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If you’ve ever strolled through the streets of Mexico, chances are you’ve encountered the tantalizing aroma of grilled corn on the cob, covered in a tangy creamy sauce and sprinkled with crumbly cheese.
This iconic dish, known as Elote, is a popular street food and a classic Mexican favorite. My version of Mexican Street Corn Salad is a delectable twist on the original recipe that combines all the bold flavors in a refreshing salad form.
Why It Works
Mexican Street Corn Salad captures the essence of the original Elote while offering a unique, vibrant twist.
This recipe takes advantage of the sweet and roasted flavor of fresh corn kernels, which are combined with a medley of flavorful ingredients to create a symphony of tastes and textures.
It is somewhat similar to Cowboy Caviar, but instead is held together with a creamy dressing.
Why You Should Make It
There are numerous reasons why you should make Mexican Corn Salad sometime this summer.
- First and foremost, it’s incredibly delicious. The combination of simple ingredients creates a flavor profile that is both comforting and exciting.
- It’s a versatile dish that can be served as a main course, the perfect side dish, or even as a topping for tacos or grilled chicken.
- The vibrant colors and textures make it an eye-catching addition to any table, perfect for entertaining guests or simply enjoying a delightful meal.
- The recipe is incredibly easy to prepare. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or a beginner in the kitchen, this Mexican Street Corn Salad recipe can be whipped up in no time. The corn can be grilled, roasted in the oven, or even prepared using frozen or canned corn, making it accessible to anyone, anywhere. With a few simple steps and minimal preparation, you’ll have a crowd-pleasing dish that will impress your family and friends.
Mexican Street Corn Salad offers a delightful balance of sweet, smoky, tangy, and spicy flavors.
- The roasted corn kernels provide a natural sweetness, while the creamy dressing adds a tangy and slightly spicy kick.
- The crumbly cotija cheese offers a salty and nutty flavor, complementing the other ingredients beautifully.
- The freshness of the cilantro, red onion, and green onions, combined with the mild heat from the jalapeno, creates a harmonious blend of bold and refreshing flavors.
- The addition of avocado adds a creamy texture and a buttery undertone, taking this salad to the next level.
The creamy dressing, made with tangy lime juice, fresh garlic, Mexican crema, and mayonnaise, enhances the flavors while providing a velvety texture that coats every bite. Chili powder and cayenne powder add extra spice and heat.
Crumbled Cotija cheese tops the salad before serving.
How to Make It
Roast the corn: Heat a grill or griddle to high heat. Spread butter onto corn. Place corn cobs directly on the grill. Grill corn, turning occasionally until cooked and lightly charred on all sides, about 10 minutes.
I found it helpful to set a cast iron lid on top of the corn to help char and cook it faster. Allow to cool and cut corn off the cob and transfer to a large bowl.
Alternatively, you can cut the kernels off the cob and toast them in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Combine the salad ingredients: Add the remaining salad vegetables to the corn. Stir everything together until well combined.
Mix the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Add to salad and gently toss to combine. Add additional lime juice and/or salt as needed.
Serve: To serve, garnish with additional cheese and fresh cilantro, if preferred.
While the traditional recipe features specific ingredients, it’s important to note that this recipe is flexible and can be easily adapted to accommodate dietary restrictions or ingredient swaps.
Salad Ingredient Swaps
- Fresh Corn: This is the star ingredient of the dish, but if fresh corn is not available, you can use frozen or canned corn kernels. Trader Joe’s even offers a frozen version of roasted corn kernels. Just make sure to drain and rinse canned corn before using.
- Red Onion: If you prefer a milder flavor, substitute minced shallots for red onions.
- Cilantro: If you’re not a fan of cilantro’s distinct taste, substitute it with fresh parsley for a mild and refreshing herb flavor.
- Jalapeno: If you prefer less spiciness, remove the seeds and membranes from the jalapeno pepper or substitute it with a milder pepper, such as Anaheim or poblano. For a non-spicy alternative, diced red or green bell peppers add a subtle sweetness and crunch.
- Avocado: If you’re allergic to avocado or it’s not available, omit it or replace it with cubed cucumber for a refreshing crunch.
Dressing Ingredient Swaps
- Mexican crema: Substitute sour cream or plain Greek yogurt for a tangy and creamy dressing.
- Vegan option: Use a combination of dairy-free sour cream and vegan mayonnaise to make the dressing vegan-friendly.
- Fresh garlic: Garlic powder can be used in place of fresh garlic. It will offer a much more mellow flavor.
- Cotija Cheese: Queso fresco is a crumbly cheese and a great alternative to Cotija. It adds a similar salty and tangy taste. If you don’t have access to Mexican cheeses, crumbled feta cheese or even parmesan cheese can work as a substitute.
Yes, you can make it ahead of time and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. However, it’s best to add the dressing and avocado just before serving to maintain the salad’s freshness and texture.
Absolutely! While fresh corn adds a wonderful flavor, frozen or drained canned corn can be used as a convenient substitute.
Yes, you can omit the mayonnaise, if desired, and double the amount of crema. You can also substitute it with sour cream, Greek yogurt, or use a vegan alternative.
You can adjust the spiciness according to your preference. Increase or decrease the amount of diced jalapeno or add hot sauce or additional spices like cayenne pepper for extra heat.
Of course! While the cheese adds a delicious savory element, you can omit it or replace it with a dairy-free alternative or sprinkle it with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor.
Absolutely! Mexican Street Corn Salad is versatile, and you can add other vegetables like diced red bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, or even black beans for added texture and flavor.
While it is traditionally served as a side dish, you can absolutely enjoy it as a main dish. You can add grilled chicken, shrimp, or taco meat to turn it into a complete meal.
Now that you’re ready to make it, gather your favorite ingredients, follow the recipe card, and prepare to indulge in the irresistible flavors of Mexican Street Corn Salad. Your taste buds will thank you!
If you’ve made this or any other recipe on my site, let me know in the comment section how it turned out. I love hearing from my readers!
Mexican Street Corn Salad
- 6 ears corn each ear of corn should yield about 3/4 cup of corn kernels
- 1 tablespoon butter softened
- ½ small red onion minced
- ½ cup fresh cilantro chopped
- 6 green onions chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper seeds/stem removed and diced
- ½ slightly firm avocado chopped
garnish with crumbled cotija cheese
- Roast the corn: Heat grill or griddle to high heat. Spread butter onto corn. Place corn cobs directly on the grill. Grill corn, turning occasionally until cooked and lightly charred on all sides, about 10-20 minutes. I found it helpful to set a cast iron lid on top of the corn to help char and cook it faster. Allow to cool and cut corn off cob and transfer to a large bowl.
- Combine the salad ingredients: Add the remaining salad vegetables to the corn. Stir everything together until well combined.
- Mix the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Add to salad and gently toss to combine. Add additional lime juice and/or salt as needed.
- Serve: To serve, garnish with additional cheese and cilantro, if preferred.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.