Mexican Street Corn Salad (Esquites)

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If you’re looking for a new side dish to serve, this delicious salad could be your answer.

Elotes is deeply flavorful Mexican street corn that is served on the cob. It’s zesty, and creamy, and works perfectly as a salad. You can serve it warm or at room temperature. It’s always a huge hit when served to guests at a BBQ, picnic, or any gathering of friends and loved ones.

An overhead view of a white bowl that is filled with a large serving of Mexican street corn salad (equites) with a small bowl of crumbled cheese and a fresh jalapeño sitting nearby.

How To Make Mexican Street Corn Salad (Esquites)


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The Ingredients You Will Need

Most of the ingredients for this salad are easy to find. If you can’t get your hands on the cheese and the cream, see below for perfectly fine substitutions. Here’s what you’ll need to have on hand:

Corn – Fresh will always be best. Be sure to pull all of the silk off of the ear of corn, if not, it will burn during the grilling process. If fresh isn’t available, buy frozen, let it thaw, and then char it in a hot skillet.
Oil – Olive oil or extra-virgin for brushing the corn.
Cream – Mexican crema can be found in the Hispanic dairy section of many well-stocked markets, at Latino markets. Sour cream mixed with a little heavy cream is a perfectly fine substitution.
MayonnaiseHomemade is great, but purchased is perfectly fine, too.
Cotija cheese – This is a crumbly Mexican cheese and can be found in the Hispanic dairy section of many markets, or at Latino markets. Crumbled feta is a good substitution. Crumble from a block of cheese, rather than packaged pre-crumlbed.
Lime – Fresh is always best. Have plenty extra for making wedges for garnish.
Onion – We recommend scallions (aka green onions), but finely chopped red or white onion is good, too.
Jalapeño – Remove the stem and all of the seeds and ribs for minimal heat. If you like more heat, leave some of the seeds in. Pickled jalapeños are a good substitution.
Cilantro – Fresh is best. Leave some for garnish.
Seasoning – Coarse sea salt and ground cayenne.

EXPERT TIP: Grill the corn until dark spots begin to appear all over the ears of corn. It’s okay if they are dark in spots. This adds amazing flavor.

A close-up view of four ears of fresh sweet corn being lightly charred on a gas grill.

Tips for Making Perfect Mexican Street Corn Salad

Use Fresh Corn – Grilling fresh corn on the cob will give the salad a delicious smoky flavor. Make sure to remove the husks and silk from the corn before grilling.

Char the Corn for Extra Flavor – Grill the corn over medium-high heat until it’s charred in spots. This will add a depth of flavor to the salad. You can also char the corn on a stovetop grill pan if you don’t have an outdoor grill.

Seek Out Mexican Crema, If Possible – Create a creamy dressing by mixing mayonnaise, lime juice, and Mexican crema (or sour cream) together. This will add a tangy and creamy element to the salad. Crumbled cotija cheese from a block is better than packaged pre-crumbled Cotija.

Garnish the Salad with Traditional Toppings – Cayenne powder, chopped cilantro, and crumbled cotija cheese are excellent garnishes. You can also add a squeeze of lime juice for a bright and citrusy finish. These toppings will enhance the flavors and give the salad an authentic Mexican street corn taste.

EXPERT TIP: Take extra care when removing the kernels from the cob. If possible, place a smaller bowl upside down in a large bowl and hold the corn in place as you cut away the kernels. This makes it easier to handle the corn and is less messy than doing it on a cutting board.

A close-up view of a person using a large knife to cut the lightly charred kernels from a cooked ear of corn in a shallow white bowl.

How To Serve

This really is the quintessential summertime side salad. Our recipe comfortably serves 8 people. Double it if serving a crowd.

We typically serve it at room temperature, however, you can cut the kernels off the cob while they are still warm and quickly mix in the other ingredients. Served warm is very comforting, but, so is room temperature.

It’s also spectacular when served with grilled shrimp. Use the marinade from our grilled shrimp and avocado salad for an incredible entree salad.

All of the components can be prepped up to 12 hours in advance. Keep covered in the refrigerator and then bring them together just before serving.

An overhead view of a large glass bowl that is filled with roasted corn, chopped cilantro, jalapeño, scallions, crumbled Cotija cheese, mayonnaise, and Mexican crema.

Other Amazing Side Salad Recipes to Try

When a side salad is done right, it can steal the show from all the main dishes. Here is a collection of our favorites:

Best-Ever Potato Salad
Zesty Black Bean and Corn Salad
Tzatziki Cucumber Salad
Cucumber with Fresh Dill Salad
Caprese Pasta Salad
Potato Salad with Creamy Horseradish Dressing
Watermelon Salad with Basil and Feta
Yellow Squash Casserole
Zucchini and Squash Salad with Tomato Relish
Panzanella (Bread and Tomato Salad)
Asian Slaw with Peanut-Ginger Dressing

Watch Us Make 5 Amazing BBQ Sides!

These are all amazing side dishes, without a doubt. But, in the meantime, isn’t this salad calling your name?

A close-up view of a white bowl filled with Mexican street corn salad with a lime wedge resting on the side and garnished with chopped parsley and crumbled Cotija cheese.

There is just so much to love about this amazing side salad.

First and foremost is the vibrant taste. When corn is in season and sweet and bountiful, that is your best option. But, frozen corn that you’ve lightly charred in a hot skillet is great, too.

When we serve this to family and friends, especially at a BBQ or picnic, folks always want the recipe. It’s really that good!

A close-up view of a large serving spoon lifting up a helping of Mexican street corn salad over a bowl filled with the same.

Ready to make the best side salad in town? Go for it!

And when you do, be sure to take a photo of it, post it on Instagram, and tag @HowToFeedaLoon and hashtag #HowToFeedaLoon!

An overhead view of a white bowl that is filled with a large serving of Mexican street corn salad (equites) with a small bowl of crumbled cheese and a fresh jalapeño sitting nearby.

Mexican Street Corn Salad (Esquites)

Mexican Street Corn Salad (Esquites) is a vibrant explosion of summertime goodness. It's the perfect side dish for a BBQ, picnic, or outdoor gathering. Grilling fresh corn is wonderful, but charring frozen corn in a hot skillet is perfectly fine, too. The salad can be prepared several hours in advance of serving.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American / Mexican
Keyword: elotes salad recipe, how to make Mexican street corn salad
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 164kcal


  • 1 Gas, charcoal, or electric grill


  • olive oil for brushing corn
  • 8 ears corn husked and silk removed
  • ½ cup Mexican crema see NOTES
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¾ cup Cotija cheese crumbled, plus extra for garnish
  • cup green onions chopped, about 2 bunches
  • 1 jalapeño stem, seeds, and ribs removed, chopped
  • cup cilantro fresh, chopped, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 lime juiced, about 2 tbsp
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • tsp Kosher salt
  • lime wedges for garnish


  • Prepare your grill to medium-high heat.
  • Brush olive oil over all ears of corn. Place the corn over direct heat on the grill and cook until lightly charred, turning occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the corn from the grill and when cool enough to handle, use a large sharp knife to cut the kernels from the cob into a large bowl.
    olive oil, 8 ears corn
  • Add the cream, mayonnaise, cheese, green onions, cilantro, lime juice, cayenne, and salt to the corn. Use two large wooden spoons or spatulas to gently mix the salad together.
    ½ cup Mexican crema, ½ cup mayonnaise, ¾ cup Cotija cheese, ⅓ cup green onions, ⅓ cup cilantro, 1 lime, ½ tsp cayenne pepper, 1½ tsp Kosher salt
  • Serve at once, or cover and refrigerate. Set the salad out for about an hour before serving to allow it to come to room temperature. Garnish with extra crumbled Cotija, chopped cilantro, and lime wedges.
    lime wedges


See the video near the top of the blog post for visual guidance. If you liked the video, please subscribe to our YouTube channel
If you can't find Mexican crema, combine ¼ cup sour cream with ¼ heavy cream (or half and half). Crumbled Queso Fresco or feta cheese can be substituted for the Cotija.
The salad can be assembled up to 3 to 4 hours before serving. Keep covered in the fridge until about an hour before serving (let it come to room temperature before serving: about 1 hour on the counter). 
Leftovers will keep up to 5 days in the refrigerator. 


Calories: 164kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 26mg | Sodium: 680mg | Potassium: 40mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 280IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 101mg | Iron: 0.3mg
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