This esquites recipe, aka Mexican corn salad, is everything great about elote served in salad form, the perfect side dish.
Looking for the ultimate side dish for your next gathering? Bring this recipe and you're guaranteed to make everyone happy. I'm talking Esquites, and it's hard to beat.
What is Esquites?
Esquites is a zesty side dish inspired by the famous dish "Elote", or Mexican Street Corn. It is mixture of grilled or charred corn tossed with chopped peppers, onion, avocado, herbs and seasonings, then made creamy with a mix of Mexican crema (or sour cream) and mayonnaise.
Together, the dish is creamy and satisfying, and makes for a party favorite. You'll also hear it called "Mexican Corn Salad" or "Mexican Street Corn Salad", or "Elote Salad".
It's pretty much one of the kings of the Mexican street foods.
It's easier to eat than Mexican Street Corn, which can get pretty messy, even though it's super fun to eat. Huge flavor, of course.
This particular recipe takes all the awesome qualities of Mexican Street Corn and turns it into salad form.
This is a party size recipe. It serves 8 or more easily.
There are many versions of this all over the internet. Mine is different because it’s creamier than other recipes like this, and slightly spicier. I like it creamy and spicy.
Let's discuss how to make esquites!
First, gather up your ingredients. The ingredients you'll need to make this Esquites recipe include the following:
- Sweet Corn. Enough for about 6 cups of corn.
- Olive Oil.
- Red Bell Pepper.
- Jalapeno Peppers. Optional, for a spicier version.
- Red Onion.
- Lime Juice.
- Seasonings. Paprika, cumin, salt and black pepper.
- Hot Sauce. Optional, for a spicier version.
- Mexican Crema. You can also use sour cream.
- Cheesse. Use queso fresco or crumbled cotija cheese.
How to Make Esquites (Mexican Corn Salad) - the Recipe Steps
First, cut the kernels off the cobs.
Heat the olive oil in a large pan and cook the corn for 8-9 minutes, stirring, or until the corn browns and chars. Alternatively, you can grill the corn to get the char, then cool and slice off the corn kernels.
Next, add the corn to a small bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients.
Mix everything together until the corn is nice and creamy and the ingredients are uniformly mixed.
Ready to Serve! Top with a bit of extra crumbly cheese, fresh cilantro and lime wedges. Serve it up!
Easy enough, isn't it? This is a great side dish for summer parties, barbecues, cookouts, or ideal for holiday gatherings as well.
Think Memorial Day weekend, 4th of July, Labor Day, even a great Christmas side dish.
Adjusting the Spice Factor
I like to include jalapeno peppers for the extra kick and flavor they provide, but if you're concerned about your guests, you can skip them for a salad that isn't so spicy. Or, core them out for a milder version. If you’re looking for a spicier version, upgrade to serrano peppers, or incorporate a spicy hot sauce, spicy chili flakes, cayenne pepper or a hotter chili powder blend.
Fresh Corn or Frozen Corn
Fresh sweet corn is the best for this recipe, but you can make it with frozen corn. Frozen corn is often much more convenient, especially when corn is not in season. I like to slice the kernels from several ears of corn and freeze them myself in vacuum-packed bags.
To make this recipe from frozen corn, simply measure out the corn and cook it directly from frozen in a pan over medium heat with oil. Then, follow the remainder of the recipe instructions.
Cotija cheese is a flavorful, crumbly cheese popular with Mexican cuisine. It works wonderfully with this recipe. I prefer to use queso fresco or queso blanco, though. You can often find this as Mexican grocery stores or in some general grocers, or, you can make it yourself like I do. It's very easy.
Store any leftover esquites in the refrigerator in an airtight container. It should last 3-4 days.
You can make this recipe the day before. I do not recommend freezing it, as it will affect the texture.
That's it, my friends. I hope you enjoy the recipe! Let me know how the party goes. Enjoy!
Try These Other Great Side Dish Recipes
- Cajun Corn Maque Choux
- Grilled Corn Salad with Sweet Peppers
- Grilled Corn Salad with Feta and Peppers
- Charred Corn Salad with Hatch Peppers
- Mexican Corn Dip
- Jerk Rubbed Grilled Corn on the Cob
- Roasted Corn-Habanero Salsa
- Mexican Rice
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Esquites Recipe (Mexican Street Corn Salad)
- 6 ears of corn enough for about 6 cups of corn
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- 2-3 jalapeno peppers* chopped (optional – see NOTES)
- 1 small red onion chopped
- 1 avocado chopped
- ¾ cup fresh cilantro chopped
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- Salt and pepper to taste about ½ teaspoon each is good
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce optional
- ¼ cup Mexican crema or sour cream
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- ¾ cup queso fresco or crumbled cotija cheese
- Cut the corn from the cobs. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and cook the corn for 8-9 minutes, stirring, or until the corn browns and chars. Alternatively, you can grill the corn to get the char, then cool and slice off the corn kernels.
- Next, add the charred corn to a large mixing bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients.
- Mix everything together until the corn is nice and creamy and the ingredients are uniformly mixed.
- Top with a bit of extra crumbly cheese and fresh cilantro.
NOTE: This recipe was updated on 7/11/22 to include new information. It was originally published on 7/10/19.