Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad

Street Corn Pasta Salad

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad

Have you ever stumbled upon a recipe that immediately felt like a summer essential?

That’s precisely what happened when I first tried making street corn pasta salad.

It combines the sweetest, grilled corn with pasta, all dressed up with a creamy, spicy dressing that truly defines summer eating.

The first time I made it, I remember the corn sizzling on the grill, the cheddar cheese melting perfectly, and tossing it all with pasta that just absorbed every flavor.

It was a dish my dad always loved, and now, it’s become a part of my own summer traditions.

This salad is all about mixing the right elements to bring out the best in each other.

The creaminess comes from mayo mixed with lime juice, giving it that zesty kick.

Cotija cheese adds that necessary salty touch, making every forkful irresistible. Sweet corn, fresh off the cob, bell peppers, and broccoli add crunch and color.

My family and I often serve this salad at our summer parties, enjoying how it incorporates so much of what we love about the season.

Whether it’s a quiet dinner or a big gathering, this salad is always a hit, especially when you toss in some basil for an extra layer of flavor.

It’s simple, delicious, and just fun to make and eat, truly making it a quintessential dish for any summer table.

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad Recipe

This delightful salad combines the creamy, smooth richness of traditional Mexican flavors with a fun twist.

At the heart of this dish are tender, roasted kernels of corn that bring a slight heat, beautifully balanced by a mild pepper crunch.

The pasta is coated in a creamy lime dressing that adds a refreshing tangy kick, while the texture of the corn contrasts with the smoothness of the dressing.

Thanks to a sprinkle of Tajín, each bite is a perfect blend of flavor and spice, making it an easy and flavorful dish to eat at any summer gathering.

Best Elote Pasta Salad

What Is Mexican Street Corn?

Mexican street corn, or Elote, is a crazy good mixture of roasted corn, coated in a creamy blend of mayonnaise and sour cream, then dusted with Cotija cheese and sometimes Tajín for that extra kick.

Originating from the streets of Mexico, this dish has become an obvious favorite in various cities and is often called by its name, Elote. The corn is creamy, flavorful, and utterly irresistible.

I’ve always loved this dish since I got a taste years ago while visiting different Mexican restaurants—each time it feels like trying something authentic yet new.

What Pasta Is Best For Pasta Salad?

When it comes to crafting the perfect pasta salad, choosing the right pasta shape can make all the difference.

For creamy, Mexican street corn pasta salads, it’s fun to choose shapes that give each bite a unique twist and hold the dressing well.

Rotini and Fusilli are amazingly versatile because their spirals are great at coating with creamy dressing.

Gemelli and Cavatappi offer a larger size and a different texture, adding a little extra to the salad by giving a new and traditional feel to every spoonful.

I love incorporating Trotolle and Cavatappi, as their shapes provide an outside-the-box approach to the usual salad ingredients.

How To Make Pasta Salad: The Details

Step 1: Boil the Pasta

Boil your pasta until it’s just right—not too soft, not too hard. I like using shapes that hold onto the dressing well, like rotini or fusilli.

Once done, drain and toss it in a little olive oil to prevent sticking. This simple step sets the base for a delicious salad.

Step 2: Mix the Dressing

In a separate bowl, mix mayo, lime juice, and yogurt to create a creamy and tangy dressing. Add a dash of cayenne and chili powder for that extra kick.

I sometimes drizzle in some sour cream for more creaminess. Remember, the spices you choose can transform the flavor, so adjust according to your taste.

Step 3: Combine Ingredients

Gently toss the cooked pasta with roasted corn, fresh cilantro, crumbled feta (or cotija cheese for more authenticity), and your creamy dressing.

Add chopped green onions and chives for that fresh herby touch. Everything comes together with a few good stirs.

Step 4: Add Cheese and Herbs

Right before serving, mix in some cheddar or feta cheese—whatever you crave that day.

Top with a few basil leaves or cilantro for a pop of green and freshness. This step is all about adding those final touches that make your salad stand out.

Step 5: Serve and Enjoy

Now, it’s time to serve your masterpiece. I like to add a final dollop of dressing on top and maybe some extra spices if it needs more flavor.

Lime wedges on the side let everyone adjust their own plate to taste. It’s yummy, spicy, and just perfect for any gathering.

What Type Of Corn To Use For Pasta Salad?

When preparing Mexican street corn pasta salad, the type of corn you use can dramatically affect the dish.

Canned corn is a quick and easy option, and it’s what I often recommend when you’re short on time.

Just drain it well, and it’s ready to go. For a more authentic taste, grilling corn is the best route.

It adds an incredible charred flavor that pairs beautifully with the creamy dressing.

If grilling isn’t an option, roasting frozen corn in the oven can also yield great results, bringing out a sweetness that complements the jalapeño and cheese.

Another tip for those last-minute preparations is to use pre-roasted corn, available at some grocery stores.

No matter which route you choose, the corn should always be lightly charred and tossed into the salad for that perfect bite.

Quick Tip

When making your street corn pasta salad, getting the corn just right is crucial.

Peel back the husks and remove the silk from the corn, then rub it with olive oil on all sides. Sprinkle it lightly with salt and pepper.

Place the corn on a heated grill at 450 degrees F and rotate it every few minutes until it’s charred, which should take about 10 minutes total.

This technique also works with a grill pan. Don’t forget this step because it adds that smoky flavor you crave in your salad.

Additionally, always salt your pasta water well. This is your only chance to season the actual pasta.

Underseasoned pasta can make your entire salad taste less flavorful. As a general rule of thumb, add one teaspoon of salt for every four cups of boiling water.

Making Street Corn Pasta Salad Ahead Of Time

When planning to make your street corn pasta salad ahead of time, there’s a trick to keeping it fresh and tasty.

Combine all your ingredients except the cheese and some of the dressing.

The pasta can soak up the dressing as it sits, which means you’ll want to add a little extra dressing just before serving to keep everything creamy and moist.

I always toss in the Cotija cheese last, right before it’s time to serve. This step prevents the cheese from drying out or becoming too blended with the other ingredients.

From personal experience, holding back some dressing and the cheese ensures that every bite is as good as when you first made it.

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad

How To Store Leftover Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad?

For leftovers, store your Mexican street corn pasta salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will stay fresh for about three to four days.

If you notice the salad seems a bit dry the next day, a simple fix is to add a splash of cream or sour cream, which helps refresh the creamy texture.

Before serving again, give the salad a good toss to mix everything back together and season with a little salt and pepper if needed.

This method ensures that your salad remains one of your favorite dishes to prep and enjoy throughout the week, retaining its good taste and creamy consistency.

How To Choose And Store Fresh Corn?

When choosing your corn for that perfect street corn pasta salad, start by checking the husk.

It should be bright green and tightly wrapped around the cob, with silk that is soft and light gold.

Avoid any ears where the silk is dark or mushy—this could mean the corn is past its prime.

Another quick tip: peel back just a bit of the husk to ensure the kernels are plump and not missing, which are signs of fresh, sweet corn.

Storing your corn correctly is just as important to keep it fresh. If you’re not using it the same day, wrap the corn tightly in a damp, plastic bag and place it in the crisper of your refrigerator.

This environment helps to keep the corn from drying out. Be sure to use it within a day or two, as the shelf life of fresh corn is quite short, and even in the fridge, it dries out and loses its sweetness rapidly.

Lastly, always check for any small holes in the husk, as these can be signs of insects and should be avoided to ensure you are using only the best quality in your dishes.

Street Corn Pasta Salad Tiktok Variations

  • Swap the usual pasta for a gluten-free type if you’re keeping your diet in mind. Gluten-free options work just as well in this recipe.
  • Add different veggies like grape tomatoes, arugula, or green beans to customize your salad and make it super colorful.
  • Use grilled chicken or shrimp as a protein boost; both are easy to grill and add fantastic flavor.
  • If you’re vegan, simply omit the cheese or use a vegan alternative. Vegan diets can be deliciously catered to with plant-based cheese.
  • For a different texture, try frozen corn—just thaw and use. If frozen isn’t on hand, canned corn is perfectly fine too.
  • Don’t forget to customize with extras like black beans or bacon for a hearty touch—just make sure it suits your taste.

Tips For Making The Best Elote Pasta Salad

  • Cooking the pasta perfectly is crucial. Start by bringing your water to a boil with a generous amount of Kosher salt—about two tablespoons per liter. This isn’t just a step; it’s a game-changer, infusing the pasta with flavor from the start. Cook the pasta to al dente as per the package directions—never overcook, as mushy pasta can ruin your salad. Strain and cool it under cold water to stop the cooking process immediately.
  • When adding corn, I always recommend grilled corn on the cob for that authentic sweet, smoky flavor. If you’re using frozen, thaw it first, but grilled is best. Cut the corn off the cob just before adding to the salad to keep it fresh and crisp. This step ensures that each kernel bursts with sweetness in your dish.
  • Salting your pasta water is one of life’s greatest pleasures in pasta-making, literally boosting the flavor of the pasta. Ensure the water is as salty as the sea, which is not just for taste but also seasons the pasta from the inside out, making every bite delicious. Remember, this is the only chance you have to season the pasta itself—don’t skimp on the salt!

Creamy Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad Recipe

For The Creamy Dressing

  • 4 ounces of soft cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves of grated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped chives
  • A pinch of kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup of crumbled feta cheese (or cotija cheese for a saltier touch)

For The Zesty Salad

  • 1 pound of your favorite short pasta
  • 1 head of romaine lettuce, finely shredded
  • 2 cups of grilled corn kernels (about 3-4 ears of raw corn)
  • 1/2 cup of torn fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup cubed spicy cheddar cheese
  • 1 ripe avocado, diced
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper, depending on how spicy you like it
  • 1/4 cup mayo or yogurt for creaminess
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Instructions

  1. Prepare the Dressing: In a big bowl, mix all the dressing ingredients together. Sprinkle some salt and pepper for seasoning.
  2. Cook the Pasta: Fill a pot with salted water and bring it to a boil. Cook the pasta until it’s just right, or al dente, like the package says. Once done, drain it and mix it right away with the dressing. Then add chopped lettuce, sweet corn, shredded cheddar cheese, fresh basil, cilantro, and diced avocado. Stir everything together so the flavors mix well.
  3. Make the Chili Butter: In a frying pan, melt some butter over medium heat until it’s golden brown. Stir in chili powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, and a bit of salt. Let it cook for another minute, then turn off the heat.
  4. Prepare Lime Mayo: In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise or yogurt with some lime juice and a pinch of salt. Mix it until smooth.
  5. Serving the Salad: You can serve this pasta salad either warm or cold. Spoon some of the lime mayo over the pasta and drizzle with the chili butter right before serving. As the salad sits, it gets even more flavorful.

Street Corn Pasta Salad Tiktok

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