Elote is the Mexican name for grilled corn on the cob that is coated in spices and cheese. Esquites is everything from the cob removed and served basically as a corn salad. These salad recipes are also called Mexican street corn salad.

I’ve never gone crazy with the whole elote idea, mostly because it’s messy to eat that way. However, with the corn removed from the cob, other yummy ingredients added, plus a zingy dressing? I’ll eat that with a spoon!

The two recipes I printed a while back and saved, are from two of my favorite blogs – Tricia’s Saving Room for Dessert and Laura’s Hummingbird Thyme. I decided to fuse the two and see what happened!

Mexican Street Corn Salad

6 firm corn cobs in their husks
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 purple onion, finely chopped
2 small red bell peppers, finely chopped
A dozen or so green onions, thinly sliced
8 ounces feta cheese

1/3 cup good mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 small cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1 teaspoon salt

For serving:
Extra crumbled Mexican cheese or feta
Freshly chopped cilantro
Cayenne pepper flakes

Begin by “cooking” the corn cobs in the microwave. Wrap the cobs in a dish towel, and cook on high for 8 minutes. Let them cool in the microwave first for about 5 minutes, then remove them from the microwave.

When the corn cobs have cooled down, remove the husks and silk. With this microwave technique, they come off really easily. Roll the cobs in oil poured onto a flat surface like a jelly roll pan, to get the corn completely coated.

Using your gas stove top, grill the corn, just as you would roast chile peppers, until some of the corn is charred. Continue until all six have been grilled. Set pan aside to let the corn cool further.

Make the dressing by combining all of the ingredients in a blender jar; set aside at room temperature. Refrigerate if not using right away.

Cut the corn off of the cobs, break them into smaller pieces and place The corn in a large serving bowl.

Add the onion, red bell peppers, green onions, and toss together well.

Add the dressing and stir. You might not want to add the whole amount if you’re not into heavy dressings.

To serve, sprinkle the salad with more cheese if desired, and cilantro, and offer cayenne pepper flakes for those who like spicy!

Cotija cheese is a popular crumbly Mexican cheese, but I find it too salty. If you like it, definitely use it, or use feta cheese.

The salad is mostly about the corn, but you could always include an avocado and/or tomatoes in the salad. And, you could also add white or black beans.

The basic salad ingredients can be tossed together ahead of time, but only add the onions right before serving.

If you want more smokiness, use a smoky paprika, and up the chipotle powder a bit.

note: If you want the corn to look more yellow, skip the grilling part.

51 thoughts on “Esquites

    • Thanks, Molly! By the way I meant to say something about the beautiful photos on your last blog post. Made me miss France…

  1. This looks so very delicious! Unfortunately, I wasn’t happy with the quality of corn I got this year, which is a big deal for me, as I love fresh corn! But this recipe makes me think I should give it another try! :)

    • It really works well, even inside on the stove! My husband will only grill with charcoal, so it isn’t worth lighting charcoal just to grill some corn cobs!

    • We’re still having good corn because it grows here, and nearby in Kansas. I didn’t used to make it so much, but in my older age I’ve gotten kind of addicted to corn. I don’t mind it on the cob with butter and salt, but this salad is the bomb!

  2. I really like all the flavors of the traditional dish, but I’m with you on eating it on the cob — way too messy. So when I make this, mine looks a lot like yours. Much easier to eat, and frankly I think you can flavor it better when prepared like this, too.

  3. This is beautiful. I like plain corn on the cob, and that is about as messy as I get. I cannot imagine the elote – especially as a street food. I would be an oily mess! I love what oyu have done here. And, luckily, we have been having an amazing corn season here. Sweetest I can remember.

    • Messy indeed. Interestingly enough, I used the microwave trick today, and had corn on the cob with butter and salt. Like you said, it’s messy enough, not only for your face but for your teeth!

  4. I’ve been buying corn every few days this summer. It’s been so deliciously sweet. I love this recipe — like deconstructed Elote! Perfect. :-) ~Valentina

  5. I love corn on the cob when the fresh crop comes it — every time I make it, I do extra ears for salads of this type. I hadn’t thought of a creamy dressing like yours — I hope there’s more corn this year so I can try it. We do corn on the grill, which would have the same flavor as your two-step method.

    And there’s no end to the variety of ingredients you can add, it doesn’t have to be Mexican (in fact, there’s even a French version of corn salad). And in winter it even works with frozen kernels — far less work!

    be well… mae at

    • My husband will only use charcoal, so to just the two of us, it’s not worth going through all of that to grill outside. It really worked on the gas stove, and made the house smell really good!

  6. Interesting! I never knew that Esquites basically meant Mexican street corn in salad form. We’ve made the salad version before, and it’s a huge favorite! (To be fair, we love the on-the-cob version, too, but it is so darned messy to eat.) We’re in prime corn season here right now in New York, and I’m totally going to pick up some fresh corn from our nearby farm stand now!

    • I’m kind of relieved that most all commenters agree that elote is messy! But everyone agrees it’s wonderful, especially in salad form.

  7. ooo one of my favorite summery salads! I love your recipe for it, perfect instructions and the pictures make it so easy to follow!

    • Thanks. It’s such a fun salad to make cause you can really mix and match the ingredients. And the dressing can be just about anything!

  8. Hi Mimi, this looks great! We love Elote, even though it is indeed messy to eat. I’ve recently made a salad version, using the same ingredients as for the Elote (sour cream, chilli powder, cheese) and it was great. These Esquites look very colorful and tasty.

    • That’s exactly what I love about a salad that is corn-based. You can pretty much add anything you want, and create any kind of dressing you want! It’s very versatile. Hope you’re both doing well, and your parents.

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