Sometimes I wonder, do other people love corn as much as I do? Is my level of adoration for corn abnormal? Is it due to my Hoosier heritage? Whatever the case may be, if a recipe involves corn, there is a high likelihood that I am going to love it. Corn desserts in particular are a favorite of mine (more coming soon!) but I love it in side and main dishes as well. The one way I do not love it, however, is on the cob. It is messy and sticks in my teeth and though I do not consider myself a very dignified person, I feel especially undignified when eating it. So I usually don’t.

Every time I have encountered elotes, Mexican street corn, I love the idea of it. Grilled corn topped with a drizzle of slightly spicy mayo, a squeeze of lime, and some crumbled cotija – it all makes for a flavor and texture combination that is hard to resist. But the execution involving the intact cob of corn – no thank you. Enter this Mexican street corn salad, also known as esquites…it’s my dream come true! All the good parts of elotes, none of the messy eating. What’s more, this comes together in a flash which is a must when I’m making a Mexican meal. Guaranteed I’m always pulling together some variety of fresh margaritas, guacamole, and one or two kinds of tacos at minimum. If I’m going to the effort of making an extra side dish, it needs to be 1) easy and simple, and 2) delicious enough to be worth making at all. This is all of that! In addition to being able to stand alone as a side, it can also be a killer addition as a taco topping. Just make it, okay? I promise you’ll love it too.

  • Yield about 5-6 servings


  • 2 tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
  • 4 ears corn, shucked, kernels removed (about 3 cups)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 2 oz. cotija cheese, finely crumbled
  • ½ cup finely sliced scallion greens
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Smoked paprika or ground chipotle, to taste


  • 01

    In a large non-stick skillet with a lid, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Once shimmering, add the corn kernels to the pan and season to taste with salt. Cook for a minute or two without stirring to char, then toss lightly and char again. (Use the lid as necessary to guard against spattering oil and/or popcorn action.) Repeat until most sides are slightly charred, about 8-10 minutes total. Transfer the corn to a large mixing bowl. Let cool slightly.

  • 02

    Once the corn has cooled slightly, add the mayonnaise, cotija, scallion greens, cilantro, jalapeño, garlic, and lime juice to the bowl. Season lightly with smoked paprika or ground chipotle. Toss gently just until evenly combined. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve.