This Mexican grilled corn salad recipe can be made from scratch or can be assembled using any leftovers from the Mexican grilled corn on the cob street food snack elotes recipe that we shared recently. It’s a terrific salad for corn lovers and is fantastic for late summer barbecues or early spring picnics.
I love this Mexican grilled corn salad recipe as much as I love the recipe for the Mexican corn on the cob street food snack called elotes that I shared here last month. We first began making these and other Mexican dishes after we returned to Australia following our first trip to Mexico in 1993, when we backpacked all over the country.
In Mexico we snacked on elotes and esquites, also called elote en vaso or corn in a cup (for which I’ll also share a recipe), everywhere from Mexico City to Merida. When we got back home to Australia we were missing Mexico and Mexican food so much that we started having Mexican-themed dinner parties and drinks at our Sydney apartment to transport us back as much as give our friends a taste of Mexico for an evening.
The funny thing is, it was elotes, and this salad version of that dish, that partly-inspired the Southeast Asian-style char-grilled corn with lime butter and lemongrass mayonnaise recipe and grilled corn salad with lime, chilli, lemongrass mayo, and sourdough croutons that you may remember us posting a couple of months ago.
The other inspirations were a popular street food snack here in Cambodia of grilled corn on the cob, slathered with mayonnaise, lime juice and chilli flakes, and the more traditional Cambodian grilled corn called poat dot, which is brushed with a sauce of coconut milk, sugar, fish sauce, and spring onions. A reader asked us about the Mexican dishes that had also been an inspiration, so I thought I’d share them here. Enjoy!
Mexican Grilled Corn Salad Recipe for a Taste of Mexico at Home
This Mexican grilled corn salad recipe is super-easy to make and absolutely delicious and it’s perfect for end of summer barbecues and early spring picnics. So, if you’re entertaining and you’re a lover of Mexican food or a corn lover like me, I recommend that you double the portions of the elotes recipe, or you buy twice the amount of corn you need, and make this delicious salad the next day. Or, make both!
If you’re planning on a full Mexican food feast, also see our recipes for a sopa de tortilla (tortilla soup) from San Miguel de Allende, tacos al pastor, chili con carne, an easy red tomato salsa, an authentic Mexican guacamole, quesadillas, and Lara’s ultimate nachos. We also have recipes for classic margaritas and micheladas. Of course, a couple of those recipes are Tex-Mex rather than Mexican recipes.
Which is where I should also clarify that this recipe is inspired by the Mexican street food corn we came to love so much on our Mexico travels. It is impossible for us to make a 100% authentic Mexican recipe here in Cambodia, as it would be in many countries, because we can’t always get ancho chilli powder here, which is why I say “and/or” dried chilli flakes.
We also can’t also get Mexico’s cotija cheese or Mexican crema here, so while I have included those in the recipe, I’ve also suggested optional substitutes. We have to use crumbly feta cheese and I’ll use either creamy mayonnaise or sour cream (we can’t always get that either!) instead of Mexican crema.
I know that my Mexican friends would object to the inclusion of grated Parmesan cheese, which is why I’ve said it’s optional. While it’s not considered authentic, we have had it on both the Mexican street food corn cobs and Mexican corn salads before and it’s absolutely delicious, so I’m leaving it here as an option and risking the wrath of our Mexican friends.
Tips for Making this Mexican Grilled Corn Salad Recipe
The beauty of this Mexican grilled corn salad recipe is that you can make it using leftover corn cobs and any other ingredients you might have had if you made our Mexican street corn cob recipe for elotes (link above) or you can make it from scratch.
In the recipe below I’ve assumed that you’re starting from scratch and begin the recipe with how to prepare corn cobs for char-grilling. If you already have char-grilled corn cobs, then you could pop them back on the grill or into a griddle pan to heat them up, if you like. This salad can be eaten warm or cold. If you’re starting with leftovers, jump to step #9.
I will explain why I recommend leaving a few inner husks on, whereas most recipes advise removing them. They will burn a little and blacken and give the corn a lovely smokey aroma. Take care if you’re doing these on a griddle pan in the kitchen and they catch on fire, although if you’ve soaked them in water with the corn, they should just smoulder.
We recommend grilling your corn over an outdoor barbecue or grill. If you’re grilling them over charcoal, we love these coconut charcoal BBQ briquettes which we use on a traditional clay brazier here in Cambodia. If we’re not using the clay brazier, we also like to use this stovetop Korean BBQ grill pan.
Mexican Grilled Corn Salad Recipe
- 4 corn cobs
- 1 tbsp neutral oil
- 1 tbsp coarse sea salt
- 120 g butter
- 120 g Mexican crema or creamy egg mayonnaise or sour cream
- 1 tbsp ancho chilli powder and/or dried chilli flakes
- 120 g cup cotija cheese grated or crumbly feta cheese if you can’t get cotija
- 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese optional
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander cilantro
- 1 lime quartered
- 1 tsp cotija cheese grated or crumbly feta cheese if you can’t get cotija
- 1 tsp Parmesan cheese optional
- 1 tsp dried ancho chilli powder and/or dried chilli flakes
- 1-2 birds-eye chillies fresh de-seeded, finely chopped (optional)
- 1 tsp coriander chopped
- Remove the outer husks of each corn cob, leaving just 3-4 inner husks on the cob, then carefully peel the remaining husks right back, taking care not to pull them entirely off the cob.
- Remove the silky threads from each cob by wiping them off with a damp kitchen paper towel.
- Soak the corn cobs with the remaining husks in a pot of hot water for 15 minutes.
- Heat up your barbecue, griddle or grill pan and add a tablespoon of oil, just enough to cover the surface.
- Dry the corn cobs completely with a dry paper towel, then place the corn cobs beside each other on the barbecue, griddle or grill pan. Season the cobs generously with coarse sea salt.
- Grill the corn cobs until they’re slightly charred, then turn all cobs to char-grill the next side, and so on, until each corn cob is char-grilled on all sides. This should take around 15 minutes.
- As the corn cobs are grilling, prep the other ingredients and the garnish.
- Once the corn cobs are char-grilled on all sides, take them off the stove, transfer them to a chopping board.
- After the cobs have cooled, cut the kernels from the cobs onto the chopping board, slicing them off with a sharp knife from the top to the bottom of each cob, getting as close to the inner core as you can.
- Slide the corn kernels into a big bowl, then add the rest of the ingredients – the Mexican crema or creamy egg mayonnaise or sour cream, ancho chilli powder (and dried chilli flakes if you like spice), the grated cotija cheese grated or crumbly feta cheese, the optional parmesan, fresh coriander, and the juice of the lime quarters – and combine.
- Spread the salad out onto a serving plate or scoop into a salad bowl and then garnish with the remaining ingredients. Only use the birds-eye chillies if you like your salad to have some bite.
Do let us know if you make this Mexican grilled corn salad recipe in the comments below or over on Instagram or Facebook, as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.