Cajun Pasta Salad

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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).
4.36 from 14 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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  • 4 stars
    I made this and it was awesome. I used reaper hot sauce and added three tablespoons of sugar. It was a hit at the bbq. They loved the sweetness and the kick of heat.

    • Woo hoo! We are so so thrilled you made the Cajun pasta salad and had such great success with it! Congrats!!!! And THANK YOU for letting us know and for the nice review! That means the world to us! Stay in touch! Kris & Wesley

    • Hi Julie! So sorry for the delayed response! YES! Cajun grilled shrimp would be AMAZING in this pasta salad! Thanks for sharing and for the GREAT review! That is AWESOME! xoxo Kris & Wesley

  • 5 stars
    Thanks for your response, even though it’s about two hours late. Tuesday is the day I take the pasta salads. I added the ham and sharp cheese and it was fabulous! The only thing I did different was add the olive oil directly to the dressing (helps thin it a bit). Plus no salt in the dressing, I thought there was enough with mustard, hot sauce and mayonnaise.
    Pinned it! Great recipe; I definitely will be making this again.

    • So sorry we didn’t get back to you in time, but it sounds like you prepared it perfectly! So glad you had success and your modifications sound spot on! Thanks so much for sharing and for the wonderful review. We truly appreciate that so very much!! Check out our other pasta salads. We have several other really yummy ones! All the best, Kris & Wesley

  • I’m known for my pasta salads I make for our teams of food pantry volunteers every week for the last year and a half since the shut down. ( We still serve our clients to their cars.) I’ve never made anything Cajun, but this sounds like another winner! What do you think about adding cubed ham and shredded sharp cheese?
    Please be honest. I always credit my Pinterest inspirations.

    • Hi there!!! We are so sorry for the delayed response!!! Cubed ham and shredded cheddar would be AMAZING! Next time we make this salad, we’re adding that!! Thanks for the inspiration! Let us know how it turns out! All the best, Kris & Wesley

  • 5 stars
    You guys… Another hit with the family. I personally liked it more the next day, such a different taste we loved it!! Keep cooking you are making me look good

    • Hi Cyndi!! Thank you so much! And heck YES! Crab would be an amazing addition to this salad. Can we come over? LOL!!! Thanks again for the great review! That means the world to us!! All the best, Kris & Wesley

      • 5 stars
        Thanks guys! I will let you know how it turns out with the crab! And of course, you are always welcome at our home!!

      • 5 stars
        Super easy and tasty! Made this for meal prep and added rotisserie pulled chicken to make it more substantial for lunch/dinner. Will definitely make again and taking the suggestion to add crab. Yummalicious!

  • This recipe is amazing!!!! It’s got the perfect amount of kick to it. I meal prepped this and had it for the week. Wasn’t too thick for me at all. The second time I made it I doubled it. Then it seemed a little thick. Not too bad though. Still tasted amazing. My new favorite pasta salad!

    • Woo hoo!! That’s awesome to hear, Melissa! Love that you did the meal prep and then enjoyed it all week! We find that sometimes if it’s a bit thick, we just thin the dressing with a little chicken stock, or even water. Anyway, so glad you enjoyed it so much and thank you so so much for letting us know!! All the best, Kris & Wesley

  • 5 stars
    This is my new favorite thing! I just made it a second time, and doubled it this time so I can share with family and friends. The complexity of the flavors and textures is incomparable! ❤️

    • That is so awesome to hear, Holly!! So glad you love this pasta salad, it’s definitely one of our all-time favorites! Thanks for letting us know and for the great review!! We appreciate that so very much! All the best, Kris & Wesley

  • Loved this recipe. I added a bag of grilled chicken as well. My wife works for usps and has no way to take hot lunches soooooooo she is way tired of sandwiches. So I made this for her and packed her with club crackers. Lasted her a week and she loved it!

    • Hi Ashley!! That is so awesome to hear!! Grilled chicken added to the salad is the PERFECT lunch on the go! Wesley’s sister works for the USPS, so we know what you mean! Thanks so much for letting us know, and please give our love to your wife!

  • I’m definitely going to make this for a party. I wonder if it will taste bad if I mix the dressing and pasta a few hours before the party and leave it in the fridge till then.

    • 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.

    • Hi Gretchen!! Thank you so so much!! That means the absolute world to us! Stay in touch and stay tuned…lots more on the way! All the best!! Kris & Wesley

  • 5 stars
    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

  • 5 stars
    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

  • 5 stars
    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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