Inspired by Mexican roasted corn, this elote salad is the perfect way to enjoy all the flavors of elote without any of the mess! Grilled corn is coated in a creamy, chili lime Mayo and then topped with crumbly cotija cheese. Serve this salad as a side dish or add protein and make it the main course!
If you’ve never had elote, you’re in for a treat! Elote is a Mexican street food made with grilled corn on the cob that’s been slathered in a creamy mayo sauce, then sprinkled with crumbly cotija cheese and doused in hot sauce. It’s the perfect combination of sweet, salty, and spicy!
My childhood summers in San Diego always involved a trip to the Del Mar Fair, and every trip to the fair included a dress-your-own elote on a stick. Being the greedy kids that we were, we slathered on all the fix-ins. But as you can imagine, we were a hot sticky mess after we were done eating – it was worth it though.
This elote salad elevates those classic flavors of Mexican street corn, but is served in an easy off-the-cob format making it a perfect add-on to dishes like Margarita Chicken Tacos and Fresh Salmon Burgers.
I just imagine how much cleaner we would have been if this salad was on the menu. But lucky for you, you don’t have to worry about that. Let’s get into the details of these grilled elote salad.
Here’s a breakdown of the key ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe for Mexican corn salad.
- Grilled Corn: By grilling the corn until it’s lightly charred, the flavors are intensified for an unbelievably delicious elote salad recipe.
- Unsalted Butter: Butter is a must for keeping the corn from sticking to the grill and infusing rich, savory flavors into each of the corn kernels.
- Fresh Cilantro: I love adding fresh herbs like cilantro for a bold pop of color and delicious added flavor.
- Crumbled Cotija Cheese: This mild and salty cheese is a staple in Mexican cuisine and tastes amazing in this Mexican corn salad. If you can’t find it at your local grocery store, you can swap the crumbled cotija for queso fresco or feta cheese.
- Mayonnaise: You can use light or regular mayonnaise as the base of the flavorful corn salad dressing that will coat this creamy dish.
- Fresh Lime Juice: This brightens up the grilled corn salad and adds a beautiful tangy flavor that makes it perfect for the summertime.
How to Make Grilled Elote Salad
Follow the easy steps below to learn how to make the best elote corn salad just in time for the summer.
Step 1: Make Grilled Corn
Clean and oil the cooking grate. Prepare a grill pan or grill fire (for direct grilling over medium-high heat 450°F). Brush fresh corn with butter. Transfer corn to the grill and cook for 5-7 minutes on each side for up to 20 minutes until char marks form.
Remove from grill and allow the grilled corn to cool. Use a sharp knife to slice off the corn kernels.
Step 2: Make Chili Lime Mayo
In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise (or sour cream), fresh lime juice, Tajin, and hot sauce (optional) until well combined. Refrigerate until ready for use.
Step 3: Assemble Mexican Corn Salad
To a large bowl, add grilled corn, Cotija cheese, chopped cilantro, garlic, and chili lime mayo, then toss to combine. Taste and season the salad with additional salt and pepper as desired. Sprinkle chili powder over the top and serve.
Pro Tips for the Best Mexican Street Corn Salad
Want to make the best recipe for Mexican street corn salad that your family has ever tried? Here are some of my top tips to help you do just that:
- Fresh corn ears are essential if you plan on making grilled corn. However, if you’re pinched for time and need an easy swap, you can use canned corn or frozen corn instead.
- If you prefer your dishes on the spicier side, add a few teaspoons of hot sauce to the chili lime mayonnaise. You could also kick up the heat by adding a finely chopped and seeded jalapeno to the salad.
- For a smokier flavor, feel free to add a pinch of smoked paprika.
- To beef up this corn salad with some heart-healthy fats, try adding fresh avocado chunks.
- If you don’t have Tajin, you can make your own version by combining 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon of lemon pepper, and ⅛ teaspoon of kosher salt.
- No grill? No problem. You can prepare the corn stovetop with a grill pan or cast-iron skillet. Simply heat vegetable oil in a skillet over medium high heat, then add the corn and turn every 3-5 minutes until the corn is lightly charred all over.
How to Make Grilled Elote Salad
If you’re preparing this dish ahead of time, store the corn salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 24 hours. You can store the leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days. To give the dish a refresher before serving again, add a squeeze of lime juice. Because of the creamy nature of our dressing, I don’t recommend storing this dish in the freezer.
Elote Corn Salad Recipe FAQs
Here are the answers to some of the most popular questions about this Mexican street corn salad:
Is elote salad served hot or cold?
Traditionally, elote salad is meant to be served fresh off the grill. I usually cut the corn into the salad, mix it all up, and serve immediately. That being said, this dish can also be chilled first and served cold if preferred. If you choose to prepare the salad ahead of time, I recommend giving it an extra squeeze of lime juice before serving it.
What kind of corn to use?
You can use fresh corn, frozen corn, or canned corn in this Mexican street corn salad. Personally, I like to use fresh corn to make the best-tasting grilled corn. However, you can still get a nice char on frozen corn or canned corn by grilling the corn kernels on a cast-iron skillet over the grill or on the stovetop.
I don’t like mayonnaise. What can I substitute for it in this elote salad?
If you aren’t a mayonnaise fan, you can swap it out for Greek yogurt or sour cream instead. Both options work really well with corn salad, so just choose your favorite.
More Amazing Summer Salad Recipe Ideas
If you loved this Mexican corn salad recipe, try these next:
- Best Grilled Caesar Salad
- Grilled Peach Salad with Goat Cheese
- Grilled Avocado & Carne Asada Salad
- Grilled Potato Salad
Now it’s your turn!
Whether you’re looking for a new side dish or want to add some Mexican flair to your next cookout, this elote salad is sure to please. So fire up the grill and give this elote salad a try! I would highly recommend giving it five stars if you make it. Be sure to take a photo and tag @meikoandthedish on Instagram too! Enjoy!
- 6 ears corn husks removed
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 1/2 cup cilantro chopped
- 1/2 cup crumbled Cotija cheese
- 1/3 cup diced red onion
- 1 clove of garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon chili powder garnish
Chili Lime Mayo
- ½ cup mayonnaise light or regular
- 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice 2 limes
- 2 teaspoon tajin *see notes
- 2 teaspoons Cholula optional
- Clean and oil cooking grate. Prepare grill pan or grill fire (for direct grilling over medium-high heat 450°F). Brush corn with butter. Transfer corn to grill for (5-7) minutes on each side (approx. total up to 20 min) or until char marks form. Remove from grill and allow to cool. Use a sharp knife to slice off the kernels.
Chili Lime Mayo
- In a medium bowl, whisk together chili lime mayo ingredients. Refrigerate until ready for use.
- To a large bowl add grilled corn, Cotija cheese, cilantro, garlic, chili lime mayo, and toss. Taste and season the salad with additional salt and pepper as desired. Sprinkle chili powder over the top and serve.
- If you don’t have a grill you can prepare corn stove top with a grill pan or cast iron skillet. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.
- Add corn and turn every 3-5 minutes (up to 15 minutes) until corn is well charred all over.
- If you don’t have Tajin I would substitute with a mix of 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon of lemon pepper, and ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt.
- Add 1 chopped and seeded jalapeno to salad for extra spice
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate.
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