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.

Love fresh corn during the summer? Check out these favorites like avocado corn salad or healthy taco salad.

Healthy Mexican street corn salad with red onion, feta, lime and cilantro.

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!

Serve it as an appetizer or side to all your favorite Mexican and Tex Mex dishes like shrimp taco recipe or vegetarian quesadillas! Best of all, you can enjoy it year round using frozen corn.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Corn on the cob, red onion, cilantro, lime, mayo, yogurt, garlic, and bowl of spices.
  • 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.

Three ears of grilled corn on a cutting board.

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.
Cut off the cob corn on a cutting board with a knife.

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.

Mexican street corn salad with lime wedges and cilantro sprigs.

Toss: Gently toss to coat and serve immediately warm or chill to serve cold. Enjoy this bit of Mexico street style salad!

Expert Tips

  • 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!
Mexican corn salad served with turkey meatballs and spaghetti.

Serving Suggestions

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:

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!

FAQs

What is Mexican street corn?

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.

Is this salad served hot or cold?

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!

Do I have to char or brown the corn?

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!

Can I use frozen corn?

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

Healthy Mexican street corn salad recipe garnished with lime.
Healthy Mexican street corn salad in a bowl with lime slices.

Mexican Street Corn Salad

Healthy Mexican Street Corn Salad with flavorful corn tossed in a yogurt, lime and cilantro dressing then sprinkled with cheese for a simple take on classic elote.
5 from 17 votes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 165
Diet Gluten Free
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Ingredients 
 

  • 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

Instructions 

  • 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.

Notes

  • 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 165kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 396mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 7g
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Mexican
Author: Olena Osipov
Did you make this recipe?Mention @ifoodreal or tag #ifoodreal!

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About Olena

Welcome! I grew up in Ukraine watching my grandma cook with simple ingredients. I have spent the last 11 years making it my mission to help you cook quick and easy meals for your family!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I tried this dish on its own and it is Jam-Packed with flavor! I am going to chop up kale and mix it in, then serve it beside your Best Ever Carne Asada. Yummm!

  2. 5 stars
    I always look forward to opening your emails to see what new delicious meal I can make next. For this one I used a mixture of fresh and frozen corn and it turned out perfect. Didn’t have a red onion so I used a white one and it was just fine. Thank you again for all your delicious recipes, my husband thanks you too! Lol!

    1. Those are great subs. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Thank you for the wonderful review! Personal Welcome to your husband. 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    This salad was a big hit with my husband! I grilled the corn on my grill pan, and used cotija cheese instead of feta. Thank you for another delicious recipe!

  4. 5 stars
    Thanks for great salad recipes.. I tried lot of salads frim your site and this one was the best and big hit with family

    1. Yay! So happy to hear! I just retested and updated this Mexican street corn salad recipe last week and we loved it a lot as well. My pleasure!

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