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This delicious elote salad turns Mexican street corn into a salad! It’s creamy, smoky, salty, and absolutely irresistible.

Elote salad
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A favorite side dish over here? Elote, aka Mexican grilled corn. The smoky sweet corn kernels slathered in an creamy sauce are the epitome of delicious to us. So here’s a fabulous way to eat the same flavors: this Elote Corn Salad! It’s absolutely irresistible, pairing grilled corn with a tangy sauce and bursts of salty cheese. You can also use frozen corn and sauté it up for a quick fix in any season!

What is elote?

Elote, aka Mexican street corn, is grilled corn slathered in a creamy sauce of sour cream, mayonnaise, and chili powder, and sprinkled with cheese. It’s a popular snack served by street vendors in Mexico. Of course, it’s the very best on the street in Mexico or cities that have a strong Mexican heritage to their cuisine: there’s nothing like it!

This elote salad is a spin on the popular side dish that uses all the flavor of elote. But you’ll cut the corn kernels off the cob, making it into a free form corn salad. It’s essentially the same as esquites, a version of elote served in a cup by Mexican street vendors.

Ingredients in elote salad

This elote salad is easy to make: the only part that requires any sort of technique is cooking the corn. See the methods below! Otherwise, all you’ll need is:

  • Corn on the cob (or frozen corn, see below)
  • Green onion
  • Cilantro
  • Mayonnaise
  • Lime juice
  • Cotija cheese, queso fresco, or feta cheese
  • Spices: Chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, and kosher salt
Elote corn salad

Find Cotija cheese or queso fresco (feta is a substitute!)

If you can, look for Cotija cheese for this recipe! It’s the traditional Mexican style of cheese that’s use in elote. Here’s a bit more about it and a few substitutes:

  • Cotija cheese is a Mexican cow’s milk cheese: it’s white with a dry texture and a very salty flavor. You can buy it fresh or aged, but it’s usually easiest to find fresh at the grocery.
  • Queso fresco means fresh cheese in Spanish and is another Mexican cow’s milk cheese. It works as a stand in for Cotija, but it’s much less salty. You may want to add a little salt to recipes if you use this substitute.
  • Feta cheese is a Greek cheese that has a similar crumbly texture to Cotija, and it’s easy to find at the store. It’s similar in saltiness to Cotija as well.

5 ways to cook the corn

This elote salad is delicious no matter how you cook the corn! Mix mayo, lime, and spices into pretty much anything and it will taste delicious (really). Here are our top methods for cooking corn for this recipe:

  • Grilled: Elote salad is at its best with grilled corn! Try this Perfect Grilled Corn.
  • Roasted: Roasted corn is delicious and easy. Try Roasted Corn.
  • Boiled: The standard way to cook corn? Boiled. Try Boiled Corn on the Cob.
  • Sauteed: You can use fresh or frozen corn kernels for this recipe too! Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a skillet, then add the corn kernels and cook 3 to 4 minutes until bright yellow and tender.
  • Smoked: If you have a smoker, this is the way to go! Try Smoked Corn.

That’s it! We hope you love this elote salad recipe. It’s the perfect summer side dish for a grilled dinner! Let us know in the comments below what you think.

Elote salad

More corn salad recipes

There are so many more ways to make a corn salad! Once you’ve tried this elote salad, we recommend the following:

This elote corn salad recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free.

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Elote Salad

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 4 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings 1x
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This delicious elote salad turns Mexican street corn into a salad! It’s creamy, smoky, salty, and absolutely irresistible.


  • 6 ears corn or 5 cups corn kernels*
  • 1 green onion
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • ½ cup crumbled Cotija cheese, queso fresco, or feta cheese
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon each garlic powder, cumin, and kosher salt (or more salt to taste)


  1. Cook the corn:
    1. Grilled: For grilled corn, heat a grill to medium high heat (375 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit). Shuck the corn. Use your hands to rub oil on each corn cob evenly. Place the corn directly on the grill grates and cook until it begins to blacken, then turn. Cook about 12 to 15 minutes total, until blackened on all sides.
    2. Sautéed: Use 5 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels and sauté for a minute or two in butter in a medium skillet.
  2. Cut the corn off the cob: Find a bundt pan, or large rimmed baking sheet or pan. Place the corn into the hole in the bundt pan or hold the corn vertically inside the baking sheet, then use a chef’s knife to slice down and remove the corn from the cob. The sides of the pan catch the kernels that fly when cutting. See How to Cut Corn off The Cob for more.
  3. Prep the vegetables: Thinly slice the green onion. Finely chop the cilantro.
  4. Make the dressing: In a medium bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, lime juice, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, and kosher salt.
  5. Serve: Mix together the grilled corn, vegetables, and dressing. If desired, top with a sprinkle more cheese crumbles.


*For a quick fix, you can sauté 5 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a skillet, then add the corn kernels and cook 3 to 4 minutes until bright yellow and tender.

  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Grilled
  • Cuisine: Summer
  • Diet: Vegetarian

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Angela Johnson says:

    This is really yummy. At first, I thought it looked like an awful lot of corn, but as I stand here stealing bites while I make the rest of dinner…

    1. Haha we love hearing that! Thank you so much for trying it out and letting us know.

  2. Jill says:

    Excellent recipe! I used canned corn and charred it on the stove. Don’t skip this step, it really adds some character to this simple but delicious side dish.

    The recipe doesn’t actually have a step for adding the cheese, but just add it in at any point; the order of operations here isn’t really important. I used queso fresca and it was good – I think the saltiness of Cotija would be even better!

  3. Tom Matthes says:

    Excellent recipe. For the corn, I removed the kernels and placed them in a cast iron skillet (medium heat) for a few minutes and them added a 1/4 cup diced bacon and continued to cook to a light char. Served with Shrimp Veracruz.

  4. Christina says:

    This is my favorite side to make. Especially with tacos! So much flavor

  5. Anna Norret says:

    This recipe seems simple and delicious! Just wondering if it would compromise the flavour to roast the corn in the oven instead of grilling them?

      1. Catie says:

        I am making the elote corn salad for Easter. I was debating making the day before but then got to thinking maybe not a good idea. Have you tried making day ahead? Thanks .

        1. Alex Overhiser says:

          The flavors dull just a bit in the fridge, so you may want to save a bit the lime juice until serving (or add a little extra).

  6. Lisa says:

    Is this best warm or chilled?

    1. Sonja Overhiser says:

      We think it’s best warm or room temp!

      1. Lisa says: