Mexican street corn salad is the perfect summer side dish! With the creamy mayonnaise, crunchy sweet corn, spicy chili powder, and tart lime juice, this corn salad is an explosion of tastes and textures. It’s a quick and easy grilled side that brightens up picnics and adds some zest to both indoor and outdoor summer get-togethers.
What is Mexican street corn?
Mexican street corn is a Mexican side dish that is often sold by street vendors in Mexico. Vendors grill the corn, and then it’s slathered in mayo, lime juice, cilantro, chipotle chili powder, and cotija cheese. Keep in mind, we’re not an authority on Mexican cuisine since we aren’t Mexican, but you can learn more about this dish from Isabel over at Isabel Eats.
What is this corn salad made of?
This is a super simple fresh corn salad recipe that consists mainly of corn and spices. You probably have most of the ingredients at home already, but there are a few that you may have to make a quick run to the store to pick up. To make corn salad, you’ll need:
- Fresh corn on the cob—The corn is the main part of this salad.
- Avocado oil—You can substitute this with melted butter or olive oil.
- Mayo—The creamy base that holds this salad together.
- Hot sauce—Use any variety you want—I use Cholula.
- Lime juice—You can use freshly squeezed limes or bottled lime juice.
- Smoked paprika—This spice enhances the smoky grilled flavor.
- Chili powder—Chili powder adds some mild, savory spice.
- Cojita cheese—This is a tangy, salty Mexican cheese made from cow’s milk.
- Salt and pepper—Salt enhances all the other flavors in this dish.
- Red bell pepper—Raw veggies add some fresh flavor and crunch.
- Red onion—Make sure you use red onions instead of yellow or white. Red onions are more mild and better suited to being eaten raw.
- Cilantro—Cilantro adds a distinctive flavor to this corn salad.
If you’re having difficulty finding cojita, you can substitute in feta cheese. It has a similar salty flavor, although cojita cheese is more tangy and may even have hints of a pineapple flavor, depending on the season it was made in.
Do you need to cook corn for salads?
This recipe calls for corn cooked on the grill. If you’re making it in the winter—or you don’t have access to a grill—you can steam or boil your corn. Cooking your corn before adding it to the salad makes it a little more tender, but it stays nice and crisp. I like using the grill because it adds another layer of flavor to the corn that screams summer!
Will frozen corn work here?
I recommend sticking with fresh corn on the cob. It guarantees that your corn salad is crisp and juicy. Plus, keeping the corn on the cob allows you to grill it, which adds another dimension of flavor.
If you use frozen corn, thaw it first, then sauté it in some butter on the stove. I’d recommend sautéeing canned corn in butter on the stove as well. Frozen or canned corn won’t have the same fresh crunch as corn on the cob, but they’ll work in a pinch.
How do I make a corn salad?
One of the best things about this Mexican street corn salad is how easy it is to prepare. There are really only a few steps between you and a delicious summer side dish.
- Grill the corn on a grill preheated to medium-high heat after covering the cobs in avocado oil. The cobs will take fifteen minutes to cook, and they need to be rotated after ten minutes of cooking.
- Mix the spices, lime juice, mayo, and hot sauce.
- Cut the corn off the cob after it’s cooled for a while and mix the kernels in with the bowl of sauce.
- Add the peppers, onions, cheese, and cilantro to the salad and toss to coat.
You can eat this summer salad right after mixing, or you can put it in the fridge to cool for an hour or two prior to serving.
What goes with corn salad?
Mexican street corn salad is a very versatile recipe that will go with pretty much anything. It pairs particularly well with other grill meals and it makes a great side to bring to a summer potluck.
If you’re searching for some perfect meals to pair with your corn salad, here are a few ideas.
- Grilled Salmon with Mango Salsa
- Grilled Tuna Steaks
- Beer Can Chicken
- Grilled Herb and Tomato Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
Can you make this corn salad ahead of time?
Yes! Corn salad is the perfect make-ahead meal. If you’re planning on prepping this dish ahead of time, be sure to store it in two separate containers until you’re ready to serve. Put the corn kernels, onions, peppers, cilantro, and cheese in one container, and keep the mayo, spices, lime juice, and hot sauce in a separate one. This will keep your corn salad fresh and crisp.
How long will corn salad last in the fridge?
If you’re storing leftovers where you already mixed the ingredients together, your corn salad will last for up to three days in the fridge. Make sure to keep it in an airtight plastic or glass container. If you want your salad to stay crisp, keep the ingredients separate as outlined above.
Can you freeze corn salad?
I wouldn’t recommend it. The corn in this salad is one of the few ingredients that would freeze well. Thankfully, it’s such a quick and easy dish to toss together that you don’t miss out on much by not freezing it.
One way to save time in the future would be to grill a bunch of the corn cobs ahead of time, cut the kernels off the cob, then freeze the kernels in an airtight container. When it comes time to assemble your salad, pull the corn out of the freezer and allow it to thaw completely. Then, mix in the rest of the ingredients for an easy and delicious side dish.