Mexican Street Corn Salad (Elote) Bar
Having a fiesta? Please the whole crowd with this Mexican Street Corn Salad Bar. Gather all of the ingredients for classic Mexican street corn (elote), but let everybody assemble their own. Perfect for the spice lovers, the picky eaters, and the cilantro-adverse!
My Roasted Mexican Corn (elote salad) recipe is an oldie but a goodie. In fact, not only is it one of the most popular recipes on this blog, but it’s also one of my favorite recipes to take to a party. I’ll sometimes simply call that recipe “elote salad,” and serve it alongside baby back ribs (don’t forget the dry rub for ribs when you make them)!
Elote is a popular street food in Mexico. It’s simply corn on the cob (usually boiled or grilled), coated with condiments such as mayonnaise, cheese, lime juice and spices.
However, I’ll be the first to admit that the salad can be somewhat polarizing among certain crowds. In my experience, 50% of party guests will LOVE it and come back for seconds.
But the other 50%? There’s somebody who wants to try it, but can’t eat onions. There’s somebody who doesn’t like any spice at all.
There’s a toddler who just wants corn without all the “stuff” on it. And then there’s the people with the cilantro-hating gene.
After enough of these experiences, I started to wonder if it’d be more of a crowd pleaser to serve everything separately, and let party guest assemble their own Mexican Street Corn Salad experience (which is what I do with my fajita bar and smoked salmon platter, too). It’s one of my favorite Memorial Day appetizers.
For those who just want corn, they can stop after that first bowl. But the ones who like it spicy can add green chiles or jalapeños or hot sauce (or all three!).
The ones who want it creamy can add my homemade elote dressing. The ones who want to skip the onions can pass those right on by. In the end, everybody can have exactly what they want.
About this Mexican Street Corn Salad (Elote) Bar:
Hunt through your kitchen or head to the store and pick up the simple ingredients you need for this recipe:
- corn – if it’s in season I’ll definitely use fresh, but if not, canned or frozen is a great substitute
- red onion and/or green onion
- cotija or feta cheese
- monterey jack cheese (also great in pimento mac and cheese)
- diced green chiles
- jarred or fresh jalapeños (or even homemade pickled jalapenos)
- hot sauce
- sour cream
- chili powder
Tips for making this Mexican Street Corn Salad (Elote) Bar recipe successful:
- You can serve the corn simply warmed through, but I like to saute it for a few minutes for extra flavor. I love the brown bits it picks up in the skillet.
- The elote dressing is best when made at least in hour in advance. Stir it up and let it sit in the fridge so the flavors can really meld.
- I like to have small plastic cups on hand for serving. This way, guests can add all of their desired toppings and then really stir up their salad. It’s harder to stir everything up when you have it on a plate with other food.
For the Elote Sauce:
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Corn:
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 2 cans (15.25 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained and patted dry
For the Salad Bar:
- 1 can diced mild green chiles, drained
- 2 limes, cut into wedges
- 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 3/4 cup chopped red onions
- 3/4 cup crumbled cotija or feta cheese
- 3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 1/2 cup sliced fresh or jarred jalapeño peppers
- hot sauce
- Small plastic cups, for serving
- Make the Elote Sauce: In medium bowl, whisk garlic, lime juice, mayonnaise, sour cream, chili powder and salt until smooth. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 2 days before serving.
- Make the Corn: Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon butter and half of corn. Cook 4 to 6 minutes or until corn is golden brown, stirring occasionally. Transfer corn to serving platter or bowl and repeat process with remaining butter and corn.
- Serve the Salad Bar: Arrange green chiles, limes, green onions, cilantro, red onions, cotija cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, jalapeños, hot sauce, elote sauce, corn and plastic cups on table and have guests assemble their own salads.