This easy, Southwest chipotle pasta bowl combines bacon, fresh corn, tomatoes, cilantro and cheese to make a hearty one-dish dinner.

Southwest Chipotle Pasta Bowl

This simple, pasta bowl recipe is one of our favorites, particularly in summer, when sweet corn and fresh tomatoes are in season.

About the Flavors: Southwest Chipotle Pasta Bowl

Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce are a popular ingredient in Southwest cuisine. They provide the heat and subtle smokiness for the light sauce that carries flavor to every bite of this dish.

Bits of thick-cut bacon complement the smoky flavor of those chipotle peppers, while the addition of corn and Jack cheese offer both sweet and creamy contrasts to their spiciness.

Cherry tomatoes wilted in butter also add sweetness, but with a hint of acidity to complement the corn, and a handful of fresh cilantro adds a bright herbal note that makes the perfect finishing touch.

A simple side salad with a drizzle of creamy ranch dressing is a nice way to round out the meal.

Southwest Pasta Bowl Shopping List

When choosing the pasta to use for this recipe, we recommend a cut with ridges to hold the light sauce. We like the shells you see here in the photo, but penne and rotini are good choices, too.

In addition to the pasta and kitchen staples like butter, salt and pepper, you’ll need:

  • Thick-cut (or regular) bacon
  • Cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Sweet onion (e.g. Vidalia, Walla Walla)
  • Fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • Monterey Jack cheese
  • Fresh cilantro (or chives if you prefer)
  • Canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (learn more below)

Cooking With Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce

Chipotle peppers are dried, smoked jalapeños. They’re frequently canned in a tomato-based sauce called adobo, and they have a distinctive, smoky-hot flavor that’s great in all sorts of recipes, including dips, sauces, soups and salad dressings.

The quantity of chipotles in adobo that you add to any dish depends partially on how spicy you like your food. Even if you do crave that heat, their smoky quality can easily overpower other flavors, so you’ll want to be cautious with quantity.

Chipotle peppers are typically sold in seven-ounce cans, which may not sound like a lot, but given their intense flavor, you’ll probably end up with leftovers. Here are a couple of tips on how to store them for future use.

To refrigerate, transfer them to a tightly covered glass container (they leave residual odors on plastic). They’ll keep for about 10 days, or you can opt to freeze them for 6 to 8 months.

To freeze chipotle peppers, we recommend scraping out the seeds, mincing them, then stirring them back into the adobo sauce. Spoon that mixture into an ice cube tray and once frozen, you can pop those cubes out and store them in a zip-top freezer bag.

More Chipotle Recipes

Southwest Chipotle Pasta Bowl

Southwest Chipotle Pasta Bowl

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

This easy, Southwest chipotle pasta bowl uses bacon, fresh corn, tomatoes, cilantro and cheese to make a hearty one-dish dinner.


  • 8 ounces pasta (small shells, elbows)
  • 4 strips thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 pint cherry (or grape) tomatoes, halved
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, seeded and finely chopped
  • 4 thin slices sweet onion, halved and separated
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1 cup coarsely shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves


  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta and cook according to the package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid, drain the pasta and return it to the pan.
  2. While the pasta cooks, fry the bacon until crisp. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and drain all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat from the pan.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter along with the bacon fat over medium heat and add the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until softened, 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes to a plate and set aside.
  5. Add the remaining butter to the pan, add the onion and sauté until softened, 3 to 4 minutes.
  6. Stir in the chipotles along with the reserved pasta liquid, season to taste with salt and pepper, add the corn and cook for 1 minute to heat through.
  7. Add the sauce to the drained pasta and toss to coat the pasta.
  8. Add the reserved bacon, tomatoes, cheese and cilantro and toss gently to combine.
  9. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed, spoon into bowls and serve immediately.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 599Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 60mgSodium: 548mgCarbohydrates: 80gFiber: 8gSugar: 31gProtein: 22g

Note: Nutrition information is estimated and may vary from your actual results.