Mexican Corn Salad

October  4, 2022
4 Ratings
Photo by Karen Mordechai
  • Serves 6 - 8, easily doubled or trippled
Author Notes

Mexican-style grilled corn, or elote, is another one of those food ideas that I read about for years before ever actually trying it. When I finally did take the plunge, slathering a freshly cooked cob of corn in mayonnaise and rolling it in salty cheese, I was hooked. This is now my favorite way to eat corn on the cob.

When planning a large gathering once, it occurred to me that maybe I could transform the idea into a salad. It works beautifully, with all the flavor of a traditional elote. It’s great for a crowd, but is also a great way to take fresh corn along to a party. If you don’t have the grill going, it is perfectly fine with just-boiled kernels.

Cotija cheese is a salty Mexican cheese you’ll find in with other Hispanic cheeses at most god groceries. If you don’t find cotija, queso fresco is a good substitute. I prefer to buy blocks and crumble it myself to get even chunks —TheRunawaySpoon

Test Kitchen Notes

Using the ingredients in elote to make a salad is not new, but TheRunawaySpoon's version was unequivocally yummy, especially after letting it chill in the fridge for a couple of hours to let the flavors get acquainted (cumin, meet ancho; ancho, meet cumin). And - this is important to those of us who tend to wear our food - much, much neater to eat than from on the cob! One caveat: unable to procure cotija cheese here in upstate New York, we went with her recommendation to use quesa fresco; I would rather have used some parmesan or even ricotta salata. —wssmom

What You'll Need
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (or more to taste)
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1 teaspoon mild chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 8 ears fresh corn, shucked and silks removed
  • 1 cup crumbled cotija cheese
  • salt to taste
  1. In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, juice of one lime, the chili powder and the ground cumin. Blend well and set aside.
  2. Cook the corn on the cob. You can bring a large pot of water to the boil, drop in the cobs and bring the water back to the boil. Remove the pot from the heat, cover it and let the cobs cook for five minutes. If you’ve got the grill going, you can then place the cobs on the grill to get a nice char on the kernels, but it's fine if you don’t grill.
  3. When cool enough to handle, cut the kernels from the cobs using a sharp knife. Place the corn in a large bowl and squeeze over the juice of one lime.
  4. Toss the kernels around to absorb the lime juice. Add the cotija cheese and toss to combine. Stir in the mayonnaise dressing to coat all the corn kernels.
  5. Add salt to taste and mix well. This salad will keep covered in the fridge for 24 hours.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Sabine Gagnon
    Sabine Gagnon
  • MenCanCook
  • susan g
    susan g
  • Kitchen Butterfly
    Kitchen Butterfly
  • JanetFL
I think I am like most people. Somewhere in the middle between food snob and food schlub. Just being in the kitchen makes me happy.

14 Reviews

Sabine G. July 9, 2023
Made this tonight- super easy to put together and so delicious!
kathleen312 September 3, 2012
I made this salad last night and added some fresh cherry tomatoes and flat-leaf parsley from the garden (not much), finely diced boiled potatoes, a touch of red onion and an organic pear I had left over from the week. I used a cup of Trader Joe's mayonnaise and juiced both limes into the wet mixture with a bit more cumin than the recipe calls for. I added salt to the wet mixture as well. Instead of the cotija, I used feta cheese! I know, either you're going to love it or hate it. I have two young kids and a picky husband, and I got thumbs up from all three. The basic recipe is solid and I will use it over and over again. BTW, I grilled up lobster tails that were on sale at Whole Foods to complement this salad and we had a feast! Great dressing, awesome recipe - thanks!
MenCanCook August 13, 2012
This recipe represents a very nice transition from grilled corn on the cob which we do regularly during the summertime. It’s easy to make and tastes delicious. Was unable to acquire cojita cheese on the Outer Banks of North Carolina so used a combination of feta and parmesan. In one portion of the mixture I used chipotle pepper powder instead of the chili which gave it a nice smoky flavor. Canned corn can be used, of course, but highly recommend that it’s drained well. Overall, a very nice summer salad.
susan G. August 10, 2012
Last night I had the on-the-cob version at a restaurant. I loved it, and I'll love even more making this, for happy eating and clean hands!
conniejac August 5, 2012
I always prefer raw corn in the summer over boiled or grilled--it's really one of the greatest pleasures of summer produce. I make a very similar variation of this with lime, lemon and cumin. Not sure if the mayo may overpower the sweetness of the corn? I'll have to try it sometime, maybe with fish tacos? Thanks for posting!
Kitchen B. August 5, 2012
It looks and sounds wonderful......Corn is also in season in Nigeria and I cooked some cobs a couple of days ago which I've frozen. I'm definitely going to try this - but with Feta as I dont have cojita chees
JanetFL August 3, 2012
Looking forward to trying your recipe with our sweet Olathe, Colorado, corn - sounds wonderful!
HalfPint July 30, 2012
Made this for a bbq dinner yesterday. Very good. Grilled the corn (in husks) on my gas grill. Love the creamy tangy dressing that didn't taste mayo-y at all. Will be making again.
Vicky K. July 20, 2012
If I were making this recipe, I would not boil the corn, instead I'c cut the kernels off and saute them with a bit of onion or scallion and the cumin and chili powder. After it cooled I'd add the rest.
Devangi R. July 12, 2012
There is one place in NY, where they serve corn on cob grilled and it has some of these ingredients..delicious....
Mia_812 July 11, 2012
I'm totally going to make this. Looks simple and perfect for summer. Thanks!
Regine July 10, 2012
I love corn on the cob (which I broil in oven) then roll in mayonnaise and crumbled queso fresco . It is so good. I am definitely going to try this version soon. Thanks for sharing.
em-i-lis July 9, 2012
this looks wonderful!!
savorthis July 9, 2012
I just love this kind of corn. There was a place in san francisco where we'd buy these paper cups filled to the brim with it. I really like to grill it so it adds some smokiness. Thanks for the reminder- we are just getting some sweet corn here and I can't wait to eat this again.