A twist on classic elotes, this Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad is full of all the traditional flavors with a few fun twists! It’s sweet from the corn, smoky from the spices, and loaded with amazing textures and flavors thanks to bow tie pasta, black beans, peppers, and fresh herbs! The perfect summer side dish.
If you’ve never had Mexican street corn aka elotes, you’ve been missing out.
What is mexican street corn (elotes)?
Mexican street corn aka elotes is grilled corn on the cob that’s slathered in a mixture typically made with mayo, sometimes sour cream, cotija cheese, chile powder, maybe some other spices, and lime.
Aka heaven on a stick. If you want a recipe, you can check out my favorite mexican street corn.
Elotes or Mexican street corn is the inspiration and base for today’s recipe, but today, we’re ditching the cobb and adding pasta, because pasta salad is life and I just know you guys are going to absolutely flip over this Mexican street corn pasta salad.
It’s sweet, it’s smoky, it’s creamy, it’s crunchy, and it’s just the perfect kind of pasta-y pasta salad. You know what I’m saying?
It’s no secret that I love summer, because it’s the season of pasta salad. I mean. What’s not to love? Chilled noodles are just the BEST. Noodles in general are great, but MAN do I love me some cold, chilled noodles on a super hot summer’s day. Talk about refreshing!
Today’s recipe is no exception, and to be honest, it might just be my new favorite. If you love mexican flavors, you’ll fall head over heels for this corn pasta salad.
Ingredients to make mexican street corn pasta salad:
- Homemade dressing: mayo, sour cream, lime, spices.
- Bell peppers
- Green onions
How to make mexican street corn pasta salad:
- Whisk together the dressing
- Place everything into a large bowl (dressing, pasta, corn, beans, peppers, cheese, and herbs)
- Stir to combine
- Taste and re-season, if necessary
What can you substitute for cotija cheese?
If you’ve ever made elotes or Mexican street corn, you’ve probably noticed that most recipes call for cotija cheese. It’s super creamy and sharp and it’s sooooo delicious. You’ll notice in my recipe, that I actually don’t use cotija cheese.
Because it’s not as easy to come by and it’s more expensive. In today’s recipe, we’re using crumbled feta as a substitute. If you’re a purist and can find cotija, go for it! If not, I think crumbled feta is a wonderful substitution! Some people even swear by shaved parmesan, although I’ve never tried it.
The choice is yours. 🙂
Tips for making the best mexican street corn pasta salad:
- Use bow tie pasta or another “short” pasta – I think penne, rotini, or even medium shells would be fine.
- That being said, I think bow tie pasta is the best shape for this recipe.
- Cook your pasta al dente.
- Mushy pasta in a pasta salad is no good. 😉
- Reserve some of the pasta water.
- The dressing thickens as it sits in the fridge with the pasta, so use the reserved pasta water (which has been seasoned with salt and oil) to thin it out, if necessary!
- Taste and re-season AFTER the pasta chills.
- Cold pasta needs more seasoning than warm pasta, so while the seasonings might taste perfect (or maybe even taste too aggressive) right after it’s made, it’s likely you’ll need to add more salt, lime, etc. after the pasta has been sitting in the fridge for a bit.
- Make this in advance!
- Everyone loves a good meal prep recipe and this one is perfect. It’s hearty enough to not get soggy in the fridge and it actually tastes better the next day!
What other questions do you have? Let me know in the comments below!
What to serve with corn pasta salad:
- Fruit salad
- Ground beef tacos
- Instant pot carnitas
- Black bean burgers
- Mexican turkey burgers
- Grilled BBQ chicken tacos
What would YOU serve with this pasta salad?
Loaded with textures and flavors, this Mexican street corn pasta salad is sure to be a hit at your next summer BBQ. Perfectly cooked pasta, sweet corn, crunchy peppers, fresh herbs, and cheese all tossed with a smoky, tangy, creamy dressing . . .
. . . like I said. It’s the perfect summer side dish!
Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad
Equipment for this recipe
- 1/2 cup mayo
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup lime juice plus more to taste
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne omit if you don’t like spicy
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt plus more to taste
- 1 (16 oz) box bow tie pasta cooked al dente according to package directions
- 2 (15 oz) cans corn drained
- 1 (15 oz) can black beans rinsed and drained
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 1 green bell pepper diced
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta or cotija
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons sliced green onions
- 1/4 cup or more reserved pasta water if needed
- Whisk together mayo, sour cream, lime juice, garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, cayenne, and salt in a very large bowl.
- To the bowl, add in pasta, corn, beans, bell peppers, feta, cilantro, and green onions.
- Stir to combine.
- Cover and chill in the fridge until ready to serve.
- Taste and re-season with salt, lime juice, etc. if necessary. If dressing seems too thick, thin it out with reserved pasta water.
- Serve and enjoy!
*Note: Nutrition information is estimated and varies based on products used.