This easy Mexican Street Corn Salad is the best way to enjoy corn off the cob! Corn, Cotija cheese, onion, jalapeño, and the perfect mix of seasonings come together to make the most flavorful Mexican-style recipe. Make this vegetarian and gluten-free dish in under 20 minutes and serve with your favorite Mexican or BBQ meals!  

An easy Mexican side dish corn recipe that can be served with fajitas or tacos.

What is Mexican Street Corn?

Most traditional Mexican street corn recipes—also known as elotes—are made with corn on the cob coated with mayo, sour cream, and lime juice, then rolled in Cotija cheese and spices. 

But a while back, I learned that it can also be served as more of a salad with corn-off-the-cob. And thus, Mexican street corn salad entered my life.

It all started when I went to the San Antonio BBQ Festival.

I was given 4 food tickets and 2 drinks tickets when I entered and then got to choose from over 40 tents cooking up delicious food!

After much BBQ consumption, I used my last food ticket to grab a taco and a cup of some tasty, creamy, and cheesy corn goodness.

The taco was pretty good, but what was that incredibly addicting corn concoction?! I later found out it was none other than Mexican street corn salad.

The slightly sweet and crispy corn combined with the spicy jalapeño bound in the creamy sauce makes this dish irresistible.

I immediately set to perfecting this recipe so I could make it anytime I wanted, and it comes together so easily in a skillet. This dish is a favorite in my house, and I’m sure it will be in yours, too! It is definitely one of the best ways to enjoy corn.

Fresh corn on the cob, cilantro, lime, jalapeno, mayonnaise, red onion, and cotija cheese as ingredients for a street corn salad.
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Ingredients

The simple ingredients in this classic Mexican street corn salad recipe are relatively easy to find at your local grocery store.

  • Corn. Fresh corn cobs have the best flavor and are the most authentic way to make this Mexican salad. You can also substitute with canned or previously frozen corn instead of fresh if needed. 
  • Mayonnaise. Duke’s or Hellman’s mayonnaise are the preferred brands to use when making the sauce. You can also substitute with Miracle Whip, avocado mayo, or vegan mayo if that’s what you have on hand.
  • Limes. Citrus helps impart a sharp and fresh flavor to the salad. While lemons can be used, they are tarter than limes and will change the taste and flavor of the dish. Opt for fresh lime juice over bottled if possible.
  • Cotija Cheese. Huh? I know. This is not normally a cheese you look for in the grocery store. But trust me when I tell you it absolutely MAKES this corn salad so incredibly delicious and addicting. It has a salty flavor reminiscent of Parmesan cheese and a crumbly texture much like feta. Normally you’ll find it in a block in the refrigerated cheese section at your grocery store. If you must, feta cheese can be substituted with a minor effect on the flavor of the dish.
  • Onion. Red onions are used, but sweet or white onions will also work.
  • Jalapeño. Finely diced jalapeño gives a subtle bite and spice to this side. If you want to lessen the heat you can always leave it out. Want it a bit spicier? Substitute it with a serrano pepper or use two jalapeños.
  • Cilantro. Absolutely necessary! Fresh cilantro gives a delightful flavor to the dish that is authentic to Mexican cuisine.
  • Green Onions. These are optional and can be left out.

How to Make Street Corn Salad

This Mexican corn salad side dish recipe is super easy to make and only consists of a few steps:

Prep the Corn

Corn cobs can initially seem quite a bit intimidating with their thick husks and fibrous, silky threads.

But trust me, cutting fresh corn off the cob is actually so much easier than you’d think!

Cut about 1 inch off of the stem end of the corn cob. Look for the junction of where the cob meets the stalk end.

Peel back the outer husks and discard them. Microwaving the cob for a minute or two will help make removing them a breeze! Remove the silky strands by rubbing the corn with your hand in a single direction. You can also use a paper towel to help you do this.

Place the flat end of the ear of corn on a cutting board. Position your sharp knife at the top of the cob and cut down vertically. Make sure to get as close to the base of the kernels as possible.

If you can’t find fresh cobs, you can also use canned or previously frozen corn.

  • For frozen corn simply thaw the corn until it reaches room temperature and then sear it in the skillet for 3-4 minutes.
  • Drain canned corn and rinse it under running water. Add it to the skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until lightly seared.

Cook the Corn

While most recipes for a Mexican street corn salad are made by first grilling the corn on the cob, the corn in this recipe is actually cooked in a skillet.

You can still get that crispy, slightly scorched outer layer with a dark char on your corn by cranking up your heat a bit at the end. Pay close attention to it though, because the corn can burn quickly!

If you’d rather, you can also boil corn on the cob instead and then cut off the kernels once they’re cooked.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Then add the oil, butter, corn kernels, and salt. Stir to combine.

Cook for 10 minutes, stirring the corn every 2 minutes to prevent it from burning.

Corn is cooked in a skillet.

Season It Up

Whisk together the garlic, lime juice, and mayo in a small bowl. You can do this while the corn is cooking or beforehand.

Remove corn from heat once it is tender and let it sit for 5 minutes. If the corn is too hot when the mayo mixture is added it can cause the sauce to separate.

Mix in the mayo mixture. Then add in the red onion, Cotija cheese, jalapeño, and cilantro.

Toss corn to combine. Then serve immediately with additional Cotija cheese and green onions.

Meal Prep and Storage

  • To Prep Ahead: Feel free to make ahead the night before, or whip it up the day you want to serve it. Because after all, it only takes 20 minutes! Make sure you save the cheese to mix in just before serving if you want to reheat the salad and serve it warm.
  • To Serve: This easy side dish can can be served either warm or chilled. It also tastes great with a little extra cheese and green onions.
  • To Store: Leftover Mexican street corn salad lasts for up to 3-4 days in the refrigerator. Freezing is not recommended.
  • To Reheat: If you want to serve this dish hot, add it to a skillet on medium heat for 3-4 minutes.

Is Mexican street corn served hot or cold?

This Mexican street corn salad can be served either cold or heated up. If serving warm, make sure you hold off on adding the cheese until just before serving so it doesn’t melt.

A stainless steel spatula scooping up a serving of a corn salad recipe as a side dish.

Can you prepare Mexican street corn salad ahead of time?

Mexican street corn is perfect for preparing the night before you need it. However, don’t mix the cheese in until you’re ready to serve it.

What cheese goes on Mexican street corn?

Mexican street corn is traditionally coated in salty Cotija cheese, along with mayo, sour cream, lime juice, and spices. Cotija is a crumbly cheese that is firm. However, you can sub in queso fresco, which is a bit softer and has a milder flavor, or another salty cheese like feta.

Expert Tips and Tricks

  • Go fresh. Corn off the cob is preferable, but canned or frozen corn will work as well. Just make sure to defrost frozen corn first.
  • Make it hot. Get that grilled, charred effect by increasing the heat to medium-high at the end of cooking, then let the kernels sit for two-minute intervals before flipping, and repeat until it is charred to your liking!
  • Adjust it. With a few substitutions you can make this recipe vegan with vegan feta “cheese”, more olive oil in place of the butter, and avocado mayo.
  • You choose. This dish can be served hot or cold. For hot, serve immediately. To serve cold, wait to add the cheese and chill for at least an hour, then add the Cotija just before serving.
  • Give it some spice. Make this recipe work to your heat preference by adding in some chili powder, or subbing in bell peppers for the jalapeño.
  • Enjoy it. You can serve up this recipe with some homemade tortilla chips or as a side dish to your favorite Mexican entrées.
Mexican street corn salad with cilantro and limes in a white serving bowl.

Make it a Meal

This corn salad pairs well with your favorite Mexican main dishes.

Easy Skillet Steak Fajitas Recipe , Beef Empanadas, Fiesta Lime Chicken, One-Pot Mexican Beef and Rice, and Chicken Mole Enchiladas are favorites you can’t go wrong with.

Look no further than Mexican Shrimp Ceviche with Avocado with Baked Tortilla Chips for a truly impressive dinner.

Shredded Chicken Enchiladas, Easy Chicken Enchiladas Verdes, and Easy Shredded Chicken Tacos are so simple and full of flavor.

Other Easy Corn Recipes

If you love corn, you can’t go wrong with any of these other recipes.

Avocado Corn Salad and Black Bean & Corn Salsa are perfect with chips.

Southern Corn Fritters are a delicious side.

Air Fryer Corn on the Cob and Summer Corn Salad taste amazing in the summer months.

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 6 votes

Mexican Street Corn Salad Recipe

This easy Mexican Street Corn Salad is the best way to enjoy corn off the cob! Corn, Cotija cheese, onion, jalapeño, and the perfect mix of seasonings come together to make the most flavorfu Mexican-style recipe.
An easy Mexican side dish corn recipe that can be served with fajitas or tacos.
Yield 6 servings
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 10 minutes
Total 20 minutes
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Ingredients 

  • 3 cups fresh corn kernels* about 4 ears of corn
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. butter*
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise*
  • cup Cotija cheese*
  • ¼ cup red onion finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. cilantro finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno finely chopped
  • green onions optional

Instructions 

  • Combine oil, butter, corn kernels, and salt in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. *
  • Cook for 10 minutes, stirring corn every 2 minutes.
  • Whisk together garlic, lime juice, and mayo in a small bowl while corn is cooking.
  • Remove corn from heat once it is tender and let sit for 5 minutes.
  • Mix in mayo mixture, red onion, Cotija cheese, jalapeno, and cilantro. 
  • Toss to combine and serve immediately with additional Cotija cheese and green onions.
Last step! If you make this, please leave a review letting us know how it was!

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 6 votes

Video

Notes

Meal Prep and Storage

  • To Prep Ahead:  Feel free to make ahead the night before, or whip it up the day you want to serve it.  Because after all, it only takes 20 minutes to make!  Make sure you save the cheese to mix in just before serving if you want to reheat it and serve it warm.
  • To Serve: This easy side dish can can be served either warm or chilled. It also tastes great with a little extra cheese and green onions.
  • To Store: Leftover Mexican street corn salad lasts for up to 3-4 days in the refrigerator. Freezing is not recommended.
  • To Reheat: If you want to serve hot, add to a skillet on medium heat for 3-4 minutes.

Nutrition

Calories: 181kcal, Carbohydrates: 15g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 20mg, Sodium: 332mg, Potassium: 231mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 651IU, Vitamin C: 10mg, Calcium: 44mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Comments

    1. Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, April! I’m so glad you loved this! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and rating!

  1. 5 stars
    This was the best Mexican Street Corn ever!! A very easy recipe but so tasty!! I can’t wait to make it for our friends! I also made the Steak Fajitas to go with it!! A hit!!

    1. That sounds like a delicious meal!! So happy you enjoyed the street corn recipe, too! Thanks again for leaving your comments and ratings, Joanne 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    I made this for my son’s birthday party with family and BOTH grandmas asked for the recipe! It was a huge hit! (Subbed feta cheese & canned corn)

    1. Yay, Lisa! So so happy you and the grandmas enjoyed the recipe. I bet feta tasted amazing!! Thanks so much for your comment and rating!