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Instant Pot Southwest Macaroni Salad is an easy summer side dish for barbecues and cookouts and full of delicious Southwestern flavors. It’s easy to make the pasta in the Instant Pot and mix in the remaining ingredients before serving!

instant pot southwest macaroni salad in red and white bowl

You can make all kinds of pasta dishes in the Instant Pot, but have you ever made plain pasta in the pressure cooker? It’s super easy, and there’s no standing over a hot stove and no need to drain the pasta when it’s done. Use this easy method for cooking pasta in the Instant Pot to make pasta salad all summer long!

You guys, I can’t believe it’s practically Memorial Day Weekend already! Another school year is over, and summer vacation is just beginning. Seriously, where did this year go?!

Anyway, if you’re hosting or attending a BBQ or cookout this summer, you know you need a few easy side salads to go with whatever’s on the grill. I used to make my Grandma’s potato salad the old fashioned way, or should I say “normal” way. But now I make it in the Instant Pot. And since that’s so much easier, I decided to make macaroni salad in the Instant Pot, as well!

How to make pasta in the Instant Pot electric pressure cooker

It’s so easy to make macaroni or any pasta in the pressure cooker. If you’re making spaghetti, you add both water and sauce, and for mac and cheese, you’ll add cream after the pasta cooks. But for plain pasta or macaroni salad or any pasta salad, all you need is pasta and water.

How long do you cook pasta in the Instant Pot?

The general rule for pressure cooking pasta is to cook it for half the time it says on the box. So, you want to cook the pasta in the Instant Pot for 4 or 5 minutes tops!

How to make Instant Pot Southwest Macaroni Salad

Just add the pasta, water and a little salt to the pot, and cook it for 4 minutes. There’s no standing over a hot stove, no stirring and no need to lift a pot of boiling water and drain it in the sink.

When the macaroni is done, just rinse it with cold water — just like you would if you made pasta on the stove.  Then, put it into a bowl, and add the ingredients for the salad. Easy peasy!

mix tomatoes and peppers with macaroni salad

You can make your favorite macaroni salad recipe, but this Southwestern macaroni salad is a delicious change from the usual. I throw in some grape tomatoes, an avocado, lime juice, mayo and diced jalapeño peppers. I also sprinkle in some smoked paprika and cilantro for extra flavor.

If  you want to cut back on the heat, you can use diced green chiles, instead. And, if you’re like my daughter and think that cilantro tastes like soap, feel free to leave that out!

Looking for more Instant Pot summer side dishes?

Recipe for Instant Pot Southwest Macaroni Salad

5 from 7 votes

Instant Pot Southwest Macaroni Salad

By: Dee
Instant Pot Southwest Macaroni Salad is an easy summer side dish for picnics, potlucks and BBQ cookouts. Just Make the pasta in the pressure cooker and mix in the remaining ingredients!
Prep Time: 8 minutes
Cook Time: 4 minutes
Total Time: 12 minutes
Servings: 15


  • 1 16-ounce box elbow macaroni
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 4-ounce can diced jalapeno peppers
  • 1 ½ cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 medium avocado, diced
  • lime, juice of
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika or chili powder
  • 2 cups mayonnaise
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  • Add uncooked macaroni to pressure cooker, and add water and sea salt
  • Cover, turn vent to sealing position, and hit PRESSURE COOK for 4 minutes
  • When time is up, do a quick release, and remove lid when pin drops
  • Pour macaroni into colander, rinse with cold water, and drain well
  • Add macaroni to a large mixing bowl, and stir in remaining ingredients
  • Season with additional salt, to taste, if needed, and refrigerate until ready to serve


Diced green chiles can be substituted for jalapeños for a milder salad


Calories: 200kcal

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: side
Cuisine: American
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You guys, my family absolutely loved this Instant Pot Southwest macaroni salad, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

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Recipe Rating


  1. Artresha says:

    How much lime juice?

    1. Dee says:

      I used the juice of 1 lime.