Creamy and delicious Healthy Mexican Street Corn Salad is the perfect 30 minute crowd pleaser at your next cookout. Flavorful corn tossed with a yogurt, lime and cilantro dressing then sprinkled with cheese for a simple take on classic elote.
Table of contents
My Mexican street corn salad is a lighter version of elote served as an off-the-cob esquites salad. I’ve swapped out the mayo and crema for a healthier combination of plain yogurt with just a hint of mayo.
The resulting healthy salad recipe is sweet, savory and spicy, with a creamy, cheesy finish.
This lettuce-less salad is full of fresh taste and ready in less than 30 minutes. It’s totally customizable, add more spices for heat, veggies for crunch, or creamy avocado. It’s a winner every time!
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Sweet corn: I recommend using fresh corn when it’s in season. But frozen corn works just as well.
- Cotija cheese or feta cheese: Cotija cheese adds essential creaminess and saltiness to the salad. If you can’t find it, feta cheese is an excellent substitute but is a bit saltier.
- 2%+ fat yogurt and mayo: Using a combination of plain yogurt with just a little mayo creates a lighter dressing than the traditional creamy sauce. You can also use Greek yogurt. Don’t omit all the mayo though, it gives this authentic taste!
- Cilantro and lime: Gives it the classic Tex Mex taste. Fresh lime juice works best, lemon can be used as well.
- Red onion: Not everyone loves raw onion in their salads. But if you do want that slightly sharp, zingy addition, half a small finely diced red onion is a good amount to begin with.
- Garlic: I personally love its addition to this salad, however it makes this salad not authentic. Feel free to add or omit.
- Spices: I used a combination of smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, lime, salt, and pepper. You can make the salad as spicy as you’d like by adjusting the amount of cayenne pepper used.
How to Make Mexican Street Corn Salad
All you have to do is cook the corn, cut off the kernels, chop the veggies, add dressing ingredients and everything to one bowl and stir.
Cook your corn: Mexican corn salad can be enjoyed using corn that’s grilled or boiled.
- On the grill: Grill the husked corn over medium heat for 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes or so.
- On the stove: Add corn to a large enough pot, so it is fully submerged in water. Salt the water generously to help bring out corn’s flavor. Cook the corn by boiling it for 10 minutes. To ‘char’ it, you can then lightly sauté the corn in a skillet until it begins to brown.
- Instant Pot corn: This is by far my favorite method to cook corn. Just add corn and 1 cup water to an electric pressure cooker and cook on High Pressure for 2 minutes with Quick Release. This is my favorite method when cooking indoors in summer to keep the kitchen cool.
Shuck the corn kernels: If you used fresh corn, then after cooking it, you’ll need to shuck it. Let the ears of corn cool down enough to handle.
Then, using a sharp knife, stand the corn upright and cut off kernels as close to the core as possible.
Assemble the salad: Add cooked corn, mayo, yogurt, cotija cheese, fresh cilantro, lime juice, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper to a large bowl. No need to make dressing separately.
Toss: Gently toss to coat and serve immediately warm or chill to serve cold. Enjoy this bit of Mexico street style salad!
- Allow the corn salad to marinate: This is one of those salad recipes that tastes even better when it’s given time to sit and marinate and let all the flavors blend. I suggest making it at least a couple of hours in advance, if possible.
- Not a fan of cilantro? Don’t like cilantro, then parsley or green onion could work.
- Like it more spicy? Feel free to add in a little finely diced jalapeño or any slightly milder or hotter chile based on personal taste. Also chili powder is a popular addition to this dish.
- Enjoy this corn salad year round: By swapping in season fresh corn for frozen corn during the off season!
In terms of how to serve it and what with, there are tons of options, below I served it with turkey meatballs and whole grain pasta.
Here are just a few suggestions:
- As a dip: Serve with the tortilla chips or crackers of your choice, you can also just eat it straight out of the bowl, just like from a street food vendor!
- With a protein: It is a great accompaniment to any protein like cilantro lime chicken or even crispy pan fried tofu.
- As a side: To Mexican and Tex-Mex style dishes like healthy chicken enchiladas or sheet pan steak fajitas.
Storing Your Dish
Make ahead: There are a couple of ways you can prep this Mexican corn salad in advance. If you prefer it warm, combine all the ingredients except the corn in a bowl, covered in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours. When you’re ready to serve, cook the corn and toss it in with the salad.
For cold corn salad, assemble the salad in a large bowl, without stirring, for up to 48 hours. Stir everything in just before serving.
Store: Leftovers will keep well for up to 48 hours in the fridge. There are no ‘soggy’ veggies or anything to impact the shelf life for the very base salad, so it’s very forgiving!
Elote is grilled corn on the cob slathered in a spicy combination of mayo and Mexican crema with chile powder and rolled in plenty of Cotija cheese. Then there is Esquites, an off-the-cob version of Elote served in a cup with toppings. Mexican street corn salad combines the two and is perfect for serving a crowd.
You can enjoy the Mexican corn salad recipe both ways. I love to enjoy it warm when the corn is freshly cooked and everything melts together. However, if you prepare it in advance for a gathering, BBQ, or potluck, then you’ll find it just as delicious when served chilled!
Not at all, though it definitely adds an extra dimension of flavor and authenticity to the street corn recipe. I suggest trying it with and without that way you can decide which you prefer!
Yes. You will need 3 (10 oz) bags of frozen corn. No need to thaw, add it frozen to a hot skillet with oil and cook for 7-9 minutes until charred, stirring occasionally.
More Delicious Corn Recipes
- Garlic zucchini, chicken and corn
- Black bean and corn salsa
- Mexican bean salad
- Mexican kale salad
- Southwest quinoa salad
Mexican Street Corn Salad
- 6 large ears of corn shucked
- 1/2 cup red onion finely chopped
- 1/2 cup cilantro finely chopped
- 1/2 cup cotija cheese or feta cheese crumbled
- 1/2 large lemon or 1 lime juice of
- 2 small garlic cloves grated
- 1/4 cup plain yogurt or Greek yogurt 2+% fat
- 3 tbsp mayo I used avocado oil mayo
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- Ground black pepper to taste
- Cook corn by boiling it for 15 minutes or by grilling on medium heat for 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes. Or even better, make Instant Pot corn on the cob in 2 minutes! Let cool until safe to handle.
- Using sharp chef's knife remove corn kernels off the cob by cutting lengthwise.
- In a large salad bowl, add corn, red onion, cilantro, cotija cheese, lemon or lime juice, garlic, yogurt, mayo, smoked paprika, salt, cayenne and black pepper to taste.
- Stir gently and serve warm or cold.
- Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 48 hours.
- Make ahead: For warm salad, refrigerate all ingredients in a bowl covered for up to 48 hours. Add warm cooked corn right before serving and toss. For cold salad, refrigerate salad assembled but not stirred for up to 48 hours.
- Frozen corn: You will need 3 (10 oz) bags of frozen corn. No need to thaw, add it frozen to a hot skillet with oil and cook for 7-9 minutes until charred, stirring occasionally.
- Yogurt and mayo: I use plain yogurt with just a little mayo to create a lighter sauce. Don’t omit all the mayo though, for authentic taste.
- Cilantro: If you’re not a cilantro fan, then parsley or green onion could work.