At every Mexican party or fiesta – birthdays, Sunday afternoon carne asada, Quinceañera – you will certainly see a big bowl of this traditional dish: Ensalada de Coditos.
I’m pretty sure we took it from the Americans, at least that’s my sneaking suspicion – a little cross border culinary borrowing.
My husband swears that his New York grandmother made something very similar to this when he was a kid – a German macaroni salad.
Look, I’m no historian. The true origins of this dish may remain a mystery to me but the taste is so incredibly creamy and delicious that it’s awfully hard to resist.
Time and time again people have asked me for this recipe, and, obviously I just can’t say no to their requests. So here we go…
How to Make Ensalada de Coditos
Check out the ingredients above.
These are all of the ingredients that you need.
Seriously, this super simple yet satisfying Mexican side dish, a no-brainer recipe. In fact, you probably already have most, if not all, of the ingredients to make Ensalada de Coditos right now in your fridge.
I love the fact that this easy sauce is made up of only these four ingredients: mayonnaise, sour cream, salt, and just a hint of mustard. Super simple sauce, right?!
• Mix these thoroughly and set aside.
As I mentioned earlier, there are variations to this dish and there are those people who will add some of the brine of Pickled Jalapeños. I am, however, not adding it because I want to give you the most traditional recipe.
However, please feel free to adjust this delicious dish as you and your family see fit.
Here are some other ingredients to add:
- Slices of raw jalapeño
- Cebolla en Escabeche
- Diced Red Pepper
- Diced Yellow Pepper
- Diced Green Pepper
- Diced Celery
- Diced Red Onion
- Diced Roasted Poblano Peppers
- Slices of Serrano Pepper
Please note: Be extra careful with mayo. It’s important to stay on the safe side with your guests, particularly in the warm summer weather. If you are serving it at a party, it’s important to keep the Ensalada de Coditos cold.
You don’t want anyone to get sick. That’s no way to create positive memories of your next fiesta.
Ensalada de Coditos literally translated means “Elbow Macaroni Salad.”
It is essential that the macaroni is elbow pasta – not linguini, spaghetti or shells. Otherwise, it won’t be the same and will have a totally different name.
• You can find this type of macaroni in the pasta aisle or Italian food section of nearly any grocery or specialty store. If for some reason you aren’t able to find it, try looking for it in the Hispanic foods section.
I’m not exactly sure about what kind of ham the American (or German) version of this Elbow Macaroni Salad requires, but for Mexicans, we use a nice, juicy thick cut of ham.
Although you might be able to use the thinner type of deli ham to make Ensalada de Coditos, it just won’t have the same texture and flavor of the traditional salad.
• Look for the thick cut of ham in the meat section of the grocery store. You are not going to find it in the deli meats area. Many times it will be referred to as a ham steak.
And, if all else fails, ask the butcher to carve a thicker cut of ham for you.
Then again you can also use regular Virginia ham. I know what you may be thinking – “Virginia ham for a Mexican dish?!” Believe it or not, I have actually seen it offered for sale in stores all over Mexico.
Ensalada de Coditos with Tuna:
If you have a wish for some tuna fish, here’s the easy way to modify this dish.
- Drain the tuna can and swap it out for the ham.
- Add the juice of half a lemon to the dressing.
- Continue with the recipe as normal.
The citrus will definitely create a different flavor profile but some people love it more than the ham version.
Ensalada de Coditos with Crab:
Here’s another creative twist to this recipe: swap out the ham for crab meat. I have had this before, and I can assure you that it’s so good with crab!
- Add all the ingredients to a large container.
- Mix and keep cold until ready to serve.
This is why it makes such a great leftovers, potluck dish. It comes together in minutes.
However, you do have to let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. The flavors need to marry to fully develop an even better tasting salad.
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Serve with lettuce or saltine crackers.
This pasta salad is a big time crowd pleaser. As a side dish next to carne asada or take it to your next potluck, everyone is sure to love it.
Ensalada de Coditos
- Cook the elbow macaroni according to package instructions.
- Drain, rinse, and set aside until it is room temperature.
- In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, and salt.
- Set aside. (If you are assembling the salad later, be sure to refrigerate the dressing).
- In a large container, add the cooked elbow macaroni, peas and carrots, corn, ham, and dressing.
- Mix thoroughly.
- Place in the refrigerator for 1 hour before serving.
- Serve with saltine crackers.
More Mexican Party Food Recipes:
Ground Beef Taquitos are crunchy and delicious. Dip them into salsa or guacamole, and it’s like a piñata breaking in your mouth.
Chorizo Cheese Dip is a cheese-lovers dream. Ooey gooey, melted cheese that’s mixed with Mexican chorizo. Add tortilla chips, and this party appetizer is sure to please any crowd.
Shrimp Ceviche (Ceviche de Camarón) is a light and citrusy Mexican dish. It’s spicy and full of yummy flavors. Serve on a tostada and top with hot sauce. Enjoy!