Also known as Esquites, this 20-minute Mexican Street Corn Salad Recipe has a fresh, bold flavor from sweet corn, jalapenos, avocado and crumbled cheese. Try this one-pan vegetarian salad tonight!
Why This Recipe Works
This easy Mexican street corn salad recipe is a quick 20-minute main or side dish that’s full of bright, sweet and savory flavors. If you’re a fan of my Tuna Pasta Salad With Corn, Capers and Olives, you’ll love this new recipe.
- The sweet corn kernels are pan-charred for a bit of smoky flavor without sacrificing the sweet crunch of fresh corn.
- It’s a fast one-pan meal like my One-Pot Chicken Fajita Pasta.
- It’s naturally gluten-free and sugar-free.
- This is a great recipe for entertaining. Serve it with Baked Salmon for a complete meal.
What Goes Into This Recipe
Here’s what you need to make easy Mexican Corn Salad:
- Vegetable oil to lightly char the corn.
- Butter for a hearty, creamy flavor.
- Frozen corn. You can also use fresh corn kernels.
- Garlic for added flavor.
- Avocado. Choose a nice ripe one!
- Red onion. For added color and crunch.
- Cilantro leaves. Feel free to use a different fresh herb like parsley or basil.
- Jalapeno. Add as much pepper as you like for heat.
- Cheese. Crumbled feta or cotija, both work great.
- Mayonnaise. For a creamy, savory dressing.
- Lime juice adds a dose of bright, citrusy flavor.
- Chili powder. Add this as a garnish for extra spice.
- Use frozen, fresh or canned corn. If you use canned corn, make sure to drain and rinse it well. You could also use leftover corn on the cob.
- Feel free to use feta cheese instead of cotija. For a vegan salad, you can use your favoite dairy-free feta.
- Other herbs like basil, oregano or parsley will work.
- You can use plain Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise for the creamy dressing.
How to Make this Easy Esquites Recipe
Follow these steps to make this easy Mexican Street Corn Salad recipe:
Start with a heavy-bottomed wok or skillet. Add the vegetable oil or butter and heat the pan over medium-high heat.
When the oil or butter is hot and shimmering, add the corn kernels all at once. Season them with a sprinkling of salt and pepper, then cook the corn without stirring for 2 to 3 minutes. The corn should turn golden-brown on the edges.
Give the corn kernels one good stir, then continue to cook them undisturbed for another minute or two. Next, add the minced garlic and cook for another 4 to 6 minutes, until the corn is nicely charred and softened. Transfer the corn from the skillet to your serving bowl.
Then, while the corn is still warm from the stove, add the cheese, red onion, avocado, cilantro, mayo, jalapeno, lime juice and chili flakes to taste. Stir everything well to combine.
You can serve the corn salad now, slightly warm, or chill it in the fridge and serve it cold.
Serve this easy salad with your favorite short pasta like penne or bowties. Boil the pasta to al-dente and toss it with the corn salad and the dressing. TIP: double or triple the mayo dressing. There you have it: a filling lunch perfect for your to-go container.
The salad also works great as a side dish with Mexican flavors. Try it with my Vegan Tacos, Cheesy Chicken Fritters, or Keto Tuna Fritters
It’s easy to mix up the ingredients in this fresh corn salad. Try adding black beans, cannellini or red beans for protein. Simply drain and rinse the beans and add them to the salad.
For a creamier dressing, add a tablespoon or two of cream cheese and stir it well to incorporate into the salad.
For more sweetness and juiciness, add chopped fresh tomatoes.
It’s easy to make this Mexican corn salad vegan. Simply substitute the butter, mayo and cheese with your favorite vegan alternatives. Or, you can leave out the butter and cheese, and add coconut yogurt instead of mayo. Just make sure it’s unsweetened, plain dairy-free yogurt.
This recipe already has just the right amount of spice. But if you like extra heat, add a squirt of sriracha, chili powder or cayenne. Use the seeds of the jalepeño for extra hot.
Elote is also known as Mexican street corn and it’s a corn on the cob with mayo, chili powder, lime juice, cotija cheese and cilantro. Elote Salad is a salad made of Mexican street corn off the cob, so depending on the additions, it’s pretty much the same as esquites.
- For the sweetest flavor, use fresh corn on the cob! Simply remove and discard the corn husk. Then use an upside-down bundt pan. Place the tip of the corn cob into the center hole. Cut the corn kernels with a sharp knife, allowing them to fall into the pan.
- When cooking the corn, butter will help the corn brown. So don’t stir after placing the kernels into the pan. Allow them to cook undisturbed for 2-3 minutes to start developing that tasty brown crust.
- Mixing the corn and other ingredients while the corn is still warm helps the flavors meld. The melted butter will mix with the mayo for a creamy and delicious dressing.
- You can serve this salad at room temperature, warm or chilled.
- If you have leftover esquites, place it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. Serve it cold, or warm it in the microwave for 30 seconds to a minute. You don’t want to cook the avocado.
- For best results, if you’re making this Mexican corn salad ahead of time, add the avocado just before serving. It will stay vibrant and fresh that way.
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Mexican Street Corn Salad (Esquites Recipe)
- 2 tbsp (30ml) vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 3 cups frozen corn kernels - thawed (or 4-5 ears fresh corn, shucked, kernels removed)
- 1 to 2 medium cloves garlic - finely chopped
- 1 large ripe but firm avocado - diced
- 1 small red onion - diced
- 1/2 cup (1/2 oz) fresh cilantro leaves - finely chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper - seeded and stemmed, finely chopped
- 2 oz (60g) feta or Cotija cheese - finely crumbled
- 2 tbsp (30ml) mayonnaise
- 2 limes - juiced
- Chili powder or crushed chili flakes - to taste
- Sea salt and ground pepper - to taste
- Heat oil and butter in a large heavy-bottom skillet or wok over high heat.2 tbsp (30ml) vegetable oil, 1 tbsp butter
- Add corn kernels, season to taste with salt and pepper. Allow them to cook undisturbed for 2-3 minutes, or until golden-brown.3 cups frozen corn kernels
- Toss once then continue to cook undisturbed for a couple of minutes more. Stir in the garlic and continue to cook until the corn is mostly charred and tender, around 4-6 minutes.1 to 2 medium cloves garlic
- Transfer to a large salad bowl.
- While the corn is still warm, add in the remaining ingredients and season to your taste.1 large ripe but firm avocado, 1 small red onion, 1/2 cup (1/2 oz) fresh cilantro leaves, 1 jalapeno pepper, 2 oz (60g) feta or Cotija cheese, 2 tbsp (30ml) mayonnaise, 2 limes, Sea salt and ground pepper, Chili powder or crushed chili flakes
- Toss to combine and serve warm or cool.
- Use fresh, frozen or canned corn. If you’re using fresh, read the expert tip above for the easiest (and least messy) way to remove corn kernels from the cob.
- Leaving the corn undisturbed in the skillet for the first 2 to 3 minutes helps it blacken a bit for a charred flavor and color. You’ll toss the corn once, then cook for a couple more minutes without stirring to char the other side, before adding the garlic and cooking until the corn is nice and soft with char marks on all sides.
- You can add canned beans for protein, or mix up the ingredients with juicy tomatoes, extra spice or a different kind of cheese.
- For vegan corn salad, use dairy-free butter and mayo. Swap the cheese for vegan feta.
- Serve this salad warm, chilled or at room temperature.
- You can make the salad ahead of time, but it’s best to slice and add your avocado just before serving so it stays bright and creamy.
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