This Mexican street corn salad is an incredible summer side dish. Also called esquites, this salad captures all the traditional flavors of street corn in a way that’s even easier to serve!

Perfect for parties, picnics, and even tailgates – it’s a surefire hit at any gathering! A touch of spice and layers of bright, creamy and zesty flavor are combined with sweet, fresh corn kernels.

If you love traditional street corn (Elote), you’re going to love this salad version, too!

A white bowl of esquites (Mexican street corn salad).
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I think it’s time for a fiesta! Actually, it doesn’t take much to convince me of a taco night – it’s one of our staple dinners around here.

Much like your favorite tacos, quesadillas and enchiladas, this Mexican corn salad recipe is a fiesta in and of itself! I love the juicy sweet corn when paired with a little zesty spice.

It’s so easy to make, too. This is a great side dish to bring to parties, and it’s wonderful as a dip, taco topping, and as a simple side for all your favorite Tex-Mex dinners.

A white bowl of esquites (Mexican street corn salad).

Mexican Street Corn Salad

There’s so much to love about this fabulous dish, and it serves beautifully! You can cook the corn anyway you’d like – indoors or outdoors on the grill. (Learn How to Grill Corn on the Cob here.)

Why You’ll Love Esquites

  • Make Ahead – This Mexican street corn salad is even better on the second day, after the flavors marinate.
  • Easy to Transport – Whereas traditional elote can be a bit more complicated to make ahead, package and serve, this salad travels beautifully. Perfect for picnics, potlucks and family gatherings of all kinds!
  • Fresh + Vibrant – These flavors are perfection. This dish can be a topping, a dip, and the most deliciously indulgent side dish for all your Tex Mex meals!

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Corn – For this corn salad, you can use your favorite type of corn – fresh (slice the kernels off after cooking) or frozen will both work beautifully.
  • Mayonnaise – I like to use an olive oil based mayo, but it’s also easy to make your own Homemade Mayonnaise.
  • Lime juice – Fresh squeezed lime juice is always best, but if you have bottled lime juice on hand, that works too.
  • Garlic – fresh minced garlic will give you the best flavor, but I like to take a shortcut and use the grocery store bottled minced garlic sometimes.
  • Queso fresco or cotija cheese – You can use either type of cheese here, they are both very similar in that they are a salty, crumbly white cheese. Learn more about the best cheeses for tacos (and beyond)!
  • Elote Seasoning – Try my homemade Everything but the Elote seasoning, or use cracks of salt and pepper if you don’t have that specific spice blend on hand.
  • Cilantro – optional, but always good for a touch of color and more flavor.

Variations

  • Don’t have elote seasoning? Use this chipotle seasoning instead.
  • If you prefer, you can substitute mayonnaise with Mexican crema or sour cream. Try this savory cilantro crema for another delicious option!
  • Can’t find cotija cheese? Try crumbled feta cheese or fresh grated Parmesan.
A white bowl of esquites (Mexican street corn salad).

How to Make this Mexican Street Corn Salad

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add corn kernels, tossing until they begin to char. Cook as directed, until the kernels all have a touch of color.
  2. Add garlic to the pan and cook for a minute longer, and remove from heat to cool. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
  3. Add remaining ingredients, tossing to combine. Serve and enjoy warm, or at room temperature!

Tips

  • Serve this salad hot, cold, or in between – the choice is yours!
  • While a serving of corn is technically just 1/2 a cup, I dare you to keep your portion size that small! Always use the “yield” tab in the printable recipe card to easily multiply your servings.
  • While we are sharing instructions for sautéing your corn kernels in this recipe, you’re welcome to use corn that has been cooked however you’d like – you can bake it, microwave it, and even grill it instead!
A white bowl of esquites (Mexican street corn salad).

Make More (or Less!)

Scaling up, down or substituting? You’ll love this printable Measurement Conversion Chart!

Frequently Asked Questions

What does esquites mean in Spanish?

A popular Mexican street food that is served in a cup for diners on the go, esquites is like traditional elote corn on the cob, but served in kernels as a salad.

How are elote and esquites different?

While most versions of elote (Mexican street corn) and esquites (Mexican street corn salad) contain very similar ingredients, elote is served as a corn cob, slathered in toppings. Esquites is served with the corn cut off the cob.

A white bowl of esquites (Mexican street corn salad).

Serving Suggestions

This recipe serves beautifully for summertime grilling and any Tex-Mex dinner nights. Serve it alongside the following ideas!

A white bowl of esquites (Mexican street corn salad).

Leftover Idea

Use leftover esquites in a chicken wrap, or add it to this incredible chorizo burrito Mexican breakfast casserole!

A white bowl of esquites (Mexican street corn salad).

Dietary Considerations

  • Gluten Free
  • Nut Free
  • Vegetarian
  • To make it Vegan and Dairy Free: Sub the mayo for a vegan alternative (mayo is dairy free but does have eggs), and replace the cotija with vegan parmesan, or eliminate the cheese entirely.

How to Store

  • Room Temperature – This Mexican street corn salad can sit out at room temperature for up to two hours while serving.
  • Refrigerate – Store your esquites for 3-4 days covered tightly in the fridge.
  • Freeze – While you can freeze your esquites, the texture won’t be quite the same once it defrosts.
A white bowl of esquites (Mexican street corn salad).

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A white bowl of esquites (Mexican street corn salad).
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Mexican Street Corn Salad

This Mexican street corn salad is an incredible summer side dish. Also called esquites, this salad captures all the traditional flavors of street corn in a way that's even easier to serve!
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 7 minutes
Total: 12 minutes
Servings: 6
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Ingredients  

  • 2 tablespoons butter (or olive oil)
  • 3 cups corn kernels fresh or frozen
  • 1 teaspoon garlic minced (approximately 1 clove)
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon Everything but the Elote seasoning (Sub with salt, pepper and chili powder if necessary)
  • cup queso fresco finely grated
  • ¼ cup cilantro chopped (optional)

Instructions 

  • Heat oil or butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add corn kernels, tossing frequently until they begin to char. Cook through for 5-7 minutes until the kernels all have a touch of color.
  • Add garlic to the pan, sautéing for just one minute, and remove the pan from heat to allow the corn to cool. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
  • Add cotija, cilantro, mayonnaise, lime juice, and seasoning, tossing to combine. Serve and enjoy warm, or at room temperature!

Tips

  • Find the Everything but the Elote seasoning blend here. 
  • Serve this salad hot, cold, or in between – the choice is yours!
  • While a serving of corn is technically just 1/2 a cup, I dare you to keep your portion size that small! Always use the “yield” tab in the printable recipe card to easily multiply your servings. 
  • While we are sharing instructions for sautéing your corn kernels in this recipe, you’re welcome to use corn that has been cooked however you’d like – you can bake it, microwave it, and even grill it instead! 
Calories: 161kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 16mg | Sodium: 664mg | Potassium: 122mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 226IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 0.3mg

Estimated nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is not guaranteed.

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