Grilled Mexican Street Corn Salad

Grilled Mexican Street Corn Salad |

I’m on a bit of a salad bender right now. Tossed salads, chopped salads, marinated salads: I can’t help myself. I can’t go a day without having a big bowl of one sort or another. One of my favourite things to do these days is turn regular vegetable side dishes into spectacular salads.

The top of the heap right now is a salad based on one of the most iconic Mexican street foods; Elote, or Mexican Sweet Corn. Elote makes me want to purr. I can’t get enough of the charred corn that is rubbed with mayonnaise, sprinkled with ground chipotle or chili powder, rolled in crumbled cotija cheese and chopped cilantro then topped off with a squeeze of lime juice. Mrawwwrrrrrrrrrr… I’m not much of a finger licker, but I am compelled to get every last bit of goodness from my fingers after eating it. Etiquette? Pshaw.

I wanted to do it up salad style so that it would travel a little more easily to a potluck because it is a touch on the awkward side to lay waste to someone else’s kitchen with a box full of corn to grill and all the other accoutrements in tow. The idea was to pack all of the classic Elote flavours into one easily portable, undeniably derivative, eminently edible marinated salad.

Thankfully, this is a dish that translates easily to the bowl from the cob. The mayonnaise and cheese that would otherwise be slathered and rolled onto the grilled corn serve to hold the salad together a bit, and the lime juice helps distribute the ground chipotle (my choice!) or chili powder. Because I’m a sucker for a bell peppers in salad, I finely chopped half of a red pepper to stir into the works. If you don’t like bell peppers, you can omit them or replace them with a hot pepper with great results.

A bowl of Grilled Mexican Street Corn Salad is the ideal companion for grilled or broiled fish, pork, chicken or beef, but it’s also great as a stand alone lunch. I can’t lie… I often hide the leftovers in a container marked with a secret code so I can have it all to myself the next day.

How to Grill Corn:

The toughest part of preparing this salad is grilling the corn and that’s not hard at all… it just takes a bit of planning. When I’m grilling corn specifically for this salad or for use in salsas, I strip the husks from them completely and soak the ears of corn in a big bowl or pot of cold water. This helps keep the kernels from drying out and shriveling while they’re sitting on the grill.

Mexican Street Corn Salad |

Fire up the grill to high! While it’s getting screaming hot, drain the water off of the corn. Use tongs to place the cobs directly on the hot grill. Roast it over that high heat on the grill, turning often, until the kernels are bright yellow in most places with some charred, blackened areas. This will probably take about ten minutes.

Mexican Street Corn Salad |

Transfer the corn to a bowl (the one you used to soak them is fine) and let them cool until you can handle them easily.

Mexican Street Corn Salad |

When you can pick them up and hold them in your hand easily (because you’ll need to do so to cut the kernels from the cob) you can move onto the recipe!

5 from 1 reviews
Grilled Mexican Street Corn Salad
Traditional Elote- or Mexican street corn- gets a makeover in this super summer salad full of grill-roasted, slightly charred sweet corn, with a creamy Mexican inspired dressing of mayonnaise, ground chipotles, lime juice, and cilantro. Serve with grilled fish, chicken, pork or beef and you'll be the most popular summer cook in your neighborhood!
  • 6 to 8 ears grilled sweet corn, cooled to a comfortable temperature *See Notes
  • ¼ of a sweet onion, peeled and finely diced
  • ¼ of a sweet red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced (optional: can omit or replace with a seeded hot pepper)
  • ½ cup crumbled Cotija or feta cheese, or freshly grated parmesan
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ⅓ cup fresh cilantro (or parsley) leaves, coarsely chopped
  • the juice of 1 lime, plus extra wedges for serving
  • ½ teaspoon to 1 tablespoon ground chipotle pepper or chili powder, to taste. *See Notes
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Stand a cooled, grilled corn cob on a cutting board, flat end down. Holding the cob steady with your hand, use a sharp knife to cut the kernels away from the cob. Once you've cut away all of the kernels, use the dull, back side of the knife to scrape out any remaining juices or pulp from the corn cob. Discard the cobs.
  2. Stir together the corn, pulp, onion, pepper, cheese, mayonnaise, cilantro (or parsley), lime juice, ½ teaspoon of the ground chipotle or chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper until everythig is evenly distributed. Taste and adjust with more ground chipotle or chili powder, and salt or pepper until it tastes just right. You can serve immediately or refrigerate for an hour to let the flavours meld. This is best eaten the day it is made, but will hold up reasonably for leftovers the next day.
While nothing beats freshly grilled corn for this salad, it can certainly be made -and deliciously- with leftover grilled corn. I often grill more corn than we can eat just so I can make salad or salsa from it the next day.

The 1 tablespoon measurement of ground chipotle powder or chili powder is the most traditional amount of heat added to Elote. We prefer it like this, but I understand that not everyone likes the same amount of spice my family does. Start on the low end and adjust up as you prefer!


    • says

      Well, I’ll take either crazy like a fox or genius like one! I’m opting for genius… I’ll bet most people stop calling you nuts after they eat it, don’t they?

  1. jeri says

    What a great work-lunch for those perfect summer days when you’d much rather be at a street fair. I see a lot of this in my future.

    • says

      We do too… in fact, when sweet corn first shows up locally, we have a traditional sweet-corn-only meal. It’s one of my favourite meals of the year!

  2. says

    I love grilled corn but I absolutely love you taking up a notch with this flavorful salad. This sounds amazing! I’m having a barbecue this weekend and I’ve been deciding the menu. This is going on it for sure! Thanks for the wonderful recipe.

  3. says

    MMMm Summer corn is my favorite! that and strawberries. This salad looks so good, thanks for the tips on how to grill corn, I usually just steam it. Was so fun to meet you this past weekend. xoxox The Troll ; )

  4. says

    Oh, I’m pretty much obsessed with Mexican Street Corn…and putting it salad form looks delicious. That is definitely going to have to be a weekend dish for me!

  5. says

    Elote always makes me happy but I’ve only ever had it on the cob. I like this idea of doing it in a cup or bowl, lots of color too.

  6. says

    Yes Please! This is totally my cup of tea for summertime. I love this with any type of grilled meat. Or to bring to a party. Great idea!

  7. Jennifer says

    I am trying this for my granddaughter’s first birthday party this weekend. Can’t wait. Would you also be willing to share your salsa recipe? I usually fix grilled corn in an orzo salad with roasted red pepper (grilled) and grilled red onion, but since I am always on the look out for new recipes, I can’t wait to try.

  8. says

    We made this the other night with some fresh-off-the-stalk sweet corn that one of our farmer-friends gifted to us. It was delicious! I liked how sweet it was. My Handsome has requested that next time, I try to make it a little more savory by making the jalapeno substitution for the red pepper and also trying red onion for the sweet onion. Looking forward to having some for lunch today. Also, tried it as a topping on my burger and it was delicious!

  9. Angela says

    I make my corn on the cob just like this all the time, and have been planning to make it into a salad for our 4th of July party so this is perfect timing! One annoying question – how many did this serve? I’m assuming about 6? Thank you!

  10. says

    I’m a huge fan of Mexican food and of corn on the grill like that. I’ve also had it cooked in a firepit where it tastes much the same way. Of course grilled corn is the best to put into any type of Mexican food because you really want that extra flavor. This definitely looks quick and easy to make and of course healthy too. And of course the heat index is customizable :)

  11. Brie says

    I just wanted to tell you that I have made this corn salad three times and each time I make it, I get rave reviews. It has become a staple for summer BBQs. Thank you so much for the delicious recipe! We have never had leftovers.

  12. Lisa says

    This looks amazing! I want to make it, but have a few questions. Can I replace the lime with lemon? My friend has a weird hatred of lime! Also, I’m in NYC in December so I can’t really fire up the grill (nor do I have one of course). Any tips on other ways to prepare corn? Thanks!

    • says

      If you’re able to find corn on the cob in NYC in December, you could always keep them in the husks and roast them in a WICKED hot oven. s hot as it’ll go… As for lime vs. lemon… lime is definitely more identified with elote, but it’s always worth playing with your food. Let me know how it turns out for you!


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