My friend Josie is an absolute genius when it comes to rounding out perfect menus, as well as improvising to make use of things she already has on hand. Whenever I need help settling on a menu, I text her and she always has a brilliant idea that brings my partial plan together seamlessly. She should probably start charging me a consulting fee. Josie, can I pay you in wine?

All this to say that it is her genius which led to this Mexican brussels sprout salad, easily my new favorite side dish. I was trying to find the perfect thing to serve with my New Years Eve nachos and grapefruit margaritas, but so many of the sides I might typically make with a Mexican meal would be chip based and the nachos already had that covered. This seasonal variation on the beloved Mexican street corn salad that I make throughout the summer is exactly what I needed, and even better since brussels sprouts are my favorite vegetable. I love it so much in fact that I have made three times in a single week!

The addition of pickled red onions instead of green onions was a last minute idea on my part and I love the added dimension of flavor as well as the contrasting color for visual interest. Smoked paprika finishes the dish off beautifully so if you have some, I highly recommend using it. Ground chipotle is a decent substitute with a similar smokiness. I have eaten this warm, at room temperature, and cold, and I like it all three ways. In case you’re interested in making your own, here is the recipe I love for pickled red onions.

  • Prep 15 minutes
  • Cook about 5 minutes
  • Yield 4-6 servings


  • 1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 lb. brussels sprouts, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped pickled red onion
  • 2 oz. cotija or queso fresco cheese, finely crumbled
  • Smoked paprika or ground chipotle, to taste


  • 01

    In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, combine the lime juice, garlic, and mayonnaise. Season with salt, then whisk to blend. Set aside while you prepare the brussels sprouts.

  • 02

    In a large heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Once shimmering, add the brussels sprouts to the pan and season generously with salt. Cook for a minute or two without stirring to char, then toss lightly and char again. Cook just until the sprouts have charred areas and are crisp-tender, about 5-6 minutes. In the last minute of cooking stir in the jalapeño. Transfer the brussels sprout mixture to a serving bowl. Let cool slightly.

  • 03

    Once the sprouts have cooled a bit, stir in the chopped cilantro and about half of the pickled onion. Sprinkle the remaining pickled onion over the top of the salad. Drizzle the dressing all over the top and pile with the crumbled cotija or queso fresco. Finish with a dusting of smoked paprika. Serve.