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Mexican Street Corn Salad

This Mexican street corn salad, also known as esquites, is made with all the fresh flavors of elote but served off the cob and tossed in a creamy dressing for a simple side dish!

More Mexican recipes that are perfect for summer include this Mexican salad, black bean salsa and taco salad!

Mexican street corn salad in a white bowl.
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Esquites Recipe

Mexican 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 corn salad but served Mexican street corn style with grilled smoky kernels tossed in a creamy dressing topped with chili powder, lime juice, and sliced jalapeno. It’s full of flavor whether served as an elote dip appetizer or own its own as a corn salsa recipe!

Recipe Ingredients

Mexican corn salad ingredients on counter.

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.
  • 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 Mexican cuisine.
  • Cotija cheese: A mild, creamy, crumbly cheese, a bit like feta or queso fresco. Any could be used.
  • Sour cream & mayonnaise: Both provide the creaminess for the dressing in this street corn salad recipe. Swap the sour cream for a similar tangy Greek yogurt, if you prefer.
  • Lime: Both the zest and fresh lime juice adds a citrusy, zesty, and bright flavor!
  • Seasoning: Chili powder, salt, and pepper. Add paprika or smoked paprika for additional flavor.
  • Jalapeños: Optional for some flavorful heat. You could also add a dash of hot sauce.

Substitutions and Variations

There are plenty of ways you can tweak the ingredients in this street corn salad to suit your preferences.

  • Corn: Try fresh corn or frozen kernels that have first been charred in the skillet or use leftover honey butter skillet corn.
  • Fresh herbs: If you really don’t want cilantro, add some parsley instead.
  • Savory: Want it a little garlicky? Add some minced garlic in there too.
  • Add-ins: Try black beans, diced avocado, or green onions.

How to Make Mexican Street Corn Salad

Showing how to make Mexican corn salad in a 4 step collage.
  • 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!
Mexican street corn salad in a white bowl with serving spoon.

Recipe FAQs

What is esquites?

Mexican street corn salad, otherwise known as esquites, is a take on the classic 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, though, is served off the cob and in a cup which turns the creamy, spicy, smoky, crispy, and slightly sweet flavors into a bowl of scoopable street corn salad that is way easier to eat!

What is the difference between elote and Mexican street corn?

Nothing! Elote is the Spanish word for corn. Esquites is ‘toasted corn’, that is why using roasted corn, grilled corn or charring corn in the skillet really makes this street corn salad.

Should I serve this Mexican street corn salad recipe warm or cold?

I prefer to let it chill for a few hours to let the flavors develop, but it can definitely be served warm if you like, especially if you are using grilled corn.

How to store leftovers?

Keep leftovers of Mexican corn salad stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Mexican Corn Salad Serving Ideas

This is such a versatile salad and can be a main dish, an appetizer or dip, a topping, or a Mexican side dish!

It can be used alongside pico de gallo and guacamole on carne asada tacos, skirt steak tacos, shredded beef tacos, or carnitas tacos.

Serve with all your grilling recipes from meat to fish and seafood.

Use it on top of or inside black bean and sweet potato taquitos with a side of cilantro lime rice.

Serve with homemade tortilla chips and enjoy it as a dip! The options are endless!

Mexican street corn salad in a white bowl with a wooden serving spoon.

Want more easy Mexican salad recipes? Try cowboy caviar, southwest pasta salad or quinoa black bean salad next time!

More Mexican Dishes To Try

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Mexican corn salad in a white bowl.

Mexican Street Corn Salad

5 from 10 votes
↑ Click stars to rate now!
Author: Jamielyn Nye
This Mexican street corn salad, also known as esquites, is made with all the fresh flavors of elote but served off the cob and tossed in a creamy dressing for a simple side dish!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 8

Video

Ingredients 

  • 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)

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

Grilled corn: Grilling the corn first adds so much flavor. Here are 3 different ways to do grill corn.
Stovetop corn: If you don’t have time to grill the corn, you can cook it on the stovetop:
  • 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. 
Storage: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 4 days. 

Nutrition

Calories: 139kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 12mg | Sodium: 427mg | Potassium: 238mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 875IU | Vitamin C: 27mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free

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