Chipotle Southwest Pasta Salad

This Southwest pasta salad is a great side dish to a barbecue or and gathering. Packed with classic flavors from the southwest including chipotle, corn, and Anaheim peppers this pasta salad is guaranteed to be a hit. 

I love a good pasta salad but sometimes I need a little change. This is one of my favorite pasta salads to bring to any potluck or gathering. I love the flavors of the Southwest and once hatch chili season starts this is one of my favorite go to recipes. It is a simple to make salad although it does have several parts but completely worth all of the effort. The proof will be in the pudding when your family and friends gobble this right up. 

In this recipe

This is a wonderful fresh pasta salad that is a nice departure from the classic style of pasta salads. The fresh ingredients and simple treatment of them is really what makes this recipe shine. 

Anaheim peppers: these are a classic flavor in the Southwestern part of the US. They are a milder version of a hatch chili pepper. When in season I will use hatch chiles instead. 

Corn: pan roasting the corn adds a nice depth of flavor. You can also use roasted corn on the cob and cut the kernels off. 

Chipotle peppers: these jalapeno peppers add a nice smoky flavor with the addition of the adobo sauce they are packaged with. 

Mayonnaise: makes a great base for the salad dressing although you can use Greek yogurt as well if you aren’t a fan of mayonnaise.

Ingredients for southwest pasta salad on a wooden cutting board
  • Save

Pan roasting the corn

You can use both fresh or frozen corn for this recipe. If you are using frozen corn then you really don’t need to add much to the pan just the frozen kernels as there will be water released when the corn thaws. If you are using fresh corn you might need to add a couple of tablespoons of water to the pan. When you cook them allow the kernels to sit undisturbed for about 30 seconds before stirring to allow the corn to brown. 

Pan roasted corn
  • Save
Charred Anaheim peppers
  • Save
Chopped salad ingredients
  • Save
chipotle salad dressing
  • Save
Metal mixing bowl with salad ingredients
  • Save

Roast those peppers

While I only roast the Anaheim/Hatch peppers you can also roast the bell pepper as well. It is important to make sure that you place the peppers as close to the heating element as possible. Once the side has been completely charred then rotate the pepper and let the next side char. Repeat util all of the skin is black. This will make is easy for the skin to come off afterwards. If it doesn’t char you will have to peel the skin from the rest of the pepper and will not be cooked as evenly. 

Pasta salad in a white bowl
  • Save

Southwest pasta salad assembly and storage

Once you are ready to go then you will want to toss the salad a little bit before adding the dressing. Add the dressing to make sure it coats everything. I like to do this in 2 batches so I can control the amount of dressing. In terms of storage you will want to keep the dressing separate until you are ready to eat it. Since this will have either yogurt or mayonnaise you will want to make sure this salad is kept cold until serving. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days. 

A bowl of southwest pasta salad
  • Save

Looking for other salad sides?

A white bowl with southwest pasta salad
  • Save

Chipotle Southwest Pasta Salad

Pasta salad with pan roasted corn, roasted peppers, and a chipotle dressing.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Appetizer, Pasta, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 10 servings
Calories 326 kcal


  • Pot
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Sheet pan
  • Skillet
  • Food processor or blender
  • Colander


  • 1 pound pasta shells dried
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes sliced
  • 2 cups corn fresh or frozen
  • 2 Anaheim peppers or hatch peppers
  • cups orange bell pepper chopped
  • cup red onion chopped
  • 1 avocado diced
  • ¼ cup cotija cheese crumbled

Chipotle Dressing

  • ¾ cup cilantro chopped
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon lime zest
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • Preheat the oven to broil or grill at 500°F or 260°C.

Cooking the pasta

  • Bring a pot of water to a boil, season with salt and cook pasta according to instructions. Drain and set aside.

Roasting the corn and peppers

  • Prepare a large bowl full of ice water.
  • While the pasta is cooking place the Anaheim peppers on a sheet pan and place as close to the heating element as possible. Allow the skin the char completely before rotating the peppers to char all sides.
  • Once completely charred remove from the oven and place in the ice water. Once peppers are cool enough to handle remove the burned skin, stem and seeds and chop the peppers.
  • While the peppers are cooking place the corn in a skillet and cook over medium high heat until toasted. Add a couple of tablespoons of water if you are using fresh corn. Set aside.

Making the dressing

  • In a food processor or blender combine all of the dressing ingredients together and blend until there is a creamy smooth dressing.

Tossing the salad

  • In a large mixing bowl combine the cotija, corn, peppers, onion, avocado, pasta, and tomatoes. Gently stir before adding the dressing, stir again to evenly coat everything. Pour into a serving dish and enjoy. Top with additional cilantro if desired.


Serving: 1servingCalories: 326kcalCarbohydrates: 52gProtein: 9gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 315mgPotassium: 488mgFiber: 6gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 1236IUVitamin C: 48mgCalcium: 58mgIron: 1mg
Nutrition Disclaimer*
Keyword Barbecue, Chipotle, Pasta Salad
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
southwest pasta salad pinterest pin
  • Save
  • Save

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

Scroll to Top