Mexican Corn Salad (Esquites)

mexican corn salad recipe in a brown bowl with cilantro and crema
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Mexican Corn Salad is a charred, buttered corn salad with a cheesy, creamy, spicy dressing. This fresh corn salad is a version of Esquites which is delicious corn in a cup snack that you can buy in Mexico from street vendors.

This easy corn salad is perfect for summer barbecues and Mexican Food feasts.

esquites (mexican corn salad) with creamy, spicy dressing

Growing up in San Diego gave me access to some of the best Mexican food on the planet. Living so close to the border I was able to experience a lot of the Mexican street food that I still love and sometimes miss so much. This Mexican Street Corn in a cup is just one example.

Esquites is corn in a cup street snack that street vendors sell in Mexico. This Mexican corn is charred in butter and tossed with a creamy dressing, and topped with cheese and hot sauce. It is seriously so good! It’s kind of like Mexican street corn (elotes) but served off of the cob.

Most often we would buy while waiting at the border to cross back into California. I always called it Border Corn. It’s just one of the recipes that bring back memories of beach trips to Playas, Mexico. You can bring this street corn salad to your next potluck or cookout.

What You’ll Love About Street Corn Salad

  • Fresh roasted corn is sweet and crunchy.
  • The super creamy Mexican corn salad dressing is completely to die for.
  • This side dish is ultra-portable and perfect for summer potlucks and barbecues.
Mexican Corn Salad is a charred, buttered corn salad with a creamy dressing. AKA as Esquites - spicy, cheesy corn in a cup snack.

What Goes In Mexican Corn Salad

Here’s what you need to make Esquites.

ingredients for mexican corn salad (esquites)
  • Fresh corn. Fresh corn works best in this recipe. You can char the ears of corn on the cob on the grill and then cut it off or you can cut the corn off the cob and then char it in a pan with butter. You can substitute frozen corn.
  • Sour Cream and Mayo. I like to use Mexican crema instead of sour cream when I can find it.
  • Cheese. Traditionally Mexican corn salad is made with Cotija cheese which is a hard salty cheese that crumbles. Some substitutions for cotija cheese would parmesan and/or feta cheese.
  • Limes. Freshly squeezed lime juice.
  • Hot sauce. I really like to use Cholula or Tapatio brand hot sauce in this recipe.
  • Cilantro and serranos. Fresh minced cilantro and serrano peppers for garnish.
  • Other additions. I’ve made this corn salad so many times and I sometimes will add in some extra veggies for color and crunch. You can add diced red onions, diced red peppers, and even some green onion if you want.

Making Mexican Corn Salad

  1. Char the corn.
  2. Add add the ingredients to a bowl.
  3. Mix.

Recipe Variations

Lighten in up

If you want to lighten up the dressing in this recipe you can reduce the amount of sour cream and mayonnaise to 2 tablespoons each. You can also use reduced-fat sour cream.

Change up the veggies

As I mentioned earlier you can add in diced red onion, diced red pepper, and green onions. I like the color that these veggies add to this corn Mexican street corn in a cup.

How to store

Store fresh corn salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

esquites otherwise known as mexican street corn in a cup

What To Serve With a Mexican Corn Recipe

This recipe is perfect for summer grilling and of course for you next Mexican Fiesta. Serve Mexican Corn Salad with Tacos, you can try my Carne Asada Tacos or my Fish Tacos with Taco Slaw.

My Easy Enchilada Pasta Bake is also super fantastic if you’re looking for an easy weeknight dinner with a Mexican twist. Another crowd-pleasing favorite is my Creamy Shrimp Enchiladas.

Of course don’t forget a big plate of Mexican Rice and a side of Pico de Gallo and Guacamole.

Hungry for more Mexican Food?

If you’re looking for tacos or enchiladas, I’ve got you covered. Plus I have so many Mexican side dishes like my Mexican Rice or Grilled Mexican Street Corn (Elotes).

Chile Verde is always a family favorite. Don’t forget the salsa and the guacamole.

Leave A Review

Did you make this recipe? I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment, and don’t forget to leave a 5 ★ review.

mexican corn salad recipe in a brown bowl with cilantro and crema

Mexican Corn Salad (Esquites)

Laura Reigel
Mexican Corn Salad is a charred, buttered corn salad with a cheesy, creamy, spicy dressing. This fresh corn salad is a version of Esquites which is delicious corn in a cup snack that you can buy in Mexico from street vendors. This easy corn salad is perfect for summer barbecues and Mexican feasts.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Resting Time 5 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 6
Calories 64 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 6 ears fresh corn on the cob, charred
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup Mexican crema
  • ¼ cup Mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup Cotija cheese, crumbled
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons Lime juice, freshly squeezed, approximatley 2 limes

Garnish

  • 2 to 3 tbsp Fresh cilantro, minced
  • hot sauce, Cholula or Tapatio brand
  • Serrano peppers, diced, seeds removed
  • extra cotija cheese, crumbled
  • California chili powder, optional

Instructions
 

  • Char the corn. Start by either grilling the corn on the cob until it is browned or cut the corn off the cob and brown it in a heavy skillet with butter. If you grill the corn, cut it off of the cob after it has colled slihtly.
  • Season the corn. Season the corn with salt and pepper.
  • Toss with dressing. Add the browned corn to a bowl and add the sour cream, mayonnaise, lime juice, and cheese to the bowl. Toss to coat. If you are adding in any of the extra veggies you can add them now as well.
  • Garnish. Garnish with extra cheese and minced cilantro.
  • Serve with. Serve with extra cheese, diced serrano peppers, and hot sauce.

Laura’s Tips + Notes

Ingredients Notes
  • Fresh corn. Fresh corn works best in this recipe. You can char the corn on the cob on the grill and then cut it off or you can cut the corn off the cob and then char it in a pan with butter. You can substitute frozen corn.
  • Sour Cream and Mayo. I like to use Mexican crema instead of sour cream when I can find it.
  • Cheese. Traditionally Mexican corn salad is made with Cotija cheese which is a hard salty cheese that crumbles. Some substitutions for cotija cheese would parmesan and/or feta cheese.
  • Limes. Freshly squeezed lime juice.
  • Hot sauce. I really like to use Cholula or Tapatio brand hot sauce in this recipe. Serve on the side and add it for a little extra spice. 
  • Cilantro and serranos. Fresh minced cilantro and serrano peppers for garnish.
Easy Substitutions: 
  • Crema. Use sour cream, add a squeeze of lime to thin it out, and a little bit of salt. 
  • Cotija Cheese. Pecorino or Parmesan Reggiano would be suitable stand-ins. 
Recipe Variations
Lighten in up. If you want to lighten up the dressing in this recipe you can reduce the amount of sour cream and mayonnaise to 2 tablespoons each. You can also use reduced-fat sour cream.
Change up the veggies. As I mentioned earlier you can add in diced red onion, diced red pepper, and green onions. I like the color that these veggies add to this corn Mexican street corn in a cup.

YOUR OWN NOTES

Nutrition

Calories: 64kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 1gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 522mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gCalcium: 43mgIron: 0.2mg
Keyword appetizer, corn, grilling, summer
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FAQs and Expert Tips

What’s the difference between Elotes and Esquites?

Elotes is the Mexican name for grilled corn on the cob vs. esquites which is grilled corn cut off the cob and served in a cup. The toppings for elotes and esquites can be the same. They are both usually served with a creamy sauce, cheese, lime wedges, and chile.

What’s the difference between Cotija and Queso Fresco?

Cotija is a hard salty cheese that can be crumbled. It is served on top of many Mexican dishes. It’s similar to how Americans might use parmesan cheese. Queso fresco is a melting cheese it has a milder and less salty flavor than Cotija.

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6 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I was skeptical but my first bite removed all doubt. This salad is amazing and so simple to make! It almost didn’t make it to the potluck because I wanted it all for myself. This is a definite keeper ๐Ÿ‘

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