Cowboy Pasta Salad

Hi Everyone! Welcome back to Turnips 2 Tangerines. I hope life is treating you well. If you are one of the lucky ones to have gone on vacation this long winter, let’s just say I’m a little jealous. Even though summer is still several months away, it’s never to early to try out new pasta salad recipes. Cowboy Pasta Salad is definitely one that you will want to make over and over again. It’s that delicious!

Cowboy Pasta Salad

Loaded With Flavors

I’m not really sure how or where the “Cowboy” fits in the equation of this recipe. Maybe it’s from the ground beef, or maybe the bacon. Then again, it might be the corn. Either way, this salad is GOOD! I really wanted to use wagon wheel pasta in this pasta salad, to tie in with the cowboy theme but I didn’t have any luck finding wagon wheel pasta in my area.

I know I have seen wagon wheel pasta somewhere therefore the next time I make a trip to the “big city” I’ll look for it. With that being said, use the kind of pasta you like. I settled for a cavatappi pasta, which I really like using in a pasta salad. I like a pasta you can spear with your fork!

Fantastic Dressing

I’ll admit that the dressing for this pasta salad is what really interested me the most about this recipe. I have made many, many pasta salads over the years but this is the first pasta salad recipe that calls for using barbecue sauce in the dressing. Creamy peanut butter, yes..barbecue sauce, no. After making and tasting this fantastic dressing, I’ve come to the conclusion that the dressing can and should be used as a dipping sauce! Crunchy coated chicken tenders would be super dipped into this sauce:)

What’s in the dressing you might ask? Ingredients that you no doubt already have available to you.

  1. Mayonnaise. For this recipe I used Hellman’s Mayonnaise. I would imagine you could substitute Miracle Whip Salad Dressing instead of the Hellman’s but as far as the low-fat kind and so on, I can’t say.
  2. Barbecue Sauce. Our favorite barbecue sauce is Sweet Baby Ray’s. We love this stuff so any flavor I’m positive would work just fine. I had SBR Honey Barbecue sauce, so that’s what I used. Use whatever brand of bbq sauce your family loves. After all, they are the ones who will be eating it!
  3. Spicy Brown Mustard. Again use the brand of spicy brown mustard that you and your family loves. I generally use Gulden’s Spicy Brown mustard or a mustard that is made right here in Wisconsin. After all, Wisconsin is home to the Mustard Museum  located in Middleton, WI.
  4. Worcestershire Sauce. Let’s face it. There is only ONE Worcestershire Sauce and that is Lea & Perrins. Spend the extra $1.00 and buy the good stuff. Most if not all of the no name brands of Worcestershire sauce is primarily caramel colored salt water. At least in my humble, culinary opinion anyway.
  5. Hot Chili Sauce. For some reason, and I’m not sure why (except that I needed a tablespoon or two for a recipe over the holidays), I had a bottle of Panda Express Sweet Chili Sauce in my refrig., so I went with that. You can use whatever kind you like or what kind is available in your area. The kind you use and the heat level of your chili sauce will be one of the determinant of how spicy your pasta salad will be.

Looking for more pasta recipes? Here are just a few of our favorites:

Cowboy Pasta Salad

Delicious, with a nice Smokey flavor!
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  • 1 pound dried pasta of choice
  • 1 pound hickory smoked bacon, diced
  • 3/4 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce
  • 2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 teaspoons hot chili sauce
  • 1 package whole kernel sweet corn, steamed
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 5 scallions, thinly sliced


  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil; cook pasta until al dente according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drizzle with a little olive oil to prevent sticking.
  • In the meantime, saute bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crispy, about 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain off grease. Wipe out skillet, leaving a little of the bacon grease. Add the ground beef; cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until cooked through and no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Season with the cumin, red pepper flakes, and with a pinch of salt and pepper. Drain off fat. Set aside to cool completely.
  • In an extra large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and hot chili sauce until combined and smooth. Add in the cooked pasta, bacon, beef, corn, tomatoes, cheese, and scallions; toss to combine and coat.
  • Enjoy right away or refrigerate until ready to serve.
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Gulden’s Mustard
Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce
Lea & Perrins
Panda Express Dipping Sauce