In the meantime, be sure to make this amazing Cajun Pasta Salad!

A white bowl full of Cajun pasta salad with a gold spoon nearby.


Once you mix the pasta with the dressing, if you are not serving the pasta salad immediately, cover with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

We recommend not putting the pasta salad together until close to serving time.

If you have stored in the fridge, mix again with a couple tablespoons of water to help thin the dressing a bit.

Use a large spoon to dish out the salad.

A large white bowl of Cajun Pasta Salad with a gold spoon nearby.

Cajun Pasta Salad

This Cajun Pasta Salad is just so good! Really bursting with flavor. Just a little kick, but nothing too much. Perfect for a Summer BBQ!! Yum! If you make this ahead of time (say several hours early...add a little extra water, as it will thicken as it sits in the fridge).
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Cajun
Keyword: BBQ Side Dish, pasta salad, Southern cuisine
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 32 minutes
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 295kcal


  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • 2 tbsp good-quality olive oil divided
  • 1/2 cup shallots finely minced
  • 1 cup red bell pepper cored, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 1 cup celery finely chopped
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp Cajun seasoning
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp Creole/Cajun, or whole grain Dijon mustard see Note
  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp hot sauce ie, Tobasco, Crystals
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped, for garnish


  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta and cook for 9 minutes, until tender.
  • Drain in colander and rinse with cool water.
  • Transfer to a large bowl and mix in 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  • In a separate medium bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, including the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons water, to thin slightly.
  • Adjust seasonings, to taste.
  • Add the macaroni and mix.
  • Top with chopped parsley.


If you can't find Creole or Cajun mustard, any kind of whole grain, or spicy, or even just Dijon work just fine. 
You can make the pasta several hours before serving. Just rinse after cooking, then toss with the oil then cover with plastic wrap.  No need to refrigerate.
You can also make the dressing several hours before serving, after mixing together, cover with plastic wrap, and keep in the refrigerator.
Just before serving, mix pasta with dressing and a couple tablespoons of water.  You don't want the dressing too thick.  Best served at room temperature. 


Calories: 295kcal
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    • Hi Amanda, the wet mustard does help the consistency of the dressing. How about adding some of the seasoning in yellow, or Dijon mustard? Then you should be set!! Let us know how it turns out!! All the best, Kris & Wesley

  • I love you two! I am making this for my picnic tomorrow. I am sure it will be a hit. Everything is ready except the pasta. 7.15 in Baldwinsville, NY but I may need to cook the pasta before tomorrow for a helping or two. I’ll keep you posted

  • I love you guys. I’ve watched all your videos. You guys explain every thing in such detail. Really fun to watch. Don’t ever stop. Love your recipes.

  • I made this pasta salad today. Loved it! It’s a nice change of pace from most pasta salads with the kick of spice in this one. Will definitely make it again. Looking forward to trying more of your recipes. So many of them look great!!

    • Thanks, Chris!! We really love this pasta salad, too. We really like the little ‘kick’ and, as you say, a nice change from your everyday pasta salad. And thank you so much for letting us know! Please do stay in touch. All the best, Kris & Wesley

  • Kris, i made your cajun pasta salad over labor day week-end . family & friends loved it. sooooooooo good. thanks for sharing a great recipe.

    • That is so great to hear, Helen!! That’s funny, we made it, too! It’s is definitely one of our favorite pasta salads. Thank you so much for letting us know!! xoxoxo Kris & Wesley

  • Did you really mean 2 T salt? I put 1 in and it seems too salty. I’m wondering if maybe it was supposed to be 2 t? Otherwise good but way too salty for me if it’s the way it’s supposed to be.

    • Hi Kat! Thanks for the note! I went and looked at my notes when I worked up this recipe. I played around with the salt levels. I tend to like pasta salad and potato salt a little on the salty side, but you’re right…2 T is a little off. I’d recommend 2 to 3 teaspoons. 1 lb of pasta feeds a lot of folks, so I felt it needed more than a pinch. I’ll update the recipe to adjust the salt to one’s own tastes. Thanks so much! Kris

  • After a recent trip to The Fresh Market that resulted in bringing home several pasta salads, I was suddenly inspired to make some of my own- so, I searched “pasta salad” on Pinterest and came across this recipe. I just made it and it’s SO GOOD. I love how it’s not “just” another pasta salad and has some interesting flavors to it. Definitely holding onto this recipe; thanks for sharing it!

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