Mexican Street Corn Salad (Esquites) Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep/Total Time: 30 min.
Creamy, tangy Mexican street corn salad puts the flavors of elote in a bowl. Esquites are the perfect side dish for a barbecue.

Updated: May 22, 2024

You may have heard of elotes, the cream-slathered ears of corn with cheese, lime and spices, but do you know about esquites? This Mexican street corn salad takes the flavors we love from the indulgent corn on the cob recipe and puts it all in a cup. The mix of sweet corn, spicy jalapenos, smoky chili powder, tangy lime, cool Cotija cheese and creamy mayo makes it hard to stop at just one scoop.

Corn salad may have you thinking summer, but our esquites recipe uses easy-to-find ingredients and comes together on the stovetop in about 10 minutes, so you can use it any time of year. Now grab a spoon and get ready to dig in!

What’s the difference between elotes and esquites?

Esquites are essentially elotes off the cob. Both of our versions of these Mexican recipes use the same ingredients, including Cotija cheese, mayo and chili powder. But esquites are essentially the bowl version of Mexican street corn, with the ingredients mixed in a cup or bowl rather than slathered onto a grilled ear of corn. Esquites are easier to serve and eat.

In fact, this esquites recipe doesn’t use a grill at all. The corn is cooked in a skillet, so it’s easy to make this delicious side dish year-round.

Esquites Ingredients

mexican street corn salad esquites Ingredients On SurfaceTMB Studio

  • Olive oil
  • Fresh corn or thawed frozen corn
  • Mayonnaise
  • Cotija cheese
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Green onions
  • Jalapeno pepper
  • Lime juice
  • Garlic cloves
  • Chili powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Step 1: Cook the corn

Corn In Frying Pan To BowlTMB Studio

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the corn. Cook and stir for 8 to 10 minutes, until the corn is slightly charred.

Test Kitchen Tip: Fresh or frozen corn works in this Mexican street corn salad. If you’re using fresh, here’s how to cut corn off the cob. If using frozen corn, thaw and dry it first.

Step 2: Mix the ingredients

Adding Cilantro To SaladTMB Studio

Transfer the charred corn to a large bowl. Stir in the mayonnaise, cheese, cilantro, green onions, jalapeno, lime juice, garlic cloves, chili powder, salt and pepper.

Step 3: Garnish the esquites

If you’d like, garnish the corn salad with additional cilantro, crumbled Cotija cheese and lime wedges. Esquites are usually served warm rather than piping hot, so let the dish cool slightly before serving.

Mexican Street Corn Esquites in bowl with serving spoonTMB Studio

Recipe Variations

  • Use a different cheese: If you can’t find Cotija cheese at your local grocery store, you can use another cheese with a crumbly or easy-to-sprinkle texture, like feta, Romano or Parmesan.
  • Go with tradition: Use crema instead of mayonnaise for a more authentic flavor. Our recipe uses mayo because crema can sometimes be hard to find.
  • Add more smoky flavor: Bring the flavor of these esquites closer to that of grilled elotes by using grilled corn. You can either use frozen fire-roasted corn from a bag, or you can grill your own and shave the kernels off the cob.

Can you make esquites ahead of time?

Esquites are typically served warm. But they’ll still taste good if you make them ahead of time. You can make esquites up to four days in advance; store them in the refrigerator in an airtight storage container. Just be sure to take them out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving to let them come to room temperature.

Esquites Tips

What do you serve with esquites?

Mexican street corn salad is a perfect side dish for Mexican recipes like sizzling chicken fajitas. Esquire’s also work well as a barbecue side served with juicy grilled burgers. Or, get creative and use them as a base for a burrito bowl.

Watch how to Make Mexican Street Corn Salad (Esquites)

Mexican Street Corn Salad (Esquites)

Prep Time 30 min
Yield 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen corn, thawed
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup crumbled Cotija cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • Lime wedges, optional

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add corn; cook and stir until lightly charred, 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. Serve warm. If desired, garnish with additional minced cilantro, crumbled Cotija cheese and lime wedges.

Nutrition Facts

1/2 cup: 252 calories, 21g fat (4g saturated fat), 13mg cholesterol, 259mg sodium, 15g carbohydrate (5g sugars, 2g fiber), 4g protein.