Made with fresh corn on the cob, mayo, sour cream, poblanos, chili powder, and cotija cheese (plus a few other ingredients), this Mexican street corn salad is such a yummy side dish to serve at your next gathering!
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This Mexican street corn salad is really delicious, y’all. With mayo, sour cream, chili powder, lime juice, and cotija cheese (plus a couple other ingredients!), it’s really similar to elote (a popular Mexican street food made with fresh corn on the cob smothered in a creamy sauce and sprinkled with cheese and chili powder).
Served alongside other Mexican-inspired dishes that you love or a big, juicy, grilled hamburger, this Mexican street corn salad is a side dish that’ll truly be enjoyed by all!
This corn salad includes all of the classic Mexican street corn ingredients but is made in scoopable, salad form. Here’s everything you’ll need:
- Corn – to start, you’ll need 4 large ears of corn with the husks removed. Feel free to use about 3 cups of frozen and defrosted corn if that sounds more manageable to you! Do note that if you’re using frozen and defrosted corn, you won’t need to grill it.
- Poblano Peppers – you’ll also need 2 poblano peppers. Don’t worry, poblano peppers aren’t too spicy — they’re mostly just super flavorful! If you still aren’t sure, though, feel free to swap the poblano peppers for red bell peppers — that would be delicious.
- Avocado Oil or EVOO – you’ll brush the poblano peppers and ears of corn with either 2 tablespoons of avocado or extra-virgin olive oil.
- Mayo – 2 tablespoons of mayo (THIS is our favorite store-bought brand!) help the corn salad to really hold together.
- Sour Cream – you’ll use 3 tablespoons of sour cream alongside the mayo to hold everything together and create a really delicious creaminess to the salad.
- Lime Juice – a ¼ cup of fresh lime juice really brightens everything + adds a punch of acidity. Fresh lime juice is a must, so don’t go bottled here!
- Chili Powder – 1 teaspoon of chili powder adds such a Mexican street corn flavor to the salad!
- Salt – you’ll also need a ½ teaspoon of salt.
- Cilantro – cilantro is ALWAYS a good idea in our book. For this Mexican street corn salad, you’ll need 1 bunch of roughly chopped cilantro.
- Red Onion – ½ of a diced red onion brings a nice crunch and a bold punch of flavor.
- Cotija Cheese – a ½ cup of cotija cheese (plus more for garnish, of course) finishes everything off beautifully. I mean, when is cheese *not* a good idea?
Is cotija cheese the same as queso fresco?
It isn’t! While both cotija cheese and queso fresco are white cheeses often used in Mexican cuisine, cotija cheese actually tends to have a much bolder flavor than queso fresco.
What cheese is closest to cotija?
Good question! If you can’t find cotija cheese, look for queso fresco, feta, or parmesan. While none of these are a perfect replacement, they’ll all get the job done!
How to Make
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to make Mexican street corn salad:
- Preheat the grill and brush the poblano peppers and corn with oil – to start, you’ll want to preheat the grill to medium-high heat, and then brush the poblano peppers and corn with the olive or avocado oil.
- Grill the poblanos and corn – once the grill is hot and ready, place the poblano peppers and corn directly on the grill grates, close the grill, and cook for 5 minutes. Then, flip the corn and peppers and cook for an additional 5 minutes with the grill lid closed, until the skin of the poblano peppers have blistered and the corn has grill marks.
- Cut the corn kernels from the cob and clean the peppers – once grilled and ready, cut the corn kernels from the cob and clean the poblano peppers. To clean the poblano peppers, peel the skin from the peppers once they are cool enough to touch, then split the peppers open and remove the seeds. Once clean, dice the peppers.
- Combine everything – whisk together the mayo, sour cream, lime juice, chili powder, and salt in a large bowl, then add the corn kernels, diced poblano peppers, cilantro, onion, and cotija cheese. Toss to combine!
- Garnish and serve – garnish the Mexican street corn salad with additional cotija cheese and serve.
Note: this isn’t necessarily a *spicy* corn salad! If you want to increase the spice, though, you can use chipotle chili powder instead of regular, mild chili powder or by adding a jalapeno or serrano pepper to the salad.
Serving Suggestions for Mexican Street Corn Salad
This Mexican street corn salad would make for a really delicious side at a gathering, pool party, outdoor BBQ, or even just as part of a regular family dinner. Here are our best suggestions for what to serve with it:
- Barbacoa – in burrito bowls or tacos!
- Carnitas – in burrito bowls or tacos!
- Citrus chicken kabobs
Don’t feel like just because this dish is a typical part of Mexican cuisine, you *have* to serve it with another Mexican dish, though! This street corn salad would be equally as delicious alongside grilled burgers or chicken breasts!
Frequently Asked Questions
Mexican street corn salad is slightly tangy from the sour cream, really creamy, and so yummy. The corn itself brings a touch of natural sweetness to the dish and the mayo, sour cream, peppers, and chili powder add a hint of savory spice. The punch of lime juice really brightens everything up and makes the finished dish really refreshing!
We just used regular ole ears of yellow corn here, but you can absolutely use frozen (and thawed) yellow corn kernels if you’d like. If you go that route, you’ll just skip the corn grilling part of the recipe!
That depends on if you used whole ears of corn (like we did) or frozen and thawed yellow corn kernels. If you use ears of corn, you’ll need to cook them (which we chose to do on the grill), but if you use frozen and thawed corn kernels, you can leave them as is.
Yes! If you don’t want to grill, we’d recommend defrosting frozen corn kernels instead of using corn on the cob. Alternatively, you could boil or roast your corn on the cob. For the poblanos, you would broil them on high for 4-5 minutes per side, until the skin turns black and blisters.
Yes, this salad would be great prepped in advance! The only thing we’d advise against is mixing up the cilantro ahead of time and waiting to sprinkle the cheese on top. The corn and peppers are sturdy enough to hold up to the dressing.
If you have leftover Mexican street corn salad, simply store it in an airtight container in the fridge.
While the salad itself will stay good for up to 4 days, know that you may need to give it a good stir to reincorporate everything before enjoying.
Mexican Street Corn Salad Recipe
- 4 ears of corn husks removed (or about 3 cups frozen and defrosted corn)
- 2 poblano peppers
- 2 tablespoons avocado or extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons mayo
- 3 tablespoons sour cream
- ¼ cup lime juice
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 bunch cilantro roughly chopped
- ½ red onion diced
- ½ cup cotija cheese plus more for garnish
- Preheat the grill to medium-high heat, then brush the poblano peppers and corn with the olive oil.
- Place the poblano peppers and corn on the grill, then close the grill and cook for 5 minutes. Flip the corn and peppers and cook for an additional 5 minutes with the grill lid closed, until the skin of the poblano pepper has blistered and the corn has grill marks.
- Cut the corn from the cob, then clean the poblano peppers. To clean the peppers, peel the skin from the peppers once they are cool enough to touch, then split the peppers open and remove the seeds. Once clean, dice the peppers.
- Whisk together the mayo, sour cream, lime juice, chili powder, and salt in a large bowl, then add the corn, poblano peppers, cilantro, onion, and cotija cheese. Toss to combine, then garnish with additional cotija cheese and serve.
- If you don’t want to grill the corn, you can use frozen, defrosted corn instead and broil the poblano peppers. To do that, set your oven to broil on high, then cook the poblano peppers for 4-5 minutes per side until their skin turns black and blisters.