Mexican Street Corn Salad

Prep Time 12 min.
Cook Time 10 min.
Total Time 22 min.
Yields 4 1/2 cups


  • 5-7 ears of sweet corn, husks removed (the exact number of ears you'll need depends on how big they are – you need them to yield 4 cups of corn kernels)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile pepper powder
  • 1/2 cup cotija cheese, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil reduced-fat mayonnaise (or healthier mayo of choice)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons water
  • optional for garnish: additional chopped cilantro and sliced green onions


  1. Preheat your grill on medium to medium-high heat.
  2. Lay your husked corn on the grill and close the lid, but turn the ears frequently so that they develop lots of caramelized grill marks without getting burned or charred. This will take about 5-10 minutes.
  3. Remove the corn from the grill and allow it to cool until you can safely handle it. (You can also grill the corn several hours in advance or a day ahead, if needed, and store it in the refrigerator once cooled.) When the corn is cool enough to handle, carefully cut the kernels from the cobs with a sharp knife (this is my favorite chef's knife) or a handy "corn stripper."
  4. Place 4 cups of corn kernels in a medium bowl (reserve any extra kernels for another use). Add cilantro, green onions, lime juice, kosher salt, and chipotle chile pepper powder. Stir to combine thoroughly.
  5. Stir in most of the cotija cheese, reserving just a little (about 1-3 teaspoons) to sprinkle on top of the finished salad.
  6. Spoon corn mixture onto a shallow serving platter or bowl, in a relatively thin layer.
  7. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, and water until smooth. Drizzle over the corn mixture. (As shown in the photo in the post above, I like to do this by pouring the dressing mixture into a zipper bag and snipping the corner of the zipper bag for drizzling. You can also simply drizzle the dressing onto the salad from a spoon.)
  8. Garnish the top of the salad by sprinkling it with the reserved cotija cheese, and (if desired) with a little extra chopped cilantro and sliced green onions.
  9. Serve immediately.


Recipe Notes

Options for cooking corn: As discussed in greater detail in the post, you can alternately cook the corn however you choose, although grilling or roasting is preferred for this recipe, to produce toasty, caramelized flavors and color.

Make-ahead steps: This salad can be mostly made ahead of time. Combine grilled corn with the other ingredients in step 4, and then refrigerate the salad for up to a day ahead. Then proceed with the rest of the recipe before serving. I prefer to wait until just before serving to stir in the cheese, because I think the cheese flavor gets a little lost if it's mixed into the salad the day before. I also recommend that you don't drizzle the salad with the mayo-sour cream dressing mixture ahead of time, because it tends to thicken back up once it's refrigerated, and I like it to be a little runnier when I serve the salad.

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