This Mexican Salad is tangy and sweet with enough heat to make it interesting. Serve roasted corn salad with a weeknight meal, at your next cookout, or take it for a potluck side dish!
The traditional name for Mexican street corn salad is “esquites,” and it’s typically served in a portable cup.
While the flavor of this grilled corn salad can be similar to “elotes” (street corn), the kernels are loose and mixed with other ingredients instead of being left on the cob.
Or, try this popular recipe that pairs crunchy, sweet kernels with tomatoes, mozzarella, herbs, and a simple dressing.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Sweet corn – This Mexican salad recipe is flexible, so use whatever is most available.
Frozen kernels will need to be thawed first, and canned ones should be drained thoroughly.
Slice kernels off of fresh cobs before browning them on the stove, or grill the whole cobs until slightly charred.
Then, add the kernels straight to the mixing bowl.
- Cotija cheese – This is a popular cow’s milk cheese, named after the town in Mexico where it originated. It has a strong, salty flavor and a crumbly texture.
While not quite the same, Feta or fresh Parmesan are the closest substitutes.
- Sour cream – Greek yogurt is a great alternative that is higher in protein and lower in both fat and calories.
- Jalapeno – Wear food-safe gloves while cutting jalapenos, since the oils are extremely hard to wash off and can then transfer to your eyes or other parts of your body.
Remove all of the seeds, unless you would like your Mexican salad to be spicier, but be sure to let guests know if you do so!
- Spices – While this recipe has plenty of heat, feel free to kick it up a notch with some red pepper flakes or a dash of cayenne.
- Extra veggies – Chopped red bell peppers or avocado are a delicious addition to roasted corn salad.
Add the avocado just before serving since it oxidizes quickly, and squeeze a little lemon juice over the top to keep it from browning.
Serving Suggestions for Roasted Corn Salad
Pair grilled corn salad with tortilla chips for a hearty appetizer, or serve alongside any of your favorite cookout foods.
Kitchen Tools You Will Need
- Large Skillet – Be sure that it is wide enough for all of the kernels to brown evenly.
- Quality Knives – If you only make one kitchen investment, it should be good quality knives. They cut down on prep time and are important for safety as well.
- Mixing Bowl – This one is my go-to!
Mexican Salad Recipe FAQ
This Mexican salad is best served on the same day. If you have leftovers (or want to prepare it ahead of time), it will keep for about 3 days in an airtight container.
However, I recommend making it no more than a day in advance if you will be serving it to guests.
It depends. If you plan on grilling corn on the cob for this Mexican salad recipe, then yes. This creates a nice char on the kernels, which adds color and flavor to the dish.
When serving as a side dish, I actually prefer to smoke corn whole to lock in all that smoky flavor!
Elote is the name for Mexican street corn on the cob, which is grilled then dipped in mayo, Cotija cheese, chile powder, and other toppings.
Instead, esquites combines all of those ingredients in a bowl to make a sweet and grilled corn salad!
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours.
Other Salad Recipes
Mexican Salad with Street Corn + Video
- 4 cups sweet corn, (**See Notes below, thawed, drained, or cut off the cob)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup green onion, chopped
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 cup cojita cheese
- 2 1/2 tablespoons sour cream
- 2 tablespoons mayo
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice, from 2 limes
- chopped cilantro
- extra cojita cheese
- Cut corn kernels off of cob, or drain canned or thawed corn.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Carefully spoon corn into the skillet and cook for about 8-10 minutes, or until corn starts to brown. Remove from heat and transfer to a large mixing bowl and allow to cool.
- Once the corn has cooled, add all remaining ingredients to the mixing bowl and stir until combined well.
- Garnish with additional chopped cilantro and extra cojita cheese if desired. Serve cold and enjoy!
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.
Originally published April 2021, updated and republished July 2023
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