Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad

This Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad is a delicious fusion of flavors featuring charred corn, cotija cheese, and a creamy chili lime dressing all tossed together with tender pasta.

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A bowl of Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad.

Salads don’t need to be boring! Besides this delicious Street Corn Salad, we also love this elegant yet simple Caprese Salad. Check out all of these Salad Recipes for more inspiration.

Why we love this recipe

  • This dish brings together the flavors of Mexican street food with the comfort and versatility of pasta. This fusion creates a unique and tasty salad that appeals to a wide range of palates.
  • The pasta provides a satisfying chewiness, while the grilled corn kernels add a slight crunch. The creamy dressing and crumbled cheese add a smooth and creamy element to the dish.
  • It also can be easily customized to suit individual preferences. You can adjust the level of spiciness, add or omit ingredients, or incorporate your personal favorite toppings or seasonings.
An overhead image of Mexican Street Corn Salad in a glass bowl.

Ingredients

For the salad:

  • pasta – we love penne, rotini, or anything with ridges to grab the dressing.
  • olive oil and butter – we like to use both for cooking the corn.
  • corn kernels – you can use either fresh corn or frozen corn. Both work great.
  • green onion – chives or diced red onions can also be substituted.
  • cilantro – we love the fresh taste of cilantro, but if it is not for you other fresh herbs like parsley can be used instead.
  • cotija cheese – this is a crumbly, Mexican cheese with a mild salty flavor. You could also substitute crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese.
  • jalapenos – this brings a bit of heat! If you don’t like the spice you can omit the peppers.
  • sea salt

For the dressing:

  • fresh lime juice – lemon juice can also be used instead.
  • garlic
  • mayonnaise – we like using homemade mayonnaise.
  • sour cream
  • tajin – this is a Mexican chili powder with lime. We buy it from a local specialty store and it can also be found on Amazon. You can also use just regular chili powder.
Ingredients on a counter.

Equipment

Instructions

Step 1

First, start by cooking the pasta. Add the dry noodles to a large pot of boiling salted water and follow the package instructions and boil until the pasta is al dente.

Then, drain the cooked pasta, transfer it to a baking sheet, and spread it out for it to cool.

Step 2

Meanwhile, make the dressing. Start by adding the minced garlic to the fresh lime juice and letting it soak for a bit. This will allow the flavor of the garlic to soften a bit so it isn’t so pungent.

Then, stir together the rest of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and set it aside.

Dressing in a small bowl being stirred with a spoon.

Step 3

Next, cook the corn. Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet. Then, add the corn and sprinkle it with sea salt. Flatten the corn into an even layer and let it cook without stirring for two minutes. This is so a light char will develop on the corn and give it flavor and color.

Then, toss the corn and repeat the process 2 or 3 times to get the charred effect on all sides of the corn.

Charred corn cooking in a skillet.

Step 4

Next, add the cooked corn to a large bowl and toss in the pasta.

Corn and pasta in a mxing bowl.

Pour the dressing over and give it a good stir to coat everything.

A mixing bowl of cooked corn and pasta with dressing stirred in.

Then, stir in the cilantro, sliced green onions, and jalapenos.

Finally, crumble in the cotija cheese and give the salad one last toss.

Cilantro and green onions being stirred into a bowl with cooked corn and pasta.

Expert tip

Soak the minced garlic in the fresh lime juice for about 10 minutes to soften the flavor.

Garlic can be overpowering when raw and this helps it to mellow.

A glass bowl with Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad inside.

Recipe variations

  • Add a smoked element by stirring in some chipotle to the dressing.
  • Boost the protein by adding some black beans or kidney beans to the salad.
  • Include some roasted tomatoes! Roast cherry tomatoes in the oven until they burst and develop a slightly charred flavor then toss those into the pasta salad.
  • If you are looking for something less creamy check out this Pasta Salad without Mayo! It has a light vinaigrette dressing and fresh garden veggies.

Serving suggestions

  • Serve the salad as a side dish alongside grilled meats, such as grilled chicken – we love using this Chili Lime Chicken Marinade, steak, or shrimp. The salad’s creamy, tangy flavors complement the smoky flavors from the grill.
  • Enjoy it as a light lunch option. It packs well to tote to work or school and, based on my first-hand experience, it’s also a great option for a quick and satisfying work-from-home lunch.
  • This salad is particularly fitting for summer gatherings and BBQs. Its bright colors and flavors evoke the festive spirit of Mexican street food. Serve it alongside Mexican-style street tacos, or refreshing beverages like agua fresca or margaritas.

FAQS

What is Mexican Street Corn? 

Known as elote, it is a popular Mexican street food dish made with grilled corn on the cob. It is a flavorful and savory treat that is often sold by street vendors in Mexico and other countries.

The corn is typically grilled or roasted until it develops a slight char and smoky flavor. It is then slathered with a Mexican crema sauce made with mayo and tajin.

Can this salad be served warm?

This dish tastes best at room temperature or slightly chilled.

Storage tips

  • Store this salad covered in the fridge until you are ready to serve. We recommend letting it sit on the counter for 10-15 minutes to come to room temperature for the best flavor.
  • Keep any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.
An overhead view of a glass mixing bowl filled with pasta salad.

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A bowl of Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad.

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad

Sharon Rhodes
This Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad is a delicious fusion of flavors featuring charred corn, cotija cheese, and a creamy chili lime dressing all tossed together with tender pasta.
5 from 26 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Appetizer, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Mexican
Servings 4
Calories 275 kcal

Ingredients
  

For the dressing

  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 tsp tajin

For the salad

Instructions
 

  • Start by adding the minced garlic to the lime juice in a small bowl to soak. Set this aside while you prepare the rest of the salad.
  • Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain it and spread it evenly on a baking sheet to cool. Drizzle it with a bit of olive oil and toss to coat. This will help it not to stick together.
  • Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet. Add the corn, sprinkle with sea salt, and stir.
  • Spread the corn into a single layer and let it cook for 2 minutes without stirring so it can get a nice char. Stir it and repeat 2 more times to brown all sides.
  • Meanwhile, stir together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Once the corn had charred on all sides, transfer it to a large bowl, add the cooked pasta, and stir. Then, stir in the cilantro, sliced green onions, and diced jalapeno peppers.
  • Finally, crumble in the cheese and give it one last toss.

Video

Notes

Storage tips

  • Store this salad covered in the fridge until you are ready to serve. We recommend letting it sit on the counter for 10-15 minutes to come to room temperature for the best flavor.
  • Keep any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Nutrition

Calories: 275kcalCarbohydrates: 39gProtein: 7gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 21mgSodium: 276mgPotassium: 213mgFiber: 4gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 702IUVitamin C: 12mgCalcium: 112mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad
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5 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! I love the combination of flavors and the addition of the cojita cheese, it’s just perfect in this salad!

  2. 5 stars
    Absolutely love street corn so this pasta salad was a total hit! The cojita and tajin were such a lovely twist to traditional pasta salad flavors. I’ll be making this all summer long, great recipe!

  3. 5 stars
    I love this corn salad for everything! Great to take to a BBQ but just as amazing for a light, and yummy dinner recipe too.

  4. 5 stars
    I made this Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad yesterday, and it was absolutely delicious! The combination of flavors was fantastic! I highly recommend giving this recipe a try!

  5. 5 stars
    This salad was delicious! I loved the tender pasta and the tasty salad, and the creamy dressing was so satisfying.

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