Everything you love about Mexican Street Corn, or "elote", in pasta salad form! This Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad is loaded with flavor & makes a great side dish for a summer picnic or barbeque!
Elote, or Mexican Street Corn, is sold on street carts in Mexico as hot dogs are sold on the streets of New York City, and for good reason. This stuff is so good!
If you've never tried it, summer is the perfect time when there is an abundance of sweet corn for sale. The corn cob is grilled then brushed with a creamy mayo sauce and topped with Cotija cheese, chili powder & lime juice. It's truly the perfect summer side dish.
This pasta salad incorporates all the flavors of the traditional version made a little more filling with the addition of pasta. Summers seem to be a popular for serving pasta salad at outdoor picnics, parties and barbeques.
Combine these two summer side dishes together and it's like you've hit the jackpot!
The ingredients for the pasta salad include:
- Pasta - I like the shape of rotini. The spiral shape helps catch all the goodness, but of course any shape will do.
- Olive oil - used to sauté the corn in the skillet
- Corn - there are 2 options here. You can either cut fresh corn off the cob or you can buy frozen. In either case, you will need about 2 cups of corn kernels. The plus side of frozen corn is that you can enjoy this pasta salad year round!
- Green onions - for some extra depth of flavor
- Cilantro - adds some freshness to the pasta salad
- Mayo - the main part of the dressing and a traditional component of elote
- Sour cream - adds some tangy creaminess to the dressing
- Lime juice - fresh lime works best to add some acidity
- Cotija cheese - often described as a Mexican version of feta cheese. A crumbly, salty cheese that adds great flavor. Feta could also be substituted if you can't find Cotija.
- Elote seasoning - I've found this as a seasonal item at Aldi and more frequently at Trader Joe's. It contains a blend of salt, chili pepper, Parmesan cheese, chipotle powder, cumin and dried cilantro. Traditionally Mexican Street Corn is sprinkled with chili powder, so you can also just use this if you can't find the blends.
How To Make It
- Make the pasta - first cook the pasta according to the package instructions, being sure to salt the water. When cooking noodles for pasta salad, I like to lean more towards the shorter side of the cooking time listed to avoid it getting too mushy. After it's cooked and drained, rinse the pasta to stop the cooking and to rinse the starch off. This will ensure the pasta doesn't get gummy once it's cooled.
- Prep the corn - if using whole cobs, cut the kernels off to make 2 cups. You will need anywhere from 2-3 cobs depending on their size, or a 12 oz. bag of frozen corn. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over high heat. Add the corn kernels and sauté 4-5 minutes until heated through and the kernels start to brown. You want the corn to start to get bits of charred pieces to mimic grilling. This is a shortcut, year round way to prepare the corn. The corn could also be grilled to stay more traditional and add a different layer of flavor to the salad. Add the corn to a large bowl with the cooked noodles, and add chopped green onions & cilantro.
- Make the dressing - in a small bowl whisk together mayo, sour cream and lime juice. Add to the bowl and mix well.
- Finish it off - finally add in the Cotija cheese & elote seasoning and gently mix everything together. Store pasta salad in an airtight container and keep refrigerated.
This pasta salad will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days! Pull it out of the fridge and give it a good stir before serving. You may notice the salad becomes drier after storing. If this becomes an issue, add some extra lime juice or mayo and stir it in.
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Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad
- 12 oz. rotini pasta
- salt for pasta water
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 cups frozen or fresh corn cut off the cob
- ¼ cup green onions chopped
- ½ cup cilantro chopped
- 1 ½ cups mayo
- ½ cup sour cream
- 2 tbsp. lime juice about 1 lime
- ½ cup Cotija cheese
- 1 tsp. Elote seasoning
- Cook pasta according to package instructions, being sure to salt the water. Drain and rinse well under cold water. Add to a large bowl and set aside.
- In a skillet, heat olive oil over high heat. Add corn kernels and sauté for 4-5 minutes until heated through and starting to brown. Add corn to the bowl with pasta. Mix in chopped green onions and cilantro.
- In a separate bowl whisk together mayo, sour cream and lime juice. Pour over pasta and mix well.
- Mix in Cotija cheese and sprinkle in Elote seasoning. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.