You’ve heard of elotes, but what about esquites? This Mexican street corn salad takes the flavors we love from the indulgent corn on the cob recipe and puts it all in a cup. The mix of fresh corn, spicy jalapenos, smoky chili powder, tangy lime, cool Cojita cheese and creamy mayo makes it hard to stop at just one scoop.
Corn salad may have you thinking summer, but our esquites recipe uses easy-to-find ingredients and comes together on the stovetop in about 10 minutes, so you can enjoy it any time of year.
Where’s the spoon? We’re ready to dig in!
What Is the Difference Between Elotes and Esquites?
Esquites is essentially elotes off the cob. Both versions of this Mexican recipe use the same ingredients, including Cotija cheese, mayo and chili powder. But esquites takes the Mexican street corn ingredients and mixes them in a cup or bowl, instead of slathering them on a grilled ear of corn.
In fact, this esquites recipe doesn’t use a grill at all. The corn is cooked in a skillet, so it’s easy to make this delicious side dish year-round.
Mexican Street Corn Salad Recipe
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups fresh corn or thawed frozen corn
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup crumbled Cotija cheese
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Step 1: Cook the corn
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the corn. Cook and stir for 8 to 10 minutes, until the corn is slightly charred.
Test Kitchen Tip: Fresh or frozen corn works in this Mexican street corn salad. If using fresh, here’s how to cut corn off the cob. If using frozen, thaw and dry it first.
Step 2: Mix the ingredients together
Transfer the charred corn to a large bowl. Stir in the mayonnaise, cheese, cilantro, green onions, jalapeno, lime juice, garlic cloves, chili powder, salt and pepper.
Step 3: Garnish and serve
If desired, top the corn salad with any remaining cilantro and crumbled Cotija cheese. Esquites is usually served warm, not piping hot, so let the dish cool slightly before serving.
Tips for Making Esquites
Can you make Mexican street corn salad ahead of time?
Mexican street corn salad is typically served warm. But it’ll still taste good if you make it ahead of time and store it in the fridge. Just be sure to take it out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving to let it come to room temperature.
Can you use different cheese in a Mexican street corn salad?
If you can’t find Cotija cheese at your local grocery store, you can swap in another cheese with a crumbly or easy-to-sprinkle texture, like feta, Romano or Parmesan.
What do you serve with Mexican street corn salad?
Mexican street corn salad is a perfect side dish for Mexican recipes like sizzling chicken fajitas. It also works well as a barbecue side served with juicy grilled burgers. Or, get creative and use it as a base for a burrito bowl.
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