Spice up your summer rotation with Mexican Street Corn Salad. This veggie-loaded salad features fresh sweet corn, bell pepper, red and green onions with fiery jalapenos for kick! Dress it up with a fresh lime vinaigrette, cotija cheese and cilantro. Enjoy this street corn salad recipe on its own as a summer side dish or make it a meal with add-ins like chicken or black beans.
Corn, y’all. I have yet to find a preparation I don’t like. Whether its cooked on the cob, or starring alongside other summer veggies in dishes like Grilled Zucchini Corn Salad or Tomato Corn Salad (with a heavenly buttermilk dressing), you will find me cavorting with kernels most summer nights.
I’ve got a recipe for fresh corn for every night of the week and then some! And while all of them are a big bite of summer, I’m not gonna lie – some are zestier than others, and Mexican Street Corn Salad falls into that category.
Don’t get me wrong. I love (love, love, love) recipes that showcase the buttery sweetness of corn, but sometimes I want to push that mellow yellow to its limits by letting it play off big bold flavors and a little bit (or a lotta bit) of heat.
Spicy Mexican street corn salad has all of that – jalapenos, garlic, lime, cilantro, cumin – and more! Red pepper, red onion, red… paprika. (I mean, technically it’s red.)
For tender tummies, you can absolutely cut back on the heat… but you can also cut the heat by taming it with avocado. It’s all a balancing act. A super quick (15 minutes), super simple, super delicious balancing act. So let’s dig in!
Is this recipe the same as Esquites?
Not exactly… but close. It’s our healthier spin on Mexican street corn salad with no mayo.
Esquites is salad-ified elotes, which, yes, is technically Mexican street corn, but elotes traditionally has a creamy factor from mayonnaise, crema, sour cream, and/or gobs of cheese. (If that sounds amazing to you, then you’re definitely going to want to try our Mexican Street Corn Stuffed Peppers!)
While our healthy Mexican street corn salad recipe still calls for cotija cheese, we wanted to keep this version light for the summer to fully maximize the flavor of fresh corn.
How to Make Mexican Street Corn Salad
Make Mexican Street Corn Salad with fresh corn, right off the cob, for the best flavor. Saute the corn to create a flavorful char, then toss with finely chopped red and green onions, red bell pepper, jalapeno, garlic and cilantro for a bright, beautiful summer side. Dress with lime vinaigrette and cotija cheese. Bonus add-in options below.
- Slice the corn kernels from cobs.
- Saute the corn in butter and olive oil until lightly charred. If you’ve never cooked sautéed corn, it’s fairly simple and straightforward. Let it cook undisturbed for several minutes in between tosses to achieve a nice char.
- Transfer the sauteed corn to a big serving bowl. Add the bell pepper, green onion, red onion, cilantro, jalapeno, and garlic. If using chicken or black beans, add those at this time as well.
- Combine the vinaigrette ingredients and until emulsified.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until well combined.
- Portion onto plates or into bowls and top generously with crumbled cotija cheese and more cilantro. Serve right away.
- Try grilled Mexican street corn salad if you’re craving more char! Grill the cobs first (we prefer the “naked” method), then slice away the charred kernels and transfer to a bowl.
- Taste the sautéed corn for texture after 8 minutes – if it’s not quite cooked through, saute undisturbed for 2-3 minutes more, or until charred to preference and tender.
- Turn up the heat – double the jalapeños and/or keep the seeds.
- Chop the vegetables small – keep the dice around ¼″ – so that they’re same size as the corn kernels. You’ll get a taste of everything in every bite.
What is The Best Sub for Cotija Cheese?
Queso Fresco is a great sub for cotija cheese, and it has a slightly milder flavor.
Want more flavor in your substitute? Try anejo cheese – it’s got a slightly spicy kick from paprika.
Can Frozen Corn be Used Instead of Fresh?
Yes! Toss it into the pan frozen in place of fresh corn. You’ll need more time for the corn to defrost and develop a good char in the pan, so be patient. Also, be careful – the moisture released as the corn thaws can splatter!
Mexican Street Corn Salad Variations!
Make it a meal with various mix-ins for protein and flavor.
- Add grilled chicken – we love it with our Chili Lime Chicken.
- Add black beans and avocado for a filling vegetarian main dish (it’s terrific for lunch!)
- Use arugula, or other tender baby greens like spinach or spring mix, as a base.
Or mix and match any (or all) of the above!
Can I Make This Ahead of Time?
Yes. Street corn salad is best served warm, but it’s also very good straight from the fridge, or brought to room temperature. Reserve the cotija and additional cilantro until you’re ready to serve so they don’t get mushy.
Storing and Reheating
Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reserve the cheese, and add after reheating or just before serving.
Reheat in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in-between.
Did you make our mexican street corn salad? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
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- 4 ears fresh corn
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped to ¼"
- 6 green onions, thinly sliced
- ½ medium red onion, finely chopped to ¼"
- ½ c chopped cilantro
- 1-2 jalapenos, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ c cojita cheese, queso fresco, or anejo
- grilled chicken, diced
- black beans, rinsed and drained
- avocado, diced
- Slice the corn from the cobs. You’ll have about 4 heaping cups.
- Heat a 12” skillet over medium high heat. Add the butter and heat until it melts then foams. Add the olive oil and heat for 30 seconds. Add the corn, toss to coat in the fat, then saute undisturbed for 4 minutes, or until lightly charred. Toss, then sautee 4 minutes more. Taste the corn for texture – if it's not quite cooked through, saute undisturbed for 2-3 minutes more, or until charred to preference and tender. Scrape the corn into a large bowl.
- To the bowl with the corn, add the bell pepper, green onion, red onion, cilantro, jalapeno, and garlic. If adding chicken or black beans, add them to the bowl at this time as well.
- Combine the lime juice, olive oil, paprika, cumin, and salt. Whisk until the dressing is emulsified.
- Pour the dressing over the salad, then toss until well combined. Portion onto plates and top generously with cojita cheese and additional cilantro. Serve right away.