Elote Pasta Salad

Elote Pasta Salad

With Crispy Chipotle Tortilla Strips. Because crunch is key.

Elote Pasta Salad is all the flavours of our favourite Mexican Street Corn transformed into an amazing and easy to make summer salad. Creamy lime dressing coats grilled sweet corn, pasta, salty cotija cheese, fresh herbs and spicy (or not so spicy. you’ll see) jalapeños. Best of all we’ll top the whole dish with salty, crispy, spiced Chipotle Tortilla Strips and they are insanely good. Quick to whip up and crazy yummy, this is your new favourite summer meal.

Elote Pasta Salad

Now, this salad is perfect exactly as it is if I do say so myself, but… if you’re feeling exceptionally lazy today (I feel you friend – it’s summer, it’s hot, nobody wants to be cooking anything)… allow me to give you a couple of choices to make things even easier for you without sacrificing yumminess. First, you don’t HAVE to make the tortilla strips. I know you might rather spend that 5-10 minutes making (drinking) margaritas and believe me friend, I am on board. I’m starting the car. Get mine ready (on the rocks please). If this sounds like your day today just sub in some corn chips, tortilla chips or even – yes even – Doritos. Do what you have to do, but please don’t skip the crunch. Crunch is good. Crunch is my jam.

Second tip in my effort to make your life easier is to just go ahead and thaw out some frozen corn and skip grilling it if you want. You throw that corn straight on in there. It’s ok. You’re ok. It will still be amazing.

Elote Pasta Salad

Elote Pasta Salad

Elote Pasta Salad

Tangy, creamy Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad With Crispy Chipotle Tortilla Strips. Easy to make and so delicious.
5 from 2 votes


For the salad:

  • 1 lb pasta I used fusilli, cooked and cooled.
  • 4 ears fresh corn grilled and cut off the cobs, about 2 1/2 cups
  • 1 avocado diced
  • 1/2 cup Cilantro chopped
  • 1/2 cup cotija or feta cheese crumbled
  • 1/2 cup red onion diced
  • 1 jalapeño seeded and finely diced*

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup mayo
  • 3 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 tsp chipotle chile powder
  • Pinch cayenne
  • Pinch sugar
  • Salt and pepper

For the tortilla strips:

  • Oil for frying
  • 6 corn tortillas
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle powder
  • Pinch sugar


To make the tortilla strips:

  • Cut the tortillas into thin (1/8”) strips.
  • In a small bowl combine the salt, chipotle powder and sugar.
  • Pour about 1/2” of oil into a cast iron skillet and heat over medium-high heat.
  • When it’s hot, add in the tortilla strips, in batches so to not overcrowd the pan (I usually do it in 2 batches)
  • Cook, stirring often, until brown and crisp (2-3 minutes).
  • Remove with a slotted spoon and add to a large bowl.
  • Once all the strips are cooked and in the bowl, immediately toss with the chipotle powder mixture. Set aside.

To make the dressing:

  • In a bowl combine the sour cream, mayo, lime juice, garlic, chipotle powder, cayenne and sugar.
  • Season with S&P and whisk well.
  • Set aside.

To make the salad:

  • In a large bowl combine the pasta, corn, cilantro, avocado, cheese, onion and jalapeno.
  • Add in the dressing and toss well.
  • Serve with the tortilla strips.


*If you like it spicy go ahead and leave the seeds in.
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Charred Grilled Corn

elote pasta salad Recipe ingredients, tips, substitutions:

Corn – I prefer fresh corn in this recipe. 4 ears produces about 2 cups of corn kernels. If you want to use frozen corn, just thaw the kernels, dry them as best you can. Add them to a hot, dry, heavy skillet and allow to cook, undisturbed, until charred slightly. Any corn will work, really, but not creamed corn. That stuff is the devil.

Pasta – any shorter cut pasta will work. I like fusili, but you can use farfalle, macaroni, ditalini, penne… anything.

CheeseCotija cheese is the real deal and is the ideal choice, but in a pinch you can easily sub in feta cheese.

Cilantro – if you’re averse to cilantro feel free to leave it out. Or sub in another soft herb like basil or parsley.

Sour Cream – you can sub in thick Greek yogurt.

Jalapeño – I like to keep the heat level low in this salad so I remove the seeds from the peppers, but if you live for heat and are super brave go ahead and leave them in.

Chili Powder – I love the smoky heat of Chipotle Chili Powder but if you can’t find it go ahead and use regular chili powder. If you’re still wanting that extra hit of smokiness add in a little smoked paprika.

Elote Pasta Salad Recipe Variations:

Spicy Version – as mentioned above, do not remove the seeds from the jalapeños and you can even add in some extra cayenne pepper and/or serve with hot sauce.

Vegan Street Corn Salad Version – just sub in plant based mayo and plant based cheeses and yogurt to easily make a vegan version of this recipe. You can even add in some black beans to up the protein and make it a complete meal.

Chicken Version – and on the opposite end of the spectrum, add in some shredded rotisserie chicken to serve this salad as an amazing summer dinner or lunch.

Crispy Tortilla Strips with Chipotle

elote pasta salad recipe, how to make it…

First, grill the corn. You can do this on your outside grill or in a grill pan or heavy cast iron skillet inside. Get the grill or pan nice and hot and add in the corn. Let it cook, undisturbed, until lightly charred. Turn occasionally to make sure all sides get a little colour. Remove the corn and set it aside to cool. Once it’s cooled, slice the kernels off the cobs.

Then make the pasta. Cook your pasta in well salted water according to package directions. Drain, rinse and set aside. Yes, I rinse my pasta for pasta salads. Sue me.

Next, make the tortilla strips. This is so much easier than you think it is and is so worth the small effort. All you need is a heavy skillet with about 1/2″ of oil poured into it. While you heat that oil slice some corn tortillas into thin strips. Gently add them to the hot oil in a couple of batches and cook them until they’re golden brown and crisp. This only takes 2-3 minutes. Remove the strips to a bowl and toss with salt, chipotle powder and a little sugar.

Mix up the dressing next by adding sour cream, mayo, lime juice, garlic, chipotle powder, cayenne, sugar, salt and pepper to a bowl. Whisk well and set aside.

Elote Pasta Salad - Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad

Now you can assemble your Elote Pasta Salad. Add the pasta, corn, cilantro, onion, cheese, avocado and jalapeños to a large bowl and toss. Pour over the dressing and toss well again.

Serve the salad. You can either serve the salad in one large bowl and allow everyone to dish up from that bowl or serve in individual bowls. Either way, top with the tortilla strips and if you want to make it pretty add a little extra cheese and cilantro on top.

Elote Pasta Salad

looking for more super delicious summer salad recipes? try these…

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5 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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