Mexican Macaroni Salad

June 11, 2017

Mexican Pasta salad is such a flavorful spin on the classic! It’s brimming with black beans, veggies, cheese and a rich and creamy, seasoned dressing. Such a fun addition to your summer cook outs!

Mexican pasta Salad in a glass mixing bowl.

Mexican Pasta Salad

There is just so much goodness going on in this easy pasta salad — between the tender macaroni, charred fresh corn, sweet tomatoes, salty Cotija cheese, creamy black beans and avocados, the light bite from the red onion and the zip from the cilantro lime dressing, my oh my! So good!

This is a perfect pasta salad recipe for bbq’s, parties and potlucks, but of course it’s just the perfect summer side dish to serve with your favorite grilled chicken and steak.

Try this Mexican macaroni salad for yourself and see what I’m talking about. It’s just so tasty!

Mexican Pasta Salad Ingredients

For this homemade pasta salad, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • Fresh yellow corn
  • Elbow macaroni
  • Roma tomatoes
  • Black beans
  • Avocado
  • Cotija cheese
  • Red onion
  • Salt and pepper

And for the creamy pasta salad dressing, you’ll need:

  • Mayonnaise
  • Greek yogurt
  • Lime juice
  • Cilantro
  • Garlic
  • Ancho chili powder
  • Ground cumin

Mexican macaroni salad ingredients in a large glass bowl before tossing. Ingredients include macaroni, charred corn, black beans, avocado, tomato, green onion, red onion, and cotija.

How to Make Mexican Pasta Salad

  • Grill the corn for a few minutes over medium-high heat, just until charred.
  • Let the corn cool slightly before cutting off the kernels.
  • Cook pasta until al dente, then drain and let cool.
  • Whisk together the dressing ingredients and let chill in the fridge until ready to use.
  • Toss together the pasta salad ingredients and the dressing and serve immediately.

How Long Should I Grill Corn?

You’ll want to turn your grill to medium-high heat, or about 450 degrees F. In total, the fresh corn will be grilled for about 8 minutes, but you’ll need to turn the corn every 2 to 3 minutes to char it on all sides.

Depending on how hot your grill burns, you may need to grill the corn for more or less time than the recipe calls for!

Can I Use Another Type of Pasta?

Of course! Although I think the best pasta for pasta salad is elbow macaroni. If you use another type of pasta, make sure it’s short and holds its shape well (like penne or bow tie pasta).

Can I Use Regular Chili Powder?

If you don’t have ancho chili powder, regular chili powder may be substituted but I love that depth of flavor the lightly smoky ancho chili powder brings so try it in the future.

Mexican pasta Salad in glass bowl with wooden spoon

Tips for the Best Pasta Salad

  • Be generous with the cilantro, it really is about one small full bunch once you mince it up finely. It brings a lot of flavor to the dressing.
  • Don’t over cook the pasta. It’ll soak up the dressing as it sits in the fridge, so you don’t want it to be too soft to begin with.
  • Canned or frozen corn can be used in place of fresh, but the grilled corn adds great flavor to this Mexican macaroni salad.

Mexican pasta Salad in large glass bowl

More Pasta Salad Recipes You’ll Love:

Mexican Pasta Salad

4 from 1 vote

This Mexican pasta salad is such a flavorful spin on the classic! It's brimming with black beans, veggies, cheese and a rich and creamy, seasoned dressing. Such a fun addition to your summer cook outs!

Servings: 8
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 ears fresh yellow corn , husked
  • 10 oz dry elbow macaroni
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 large Roma tomatoes , seeded and diced (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 can black beans , drained and rinsed well
  • 1 large avocado (semi-firm but ripe), diced
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Cotija cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped red onion , rinsed or 2/3 cup chopped green onion (or use a blend of both)

Dressing

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (full fat)
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (fat free)
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup finely minced fresh cilantro (about small 1 bunch, leaf portion)
  • 1 clove garlic , minced
  • 1 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin

Instructions

  1. Preheat a grill over medium-high heat to about 450 degrees F. Once preheated add corn and grill, turning about every 2 - 3 minutes until charred on all sides, about 8 - 9 minutes total. Set aside and let cool then cut corn kernels from cobs.

  2. Meanwhile, cook pasta to al dente in lightly salted water (about 1/2 Tbsp) according to directions on package. Drain and rinse, then let drain and cool.
  3. For the dressing, in a mixing bowl whisk together mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, lime juice, cilantro, garlic, chili powder, cumin and season with salt and pepper to taste (about 3/4 tsp salt 1/4 tsp pepper). Chill until ready to assemble macaroni salad.
  4. Set aside some of the mix in ingredients (tomatoes, corn, avocado, onion if you'd like some color on top of the salad). In a salad bowl toss together drained macaroni, corn kernels, tomatoes, black beans, avocado, Cotija cheese, onion and the cilantro dressing mixture. Sprinkle set aside ingredients over top. 

  5. Serve immediately or chill up to 2 hours (thin with a little water if desired, it thickens as it rests since the noodles absorb the liquid).

Recipe Notes

  • Don't over cook the pasta. It'll soak up the dressing as it sits in the fridge, so you don't want it to be too soft to begin with. 
  • Canned or frozen corn can be used in place of fresh, but the grilled corn adds great flavor to this Mexican macaroni salad. 
  • Recipe source: Cooking Classy
Nutrition Facts
Mexican Pasta Salad
Amount Per Serving
Calories 374 Calories from Fat 144
% Daily Value*
Fat 16g25%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Cholesterol 14mg5%
Sodium 404mg18%
Potassium 467mg13%
Carbohydrates 46g15%
Fiber 7g29%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 9g18%
Vitamin A 370IU7%
Vitamin C 8.7mg11%
Calcium 89mg9%
Iron 1.9mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Macaroni Salad
Author: Jaclyn