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Easy Corn Salsa (or Salad)

~ This fantastic, super-easy Corn Salsa recipe is so delicious and so versatile! Toss it together with fresh, raw corn or with toasty, grilled corn … then serve it as an appetizer dip or as a side salad. You can even make it ahead, too. With this recipe, you’ve got LOTS of options! ~

This Recipe Is:     Ready in 30 Minutes or Less    Make Ahead    Vegetarian    Gluten Free  

collage of two recipe photos showing a bowl of salsa with chips and also as a side salad next to a burger

overhead photo of the salsa in a serving bowl with a spoon in it, with extra ears of corn and cilantro alongside

More than any other season, summertime begs for simplicity. Quick, no-fuss recipes that adapt themselves into any menu or occasion. The kind you don’t have to over-think – they just happen, however and whenever you need them to.

This Corn Salsa recipe could pretty much be summertime’s edible poster child. It’s:

• Bursting with the sunshine-y summer flavors of ripe sweet corn, juicy tomatoes, and garden-fresh green peppers and onions.

recipe ingredients, uncut on a cutting board - whole ears of fresh sweet corn, tomatoes, a green pepper, onions, and cilantro

• Full of nutrients and antioxidants from all those veggies, yet super low in fat and calories (I’m thinking swimsuit season here 😉 ).

• Ready in as little as 10 minutes.

Sooooooo beautifully simple.

And it’s incredibly adaptable! It gives you lots and LOTS of options …

Serving Options (Corn Salsa or Salad or BOTH!)

Option #1)  Salsa

You can munch on this as a snack / appetizer dip. It’s fantastic served up as a salsa with crunchy, whole-grain tortilla chips!

serving bowl filled with corn salsa, surrounded by whole grain tortilla chips, with a hand dipping one chip into salsa

Option #2)  Salad

Or, you can enjoy this as a salad – a speedy side dish idea that’s a nice change of pace from basic corn on the cob. Mmmmmm. You know I loooove Corn Salad Recipes!

Option #3)  Or, heck … you can do both!

Offer it up as a pre-dinner salsa dip, and then bring the rest (if … ahem … there’s any left) to the table as a side dish.

Food Pairing Options (Mexican Meals, or Practically Anything Else!)

Option #1)  Mexican Flair

With a little hit of chipotle powder and cumin, this Corn Salsa definitely fits into any Mexican menu. Especially if you toss in that optional cilantro!

A couple of ideas: it’s perfect with Chicken Tacos or with our Grilled Fajita Burgers (mmmmmmm … check out the photo below).

serving of this recipe as a side salad, nestled on a plate next to our Grilled Fajita Burger with Guacamole

Option #2)  NOT Mexican

But, this recipe isn’t tooooo Mexican, if that makes sense. The Mexican spices aren’t so dominant that it screams Mexican! (while a mariachi band shakes maracas at you).

It’s great as a side for deli sandwiches or grilled meats, or lined up with other side salads at a potluck buffet. It tastes so fresh and vibrant – delightful alongside practically any summertime main course.

In fact, this recipe was born when I needed a brightly colorful side salad to photograph along with Ty’s beloved Cheesy BBQ Chicken Wraps (which aren’t Mexican at all). After the photo shoot, we gobbled it down and couldn’t wait to make more!

Make-Ahead Options (Eat It Now, or Later)

Option #1)  Dig In Now!

This Corn Salsa (errrrrr … Salad … whatever …) is terrific eaten right after you make it. And actually, that’s a really good thing, since you’ll probably want to dive in straightaway (better have some tortilla chips handy – or at least a fork).

bowl of the finished salsa recipe, surrounded by tortilla chips for dipping

Option #2)  Or Be Really Disciplined, and Let It Sit

Are you feeling patient? This recipe is actually even more flavorful and delicious (as though that could even be possible) if you let it sit for a little while so the flavors can mix and mingle. (Use your utmost restraint … don’t open those tortilla chips yet … walk away … walk away …)

We’ve also found it keeps well in the fridge for up to 3 or 4 days. It’s a terrific make-ahead option if you’re trying to pre-assemble some of your recipes before hosting a party. Or, if you’re like me, it’s just nice to have a dish like this stashed in the fridge to nosh on all week.

Preparation Options (Raw or Grilled)

Option #1)  Raw

This is the crazy-fast option!

You can cut the crisp kernels off a just-picked ear of sweet corn and toss them right into the bowl – no cooking needed at all! (It’s the same lightning-fast strategy we use for our No-Cook Fresh Corn, Tomato and Avocado Salad.)

veggies for the recipe chopped and in pretty piles on the cutting board

Option #2)  Grilled

If you happen to be firing up the grill anyway, though, why not grill your corn for some toasty-roasty flavor?

I’ve actually even used leftover grilled corn that I happened to have in the fridge. So, you can grill some extra corn one evening, and then use it to make this salsa recipe a day or two later. Works great!

If you’ve never tried grilling corn, trust me – it’s super easy.

We use the same grilling technique in this Corn Salsa recipe as we do in our Four-Ingredient Grilled Corn Salad. (And, if you wanna do a deep-dive on the subject, you can read more about it in our article on How to Grill Corn.) But basically, all you have to do is:

  1. Husk your corn.
  2. Lay your ears of corn on the grill and close the lid.
  3. Grill for about 5-10 minutes, turning frequently so your corn doesn’t burn or get too charred on any one side.
  4. Remove your corn from the grill and allow it to cool until you can safely handle it to remove the kernels.

three ears of husked sweet corn on an outdoor grill, with some toasty brown spots developing on them

That’s it! Easy, right? And it’s really up to you exactly how long you want to leave your corn on the grill and how toasty you want it.

I know that you’ll sometimes see people grilling their corn with the husks still on. That works, too, but we prefer to remove the husks. That way, the kernels rest directly on the hot grill grates and develop lots of caramelized grill marks.

Summer Simplicity in a Bowl

So, are you picking up what I’m putting down here?

This Corn Salsa recipe (aka Corn Salad recipe) is just a go-with-the-flow kinda thing. It’ll be whatever you want it to be. Quick and ultra-easy, great anytime, and with virtually any meal.



Perfect summer food.

extreme closeup of the salsa, piled in a bowl with a serving spoon dipped in it, as though serving it like a salad

I love that! And you will, too.


Large bowl of the corn salsa surrounded by tortilla chips, with a hand dipping one chip straight into the bowl

Easy Corn Salsa (or Salad)

Yield: 3 3/4 cups
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

This easy Corn Salsa recipe is so delicious and incredibly versatile! You can toss it together with fresh, raw corn or with toasty, grilled corn … and you can serve it as an appetizer or as a salad. LOTS of options!

  Ready in 30 Minutes or Less    Make Ahead    Vegetarian    Gluten Free  


  • 2 cups raw, uncooked corn kernels (see note for optional grilling instructions)
  • 1 cup diced tomato
  • 1/2 cup diced green pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely diced sweet onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (optional but recommended)
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili pepper powder (from the spice aisle) (see note)
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cumin


  1. In a medium bowl, combine corn, tomato, green pepper, onion, and cilantro (if using).
  2. In a small bowl, whisk vinegar, olive oil, salt, chipotle chili pepper powder, black pepper, and cumin.
  3. Pour dressing ingredients over vegetables and stir to combine.
  4. Serve immediately, or (if you have time) allow to sit for at least half an hour so the flavors can meld and deepen a little. Alternately, you can also cover and refrigerate the salsa for up to 3-4 days.


Grilling corn: If you'd like to grill the corn for this recipe, we recommend laying husked ears of corn on the grill over medium to medium-high heat. Grill for about 5-10 minutes with the lid closed, turning the ears frequently so that they develop lots of caramelized grill marks without getting burned or charred. Remove the corn from the grill and allow it to cool until you can safely handle it, then cut off the kernels and proceed with the recipe. (You can also grill the corn up to a day or two in advance, and store it in the refrigerator until you're ready to make the salsa.)

Chipotle chili pepper powder: We usually make this Corn Salsa with 1/4 teaspoon, especially if we're serving this recipe as a side salad. But, sometimes when we're serving it as a salsa dip with tortilla chips, we like a little more chipotle flavor and use 1/2 teaspoon. We recommend starting with 1/4 teaspoon and then adding more to taste, if desired.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 15 servings Serving Size: 1/4 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 30Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 73mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 1g

Nutrition information should be considered an estimate only, and may vary depending on your choice of ingredients or preparation. No guarantees are made regarding allergies or dietary needs. Always consult a physician or dietician for specific advice and questions.

Did You Make This Recipe?

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  1. My fiance looooves corn, and I am always on the hunt for new recipes to use with it! This is so easy, so pretty, and such a light option for the hot summer days! We absolutely love having this corn salsa to snack on in the afternoons!

    1. I’m really happy you and your fiance are enjoying this so much, Sara! I just made a batch a couple of days ago, and we dug into it as an appetizer while I cooked dinner … and then brought it to the table as a side salad, too. I hadn’t made it for a little while, and I just fell in love with it all over again! So pleased you love it, too! 😀 ~Shelley

  2. This corn salsa sounds like it will be my new favorite summer recipe to put on everything! I love how fresh and delicious your version looks.

  3. This salsa looks amazing! I am so excited for fresh corn season. I love that you can eat this as a salsa or as a salad. Looking forward to trying it.

    1. I can’t wait for you to try it, Sam – I think you’ll definitely be hooked! I’m always excited to see the first, fresh and local ears of sweet corn appear at my market in the summer, too. And I can’t get enough of trying new ways to enjoy it! 🙂 ~Shelley

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