It always strikes me as fitting that my middle daughter, Rosie, was born on Cinco de Mayo. Nobody likes a party as much as she does, so the fact that her birthday falls on a holiday that involves much color and fanfare makes perfect sense.

cinco de mayo birthdayFor Rosie’s first birthday, we threw a Cinco de Mayo party in her honor and have had many Mexican-themed birthdays ever since. It’s never a problem to settle on the main event for such gatherings — enchiladas, tacos, rice and beans, fajitas, mole — but inspiration for vegetable sides and salads is trickier to come by. My staple dishes from the produce drawer don’t usually mesh with south-of-the-border flavors. And so when I discovered this savory side dish in the pages of Cooking Light recently, I was all over it.

The recipe is inspired by elote, the spicy, tangy corn on the cob sold by street vendors in Mexico. Traditionally, the corn is slightly charred, slathered in lime juice and mayo, and finished with chili and Cotija cheese. It’s crazy good. This corn salad is an off-the-cob version whereby the fixings become a creamy sauce for the warm, sweet corn.

This Mexican Street Corn Salad calls for frozen corn, which means it can be part of Mexican feasts year round. If you can get your hands on fresh, it’s worth the effort of shucking and cutting the kernels from the cobs. Either way, this is a Mexican side worth making, delicious with whatever you have at the center of your plate and certainly good enough for my Cinco de Mayo baby.

5 from 2 votes

Mexican Street Corn Salad

Feel free to make this with fresh corn if available. You will need approximately 6 cups of corn, which is about 6 large cobs, shucked with the kernels cut from the cob. The salad is delicious warm or room temperature and terrific as a leftover.
Servings 8 servings


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 6 cups fresh or frozen (defrosted) corn, divided
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ancho chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 ounces Cotija cheese, grated or crumbled (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Heat a large cast-iron or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add half of the corn and 1 teaspoon sugar; toss to combine. Cook, without stirring, 3 minutes or until corn begins to brown on bottom. Stir and cook 3 minutes or until most of the kernels are browned.
  2. Remove corn from pan and repeat with remaining 1 tablespoon oil, corn, and 1 teaspoon sugar.
  3. Combine mayonnaise, lime juice, chile powder, coriander, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add corn and cilantro; toss to combine. Sprinkle cheese over the corn.
  4. Serve warm or at room temperature.