Mexican Street Corn Salad with Chipotle Dressing

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This grilled Mexican street corn salad recipe is delicious! It’s a healthy side dish packed with freshly chopped vegetables and crumbly cheese tossed in a creamy chipotle dressing.

Mexican street corn salad in a white bowl.
Table of Contents
  1. Corn selection
  2. Grill the corn
  3. Add flavorful mix-ins
  4. Make the dressing
  5. Serving the salad
  6. Serve this with
  7. FAQ
  8. Mexican Street Corn Salad with Chipotle Dressing Recipe

One of my favorite ways to spruce up corn on the cob is Mexican-style elotes. They are roasted ears of corn topped with savory spices, creamy sauce, cheese, lime juice, and chopped cilantro. Traditionally enjoyed as a handheld snack, you can also slice off the cob and serve it in a cup or bowl known as esquites.

I transformed the critical elements of this popular street food into a vegetable-packed salad. Each serving has crisp, crunchy produce that complements the lightly charred sweet corn kernels. A creamy chipotle dressing ties all the components together.

White and yellow sweet corn with grilled char marks on the surface.

Corn selection

You can find the sweetest ears of fresh corn during the summertime, between June and September in the United States. The best taste is right after harvesting, so buy local if possible, or use it right after purchasing it. 

The husk should be bright green, with a tight husk surrounding the ear, with a good amount of silk. Take a peek and look for firm, plump kernels near the tip.

Recipe Resources

Grill the corn

Season the corn with olive oil, salt, and pepper before cooking. The fat helps to create a protective layer so the kernels don’t dry out too fast—the corn cooks on a hot grill, between 400 to 450ºF ( 204 to 232ºC). The high heat will quickly turn the starchy kernels into tender pieces, with a smoky char on the surface.

Keep a close eye on the barbecue as you don’t want completely burnt ears of corn. I like to keep a thin layer of husk on as a bit of insurance to prevent burning. The process takes about 10 to 12 minutes. Slice the kernels off the cob when cooled down.

Ingredients in a bowl to make a salad dressing.

Add flavorful mix-ins

For a balanced salad with contrasting textures, I add a blend of crisp and creamy ingredients. The produce that I selected to add to the base of the corn salad are cucumbers, bell peppers, red onions, avocado, garlic, chopped cilantro, and jalapeno for heat. 

Add some crumbled, mild Queso Fresco or tangy Cotija cheese if you like a more intense flavor. For extra protein, add black beans or pinto beans to the bowl.

Make the dressing

Mexican street corn (elotes) is commonly topped with mayonnaise. For a lightened-up version, I use plain nonfat Greek yogurt instead. The yogurt adds creaminess, protein, and probiotics for a healthier alternative. Sour cream is a tangy alternative if you have that already in your refrigerator. 

I add ground cumin, smoky chipotle chili powder, fresh lime zest, and juice to enhance the dairy’s flavor. The combination is citrusy and spicey. Toss half of the dressing with the salad, then drizzle the rest on top or serve on the side.

Close up photo of corn kernels, cotija cheese, peppers, and onions.

Serving the salad

The grilled corn salad can be served fresh off the grill with warm kernels or chilled. The salad ingredients are very hearty, and the components can be made ahead. Although, I would wait to add the diced avocados until right before serving. 

If making the salad the same day but not serving right away, I like to soak the avocados in 1 cup of water and 1 tablespoon of lime or lemon juice for 5 minutes, drain, and add to the salad, then cover and chill. This technique slows down the oxidative browning process. 

Serve this with

Bi bowl of Mexican street corn salad with chipotle dressing.

FAQ

What’s the difference between elotes and esquites?

They have similar flavor components; smoky grilled corn topped with a creamy sauce, lime, and spicy seasonings. Elotes are served on the cob, whereas esquites are sliced kernels in a cup.

Is Mexican street corn salad served hot or cold?

I prefer to serve it with freshly grilled corn that’s still hot for a warm salad. But the salad can be made ahead and served cold.

Can canned or frozen corn be used?

You can use pre-cooked canned or frozen corn. Drain the liquid from the can, then saute the corn in some olive oil over medium-high heat until lightly charred. Do the same cooking technique with defrosted frozen corn.

A bowl of corn salad with chipotle dressing and garnish.

Wait to shuck the corn

Purchase corn with the husk and silk still attached for the sweetest kernels. As it’s exposed to air and loses water, the natural sugars convert to starch. They won’t be as juicy and sweet. If that’s only available, pre-shucked and packaged corn at the store should be your backup option.

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Mexican Street Corn Salad with Chipotle Dressing

A delicious grilled Mexican street corn salad recipe with fresh vegetables and creamy chipotle yogurt dressing. It's a fiesta in a bowl!
Pin Print Review
4.29 from 42 votes
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time40 mins
Servings 8 servings
Course Salad
Cuisine Mexican

Ingredients

Salad

  • 4 ears of corn, about 3 cups of kernels
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • kosher salt, for seasoning
  • black pepper, for seasoning
  • ½ cup red onion, ¼” dice
  • ½ cup red bell pepper, ¼” dice
  • ½ cup cucumber, ¼” dice
  • 1 avocado, ¼” dice
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced jalapeño
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • ½ cup queso fresco, or cotija cheese

Dressing

  • ¼ cup plain greek yogurt, or sour cream
  • ½ teaspoon lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • ¼ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Instructions 

Salad

  • Prepare the Corn – Remove the husk and the silk. Lightly brush each corn cob with olive oil—lightly season salt and pepper.
  • Grill the Corn – Preheat the grill over high heat, about 400 to 450ºF (204 to 232ºC). Add a small amount of vegetable oil to a folded piece of paper towel, and carefully grease the grill grates.
    Once ready, add the corn. Close the lid and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side, flipping and covering, about 12 minutes total. There should be some char marks on each side. Transfer to a plate and cool
  • Cut the Kernels – Stand the ear of corn upright on a cutting board. Holding the stem, use a chef's knife to carefully cut the kernels off the cob.
  • Mix the Salad – In a large bowl, combine corn, onion, bell pepper, cucumber, avocado, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, and ¼ cup of queso fresco cheese. Set aside, or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Dressing

  • Make the Dressing – In a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, lime zest, lime juice, chipotle chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, continuously whisking until dressing is smooth—season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • To Serve – Before serving, combine the salad with half the dressing. Drizzle the remaining dressing on top. Crumble ½ cup of queso fresco on top and garnish with cilantro.

Recipe Video

Notes

  • Recipe Yield: 5 cups
  • Serving Size: About cup
  • Using Canned Corn or Frozen: You will need 3 cups of kernels. Make sure to defrost the corn. You can add them directly to the salad or saute them in olive oil over medium-high heat until the surface is lightly charred.
  • Storing: Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  • If Not Serving Immediately: Wait to cut the avocado. Alternatively, add diced avocado to 1 cup of water plus 1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice and allow to soak for 5 minutes before draining and adding to the salad. Cover and eat within 2 hours. This helps slow down the browning.

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Nutrition Facts
Mexican Street Corn Salad with Chipotle Dressing
Amount Per Serving
Calories 177 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Fat 9g14%
Saturated Fat 2g10%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 6mg2%
Sodium 157mg7%
Potassium 266mg8%
Carbohydrates 17g6%
Fiber 5g20%
Sugar 7g8%
Protein 7g14%
Vitamin A 1950IU39%
Vitamin C 77.6mg94%
Calcium 90mg9%
Iron 0.7mg4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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33 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Debbie says

    This salad is delicious, so fresh and perfect with corn in season. I had to keep reminding myself that the decadent dressing is actually healthy with yogurt as the base. Got a late start on dinner, but my husband said it was worth the wait….he loved the salad that much! Thank you for this fabulous recipe!!

  2. Jose says

    I make a similar dish. I peel some of the husk off but leave some on so the kernels don’t get too burned or dried out. Also, I soak the corn ears in milk or a milk and water solution for a couple of hours before grilling them. Trader Joe’s sells roasted corn kernels in the frozen food section. Not as good as my grilled corn, but much easier, faster and less messy!

  3. Pamela Harriman says

    Jessica: I’d make this right now but I don’t have a BBQ grill. Is there a way to work around this problem?

    Thanks,

    Pamela

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