Big Mac Pasta Salad
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Big Mac Pasta Salad combines the flavors of the fast food sandwich with tender noodles. Take this scrumptious cheeseburger pasta salad to your next potluck or backyard barbecue!
This salad has so many layers of flavor and texture! It’s like a Big Mac in a bowl, with creamy cheese and homemade sauce, sweet relish, crunchy lettuce and dill pickles, and fresh tomatoes.
Finally, lightly seasoned ground beef and tender noodles make it savory and plenty hearty as well!
It’s easily one of the best pasta salad recipe ideas to come through my kitchen.
Big Mac Pasta Salad
Making this side dish is a snap, and couldn’t be much easier.
- Brown the ground beef and chop the cheese and vegetables while you boil the pasta. Then, combine everything in a large bowl.
- Whisk together the Big Mac sauce and pour it over the salad ingredients. Toss until well coated and chill for 1 to 2 hours. It’s that simple!
The amounts listed in this recipe are balanced so the dish tastes just like the popular cheeseburger.
However, you can certainly make adjustments to any of the ingredients to suit your own flavor preferences.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Noodles – Boil in salted water (about 1 ½ teaspoons per 4 quarts of water) according to package directions. Rinsing in cold water after draining stops the cooking process and prevents the pasta from sticking together. Feel free to use other varieties like penne or rotini if you prefer.
- Ground Beef – I like to prepare a large batch in the crockpot and portion it out for future recipes. You only need salt and pepper for this dish, and you can add additional seasonings as needed for the other portions when reheating.
- Cheese – Cheddar or Colby Jack provide a mild flavor that’s similar to American, which is used on the burger. For something with a little more kick, try Pepper Jack instead.
Kitchen Tools You Will Need
- Large Pot and Strainer for the pasta
- A Large Skillet to brown the ground beef
- Mixing Bowls – I like to have a variety of sizes on hand, and this set has them all.
- Whisk – These have held up for over 10 years and are still as good as the day I bought them.
- Quality Knives and a solid Cutting Board make prepping a breeze and are well worth the investment.
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Cheeseburger Pasta Salad FAQ
Can I make this Big Mac pasta salad ahead of time?
It will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator when stored in an airtight container.
If you plan to eat it in smaller portions throughout the week, I recommend storing the lettuce separately since it will start to get soggy after the first day. Simply mix in a handful just before serving.
For guests, it would be best to make this the day of your event. You could certainly prep everything the night before, then combine with enough time to chill before they arrive.
How much sauce will I need?
The recipe makes just the right amount for this dish as written. It coats everything fully without too much excess.
If needed, the sauce can be made 2 to 3 days in advance and stored in a jar in the refrigerator. This will allow the ingredients to meld together for a bolder flavor.
Don’t worry if the color changes over time – it will naturally darken from the turmeric. Just give it a good stir before using.
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Big Mac Pasta Salad
- 16 ounces cavatappi pasta, cooked, drained, and rinsed in cool water
- 1 1/2 cups cheddar or Colby-jack cheese, cubed
- 1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 pound ground beef, browned
- 1 1/2 cups romaine lettuce, shredded
- 1 cup dill pickles, chopped
Big Mac Sauce
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons French dressing
- 1/4 cup sweet pickle relish, plus 2 tablespoons
- 2 teaspoons classic yellow mustard
- 1 tablespoon onion, finely minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- In a large salad bowl, toss together cooled pasta, cubed cheese, tomatoes, red onion, ground beef, romaine, and pickle chunks.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together all of the Big Mac Sauce ingredients. Pour dressing over the pasta salad ingredients and stir to coat evenly with the sauce.
- Serve immediately or cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours before serving.
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.
Originally published June 2021
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Making this for a 4th of July potluck! Can't wait to see how it tastes!
Wondering if there's a sub for the French dressing? Nobody here eats it and it seems wasteful to buy a whole bottle only to use 2 tsp.
I was looking for a new salad to make using cavatappi pasta and while scrolling past the basically same kinds over and over, I came across this recipie 🙂 I made it not expecting a cold version of a big Mac to be all that great (although the pic. Of it looks good) but I was wrong. This is officially my favorite type for this kind of pasta now- and I make tons of diffrent kinds of cold salads for my salad bar where I work. I can’t wait for our customers to try it too. I did cheat a little bc I also make my own tartar sauce, so I used that in place of a few of the sauce ingredients, but it has most the same stuff called for in the recipie.i also added toasted sesame seeds, not that it needed it but just felt right. Thank you for sharing, will be making again and again.
We are so happy to hear that you loved the pasta salad, it is a favorite here too!
TSRI Team Member,
Thanks for sharing this delicious recipe! I have made this several times with loads of compliments. I highly recommend doubling the dressing recipe: within 20-30 minutes, the pasta soaks up the dressing and leaves the pasta very dry. Another option if you want to serve this pasta for a weeknight side, cut the pasta amount in half and use the dressing recipe as-is above. Next time I make this, I am going to double the ground beef as well to make it more hearty. Thanks again!
We’re SO happy you enjoy the pasta salad recipe. Thank you for your comments and especially for rating the recipe – that is very helpful for other TSRI readers.
TSRI Team member,