When corn is in season, make this Creamy Corn Pasta! Crisp bacon, sweet corn, and sharp pungent Cotija cheese partner with Orecchiette pasta, making this weeknight pasta dinner out of this world!
In our house, pasta is always the answer to what to cook when I'm short on time. Like this Mac and Cheese recipe and this Pancetta and Pea Pasta, if it's creamy and starchy, it also means my kids are guaranteed to like it, too. Easy dinner + kids who will actually eat it = a win.
This Corn Pasta with cheese and bacon has quite a nice blend of flavors, between the salty crisp bacon, savory green onions and garlic, and of course, the fresh, sweet corn. A small amount of cream is added, along with a bit of the pasta cooking water, to enhance the creamy taste and texture without overwhelming the dish. Finally, cotija cheese is introduced to tie all the elements together. Orecchiette, with its unique "little ear" shape, scoops up the bacon and corn making each forkful of pasta the perfect bite.
So let's get to making it! You can jump around the article using the menu below, or you can just head right to the bottom for the complete recipe.
Ingredients Needed and Substitutions
Here is a brief overview of the ingredients needed for this recipe. The full recipe with quantities is listed below the article (in the recipe card). If substitutions are available for this recipe, they'll be listed here. If you don't see a substitution you are looking for, please leave a comment below.
- green onions
- bacon (want to make this vegetarian? Feel free to omit this)
- fresh corn cobs (though, you can use frozen if you really need to)
- heavy cream
- Orecchiette pasta (this is the preferred shape so that it scoops up the sauce, bacon, and corn, but honestly just use what you like
- Cotija (This is an aged cow's milk Mexican cheese known for its crumbly texture and salty, tangy flavor. It's amazing in this dish, but if you can't find it, swap in parmesan).
Step-By-Step Recipe Overview
This is a quick visual overview of the steps needed to make this recipe. If you are looking for the full recipe, keep scrolling!
Step 1: Remove the kernels from the corn cob.
Step 2: Cook the bacon until crispy. Drain most, but not all, of the rendered fat.
Step 3: Add green onions, garlic and corn. Once cooked through, add cream and butter.
Step 4: Add cooked pasta and pasta water until the sauce coats it. Stir in cotija at the end.
Kelli's Best Tips
Just a few notes to make sure this recipe goes smoothly for you:
- Add in pasta water a little at a time. However keep in mind that as the dish sits, the creamy sauce gets thicker and thicker so you may want to add in just a splash more than what you think you need, that way it doesn't thicken too much.
- Add the cotija at the very end, once the pasta has slightly cooled down. The goal here is not to melt the cotija, but instead add it in so it still has some granular texture to it.
- Don't add salt until the very end. Because of the salted pasta water and the salty bacon and cheese, you likely won't need to add salt to this dish at all. But if you do, add it in at the end after you've tasted it.
This pasta dish reheats nicely. It should keep for 1 to 2 days in the refrigerator. I can't recommend freezing this.
To reheat you can heat it in an oven-safe container. I love using these Glass Pyrex Containers because they double as storage and baking dishes. Or, you can reheat briefly in the microwave until warmed through. It's best to add a few tablespoons of water to the dish when you are reheating it.
More Pasta Recipes
Making the recipe? Be sure to leave a comment with a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review on your experience! Have a question? Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you as quickly as I can!Print
When corn is in season, make this Creamy Corn Pasta! Crisp bacon, sweet corn and sharp pungent Cotija cheese and Orechiette to scoop everything up make this weeknight pasta out-of-this-world-good.
- 2 green onions, sliced thinly, whites and greens separated
- 6 pieces bacon, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 cups fresh cut corn kernels (cut from 4-6 cobs)
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 16 ounces dried Orechiette pasta
- ½ Cotija cheese, grated (or substitute parmesan)
- Fill a large pot with water and a big pinch of salt. Bring it to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add pasta and set the timer to cook the pasta according to package instructions. Set aside 1 cup of pasta water. Drain the pasta and return them to the large pot.
- Meanwhile, heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Once hot, add bacon and cook until crispy. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of rendered bacon fat.
- Add the green onions and garlic to the bacon and cook for 1 minute, then add in corn and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.
- Stir in the heavy cream and butter, and cook until the butter is melted about 30 seconds. Shut off the heat.
- Add the cooked pasta to the corn. Stir together, adding pasta water a little at a time to create a sauce that coats.
- Right before serving, stir in the grated cotija, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve with the green onion tops for garnish.
Don't add salt until the very end. Because of the salted pasta water and the salty pancetta, you likely won't need to add salt to this dish at all. But if you do, add it in at the end after you've tasted it.
Use any pasta that you want here, though the Orechiette are fun for holding the corn and bacon
Bacon can be swapped out with ham or you can even omit it. Though you'll lose a bit of flavor, so I recommend increasing the garlic and adding salt.
Keywords: Corn Pasta