This recipe for Mexican Street Corn Salad, also known as Esquites, is corn kernels tossed in a creamy, sweet, tangy, smoky dressing, then topped with salty cotjita cheese. It’s so easy to make and off the charts delicious. If you love authentic Mexican Street Corn on the cob, then you will love this side salad version. Serve for brunch, as a dinner side, or all on its own. Great for summer potlucks or year round using fresh or frozen corn.
Corn on the cob is such quintessential summer food and the minute I see it roll into grocery stores, I get so excited! My entire family loves it. Unfortunately, ever since my son busted his top two teeth and with my daughter’s braces, I have to improvise for awhile.
That’s where this Mexican Street Corn Salad, also known as Esquites, comes into play.
What is Esquites – Mexican Street Corn Salad?
Esquites, literally means “little corn cup,” which is corn that’s sautéed in butter with onion, chilies, and salt. It gets nice and charred, then served in a cup with a variety of toppings, like lime juice, hot sauce, mayo, and chili powder.
It’s smoky, sweet, spicy, tangy, and amazing. If you love Mexican Street Corn (elote), you will go crazy for this salad version.
Ingredients for this Mexican Street Corn Salad Recipe
A combination of sweet mayonnaise, salty cheese, tangy lime, and smoky seasonings make the dressing crazy tasty. It gives this salad that Mexican street corn style flavor without all the mess of eating off a cob.
Here’s what you’ll need (scroll down for the complete printable recipe):
- Corn – fresh corn is my preference for this salad, but you can use frozen (thawed) or canned (drained), when corn is not in season. You’ll need 4 ears of corn (3-4 cups kernels)
- Vegetable Oil – a little to sauté the corn. Olive oil may also be used.
- Mexican Crema – this is a thickened cream, with a tangy flavor. If you can’t find it, sour cream is a great substitute.
- Mayonnaise – Mexican Street Corn is usually rolled in this, which makes all the spices adhere to the cob.
- Veggies – red onion, jalapeno pepper, and garlic.
- Cotija Cheese – this is the Mexican version of feta cheese, but a little less salty. It’s usually located near the chilled Latin foods or specialty cheeses, but feta is a great alternative, if you can’t find it.
- Cilantro – this herb is a staple in Mexican cuisine and fits in this salad perfectly. If you don’t like it, you can use parsley instead.
- Lime Juice – fresh lime juice is the way to go here.
- Spices – chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper all together take this dish to level 10.
Doesn’t the list of ingredients just make your mouth water?!
- Yellow or white corn can be used.
- Cutting the kernels off the cob and then cooking them over high heat in a pan gives them a nice char, without needing to use a grill. But grilling your corn (and then removing the kernels after) definitely ads another level of flavor to this salad. Either way is delicious, though!
- This salad is typically served warm, but it is also wonderful at room temperature or even cold.
How to Store Mexican Street Corn Salad
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Freezing this dish is not recommended.
What to serve with Corn Salad
You can enjoy this corn salad by itself or it pairs wonderfully with so many dishes. These are some favorites:
Mexican Corn Salad is so simple and delicious. Plus colorful and pretty! Even though this dish is aligned with summer, using frozen corn allows you to make it year round, and trust me, you’ll want to make it all the time!
Watch the video for Mexican Street Corn Salad
How to Make Mexican Street Corn Salad
Mexican Street Corn Salad
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 ears fresh corn (, shucked, kernels removed (about 3-4 cups fresh corn kernels))
- 3 tablespoons Mexican Crema
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 clove garlic (, minced on a Microplane grater (about 1 to 2 teaspoons))
- 2 tablespoons fresh juice from 2 limes
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Kosher salt and pepper (, to taste)
- 2 ounces (1/4 cup) Cotija cheese (, finely crumbled)
- 1/4 cup finely dice red onion
- 1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves (, finely chopped)
- 1 jalapeño pepper (, seeded and stemmed, minced)
- Warm oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add in the corn kernels; cook for about 5 minutes, tossing a few times, until lightly charred. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Remove from the heat and cool for 10 minutes.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the crema, mayonnaise, garlic, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, paprika, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Add to the bowl the cooled corn and all the other ingredients; using a rubber spatula, gently fold to combine and coat.
- Serve immediately and enjoy!