Mexican Salad with Street Corn + Video

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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!

titled: Mexican Street Corn Salad


Mexican Salad

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.

Recipe Video

To see us make this Mexican salad recipe from start to finish, watch the video in this post!

If you’re looking for more south-of-the-border favorites, try my Spicy Corn Skillet with Sausage or Restaurant-Style Mexican Rice.

Or, try this popular recipe that pairs crunchy, sweet kernels with tomatoes, mozzarella, herbs, and a simple dressing.

ingredients to make street corn salad

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.
roasting corn kernels in skillet

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.

This Mexican salad tastes great with barbecue chicken, grilled steak or shrimp, tacos, enchiladas, and even burgers!

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!
pouring lime juice over Mexican salad ingredients

Mexican Salad Recipe FAQ

How long does roasted corn salad last in the refrigerator?

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.

Should corn be shucked before grilling?

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!

What is the difference between elotes and esquites?

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!

bowl of Mexican street corn salad

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spooning corn salad out of bowl

Mexican street corn salad in clear glass bowl

Mexican Salad with Street Corn + Video

Donna Elick
This Mexican Salad is tangy and sweet with a kick of heat, like the popular street corn! Make grilled corn salad in just 20 minutes!
5 stars from 1 review
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine Mexican
Method Stovetop
Servings 4 – 5


  • 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

garnish (optional)

  • 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!


Donna’s Notes

You can use fresh, frozen, or canned sweet corn for this recipe. If you are using frozen corn, just be sure to thaw beforehand. If you are using canned corn, drain the excess juice. For corn on the cob, husk and cut the kernels off. You could also grill your corn on the cob until slightly charred, then cut the kernels off and toss with the ingredients.
Cojita is a cow’s milk cheese, “named after the town of Cotija, Michoacán where it originated, Cotija cheese has a strong, salty flavor and is mostly used as a topping or mixed into sauces.” Source
You can substitute sour cream for the yogurt.
This is great served as a side, especially for cookout foods like barbeques, tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, or burgers. You can also dip your chips into it for an appetizer.
Add red pepper flakes for extra spice. You could also add extra veggies like chopped red pepper, or avocados. If you would like avocado in your salad, add it just before serving since it oxidizes quickly. You could also add a little lemon to your avocado to keep it from browning.
This is best served the same day. If you have leftovers or you want to prepare this ahead of time, you can store the salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 3 days. If you are serving guests, I recommend making this just one day ahead.
The traditional name for Mexican street corn salad is called “esquites”. This is typically served in a cup with corn off of the cob and mixed in a variety of ways. This is not the same as “elote”, which has the corn still on the cob.
I recommend wearing food safe gloves while cutting jalapenos to protect your hands from the oils. The oils are extremely hard to wash off, and can then transfer to your eyes or other parts of your body. Be sure to remove all seeds, unless you would like your salad to have more spice. If you are serving guests, let them know if you have added jalapeno seeds, as this can make it extra spicy for some people.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 308cal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 24mg | Sodium: 413mg | Sugar: 9g | Fiber: 4g | Calcium: 121mg | Iron: 1mg

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.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
titled image for Mexican street corn salad

Originally published April 2021, updated and republished July 2023

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