Healthy Mexican Corn Salad: Tasty Street Food At Home
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If you want to recreate that delicious street food experience at home then look no further than my recipe for esquites-style Mexican corn salad. It’s so tasty you’ll forget how healthy it is!
Did you know that a Mexican street corn salad recipe is also called esquites, or elote en vaso which means corn in a cup!
Of course, corn is a key ingredient in this delicious Mexican street corn salad, but specifically, you want to choose fresh over canned corn if it’s available.
If you can’t get corn on the cob where you live at this time of year, don’t worry though canned corn will work fine. You could also use frozen corn if you only have that.
For an even more traditional dish, see if you can acquire some white corn, rather than yellow, as this is what they tend to use in Mexico!
I’m also using red onion for extra sweetness and crunch, alongside baby spinach, and fresh cilantro which is really going to make the colour of that crisp golden corn pop.
So traditionally Mexican corn salad recipes like this require queso fresco or cotija cheese.
However, you can also use ricotta Salata, or any other salty, crumbly cheese like mature cheddar or feta cheese if that’s what is available to you.
For my no mayo esquites recipe I chose to use greek yogurt, not only is it healthier than mayonnaise, but it’s also full of protein!
This is going to be used to mix with the cheese, and just from the corn mixture to create such delicious flavors that will definitely bring out the sweetness of the corn.
I’ve got to say, the combination of colors and flavors in this recipe really makes the perfect side dish or snack. I think I’ll be making more street corn recipes from now on!
For the rest of the ingredients please check out the recipe card below.
How many calories are in this fresh corn salad?
There are 193 calories in this recipe, and 11 g of protein, so it’s just the right amount for a healthy snack.
Here’s a full overview:
Over the years corn has fallen victim to many myths including the one that says corn isn’t very nutritious.
However, corn is actually full of vitamin C and contains two phytochemicals needed for good vision.
But it gets even better, as when corn is cooked its cancer-fighting antioxidants increase by 25-50 percent! Now that’s a health benefit if ever I heard one!
It is also really fibrous so it’s great to use in your diet if you’re trying to lose weight.
The protein that you’re going to get from the cheese and yogurt is also great for weight loss as well as repairing and gaining muscle.
A high-protein snack like this one will be a great tool to help satiety levels between meals.
And at less than 200 calories it’s just the amount I’d recommend when following a healthy lifestyle.
Did you know we’ve prepared a Free 7-Day Weight Loss Meal Plan if you need more inspiration?
How to make healthy corn esquites?
This is a super easy recipe that you can knock up in just 15 minutes. It would be the best snack on the go or potluck-perfect side!
Time needed: 15 minutes.
Here’s a look at how to make it:
- Cook work:
Hardly any prep is needed for this recipe which is great. Melt some butter on medium-high heat and add the chopped onion and corn kernels with a pinch of salt, cooking for 5-7 minutes until you have perfect grilled corn.
Reduce the heat and add in the water, scraping off those yummy sticky bits from the bottom of the pan. This is going to create your jus to mix with the rest of the dressing ingredients.
- Assembly work:
In a medium-sized bowl add the grated or crumbled cheese, greek yogurt, chopped baby spinach, chopped cilantro, garlic powder, salt, and the corn with its liquid. Mix thoroughly, until everything is incorporated.
- To serve:
Pop it in two cups to feel like you’re really on the streets of Mexico then top with red pepper flakes and lime to taste – Arriba!
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Corn Salad FAQs
Traditionally, street corn is made with kernels from a white ear of corn and white onion.
It’s then dressed with cojita cheese, Mexican crema, and mayonnaise before being topped with optional hot sauce and a slice of lime.
Now that all sounds amazing, but the calories could double with ingredients like that.
That’s why I chose to make healthy swaps with ingredients like greek yogurt to keep those cheeky calories at bay.
Cojita cheese is similar to parmesan cheese, feta, queso fresco, and ricotta salata.
So if you can’t find it in the shops they’re sure to stock a substitute that works well for your creamy dressing.
Yes, you can definitely eat raw corn in a salad. For this recipe, however, I suggest you grill it with butter to soften it up which is the best way to eat this epic salad.
Raw corn isn’t necessarily healthier than cooked corn. Studies show that while it lost some vitamin C during tests, the antioxidant levels in corn actually rose.
Meaning it is healthier to eat cooked corn if you want those cancer-fighting benefits.
Store your corn salad in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days.
This salad is a snack so it’s actually great on its own.
You can make this dish up to 24 hours ahead as long as you keep it in the fridge, but it’s best to bring it up to room temperature about 30 minutes before serving.
You could jazz up this Mexican corn salad recipe in a few ways.
- Add in some extra veggies other than just sweet corn. You could try black beans as well, red bell pepper, or juicy cherry tomatoes.
- Try some different toppings like cooling sour cream. Kick up that heat with hot sauce or chili powder. Or give it a fresh taste with a lime vinaigrette.
There are so many different ways to try it, it will soon make the perfect addition to your recipe collection.
More Recipes Like This
If you loved this healthy Mexican street corn salad recipe then you’ll love these:
- Smashed Cucumber and Edamame Snack
- High-Protein Red Kidney Bean Salad
- 14 Healthy High-Protein Vegetarian Snacks
- 1 tsp butter
- ½ red onion (chopped)
- 1 cup corn kernels (from yellow or white tender corn on the cob)
- 2 oz queso fresco (cotija or ricotta salata, grated or finely crumbled; can also be aged cheddar)
- 4 tbsp Greek yogurt
- 1 oz baby spinach (chopped)
- 1 handful cilantro leaves (chopped)
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp salt
- Red pepper flakes (per taste)
- Lime (per taste)
- In a skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter.1 tsp butter
- Add the chopped onion and the corn with a pinch of salt. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, until the kernels are golden brown.½ red onion, 1 cup corn kernels
- Turn the heat to low and add ¼ cup of water and mix, scraping the bottom of the pan. Once you have about 1-2 tbsp of water left, turn off the heat.
- In a medium sized bowl add the grated or crumbled cheese, Greek yogurt, chopped baby spinach, chopped cilantro, garlic powder, ½ tsp salt and the corn with its liquid. Mix thoroughly, until everything is incorporated.2 oz queso fresco, 4 tbsp Greek yogurt, 1 oz baby spinach, 1 handful cilantro leaves, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp garlic powder
- Serve in two cups. Top with red pepper flakes and lime per taste.Red pepper flakes, Lime
And there you have it, if you’re looking for a lettuce-less salad to take to a summer barbeque, or you want some fakeaway street food that’s full of taste but without the guilt then this is the best recipe.
It’s got the perfect combination of healthy veggies and cheesy sauce that makes you feel like you’re having a bit of a treat without the extra calories. I just know you’re going to love it!
If you love Mexican food take a look at this collection of 50 Vegan Mexican Recipes.