Creamy and delicious Mexican Street Corn Salad recipe (aka Esquites) is the perfect 30 minute crowd pleaser at your next cookout. Flavorful corn tossed with a yogurt, lime and cilantro dressing then sprinkled with cheese for a simple take on classic elotes.
Table of Contents
- What Is Mexican Street Corn?
- Ingredients for Mexican Street Corn Salad
- How to Make Mexican Street Corn Salad
- Tips for Best Results and Variations
- What to Serve Mexican Street Corn Salad with?
- How to Store and Make Ahead
- More Corn Recipes to Try
- Other Mexican-Inspired Recipes
- Mexican Street Corn Salad Recipe Recipe
My Mexican street corn salad is a lighter version of elotes served as an off-the-cob esquites salad.
The resulting salad recipe is sweet, savory and spicy, with a creamy, cheesy finish.
What Is Mexican Street Corn?
Elotes aka Mexican street corn is grilled corn on the cob slathered in a spicy combination of mayo and Mexican crema with chili powder and rolled in plenty of Cotija cheese.
Then there is Esquites, an off-the-cob version of Elotes, served in a cup with toppings. Mexican street corn salad combines the two and is perfect for serving a crowd.
Ingredients for Mexican Street Corn Salad
You will need just a handful of very simple ingredients to make this Mexican street corn salad recipe.
- Sweet corn: I recommend using fresh corn when it’s in season. I like to make corn on the cob in Instant Pot because it’s easy! But frozen corn works just as well.
- Cotija cheese or feta cheese: Cotija cheese adds essential creaminess and saltiness to the salad. If you can’t find it, feta cheese is an excellent substitute but is a bit saltier.
- 2%+ fat yogurt and mayo: Using a combination of plain yogurt with just a little mayonnaise creates a lighter dressing than the traditional creamy sauce. You can also use Greek yogurt. Don’t omit all the mayo though, it gives this Mexican street corn salad authentic taste!
- Cilantro and lime: Gives salad the classic Tex Mex taste. Fresh lime juice works best, lemon juice can be used as well.
- Red onion: Not everyone loves raw onion in their salads. But if you do want that slightly sharp, zingy addition, half a small finely diced red onion is a good amount to begin with.
- Garlic: I personally love its addition to this salad, however garlic makes it not authentic. Feel free to add or omit.
- Spices: I used a combination of smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, lime, salt, and pepper. You can make Mexican street corn salad as spicy as you’d like by adjusting the amount of cayenne pepper used.
How to Make Mexican Street Corn Salad
Here is a quick overview how to make Mexican street corn salad. All you have to do is cook the corn, chop the veggies, add make the dressing. It’s one bowl recipe too. Full recipe card is located below.
Cook your corn: You can make elote corn salad with grilled corn or boiled corn.
- On the grill: Grill corn without the husks over medium heat for 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes or so.
- On the stove: Add corn to a large enough pot, so it is fully submerged in water. Salt the water generously to help bring out corn’s flavor. Cook the corn by boiling it for 10 minutes. To char it, you can then lightly sauté the corn in a cast iron skillet until it begins to brown.
- In slow cooker: To make corn on the cob in crock pot, just add corn and a cup of water to a large slow cooker. Cook on High heat for 2-3 hours or on Low heat for 5-6 hours.
- Instant Pot corn on the cob: This is by far my favorite method to cook corn. Just add corn and 1 cup water to an electric pressure cooker and cook on High Pressure for 2 minutes with Quick Release. This is my favorite method when cooking indoors in summer to keep the kitchen cool.
Shuck the corn kernels: If you used fresh corn, then after cooking it, you’ll need to shuck it. Let the ears of corn cool down enough to handle.
Then, using a sharp knife, stand the corn upright and cut off kernels as close to the core as possible.
Assemble the salad: Add cooked corn, mayo, yogurt, cotija cheese, fresh cilantro, lime juice, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper to a large bowl. No need to make the salad dressing separately.
Toss: Gently toss Mexican street corn salad to coat and serve immediately warm or chill to serve cold.
Tips for Best Results and Variations
Mexican street corn salad is full of fresh taste and ready in less than 30 minutes. It’s totally customizable, add more spices for heat, veggies for crunch, or creamy avocado. It’s a winner every time!
- Allow the corn salad to marinate: This is one of those salad recipes that tastes even better when it’s given time to sit and marinate and let all the flavors blend. I suggest making it at least a couple of hours in advance, if possible.
- Not a fan of cilantro? Don’t like cilantro, then fresh parsley or green onion will work.
- Like it more spicy? Feel free to add in a little finely diced jalapeño or any slightly more mild or hot chile pepper based on personal taste. Also chili powder is a popular addition to this side dish.
- Enjoy this corn salad year round: By swapping in season fresh corn for frozen corn during the off season!
- Other vegetables to add: Diced tomatoes or diced cucumbers will work well in here.
What to Serve Mexican Street Corn Salad with?
In terms of how to serve Mexican street corn salad, there are tons of options. Below I served it with turkey meatballs and whole grain spaghetti because that’s what else I had cooked that day. Not authentic Mexican pairing but it just shows you that this salad goes with anything!
Here are just a few suggestions:
- As a dip: Serve with the tortilla chips or crackers of your choice. You can also just eat elotes corn salad straight out of the bowl, just like from a street food vendor!
- With a protein: It is a great accompaniment to any protein like cilantro lime chicken or even this fried tofu recipe.
- As a side: To Mexican and Tex-Mex style dishes like healthy chicken enchiladas, sheet pan steak fajitas, vegetarian quesadillas or shrimp taco recipe.
How to Store and Make Ahead
Make ahead: There are a couple of ways you can prep this Mexican street corn salad in advance. If you prefer it warm, combine all the ingredients except the corn in a bowl, covered and store in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours. When you’re ready to serve, grill the corn and toss it in with the salad.
For cold Mexican street corn salad, assemble the salad in a large bowl without stirring, and refrigerate for up to 48 hours. Stir the salad just before serving.
Store: Leftovers will keep well for up to 48 hours in the fridge. There are no vegetables to turn soggy or any ingredients to impact the shelf life of the salad, so it’s very forgiving!
You can enjoy Mexican street corn salad hot or cold. I love to enjoy it warm when the corn is freshly cooked and everything melts together. However, if you prepare it in advance for a gathering, BBQ, or potluck, then you’ll find it just as delicious when served chilled!
Not at all, though it definitely adds an extra dimension of flavor and authenticity to the salad. I suggest trying it with and without, that way you can decide which you prefer! If you decide to char the corn, cook it in a cast iron skillet with a little bit of oil stirring not frequently and allowing it to get charred.
Yes, you can use frozen corn to make Mexican street corn salad. This way you can enjoy it year round. You will need 3 bags 10 ounces each of frozen corn. No need to thaw, add it frozen to a hot skillet with oil and cook for 7-9 minutes until charred, stirring occasionally.
In a pinch, you can use canned corn and salad will taste good but not the same. Make sure to drain it well and cook in a skillet to warm up and char.
The only difference between esquites and elotes is that elotes is grilled corn on the cob slathered with toppings. And esquites is same grilled corn cut off the cob and served in a cup with the same toppings.
You can make Mexican street corn salad healthy without any mayo. Use more yogurt and possibly add a little bit of olive oil and vinegar to add extra flavor to the dressing. I personally do prefer a touch of mayonnaise.
More Corn Recipes to Try
- Chicken and corn
- Black bean and corn salsa
- Mexican kale salad
- Southwest quinoa salad
- Healthy taco salad
- Mexican tuna salad
- Savoy cabbage salad
Other Mexican-Inspired Recipes
Mexican Street Corn Salad Recipe
- 6 large ears of corn shucked
- 1/2 cup red onion finely chopped
- 1/2 cup cilantro finely chopped
- 1/2 cup cotija cheese or feta cheese crumbled
- 1/2 large lemon or 1 lime juice of
- 2 small garlic cloves grated
- 1/4 cup plain yogurt or Greek yogurt 2+% fat
- 3 tbsp mayo I used avocado oil mayo
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- Ground black pepper to taste
- Cook corn by boiling it for 15 minutes or by grilling on medium heat for 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes. Or even better, make Instant Pot corn on the cob in 2 minutes! Let cool until safe to handle.
- Using sharp chef's knife remove corn kernels off the cob by cutting lengthwise.
- In a large salad bowl, add corn, red onion, cilantro, cotija cheese, lemon or lime juice, garlic, yogurt, mayo, smoked paprika, salt, cayenne and black pepper to taste.
- Stir gently and serve warm or cold.
- Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 48 hours.
- Make ahead: For warm salad, refrigerate all ingredients in a bowl covered for up to 48 hours. Add warm cooked corn right before serving and toss. For cold salad, refrigerate salad assembled but not stirred for up to 48 hours.
- Frozen corn: You will need 3 (10 oz) bags of frozen corn. No need to thaw, add it frozen to a hot skillet with oil and cook for 7-9 minutes until charred, stirring occasionally.
- Yogurt and mayo: I use plain yogurt with just a little mayo to create a lighter sauce. Don’t omit all the mayo though, for authentic taste.
- Cilantro: If you’re not a cilantro fan, then parsley or green onion could work.