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Zesty Mexican Corn Salad Recipe

Mexican Corn Salad, also known as “Esquites,” is a vibrant and zesty side dish that captures the flavors of Mexican street food. Made with sweet corn kernels, creamy mayonnaise, tangy lime juice, and a kick of chili powder, this salad is a delightful blend of textures and flavors. Whether you serve it as a side dish, snack, or topping for tacos, it’s sure to be a hit at your next gathering.

Mexican Corn Salad Ingredients:

For this Mexican Corn Salad, you’ll need:

For the Salad:

  • 4 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (thawed if using frozen)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped (adjust to your desired level of heat)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 1 lime)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Step 1: Cook the Corn

  1. In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the corn kernels and cook, stirring occasionally, until they become golden and slightly charred. This should take about 5-7 minutes. If using frozen corn, make sure it’s thawed and pat it dry before cooking.
  3. Remove the corn from the heat and let it cool to room temperature.

Step 2: Prepare the Dressing

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, fresh lime juice, chili powder, smoked paprika (if using), garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Adjust the seasoning to your taste.

Step 3: Assemble the Salad

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked and cooled corn, finely chopped red onion, red bell pepper, jalapeño pepper, and fresh cilantro.
  2. Pour the dressing over the corn mixture and toss everything together until the ingredients are evenly coated.
  3. If using queso fresco or feta cheese, sprinkle it over the top of the salad.
  4. Taste and adjust the seasoning with additional salt, pepper, or lime juice if needed.

Step 4: Chill and Serve

  1. Cover the Mexican Corn Salad and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.
  2. Serve the salad cold as a side dish, snack, or topping for tacos and grilled meats. Garnish with extra cilantro and lime wedges if desired.

Serving Suggestions:

Mexican Corn Salad is a versatile dish that pairs well with a variety of main courses and can be served on its own as a light snack. Here are some serving suggestions to complement this delicious salad:

1. Grilled Meats: Serve Mexican Corn Salad as a side dish alongside grilled chicken, steak, or shrimp. The freshness of the salad balances the richness of the meats.

3. Seafood: Pair the salad with a shrimp cocktail. The tangy dressing and fresh ingredients complement seafood beautifully.

3. Vegetarian Meals: Use it as a topping for baked potatoes, a filling for stuffed peppers, or as a side dish for vegetarian enchiladas or fajitas.

Final Thoughts

Mexican Corn Salad (Esquites) offers a number of different experiences. Here are a few examples:

Street Food TraditionOften considered Mexican street food, commonly sold by street vendors in Mexico.Enjoying Esquites from a street vendor’s cart while exploring a bustling market.
Flavorful IngredientsMade from roasted or sautéed sweet corn mixed with lime juice, mayonnaise, crumbled cheese, chili powder, and fresh cilantro.Allows individuals to savor the smoky, creamy, and tangy flavors in each bite.
VersatilityCan be served in cups as a street food snack or as a side dish. It can also be used as a topping for tacos or grilled meats.Piling Esquites onto a street taco for an extra burst of flavor.
Cultural SignificanceReflects the vibrant and diverse culinary traditions of Mexico.Savoring a dish that embodies Mexican cuisine’s bold flavors and fresh ingredients.
VariationsHas regional variations with differences in ingredients or preparation methods.Trying Esquites prepared with unique ingredients in different regions of Mexico.
Easy Homemade OptionWhile available from street vendors, it’s easy to prepare at home.Making a batch of Esquites in your own kitchen, using the same authentic flavors.

These examples provide a better understanding of the noteworthy aspects of Mexican Corn Salad (Esquites) and its cultural significance in Mexico.


Mexican Corn Salad is a delightful and refreshing dish that captures the essence of Mexican street food. With its combination of sweet corn, zesty dressing, and a touch of spice, it’s a perfect addition to your summer cookouts, picnics, or as a flavorful side dish for any occasion.