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This summery and delicious Mexican corn salad is reminiscent of esquites, a popular street snack or a cob-free version of elotes. Corn kernels are sautéed in butter until they’re just the right amount of charred and then mixed in a spicy, creamy lime dressing and topped with more good stuff like cotija cheese and cilantro. This Mexican corn salad is off-the-cob good, and adding the word “salad” at the end of the name makes us feel even better.

Makes 6 servings of Mexican Corn Salad


  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 4 cups corn kernels (canned or fresh)
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
  • ½ red onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • ¼ cup mexican crema or sour cream
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ⅓ cup cotija cheese, finely crumbled
  • *Salt and pepper, to taste
  • * Imperfect Foods Corn Tortilla Chips for dipping 


  1. Melt butter in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the corn to your pan and cook for 5 minutes or until it just begins to char.
  2. Let corn cool to room temperature. Add to a medium bowl with red bell pepper, onion, and cilantro. 
  3. In a small bowl, stir together lime juice, crema, mayonnaise, and spices. Pour dressing over corn mixture and toss to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with cotija cheese and additional cilantro. Serve and enjoy!

Recipe notes and variations

  • To make this recipe vegan, swap out the butter for olive oil, the Mexican crema for cashew crema, the mayonnaise for store-bought or homemade vegan mayo, and the cotija cheese for crumbled cashews and/or nutritional yeast.  
  • Save any leftovers and add to an egg scramble the next day or a delicious sweet potato and black bean soup.


  • Shannon M
    July 22, 2021 at 2:20 pm

    So good! I have a similar recipe but with avocados. This one definitely kept better 😉
    I used leftover cooked corn on the cob and it turned out great. I used a little more sour cream too.

    • Imperfect Foods
      July 23, 2021 at 1:03 am

      Yummm! Sounds so delish 😋

  • Sarah E
    July 17, 2022 at 11:28 am

    This is one of our favorite recipes! Bright and refreshing, and we can eat it as a side, a dip, or on top of bowls. Fantastic!


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