Mexican Macaroni Salad
Creamy-Dreamy Mexican Macaroni Salad with grilled corn and delicious chipotle mayo dressing. So simple to assemble and packed with bold, zesty smoky flavors. This will become your new fav Mac Salad!
Every fork full of this Mexican Macaroni Salad has something delicious to offer - creamy macaroni pasta, sweet grilled corn, crunchy celery, sweet red bell peppers, and to top it all the creamy smokey chipotle and mayo dressing. If you are fan of Mexican flavors and Mac Pasta Salads, this salad will quickly become your new favorite.
Mexican Mac Salad is great to pack for potlucks, tailgate or picnic. It is great make-ahead salad because it tastes even better the next day.
Mexican Macaroni Salad
You know its Summer and Grilling season when fresh produce section is loaded with fresh corn and peppers. Summer arrives way early in California. So I'm inspired to start grilling corn in early spring. Today's Macaroni Salad features first fresh grilled corn of the season. Yeah!
I also love to call this a Grilled Mexican Corn Macaroni Salad as sweet grilled corn is one main flavor in this recipe. You can't miss the sweetness of the fresh grilled corn and spicy -creamy chipotle mayo dressing in every bite.
In short, delicious things happen when sweet corn and creamy zesty dressing meets macaroni pasta. If you had tried and loved Esquites or Mexican Street Corn Salad; then this Mexican-style Macaroni Salad will be your next favorite.
What Do You Need For Mexican Macaroni Salad?
Traditional Mexican Macaroni Salad is prepared with ham, cheese, macaroni pasta, roasted or grilled corn, crunchy veggies, and a creamy dressing.
For today's recipe, I have kept meat optional. Feel free to check my notes on kind of meats that you can add to this salad. But by making it vegetarian i.e. meat free, gives me the option to appeal this salad to a bigger crowd. Honestly, all my vegetarian guests, that are okay with mayo and cheese but don't eat meat, love this macaroni salad.
There are four main components of a good Mexican Macaroni Salad:
- Grilled or Roasted Corn
- Elbow Macaroni Pasta - cooked Al Dente
- Creamy Chipotle Dressing
- Array of salad veggies for color and crunch such as red onion, celery, green peas, scallions, pickled jalapeno, and roasted red bell pepper.
To make Mexican pasta salad; I start by cooking pasta and corn. While macaroni pasta cooks, I grill or roast the corn ears on the open flame. When I don't have access to grill, I remove the kernels from the corn and sauté corn in a tbsp of butter until corn is sweet and soft.
Once corn and pasta are ready. I then start to assemble the dressing and remaining ingredients for the salad.
The main ingredients for dressing of Mexican Macaroni Salad are; mayo, sour cream and chipotle. Mayo provides the creamy texture. The sour cream helps make a lite creamy dressing with little tang. Chipotle is the signature savory-smokey flavor.
The dressing is just right amount of creamy. If you prefer extra creamy dressing, use all mayonnaise. If you prefer more lite dressing, use lite mayo and lite sour cream.
Once dressing is ready, corn and pasta are cooked. Add everything into a mixing bowl. Fold to coat until everything is evenly coated in dressing. Don't forget to taste and adjust seasonings i.e. salt, pepper, lime juice.
Tip: Always use a big mixing bowl to assemble Pasta Salad. A large bowl will provide space to easily mix dressing with pasta. This way pasta will not break and everything will get coat of the dressing.
Rest Salad 30 minute before serving - For best results, let salad sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. This helps salad ingredients and dressing flavor blend well. You will notice the difference in flavor of a salad served right after mixing vs one mixed and rested for 30 minutes.
Fact: Today's salad is gluten free as I used Gluten Free Macaroni pasta. I used chickpeas based pasta and salad was lite with no difference in flavor.
Last weekend I made batch of this Pasta Salad to share this recipe with you. Even though it is a pasta salad, it holds well when refrigerated. The flavor of spices tastes even better the second day.
When made ahead, if pasta looks little dry, drizzle a tbsp olive oil on top and then toss gently to revive it.
Make this salad your own. Try the variations and substitutes I often use when making this salad for potluck or a picnic.
- Add cooked and diced ham to make Mexican Macaroni Salad more authentic and substantial. Use your favorite deli ham Or cooked and diced chicken such as baked, or rotisserie chicken. I often use honey lemon baked chicken breast.
- For more creamy dressing, use all mayo. Skip or use only 1/4 cup of sour cream.
- For lite dressing, use lite/low-cal variety of mayo and sour cream.
- For more veggie forward salad, add diced cherry tomatoes, cucumber and/or avocado.
Friends, bring home the flavor of summer with this creamy and bold Mexican Style Macaroni Salad. This salad has so much to offer! I'm sure you will LOVE the combination of sweet grilled corn, chipotle mayo dressing and crunchy veggies.
Serve Mexican Mac Salad with:
Mexican Macaroni Saladreviews) (10
- 1. Make Dressing: In a food processor jar, add half jar of the roasted bell peppers (drained), garlic, lime juice, chipotle, mustard, oregano, salt and pepper. Pulse until pureed. Add mayo and sour cream. Pulse a few times fully mix cream with remaining ingredients to yield a creamy dressing.
- 2. Cook Pasta: Bring pot of water to rolling boil. Season with salt. Cook macaroni pasta according to package directions or until al-dente. See Note 1. Don't overcook the pasta. If using frozen peas, add peas to pasta in last 1 minute of cooking. For fresh, add half way.
- 3. Grill or Roast Corn: While pasta cooks, remove husk from the ears of corn. Roast corn on the open flame until nicely charred. Run knife through corn ears to remove kernels. Additional Notes: You can also use frozen roasted or sweet corn.
- 4. Assemble Macaroni Salad: In a extra large bowl, add cooked and drained pasta and peas. Top with roasted corn, celery, onion, diced cheese, scallion, remaining half of roasted red pepper diced and jalapenos. Top with dressing made in Step 1. Fold all ingredients with dressing to generously coat in dressing. Taste and adjust salt. Serve.
- This salad is Gluten free. I used Barilla's Gluten Free Rice Macaroni. However, you can make this with regular elbow macaroni as well. Only make sure to cook pasta al-dente, as per the package directions.
To cook Barilla's semolina macaroni pasta, bring 4-6 quarts of water to a boil. Add salt to taste. Add pasta to boiling water. For "al dente" pasta, boil for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Macaroni Salad is best when served at room temperature. Tastes even better the next day.
- Use any kind of snackable cheese you like. I love to use small diced fresh mozzarella or provolone cheese. Bite size chunks of Queso Fresco or Feta cheese will also work.
- Make salad more substantial by adding any kind of cooked ham or chicken - baked, rotisserie, or store bought.
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