Our favorite Mexican street corn is turned into a tangy, creamy, and slightly spicy corn salad perfect for cookouts, backyard BBQs, or an easy weeknight dinner. This perfect summer side dish is tasty with grilled chicken, steak, or your favorite seafood. Just 15 minutes from start to finish!
Say hello to this sweet, salty, spicy, and deliciously creamy corn salad. It's called Esquites. But if you'd like, you can also call it Mexican Street Corn Salad. And it's going to be your new summer side dish obsession.
🌽 What is Esquites?
It's the cob-less corn on the cob salad-ish version of Elote.
Don't punch me. I'll further explain.
Elote is the Spanish name for a skewered corn on the cob that is grilled and then smothered with mayo, cotija cheese, chili powder, and lime.
This grilled mayo-cheese-chili-lime smothered corn on a stick is a common Mexican street food that will make you want to eat only corn for the rest of your life. But if you prefer to not eat your mayo smothered corn right off the cob then you can also grill the corn, cut it off the cob, and mix it with all of the same ingredients and call it a Mexican Street Corn Salad, or Esquites.
Mexican Street Corn Salad = Esquites = Elote off the cob. Glad we're on the same page now.
Let's talk about the elephant in the room. How does corn smothered in mayo make you feel? Kinda weird? Kinda heeb-ish? Kinda amazing?! Whatever feelings mayo on corn conjures up for you, don't freak out. I've got both the mayo lovers and the mayo eww-ers covered. So may your freak out be one of only joy and corn salad.
🛒 Ingredients & suggestions
- Corn: frozen, canned, or on the cob. Use what you prefer and what's readily available. I have a big bag of frozen sweet corn from Costco that is my current go-to.
- Greek Yogurt OR Mayo: You do you friend. There is no judgment here. Either way is a winner.
- The Cheese: I love feta in this salad, but cotija or queso fresco are also tasty and more traditional if you'd like to be a purist with your Mexican street food. I've also tried soft goat cheese (I was out of feta and had a serious Esquites craving) and it was equally amazing and elevated the creaminess of the salad to a whole other level.
- Red Onion: Adds some crunchy zippy zing.
- Garlic: Always makes everything better.
- Jalapeño: Delivers a kick of heat! Add more or less (or none) if you prefer.
- Cilantro: Commonly used in Latin American dishes but if you can't handle the flavor of cilantro swap it out for some flat-leaf parsley.
- Limes: A MUST. We'll be using both lime zest and lime juice.
- Spices: Cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper.
For a full list of ingredients and quantities see the recipe card at the end of this post.
🔪 How to make this simple, tasty side dish
15 minutes max is really all you'll need, possibly less. The only cooking involved is for the corn itself. We're aiming to get a nice golden char on the corn by either grilling some corn on the cob or sautéing the corn in a skillet. Unless I am cooking something else that needs to be thrown on the grill, I typically go the skillet route. Less time waiting for the grill to heat up means the sooner eating can happen. Priorities man.
While the corn is working on its beautiful golden char, chop up the red onion, jalapeño, garlic, and cilantro, and mix together a quick dressing with the greek yogurt (or mayo!), lime, and spices.
Once the corn has finished cooking, it's a quick mix of everything in a large bowl, making sure to add in the cheese for the tasty finale.
🍽 This Mexican Street Corn Salad is perfect with...
Just about anything!
- Serve it alongside some grilled steak or salmon, barbecued chicken, or even grilled shrimp skewers.
- Use it as a dip for chips!
- Or how about Esquites nachos?! YES please.
- Got kiddos to feed? Turn down the heat by omitting the jalapeño (or leave it in for adults) and stuff it into burritos, tacos, or quesadillas.
- Add a few more ingredients and turn it into a quick and easy lunchtime meal or an easy weeknight dinner. I'm thinking chunks of avocado, black beans, and maybe some diced red bell pepper?!
- Topping for a pizza?! Count me in.
Like I said, just about anything.
Make it this weekend and then tell me how much you loved it.
And if you are team mayo or team greek yogurt. These are important details I MUST know. ♡
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Mexican Street Corn Salad (Esquites)
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: Serves 5-6 1x
A quick and easy side dish that comes together in no more than 15 minutes! Lightly charred corn is turned into a tangy, creamy, and slightly spicy salad perfect for cookouts, backyard BBQs, or an easy weeknight dinner. Try it with grilled chicken, steak, or your favorite seafood.
- olive oil
- 6 cups corn*
- 2 limes, plus more for serving
- 4 tablespoons greek yogurt or mayonnaise
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeño, seeds and stem removed, thinly sliced
- ⅔ cup red onion, diced (or thinly sliced)
- 1 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
- 6 ounces feta*, crumbled
- Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and give it a generous drizzle of olive oil. Add the corn and cook, undisturbed, for about 2 minutes, until the corn begins to lightly char and turn golden brown underneath. Continue to cook corn, tossing occasionally until corn is lightly charred all over, about 3-5 minutes longer. If using frozen corn, it may need to cook a few minutes longer. If using corn on the cob, brush the corn with oil and cook on either a grill or in a large skillet, turning occasionally until slightly charred on all sides.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, finely grate the zest of 2 limes and squeeze in the juice (should be about 4 tablespoons). Whisk in the yogurt (or mayo), chili powder, cumin, and garlic.
- To the large bowl with the yogurt mixture add the charred corn, jalapeño, red onion, cilantro, and feta. Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Top corn salad with additional feta and cilantro just before serving to give it that extra visual pop of yummm...
- There you have it! So tasty! And so easy! Serve it warm, chilled, or at room temperature.
The equipment section above contains affiliate links to products I use and love!
Frozen corn, canned corn (drained), or corn on the cob all work great for this recipe.
Instead of feta, you can also substitute cotija, queso fresco, or even soft goat cheese.
Some additional add-ins that would also be tasty in this salad are diced avocado, black beans, or diced red bell pepper!
- Category: Side Dish
- Method: Sauté
- Cuisine: Mexican
- Diet: Gluten Free
Keywords: mexican street corn, mexican street corn salad, esquites, side dish, summer, bbq, cookout, potluck
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Sounds great! Can you make this salad ahead of time?
Hi Chelsea! Thanks so much! I personally think esquites are best served immediately after prepared and still hot but it can also be made ahead of time and will still be really tasty served at room temperature or even chilled (love it this way as a dip with tortilla chips). If making in advance, it can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you give it a try!
This salad is so easy to make and it is absolutely delicious!
So happy to hear you enjoyed it Debbie! Thank you for sharing!