Mexican Street Corn Salad

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This Mexican Street Corn Salad combines the sweet, creamy and slightly spicy flavors of traditional elote in a refreshing and easy-to-make salad.

If you’re a fan of Mexican street corn (Elote), you’re going to love these delicious recipe variations! Try our popular Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad, Mexican Street Corn Chicken Salad or corn Loaded Sweet Potatoes a try.

Overhead image of the Mexican Street Corn Salad

Mexican Street Corn Salad: A Summer Super Star

Summer is here and it’s time to spice up your menu with something fresh and delicious! Say hello to our Mexican Street Corn Salad, a mouth-watering recipe that will transport your taste buds straight to the streets of Mexico. This salad is a playful take on the beloved elote, a classic Mexican street food. Imagine sweet, juicy corn kernels, mixed with a creamy dressing, paired with cilantro and jalapeño, all coming together to create a symphony of flavors in your mouth. This salad is guaranteed to make your guests ask for seconds. So, grab your ingredients and get ready to elevate your summer eating with this mouth-watering recipe!


Corn is a staple in many summer dishes, and this corn salad recipe is no exception. Try some of our other favorite corn recipes like this Roasted Corn SaladCorn And Sausage PastaBlueberry Corn Salad, or Corn Salsa Recipe.

Ingredient shot-- image of all the ingredients used in this dish

Let’s Chat Spice

Spice level: This salad is quite mild as written. One of the best things about this recipe is that you can adjust the spiciness to your personal taste.

  • If you prefer a milder salad, simply omit the jalapeño or use less of it.
  • However, if you like your food with a little more heat, feel free to add more jalapeño or even a sprinkle of cayenne pepper to the dressing. Keep in mind that reducing or omitting the spice will also reduce the overall flavor of the salad.


To avoid “Jalapeño Hands” when cutting and dicing the jalapeño, wear kitchen gloves to protect your skin. Capsaicin is the strong oil in peppers that burns.  If you slip up and get jalapeño hands, rub a bit of cooking oil into your hands, and then wash with dish soap. The capsaicin in the peppers clings to the oil, and the dish soap cuts through the oil to wash it all away.

What Cheese To Use

Cotija cheese and queso fresco are both popular Mexican cheeses, but they are different in terms of texture, flavor, and usage.

Cotija cheese is a hard and crumbly cheese similar in texture to Parmesan cheese. It is made from cow’s milk and is aged for several months. It has a strong, salty, and slightly nutty flavor that can be quite pungent.

Queso fresco, on the other hand, is a soft and crumbly cheese that may remind you of feta cheese. It is also made from cow’s milk, but it is not aged and has a milder flavor than cotija cheese.

When it comes to substituting one for the other, it really comes down to personal preference. Queso fresco is going to be milder in flavor while Cotija cheese is more pungent and saltier. We like this Cotija best because it offers a final punch of flavor and seasoning to the salad.

Process shots of Mexican Street Corn Salad-- images of the dressing being made

Dressing For Mexican Street Corn Salad

The dressing for Mexican Street Corn Salad is a key component that brings all the flavors together. It is a simple combination of mayo, sour cream, lime juice, chili powder, paprika, and cumin, but when mixed together, it’s magic!

  • First, let’s talk about the mayo. Using a high-quality mayonnaise, like Best Foods® or Hellmans®, will give the dressing a rich, creamy texture. The mayo also acts as an emulsifier, helping to bind all the ingredients together and giving the dressing a smooth and consistent texture.
  • Next is the sour cream. It adds tangy flavor and a creamy texture to the dressing. Using sour cream also helps to balance out the richness of the mayo and adds a nice acidity to the dressing. By using both mayo and sour cream, the dressing gets a nice balance of creaminess and tanginess.
  • Fresh lime juice and zest is a must. Trust me on this one: there’s a major difference between fresh and bottled juice! It gives the dressing a bright citrus flavor that cuts through the richness of the mayo and sour cream, making it taste fresher and more authentic. If you use citrus a lot when cooking/baking, having a good microplane and citrus reamer is invaluable!
  • The chili powder, paprika, and cumin give the dressing a nice depth of flavor and a bit of spice. Be sure to use chili powder, not to be confused with chilli powder which is very hot. You can adjust the spiciness of the dressing to your personal preference by adding or reducing the amount of chili powder or by adding hot sauce.


Always keep the dressing separate from the other ingredients and combine just before serving. This helps ensure the salad stays fresh and the flavors are more pronounced. You can store the dressing in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Process shots-- images of the corn being cut off the cob

Let’s Talk Corn

  • We prefer fresh sweet corn in this recipe; it provides a natural sweetness that can’t be 100% replicated with frozen corn. You can substitute frozen corn, but fresh is always best.
  • When buying corn, look for ears with tight, bright green husks and a slight dampness. Avoid ears with dry or yellowing husks, as they may not be as sweet and juicy.
  • Once you get your corn, cook it as soon as possible to preserve its sweetness. (The sugar content begins to decrease as soon as it is picked.) If you can’t cook it right away, store it in the fridge to slow down that process.
  • When cutting the kernels off the cob, use a sharp knife and sturdy cutting board to ensure you remove as much as possible. See the graphic above for how we like to cut corn!
  • It’s important to cool the corn to room temperature before adding it to this recipe. Hot corn can raise the temperature of the other ingredients. To quickly cool it down, spread the cooked corn on a plate or sheet pan and pop it in the fridge. This will help it cool down faster by exposing it to more surface area.

Process shots of mexican street corn salad-- images of the corn being cooked


Mexican Street Corn Salad Variations

  1. Add some protein: To make this salad a more substantial dish, you can add some protein like blackened chicken, steak, shrimp or even black beans. It will make it a perfect meal on its own.
  2. Mix it up with other veggies: Add other veggies like diced bell peppers, tomatoes, or avocado to give the salad more color and flavor.
  3. Make it a slaw: Shred some cabbage to add into this salad. Double the dressing and you’ll have a great slaw that pairs well with sandwiches or burgers.
  4. Add some fruit: Stirring in some diced pineapple or mango will give the salad a fruity twist and a nice balance of sweet and spicy.
  5. Swap the herbs: The recipe calls for cilantro and green onions. Cilantro has a distinct and refreshing flavor that adds a nice contrast to the sweet corn and the green onions add a slight citrus note and a nice crunch to the salad. If you’re not a fan of cilantro, you can substitute with another herb like parsley or basil for a slightly different flavor profile. If you aren’t a fan of green onions, try a few tablespoons of chives instead. Chives have a milder onion flavor, adding a subtle onion taste without being overpowering.

Process shots-- images of the red onion and herbs being added then the dressing


Making Ahead and Storing:

This recipe is perfect to make in advance– it will save you time and stress on the day of your event.

  • To make it ahead, prepare all the ingredients as directed in the recipe, but don’t combine anything. Keep the dressing separate, corn separate, and other salad components in separate bags or containers. Combine everything just before serving. This will keep the salad fresh and the flavors more pronounced.
  • When it comes to storing, this salad can be refrigerated for up to three days. However, it’s best enjoyed on the day it’s made. I don’t recommend freezing this dish– it can lose its texture and flavor. The dressing can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator till ready for use.

Up-close overhead image of Mexican Street Corn Salad

Serve Suggestions

This Mexican Street Corn Salad pairs well with many dishes, making it a versatile side dish option.

  • Make it a dip: Serve this salad with tortilla chips and enjoy as an appetizer!
  • Serve alongside grilled meats like chicken, steak or fish.
  • It is also great as a side dish for BBQs, picnics, and potlucks served alongside some other sides like Baked BeansMacaroni SaladBroccoli Salad, and Coleslaw.
  • This salad can also be served as a topping for other salads. Add a few scoops on top of a Garden SaladQuinoa Salad, Pasta Salad, or even a Grain Bowl. It provides a delicious and refreshing contrast to the greens and grains.
  • Mexican Street Corn Salad also works well as a topping for tacos (like Steak Tacos or Chicken Tacos), adding a refreshing and flavorful twist to the traditional dish.

More Favorite Summer Salads:

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Mexican Street Corn Salad

5 from 11 votes
This salad is mild as written. Adjust spice level to personal taste by omitting or adding jalapeño or chili powder. Keep in mind that reducing spice also reduces overall flavor. Wear kitchen gloves when handling jalapeño to avoid burning your hands.
Print Recipe

Mexican Street Corn Salad

5 from 11 votes
This salad is mild as written. Adjust spice level to personal taste by omitting or adding jalapeño or chili powder. Keep in mind that reducing spice also reduces overall flavor. Wear kitchen gloves when handling jalapeño to avoid burning your hands.
Course Appetizer, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine Healthy, Mexican, Vegetarian
Keyword Mexican Street Corn Salad
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Corn Chilling Time 30 minutes
Total Time 58 minutes
Servings 4 -6 as a side
Chelsea Lords
Calories 276kcal


  • 4-5 large ears fresh corn (See Note 1)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic
  • Fine sea salt & pepper
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced jalapeño, seeds removed (optional)
  • 1 bunch coarsely chopped cilantro (~3/4 cups gently packed)
  • 1 bunch thinly sliced green onions (~3/4 cups gently packed)
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced (~1/3 cup)
  • Optional: cotija cheese or queso fresco (or feta) (Note 2)


  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (& 1/4 tsp zest)
  • 1/4 cup mayo (we like Best Foods/Hellman's)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin


  • PREP CORN: Cut the corn off the cob. If using frozen corn, no need to thaw. You should have about 5 cups kernels.
  • BROWN CORN: In a large skillet, melt butter over high heat. Add garlic and stir for 10 seconds. Add the corn and cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the corn is nicely browned. (Stirring too often will keep it from browning.) While cooking, season corn to taste (I add ½ tsp each of salt & pepper). Transfer corn to a large bowl. Let the corn cool to room temperature or speed up the process (Note 3).
  • DRESSING: Meanwhile, combine all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk vigorously to combine. Stir through a tiny pinch of salt & pepper. Refrigerate until serving time.
  • SALAD: Finely chop the red onion, green onions, cilantro, and jalapeño; add them to the cooled corn. Take the dressing from the fridge and gently fold it into the corn and vegetables. Taste and adjust seasoning and flavorings as needed. Serve, crumbling cotija cheese over individual portions and enjoy!


Recipe Notes

Note 1: Corn: For optimal sweetness use fresh sweet corn, but in a pinch, use frozen. Cook or refrigerate ears of corn as soon as possible after buying to preserve their sweetness (the sugar content begins to decrease as soon as it is picked). If you can't cook it right away, store it in the fridge to slow down the process.
Note 2: Cheese: Cotija cheese and queso fresco are different in texture and flavor. Cotija is hard and crumbly, similar to Parmesan, aged several months, and has a strong, salty flavor. Queso fresco is soft and crumbly, like feta, not aged, and has a milder flavor. Substituting one for the other depends on personal preference. We prefer Cotija which offers a final punch of flavor and seasoning to the salad. If you don't add any cheese to this salad, you'll likely need to add some more salt.
Note 3: Cool the corn quickly: Spread the cooked corn on a plate or sheet pan and pop it in the fridge. This will help the corn cool down faster by exposing it to more surface area.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 276kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 29mg | Sodium: 119mg | Potassium: 422mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 1087IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 51mg | Iron: 1mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.


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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! I took the leftovers for lunch the next day and everyone commented how yummy it looked

  2. 5 stars
    Made this just now to serve with baked catfish for dinner. Even not fully mellowed, it was yummy! I will be keeping this one!

      1. 5 stars
        I made this tonight and it is so
        tasty! I used all low-fat ingredients,
        such as Mayo and sour cream and it turned out so delicious. I will be
        taking this to every cookout I go to this summer

  3. 5 stars
    I just reread the instructions and saw you sprinkle the cheese on the top. I’m serving it as appetizer/side dish with tortilla chips, so I mixed the cheese
    Into it so everyone can have a taste!
    I love the flavor of it and I hope my
    friends do too!

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