This Mexican pasta salad is crunchy, creamy, spicy and so easy to make. Imagine your favorite Mexican street corn in pasta salad form with a creamy (dairy-free) dressing! It's a fun twist on the traditional pasta salad.
Pasta salads are some of our favorite side dishes, and if you've been around here for a while you know we are obsessed with Mexican food. So it just seemed natural to make this Mexican street corn pasta salad a thing.
Why You'll Love This Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad Recipe
Delicious flavors: Roasting the corn with Mexican spices helps to build the flavor and gives this delicious pasta salad recipe a little heat. It has all of the flavors of Mexican street corn. Plus fresh herbs and plenty of veggies? Count us in!
Great side dish or main course: It makes the perfect side dish for your next summer barbecue. You could easily have it as your whole meal for weeknight dinners by adding extra protein like this grilled chicken.
Crowd pleaser: This really is the best pasta salad to impress every guest. It has a little something for everyone: it's creamy, it's crunchy, a little spicy, and full of color, texture, and flavor!
Use any leftover corn to make this fresh corn salad. If you need to take a dish to a summer bbq this is perfect. Make it to eat with grilled hamburgers, ribeye, or chicken thighs, or even top some tasty tacos with it. The options are endless!
Ingredients You'll Need
- Pasta: Our favorite brand for gluten-free pasta is Jovial, but any short-cut pasta like rotini works.
- Corn: Fresh sweet corn is best. If you're feeling ambitious, grilled corn will bring out those authentic flavors of street corn.
- Spices: We used cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper.
- Red bell pepper: Red pepper adds a touch of sweetness.
- Red onion: Adds plenty of flavor, color, and crunch!
- Tomatoes: Fresh, juicy tomatoes are another summer staple that make a great addition to this fresh salad.
- Cilantro: Fresh parsley is a good substitute if you're not a fan of cilantro.
- Paleo mayonnaise: I like the Primal Kitchen brand.
- Full-fat canned coconut milk: Shaken first to combine cream and liquid. Use Greek yogurt to substitute or use sour cream for a non-dairy option.
- Cilantro: This leafy herb is full of flavor and adds a level of freshness.
- Honey: All that spice needs to balance out with just a little sweetness.
- Lime: Fresh lime juice is another ingredient to add flavor and balance everything with acid.
- Seasonings: dried chives, dried dill, smoked paprika, garlic (or garlic powder), salt
- Jalapenos: Take them straight from the jar.
- Mild salsa verde: The depth of flavor in this rounds out the recipe. You can use green enchilada sauce or even diced green chiles in a pinch.
The dressing for this recipe is a little bit involved, but you won't regret making it. It goes on this pasta salad but it also goes so well with salads, tacos, and chicken. It reminds us of our popular jalapeño ranch dressing.
How to make Mexican Pasta Salad
The full printable recipe is below, but let’s walk through the steps with some photos and a video so you have a clear idea of what to expect. This traditional Mexican street corn salad recipe is really easy and these step-by-step instructions will make sure it turns out every time.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then add the uncooked pasta. For the best results, cook pasta according to the package directions on the pasta package then drain and rinse.
- While the pasta is cooking, prepare the corn. Coat each corn cob in the spices, wrap them in foil, and throw them in the preheated oven.
- Prep the dressing by adding all of the dressing ingredients to the bowl of a food processor then blend until smooth. Set aside and chop all of the vegetables and cilantro, then toss with the drained and cooled pasta.
- Cut the corn kernels off the cob when it's done roasting and add it to the bowl. Toss everything with the creamy dressing.
Pro Tip: When you're making a pasta salad you want it to be cooked and cooled before mixing everything together.
What is the best pasta for pasta salad?
The best pasta for pasta salad is a short and twisty one with lots of nooks and crannies to catch all the creamy dressing. Some of my favorites (which can be found gluten free) include:
Do you rinse pasta for a cold pasta salad?
Once the pasta is done cooking, strain and rinse then toss with a tablespoon of olive oil if you want to help keep it from sticking together.
Can you make pasta salad the day before?
You can typically make pasta salad up to 3 days in advance by prepping the ingredients separately and mixing them together before serving.
Storage & Make Ahead Tips
Make ahead tips: Make the pasta, corn and dressing up to 3 days in advance. Chop the veggies and toss with the pasta salad then store in an air tight container. When you're ready to serve, toss the pasta salad with the dressing and serve with fresh cilantro!
Storage tips: Once this Mexican pasta salad recipe is made and mixed, it will last up to 3-4 days in the fridge. Store in an airtight container and serve cold.
If you love this recipe, don't forget to follow me on Instagram and tag me with @what_mollymade so I can see it and feat you.
More Delicious Side Dish Recipes
If you're looking for an easy recipe to take to your next summer outing, we have plenty of delicious recipes for you to choose from. This Italian pasta salad takes the classic pasta salad and elevates it. It has lots of savory salami, creamy shredded mozzarella, crisp shredded romaine, and protein-packed chickpeas.
Need a diet-specific recipe? This Caesar pasta salad is gluten-free and vegan and has a creamy dairy-free Caesar dressing. This flavorful sweet potato salad is made with fork-tender sweet potatoes, fresh chopped green onion,s and a mix of bold spices. It stands out from the crowd of side dishes and it's even paleo and vegan. Finally, I love how this summer avocado pasta salad is naturally gluten-free and dairy-free. When you take it to a cookout, no one will know how healthy they're eating!
Mexican street corn pasta salad
For the pasta salad:
- 16 ounces short twisty gluten free pasta farfalle, rotini etc.
- 4 ears corn
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 red pepper diced
- ½ bunch fresh cilantro about ½ cup, minced
- ½ large red onion diced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes quartered
For the dressing:
- ¾ cup paleo mayo I like primal kitchen brand
- ½ cup full fat canned coconut milk. shaken first to combine cream and liquid or sour cream for non dairy option
- ½ cup cilantro tightly packed about ½ bunch
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Juice from ½ a lime
- 2 teaspoons dried chives
- ½ teaspoon dried dill
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 clove of garlic or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup jalapenos from the jar
- ¼ cup mild salsa verde or diced green chilis
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Rub each ear of corn with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, cumin and chili powder. Wrap each one individually in aluminum foil then place on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, turning halfway through.
- While the corn is cooking, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Boil water and cook pasta according to pasta directions. While it’s cooking, chop all of the ingredients and set aside.
- Prepare the dressing by adding all of the ingredients to the bowl of a food processor and blend on high for 30-60 seconds, until it's smooth and creamy. When the corn is done, remove from the oven and unwrap the foil. Allow to cool until it’s cool enough to handle. Drain and rinse the cool pasta then add to a large bowl with the chopped veggies. Stand the corn up on its end and cut it off the cob. Repeat with each ear then add to the pasta salad. Top with the prepared dressing and toss to completely coat.