Skip to Content

Street Corn Pasta Salad (Elote Pasta Salad)

The flavors of Mexican street corn in a delicious pasta salad. This elote pasta salad has all the components of traditional Mexican street corn mixed with tender pasta for the perfect summer side dish. Made with simple ingredients and homemade creamy dressing, this easy recipe comes together quickly and makes a large batch.  Perfect for your next BBQ or potluck. 

Corn pasta salad in a blue serving bowl with a wooden spoon.

If you enjoy the flavors of elote, you will love this Mexican street corn salad. Made with al dente pasta that has been mixed with corn, jalapenos, and cilantro and tossed in a creamy dressing, this tasty dish is a delicious side or perfect lunch.

If you enjoy this, you may also like elote dip or black bean salsa with a big bowl of tortilla chips. 

Jump to:

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchase

I love a good pasta salad, especially in the summer when the weather is hot and I want something hearty but cold.  

This pasta salad is perfect for summer, with its sweet corn, fresh jalapenos, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.   With lots of salty cotija cheese and a creamy mayo dressing, it’s a filling salad that works great as a lunch, light dinner, or a perfect side dish for your favorite proteins. 

The great thing about this salad is that it’s easy to customize.  If you don’t like the heat from the jalapenos, you can leave them out.  If you want more veggies, add some diced bell pepper, spring onions, chopped tomatoes, or red onion.  Add a can of black beans or diced, cooked chicken to add more protein.

Pasta salad with corn and crumbled cotija cheese in a bowl garnished with lime wedges.

The dressing ingredients are mayonnaise, sour cream, and a seasoning blend of chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, and garlic powder.  You can add fresh herbs or a small clove of fresh garlic if you like.

I always use frozen corn for this recipe as it’s quick, easy, and available year-round, but if you have time and corn is in season,  you could grill or air-fryer whole corn on the cob and cut the kernels off the cob.  

This recipe makes a large batch, so it’s perfect for a crowd, but leftovers will last a few days.  The salad absorbs the dressing in the fridge, so if you plan on making enough for leftovers, you may want to double up on the dressing and keep half in the fridge.  Before serving, toss the leftovers in some extra dressing to make the salad creamy again. 

Ingredients & Substitutions

For a full list of ingredients and measurements, see the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post.

Pasta – You can use any pasta you like for this recipe.  I like using spiral noodles, like rotini or fusilli, as the little grooves hold onto the dressing.  But you can use elbow macaroni, penne, bow tie, or any other pasta you like.  You can use traditional semolina pasta or try another variety, such as whole wheat or gluten-free. 

Corn kernels – I use frozen corn for this recipe because it’s easy and always available, but you can use fresh corn.  If you will use fresh corn on the cob, you will want to cook it first. Since the recipe calls for sauteing the corn kernels to toast them, you may want to grill the corn cob or cook it in the air fryer, and you can skip the sautee. 

Cilantro – Make sure you use fresh cilantro.  When choosing cilantro look for fragrant bunches with bright green leaves, free of wilt and brown spots.  If you don’t like cilantro, you can leave this out or substitute it with flat-leaf parsley.

Jalapeno – Fresh jalapeno adds a nice spice to the salad without overpowering the other ingredients.  To keep it milder, remove the seeds from the peppers.  If you like a lot of spice, try using serrano or habanero peppers instead. 

Cotija cheese – Cotija is a soft, white, crumbly cheese with a creamy texture and mild flavor.  It is a staple in Mexican dishes.  If it’s hard to find cotija, you can substitute it with feta cheese. 

Elote Salad Dressing Ingredients

Mayonnaise – Mayonnaise is a major ingredient in traditional elote.  The creamy base is spread on the corn cob to hold the cheese and seasonings.  You can use full-fat, light, or fat-free mayonnaise.  

Sour Cream – Sour cream adds a bit of tang to the dressing.  This can be substituted with plain Greek yogurt if you prefer.

Lime – Fresh lime juice is a must.  If you want to increase the lime flavor, add a bit of the lime zest. 

Seasonings – The seasonings in this dressing are smoked paprika, garlic powder, cumin, and chili powder.  You can add cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes to increase the heat. 

Ingredients for elote pasta salad.

How to Make Elote Pasta Salad

Making street corn pasta salad is quick and easy.

Begin by cooking the pasta according to the package directions, then drain and rinse with cold water.

Place the cooked pasta in a large mixing bowl with the diced jalapeno, chopped cilantro, corn kernels, and crumbled cheese.

​Mix the mayonnaise, sour cream, spices, and lime juice in a small bowl, then add to the mixing bowl and stir to combine the ingredients.

Ingredients for street corn pasta salad in a large mixing bowl.

Move the prepared salad to a serving bowl and garnish with additional chopped herbs, crumbled cheese, and a sprinkle of Tajin seasoning if desired. 

For the best flavor and texture, salad should be served within a few hours of preparation.

Prepared pasta salad in a large mixing bowl.

Top Tips & Tricks

  • For the best flavor and texture, salad should be served within a few hours of preparation.
  • If you plan on making enough for leftovers, you may want to double up on the dressing and keep half in the fridge.  Before serving, toss the leftovers in some extra dressing to make the salad creamy again. 

Serving Suggestions

This hearty pasta salad works well as a main meal for lunch, a light dinner, or a side dish.

It’s great for pool parties, BBQs, and potlucks and pairs well with dishes such as air-fried chicken leg quarters, grilled lemon chicken, or flank steak.

Serve it with other Mexican-inspired dishes such as mango habanero salsa, chicken taquitos, or homemade guacamole and tortilla chips.

This salad tastes best when fresh. We suggest making it just before it’s time to serve. If you want to prepare it beforehand, assemble the salad ingredients and keep the dressing separate until before meal time.

Elote pasta salad in a serving bowl with a spoon.

Storing Leftovers

Leftover pasta salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 3 days.

When this salad is refrigerated, you will find that the dressing absorbs into the salad ingredients and becomes less creamy. It’s still tasty and can be eaten this way, or if you know you will have leftovers, I recommend making extra dressing.

When it comes time to enjoy the leftovers, toss with some fresh dressing to make it creamy again.

More Salad Recipes

Printable Recipe

Street corn pasta salad in a serving bowl.

Elote Pasta Salad

The flavors of Mexican street corn in a delicious pasta salad. This elote pasta salad has all the components of traditional Mexican street corn mixed with tender pasta for the perfect summer side dish.
No ratings yet
Print Pin Save Recipe Rate
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 340kcal
Author: Deanna

Ingredients

  • 8 oz uncooked pasta rotini, fusilli, bow-tie, etc
  • 3 cups corn kernels frozen
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 1-2 jalapenos seeded and diced
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup crumbled cotija cheese

Dressing Ingredients

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoon lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder

Optional Ingredients

Instructions

  • In a large pot, cook the pasta according to package directions, then drain and rinse in cold water.
  • Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a large skillet, then add the corn. Cook for 5-7 minutes until the corn is slightly browned.
  • Add the cooked pasta, corn, diced jalapeno, chopped cilantro, and crumbled cheese to a large bowl and any optional ingredients.
  • In a small bowl, mix the dressing ingredients, then add to the salad.
  • Mix all ingredients, then move the salad to a serving bowl.
  • Garnish with extra cheese, chopped cilantro, and tajin seasoning, if desired.

Notes

  • This salad is best when consumed within a few hours of preparation.
  • Leftovers will keep for about three days in the refrigerator. However, the salad does absorb the dressing in the fridge, so if you plan on making enough for leftovers, you may want to double up on the dressing and keep half in the refrigerator.  Before serving, toss the leftovers in some extra dressing to make the salad creamy again. 

Nutrition

Estimated Nutrition Facts
Elote Pasta Salad
Amount per Serving
Calories
340
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
20
g
31
%
Saturated Fat
 
7
g
44
%
Trans Fat
 
0.1
g
Sodium
 
462
mg
20
%
Carbohydrates
 
32
g
11
%
Fiber
 
2
g
8
%
Sugar
 
4
g
4
%
Protein
 
8
g
16
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.

Subscribe to our Newsletter!Recieve a FREE 30 Minute Meal Ebook! Subscribe Here!!

Sharing is caring!

Recipe Rating




THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. AS AN AMAZON ASSOCIATE I EARN FROM QUALIFYING PURCHASES.