Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad

Are you ready to make your pasta salad game? Say hello to the Mexican street corn pasta salad, a dish that combines the creamy, tangy, and spicy flavors of traditional Mexican street corn (Elote) with the comfort and versatility of pasta salad. Perfect for barbecues, potlucks, or a simple family dinner, this dish is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Let’s make it easily at home.

Origins of Mexican Street Corn

Mexican street corn, or Elote, is a popular street food in Mexico, loved for its grilled corn on the cob smothered in a mixture of mayonnaise, crema, chili powder, lime juice, and cotija cheese. This tasty treat has inspired numerous adaptations, including the delightful Mexican street corn pasta salad. By combining these beloved flavors with pasta, we create a dish that’s both unique and reminiscent of a classic favorite.

Ingredients for Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad

To make this delicious salad, you’ll need the following main ingredients:

  • Pasta (penne, fusilli, or bowtie)
  • Fresh corn on the cob
  • Mayonnaise
  • Mexican crema or sour cream
  • Lime juice
  • Chili powder
  • Cotija cheese
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Garlic
  • Red onion

Optional add-ins for extra flavor:

  • JalapeƱos
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Avocado
  • Black beans

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad1How to Cook Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad

The choice of pasta is crucial for the texture and overall enjoyment of your salad. Short, sturdy pasta like penne, fusilli, or bowtie work best as they hold up well to the dressing and mix-ins. Cook the pasta al dente according to the package instructions, ensuring it maintains a slight firmness that will complement the creamy dressing and crunchy corn.

Preparing the Corn

For authentic flavor, grilling the corn is highly recommended. This method gives the corn a smoky, charred taste that raise the salad. If grilling isn’t an option, boiling the corn is a suitable alternative. Once cooked, slice the kernels off the cob and set aside.

Making the Dressing

The dressing is the heart of this salad, bringing together all the flavors. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Mexican crema or sour cream
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (adjust to taste)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine these ingredients in a bowl, whisking until smooth. The result should be a creamy, tangy, and slightly spicy dressing that complements the other ingredients perfectly.

Mixing the Salad

In a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta, corn kernels, chopped red onion, fresh cilantro, and any optional add-ins you prefer. Pour the dressing over the mixture and toss gently to ensure all ingredients are evenly coated. Sprinkle cotija cheese on top for a finishing touch.

Serving Suggestions

This salad is versatile and can be served as a main dish or a side. It’s perfect for summer barbecues, family gatherings, or even as a weekday meal. Pair it with grilled meats, tacos, or a simple green salad to create a well-rounded meal.

Health Benefits of Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad

This salad isn’t just delicious; it’s also packed with nutrients. Corn is a good source of fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. The addition of fresh vegetables like cilantro, red onion, and optional add-ins such as avocado and black beans boosts the nutritional profile. To make a lighter version, consider using Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise and crema.

Variations and Substitutions

Vegetarian and Vegan Options:

  • For a vegetarian version, simply ensure all ingredients are free of animal products. To make it vegan, replace mayonnaise and crema with vegan alternatives.

Gluten-Free Alternatives:

  • Use gluten-free pasta to accommodate dietary restrictions. The other ingredients are naturally gluten-free.

Storing and Making Ahead

This salad stores well in the fridge for up to 3 days. If making ahead, keep the dressing separate and mix just before serving to maintain freshness and prevent the pasta from absorbing too much moisture.

Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Salad

  • Avoid Overcooking Pasta: Ensure the pasta is al dente to prevent it from becoming mushy.
  • Char the Corn: If possible, grill the corn to achieve a smoky flavor that enhances the overall taste.
  • Balance the Dressing: Adjust lime juice and chili powder to your preference for a perfectly balanced dressing.

Common Questions About Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad

Can I use frozen corn instead of fresh?

Yes, frozen corn is a convenient alternative. Thaw it before grilling or boiling to use in the salad.

How long can I store the salad in the fridge?

You can store this salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

What are some good protein additions?

Adding grilled chicken, shrimp, or tofu can turn this salad into a more substantial meal.

Can I make this salad spicy?

Definitely! Increase the amount of chili powder, or add diced jalapeƱos or hot sauce for extra heat.

How can I prevent the salad from becoming dry?

Store the dressing separately and mix it with the salad just before serving to keep it fresh and moist.


Mexican street corn pasta salad is a delightful and unique dish that brings together the best of both worlds: the comforting familiarity of pasta salad and the bold, exciting flavors of Mexican street corn. Whether you’re hosting a summer barbecue or looking for a new family favorite, this salad is sure to impress. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different ingredients and make it your own!

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