This creamy Mexican corn pasta salad is inspired by the popular Mexican grilled corn street food and one of my favorite dips. It’s the perfect side dish to enjoy for a cookout or outdoor lunch and can be enjoyed warm, at room temperature, or chilled.
One of my recipe creation secrets is taking a tried and true recipe—like my Nicoise salad—and giving it a twist by turning it into a pasta salad and potato salad version. So when I recently made my Mexican corn dip again, I immediately thought, why not make it a pasta salad?
The dip (and this pasta salad) are based on the popular Mexican street corn known as elotes, (elote literally translates to “cob”), or more aptly named in this stripped-off-the-cob salad-esque-form, as esquites. It’s light, fresh, and the perfect pasta salad to make for your next picnic, bbq, or outdoor lunch.
What’s in This Mexican Corn Pasta Salad
The ingredient list for this easy Mexican corn pasta salad is short and sweet, just like its Mexican street corn inspiration.
- Fresh corn on the cob
- Orecchiette—this pasta shape is ideal for this salad because the corn kernels nestle perfectly in those “little ears”
- jalapeño—you can leave the seeds or take them out, depending on what level of heat you like
- red onion—feel free to leave this out if you prefer, but I like the color and crunch it brings
- sour cream
- fresh lime zest and juice
- chili powder
- garlic powder
- kosher salt
- cotija cheese—you could also use feta cheese if you don’t have since it has a similar texture and flavor profile
What is Mexican Street Corn Made Of
The dressing for this pasta salad is based on the same ingredients used to slather on grilled cobs of Mexican elote. Mexican street corn is traditionally made of grilled corn on the cob that is then slathered with a combination of mayo, sour cream, chili powder, lime, and cotija cheese.
How to Make Mexican Corn Pasta Salad
This pasta salad is so simple to make and can be easily made ahead if you like. Here’s how to make it:
Cook your pasta. You know the drill, salt that water like the sea and cook it to al dente.
Grill the corn. Here’s my tips for the best grilled corn. Grill it directly in its husks for 4-5 minutes or until tender and fragrant. Cut the corn from the cob and discard the cobs.
Or, use frozen corn instead of grilled. If you’re short on time or don’t have a grill, thawed frozen corn works great for this recipe too.
Add those amazing street corn flavors. Once the pasta has finished cooking, drain and add to the bowl with the corn. Add the mayonnaise, sour cream, lime juice and zest, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, onion, and jalapeño, and toss to combine. Then add the cilantro, and ¼ cup of cotija cheese. Taste and add more salt or lime juice if desired. To serve, top with the remaining ¼ cup of cotija cheese and more cilantro.
Tips for Making This Pasta Salad
- If you don’t have an outdoor grill, you use an indoor grill pan and either grill the corn in its husk, out of its husk, or cut the corn off the cob first. Or, thaw a bag of frozen corn and use instead.
- This pasta salad is great served warm, at room temperature, or chilled, if you want to make it ahead.
- You could easily use a different type of noodle for this salad, but make sure it’s a short noodle. Shells, fusilli, or cavatappi would also work great.
What to Serve With Mexican Corn Pasta Salad
- The BEST Chicken Fajitas
- Mango Margarita with Chile Salt and Lime
- Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken
- The BEST Carnitas
- Refried Beans
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
Mexican Corn Pasta Salad
- kosher salt
- 8 ounces orecchiette
- 4 ears corn , or about 3 cups
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons sour cream
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 lime , zested (about 1 teaspoon)
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ red onion , thinly sliced
- 1 jalapeño , seeded and finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons cilantro , chopped
- 1/2 cup crumbled cotija cheese , divided
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, season generously with kosher salt, and cook the pasta according to package directions or until al denté.
- Meanwhile, grill the corn in its husks for 4-5 minutes or until tender and fragrant. Cut the corn from the cob and discard the cobs. You should have about 3 cups of corn. Add the corn to a large mixing bowl. If using frozen corn, thaw, then drain any water from the kernels.
- Once the pasta has finished cooking, drain and add to the bowl with the corn. Mix the mayonnaise, sour cream, lime juice and zest, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, onion, and jalapeño, in a small bowl then toss with the pasta to combine. Gently toss with the cilantro and ¼ cup of cotija cheese. Taste and add more salt or lime juice if desired. To serve, top with the remaining ¼ cup of cotija cheese and more chives and cilantro. This can be eaten at room temperature.
More Pasta Salads to Try
- BLT Pasta Salad with Avocado
- Creamy Tuscan Pasta Salad
- Classic Macaroni Salad
- Kale Caesar Pasta Salad
- Strawberry Caprese Pasta Salad
- Macaroni Salad with Smoked Mozzarella and Prosciutto
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