Ensalada de coditos is a delicious Mexican macaroni salad made with simple pantry ingredients and a perfect side dish for BBQ, holiday, and party dishes.
This salad is also very versatile and can be adapted to include or replace ingredients or to turn it into vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free.
What is ensalada de coditos?
Ensalada de coditos is a delicious Mexican salad made with elbow macaroni, ham, and a touch of pineapple. It is vibrant, rich, and creamy. The best thing about this salad is that it takes less than 30 minutes to make it.
Although the salad is very popular in Mexico, you will find its several variations as you move from one Latin American country to another. Despite the use of different ingredients, this Mexican macaroni salad is super delicious and refreshing.
Ensalada de coditos is also known in Mexico with many other names, such as ensalada fría, ensalada fría de coditos, ensalada de coditos con jamón, ensalada de jamón y coditos, just to mention a few.
How is served?
This recipe is served mostly as a side dish for carne asada, or other protein meals, I love pairing it with camarones a la diabla, the flavor of this salad really balances the spiciness of that dish.
Taste and texture
In this creamy ensalada de coditos, the Mexican crema, mustard, and pickled jalapeños add a nice sour taste that pairs so well with the sweet and tangy flavor of pineapple. And the carrots add a good crunchy texture to balance the softness of macaroni and the other ingredients.
Ingredients you will need
Take a look at the ingredients you’ll need. Many of them are pantry staples and others can be easily replaced without compromising the flavor:
- Pasta: the main ingredient of this salad is pasta. Elbow-macaroni is where this recipe takes its name (elbow=codito), but feel free to sub with any other short pasta such as farfalline or fusilli.
- Ham: Ham has a smoky and slightly sweet flavor we all love. You can sub it with hotdog sausages or other cold cuts.
- Sweet corn: Corn brings in a sweet flavor, color, and texture to the salad.
- Pineapple: The sweetness and tartness from the pineapples bring in so much flavor and texture to the dish. It is a fun way of adding an extra touch.
- Carrots: For a crunchy touch, a bright color, and an extra health benefit. Can be replaced with celery if needed.
- Pickled jalapeños: Spicy, sour, and subtle pickled jalapeños act as a game-changer for this salad. Here’s also our recipe to make pickled jalapeños at home.
For The Dressing
- Mayonnaise: Mayonnaise sets the base for the salad dressing. It is creamy and rich. You can use Greek yogurt instead, for a healthy version.
- Mexican crema: It is another creamy ingredient that builds up the dressing. If you don’t have Mexican crema, you can use sour cream or regular cream with a few drops of lemon juice.
- Yellow mustard: The crisp, tangy, and tart flavor of mustard gives the dressing a new life.
- Vinegar from pickled jalapenos: This ingredient is amazing. It is often ignored, but it is the thing that has all the flavor.
- Seasonings: Plain salt and pepper are enough.
How To Make It
The extras you can add
- Meat: Don’t want to add ham? no problem at all! You can use shredded or diced chicken, pulled pork, beef, turkey, and even shrimp.
- Vegetables: You can use red onions, sweet peas, olives, and bell peppers as well for added color and crunch.
- Fruits: Try it with green apples. The sweetness and crunch are so satisfying and go well with the other ingredients.
- Herbs: You can add chopped fresh parsley, cilantro, or chives too.
Can be made ahead?
Yes! Ensalada de coditos can be made up to 3 days ahead and this will also allow the salad to blend all its flavors, making it even more delicious! So, you see now why I am telling you this salad is perfect for potlucks, gatherings, parties, holidays, and overall is a wonderful prep meal for those busy days?
How to store it?
You can enjoy the ensalada de coditos leftovers for quite some time only if you store them properly. So, place your leftovers in an airtight container and store them in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Make it vegan and dairy-free
Replace mayonnaise and Mexican cream with a vegan option, such as vegan cream and mayonnaise, and leave out ham. “Love and Lemons” blog has a wonderful recipe for Vegan mayo in case you wanna give it a try.
More Mexican Salads
- Ensalada de atún (creamy tuna salad)
- Salpicón (shredded beef salad)
- Mexican cabbage salad (perfect for topping crispy tacos!)
- Nopales salad (pickled cactus salad)
Ensalada de Coditos
- 10 ½ oz macaroni pasta
- 1 ½ cup ham (diced)
- 1 cup canned sweet corn (drained)
- 1 cup pineapple (diced)
- ½ cup carrots (shredded)
- 2 Tbsp pickled jalapenos (chopped)
- ¾ cup mayonnaise
- ¾ cup Mexican crema (or sour cream or yogurt)
- 2 Tbsp Yellow mustard
- 3 Tbsp vinegar (from pickled jalapenos)
- Salt & pepper (to taste)
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add macaroni pasta and cook until tender.
- Drain pasta onto a large mixing bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise. Coat evenly and allow to cool down, stirring ocasionally as it cools.
- Add ham, corn, pineapple, carrots and pickled jalapeno on the bowl with pasta.
- Add mayonnaise, sour cream (or yogurt), vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper on top of veggies, then mix to coat well.
- Adjust with salt and pepper to your taste, cover the bowl and place it in the fridge until serving.
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Maricruz Avalos Flores is a Mexican cook and photographer living in Italy where she shares authentic Mexican & Italian recipes that can be easily made at home using easy-to-find ingredients.