Mexican Street Corn Salad (Elote Salad)
Inspired by Mexican street corn, this Elote Salad has a reader exclaiming “I loved this recipe and brought it to a party where everyone else loved it too.” Make ahead and serve warm, chilled or at room temperature.
This Elote Corn Salad is so flavorful!
Right up there with salmon pasta, this salad is one of the most popular recipes on this site!
I think it’s because it’s a side dish that can be made in advance and has a huge amount of flavor going on.
There’s creamy cheese and mayo, tangy lime juice, herby cilantro and a little bit of heat from cayenne and chili powder.
It can be made with fresh or frozen corn, and there’s substitution options for a lot of the ingredients, making it easy to use what you already have on hand.
My favorite part is that it can be served warmed, chilled or even right at room temperature. It’s equally delicious all three ways.
Why you will love this elote corn salad
- A reader named Michelle says she “loved this recipe and brought it to a party where everyone else loved it too.”
- Keeps in the fridge for three days.
- Easy math to make a double batch for a big party.
What is elote?
Elote is a popular Mexican street food made with grilled or roasted corn on the cob. The corn is typically slathered with a creamy mixture of mayonnaise, sour cream, lime juice and spices, and sprinkled with cheese.
What does elote seasoning taste like?
Elote seasoning is usually a blend of chili powder, cayenne and salt. It has a little bit of heat but mostly it just balances the rest of the creamy and tangy flavors in the dish.
Mexican Corn Salad ingredients
- corn – you can use fresh or frozen corn for this recipe. More details below!
- diced green chiles – buy a small can of these and drain the excess liquid out before using them.
- garlic – two small garlic cloves, minced, add a lot of flavor to this salad.
- red onion – I like the color and flavor of red onion in elote salad.
- cheese – cotija is my cheese of choice, but I discuss other options below.
- cilantro – this brings some green freshness to the salad. Buy extra cilantro so you can make Sonoran hot dogs, too!
- lime juice – adds a tangy brightness to elote corn salad.
- mayonnaise – I love the creaminess that mayo provides, but I discuss other options below.
- sour cream – adds more creaminess and tanginess to this Mexican street corn salad recipe, too.
- chili powder – this adds a little bit of smoky heat.
- cayenne pepper – this adds even more heat to the roasted corn. You can use more or less cayenne depending on your taste.
- salt – crucial for seasoning the salad to perfection!
Mexican Street Corn Salad Recipe variations and substitutions
- CORN – If fresh corn is not in season, you can use frozen corn. If using frozen corn, try to thaw and pat the kernels dry before roasting. Also, be aware that they may take a little bit longer to roast than fresh corn kernels.
- CHEESE – I prefer cotija cheese (a dry, firm Mexican cheese) for this roasted corn salad, but when it’s not available, I will use feta.
- CITRUS – If you don’t have limes, lemon juice will work in a pinch (or save your lemons for lemon margaritas).
- ONIONS – If you don’t love red onion, white onion or even some green onions can be substituted in this Mexican street corn salad recipe.
What can I substitute for mayo in elote?
If you’d rather not use mayonnaise, you can still enjoy this elote corn salad. Just use extra sour cream, or Greek yogurt.
I’ve tried this roasted street corn salad all three ways, and it’s delicious every time.
How to make Mexican Street Corn Salad
- Cut the corn kernels from the cobs and roast the kernels for 30 to 40 minutes to bring out their sweetness.
- Meanwhile, make the elote salad sauce by combining minced garlic, finely diced red onion, crumbled cotija cheese, chopped cilantro, fresh lime juice, diced green chiles, mayonnaise, sour cream, chili powder, cayenne and salt.
- When the corn finishes roasting, let it cool just slightly, and then toss the corn with the sauce. Sprinkle the salad with a bit more cheese.
- Serve the roasted street corn salad warm right away, or cover and refrigerate it up to 3 days before serving.
How to roast corn
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a rimmed baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and spread the kernels over the pan in an even layer.
Transfer the pan to the oven and cook 30 to 40 minutes or until the kernels are golden brown, stirring them twice as they cook.
Home Chef Tips
- Give this Mexican street corn salad a smoky twist by grilling the corn on the cob, or charring it directly over an open flame on the stovetop, instead of roasting it. Here, you would grill or char the corn on the cob first, and then cut the kernels off.
- Make it spicier by adding a chopped fresh jalapeo pepper or some pickled jalapenos (see my post about how to pickle jalapenos).
- Experiment with adding additional ingredients like black beans, quartered grape tomatoes or chopped avocado for added color and flavor.
How to serve Street Corn Salad
This elote corn salad is one of my very favorite sides for ribs and fish tacos. So, serve this roasted corn salad warm, cold or at room temperature, next to a slab of root beer ribs, country style pork ribs oven or my crockpot ribs recipe.
Elote Salad storage
Mexican corn salad can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Give it a good stir before serving if it’s been in the fridge for awhile.
Roasted Corn Salad FAQs
Elote is usually served on the cob. A version of elote corn where the roasted street corn kernels are cut from the cob and mixed with the toppings is called esquites. This version is eaten with a spoon.
So, the Mexican corn salad recipe below is actually most similar to esquites, although elote seems to be the term that Americans recognize more often, so that’s how I’ve named the salad.
The red stuff you see in elote could be the chili powder and cayenne or sometimes a popular Mexican seasoning called Tajin is used. Tajin is a blend of dried chili peppers, lime and salt, and it has a vibrant red color.
Elote is the Spanish word for “corn,” specifically referring to the ears of corn on the cob that are commonly prepared and enjoyed as Mexican street food.
- 6 ears of sweet corn, silks and husks removed
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 2 small garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
- 3/4 cup crumbled cotija or feta cheese, divided
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons canned diced green chiles
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or 1/4 teaspoon if you’d like it more spicy)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut corn kernels from cobs. Spray rimmed baking pan with nonstick spray. Spread corn in single layer on prepared pan. Roast 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown, stirring twice.
- Meanwhile, in large bowl, stir together garlic, onion, 1/2 cup cheese, cilantro, lime juice, green chiles, mayonnaise, sour cream, chili powder, cayenne and salt.
- Let corn cool slightly, then toss with mayonnaise mixture until well combined. Serve sprinkled with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Can be served cold or at room temperature.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 304Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 29mgSodium: 842mgCarbohydrates: 37gFiber: 4gSugar: 8gProtein: 10g
This website provides estimated nutrition information as a courtesy only. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.