This Mexican Corn Salad Recipe combines buttered sweet corn, salty cotija cheese, bright cilantro and lime, and zippy jalapeno and garlic with a punchy, creamy dressing to cool it down.
I wait all year for summer foods. Corn on the cob, tomatoes, and peaches, to name a few. Some things just taste 100 times better when they’re local and in-season!
My favorite way to eat corn will always be the way I grew up with: steamed with butter and salt. But I love playing with new flavors and Mexican flavors in particular always catch my eye.
During the past few years there’s been a lot of hype about Mexican Street Corn, and for good reason – it’s delicious! Mexican Street Corn (known as Elotes) is the inspiration for this recipe, which is called Esquites.
Mexican Street Corn Salad Recipe
- Corn on the cob
- Unsalted butter
- Red onion
- Cotija chese
- Sour cream
- Fresh lime juice
- Chili powder
- Black pepper
- Smoked paprika
Step by Step Instructions
- Crush the garlic and de-seed and mince the jalapeno.
- Saute the jalapeno and garlic in butter; briefly cooking them helps mellow their flavor.
- Cook your corn on the cob (I recommend the microwave method for cooking corn!), let it cool a little, and then cut it off the cob.
- Mix together the ingredients for the creamy dressing.
- Add the corn, red onion, scallion, cotija cheese, and garlic/jalapeno butter to a large bowl.
- Toss it gently to combine.
- Drizzle that delicously creamy dressing on top.
- Stir until the dressing evenly coats the salad. And now you're ready to garnish the salad and serve it up!
How to Store Mexican Corn Salad
Store this salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. It will probably stay good for up to 3 days, but the flavor and texture is better the first 2 days.
Tips for Making Mexican Corn Salad
- Make this year-round. If corn isn’t in season, you can use frozen or canned corn instead of fresh corn.
- How much corn you'll need. One medium-large ear of corn yields about ¾ cup of corn kernels when it’s cut off the cob.
- Cotija cheese substutite. If you can’t find cotija cheese, you can use crumbled feta instead.
Mexican Corn Salad FAQs
What’s the Difference Between Elotes and Esquites?
Elote is a Mexican street food dish. Grilled sweet ears of corn are slathered in a mixture of crumbled cotija, Mexican sour cream, mayo, garlic, and chili power. Sprinkle more cotija on top, squeeze on a bit of fresh lime juice, and sprinkle with cilantro. It’s bliss.
Esquites is similar to Elote! Esquites is corn that’s cut off the cob before being mixed with these ingredients.
What’s the Difference Between Cotija and Queso Fresco?
Both queso fresco and cotija are white Mexican cheeses that crumble easily. Neither will really melt when heated.
However, cotija is aged and a bit more flavorful (in terms of saltiness and pungency) than queso fresco, which is a fresh cheese.
Can I Use Canned or Frozen Corn Instead of Fresh Corn to Make This Recipe?
The short answer: YES!
The explanation: When corn is in season locally, fresh corn is the way to go for the best flavor! Its natural sweetness is intense. Outside of summertime, frozen corn or even canned corn can make a decent substitute in this recipe.
If given the choice between frozen or canned corn (when fresh isn’t available), I’d go with frozen. Let it thaw and then drain well before using.
If canned corn is your only option, choose a name brand, preferably something organic for best flavor. This is because I’ve noticed there’s a surprisingly big variation in quality between name brands of canned corn vs. generic. Rise the canned corn under running water and then drain well before using.
What is the Best Way to Cook Corn to Make Mexican Corn Salad?
The best (and easiest!) way to cook corn for this salad is to microwave it – no joke! The corn steams in its own husks and is sweet, juicy, and tender.
Not only does cooking corn on the cob in the microwave yield delicious results, but it’s so easy! Like cooking most things in the microwave, cooking corn is fairly fast. And then after it’s microwaved, the husk just slips right off!
What Do You Serve with Mexican Corn Salad?
- Chicken Fajitas
- Steak Fajitas
- Grilled Ribeye Steak
- Beef Brisket
- Green Chicken Enchiladas Recipe with Salsa Verde
- Shredded Beef Keto Taco Salad
More Latin American Inspired Recipes to Try
- Black Beans Recipe
- Pollo Asado Recipe
- Mexican Keto Stuffed Peppers Recipe
- Oxacan Style Horchata
- Chile Relleno Dip
- Pico de Gallo Recipe
Mexican Corn Salad Recipe
- 4 large ears corn on the cob
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 jalapeno de-seeded and minced
- ¼ cup diced red onion
- ¾ cup crumbled cotija cheese divided
- 2 scallions green and white parts, thinly sliced, divided
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves for the top
- 1 jalapeno thinly sliced, for garnish (optional)
- 1 lime cut into 6 wedges, for serving
- Cook the corn and cut it off the cob. (The easiest way to do this is in the microwave!) Let the corn cool to room temperature.
- Add the butter to a small skillet over medium heat. Once melted, add the garlic and minced jalapeno and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat.
- Add the corn, red onion, ½ cup crumbled cotija cheese, ½ of the sliced scallion, and the garlic/jalapeno butter to a large bowl. Gently stir to combine.
- Stir together all ingredients for the dressing in a medium bowl. Add the dressing to the corn mixture and gently stir to combine.
- Transfer the salad to a serving bowl and top with the remaining ¼ cup crumbled cotija cheese, ½ of the sliced scallion, the cilantro leaves, and the sliced jalapeno.
- Serve along with the lime wedges to squeeze on top.
- How to Cook Corn on the Cob: For full directions on how to cook corn on the cob in the microwave, check out this post.
- Storage: Store this salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.
This post was first published on An Edible Mosaic on June 15, 2018. I updated it with more information on June 7, 2021.