Looking for the perfect summer side dish? Turn everyone’s favorite Mexican street food into a fresh, colorful, and ultra-flavorful salad! Mexican street corn salad is made with grilled or roasted corn kernels, bell peppers, red onions, and cotija cheese coated in a smoky, spicy, creamy dressing topped with freshly squeezed lime juice!
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Simple, Fresh, and Full of Flavor
Street corn salad is a fresh, vibrant, and summery recipe that makes an appearance on Cinco de Mayo, at BBQs, potlucks, and throughout grilling season!
Similar to my corn salad but we’re making ours with grilled smoky kernels, sweet and crunchy red bell peppers, and red onions, in a creamy dressing topped with chili powder, lime juice, and sliced jalapeno for heat if you like yours a bit spicier.
I get that keeping it simple with butter and salt is also delicious, or even honey like with honey butter corn skillet but I promise you, Mexican street corn, with all of its drool-worthy flavors and textures, is worth exploring.
It is so darn good, and this street corn salad recipe may be even better!
What is Esquites?
Mexican street corn salad, otherwise known as esquites, is a take on the classic Mexican street corn, or elote, which is traditional street vendor food made from grilled corn on the cob topped with Mexican crema, cotija cheese, lime juice, and the optional chili powder.
Esquites is served off the cob and in a cup!
Turning these creamy, spicy, smoky, crispy, and slightly sweet flavors into a bowl of scoopable Mexican street corn salad recipe is a much easier way to eat!
It’s so full of flavor that whether it’s a snack, an appetizer, or a topping, it’s an unforgettable taste experience that easily becomes the main event.
Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.
- Corn kernels: The smokiness and char of fire roasted corn kernels is what makes the popular street food a little extra special. You can also make grilled corn if you’ve got your grill going. Truth be told it works with any kernels, even thawed from frozen.
- Bell pepper & red onion: Finely chopped, these add a pop of color, added crunch, and sweet and savory flavors.
- Cilantro: A fresh herb that is a staple ingredient in many Mexican recipes. I know some people have strong opinions about it, but I love it!
- Cotija cheese: A mild, creamy, crumbly cheese, a bit like feta. So, either can be used in this case.
- Sour cream & mayonnaise: Both provide the creaminess for the dressing that coats everything. Instead of being a topping on the cob, it’s the dressing in the salad. You can swap the tangy sour cream for a similar tangy Greek yogurt for a lighter version, if prefer.
- Limes: Both the zest and fresh lime juice adds a citrusy, zesty, and bright flavor!
- Seasoning: Chili powder, salt, and pepper.
- Jalapenos: Optional for some flavorful heat.
There are plenty of ways you can tweak the ingredients in this Mexican street corn salad to suit your preferences. If you want a bit of extra seasoning, consider adding some smoked paprika to the mixture.
If you really don’t want cilantro, add some parsley instead. Want it a little garlicky? Add some minced garlic in there too.
Possible add-ins could include black beans, diced avocado, or green onions.
You can also make it less or more creamy, and adjust the spice level as desired.
No time to grill? If you can’t find canned roasted corn and don’t have time to grill it, there are ways you can achieve maximum flavor in a skillet using fresh corn or frozen kernels.
Cook fresh corn in 1 Tablespoon of olive oil on high heat for 3-5 minutes until it starts to char. For frozen kernels, heat it longer, for 5-7 minutes.
How to Make Mexican Street Corn Salad
- Combine the salad ingredients. In a large bowl, toss the corn, bell pepper, onion, cilantro, and cotija cheese together.
- Make the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, mayonnaise, zest and lime juice, ground cumin, and chili powder until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
- Coat to combine. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and gently stir until everything is coated and combined.
- Garnish and serve. Top with additional cheese, cilantro, salt, and pepper, if desired. For heat, add some sliced or diced jalapeno and an extra squeeze of lime. Enjoy!
- Keep leftovers of Mexican street corn salad stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- For best flavor, allow it to sit and chill for a bit before serving.
- However, you can definitely serve it warm or cold.
Nothing! Elote is the Spanish word for corn.
It’s made from roasted or grilled corn, bell peppers, and onions, coated in creamy, cheesy, citrusy, and spicy flavors. It’s what you would find on traditional street corn, in a bowl!
Mexican Corn Salad Serving Ideas
Mexican street corn salad is so versatile! It can be used as a main dish, an appetizer or dip, as a topping, and as a side dish!
Serve with all your grilled meat, fish, and seafood.
Serve with homemade tortilla chips and enjoy it as a dip! The options are endless!
More Mexican Dishes To TryBrowse all
Mexican Street Corn Salad
- 4 cups roasted corn kernels (or about 5 ears grilled and cut from the cob)
- 1 red bell pepper , finely chopped
- ½ small red onion , finely chopped
- ½ cup chopped cilantro , plus more if needed
- ½ cup crumbled cotija cheese , or crumbled feta cheese, plus more if needed
- 2 Tablespoons sour cream , or Greek yogurt
- 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1-2 limes , zested and juiced
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt , more to taste
- Ground black pepper , to taste
- jalapeno pepper , finely diced (optional for heat)
- In a large bowl, toss together corn, bell pepper, onion, cilantro, and cotija cheese.
- In a small bowl, whisk together sour cream, mayonnaise, zest from 1 lime, lime juice, cumin, and chili powder until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
- Drizzle dressing over corn mixture and gently stir until well coated. Add additional cheese, cilantro, salt, or pepper, if desired. You can also add in some jalapeno if you'd like to take up the heat. Add an extra squeeze of lime if needed.
- Fresh corn: Cook in 1 Tablespoon olive oil on high heat for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the corn starts to char.
Frozen corn: Cook in 1 Tablespoon olive oil on high heat for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the corn starts to char.
Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.
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