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This Mexican Corn Salad is the perfect summer recipe! It's made with fresh corn that is loaded with smoky flavors from charring it on the grill. Then it's tossed together with a creamy and citrusy dressing and topped with vegan feta cheese.
Summer is in full swing and this Vegan Mexican Corn Salad is on our table a lot. It's light, refreshing and SO full of flavor! Plus, it's a cinch to whip up and you'll want to make it all season long.
I make a big batch every week along with my Vegan Ceviche for quick lunches or to serve with dinner. Tonight, I'll be pairing it with my favorite Chipotle Vegan Burrito recipe.
It's also a great dish to make for barbecues, picnics, potlucks, and more. It stays crisp and fresh for a while and it's a guest favorite. It'll disappear fast!
This recipe is not traditional but it's inspired by a Mexican street corn dish called esquites and I put a salad spin on it. Esquites is made with corn kernels that are cooked in broth and seasonings. Then the kernels are topped with mayonnaise, cheese, and chile powder and served in a cup. I have not had the pleasure of enjoying the authentic version on the streets of Mexico, but we make veganized variations of it at home all the time.
Ingredients for Mexican Corn Salad
You'll need just 11 ingredients that are fairly simple and easy to find. See below for alternatives.
(full amounts and instructions in the recipe card below)
Corn: For this recipe, I used fresh corn on the cob in their husks and I grilled them as-is. Cooking them in their husks creates perfectly plump and juicy corn that has a wonderful smoky flavor. If you have fresh corn without the husks, you can use tin foil instead and cook it the same way.
I prefer fresh corn, but if you don't have it, you can use 3 cans of drained roasted corn or 6 cups of frozen roasted corn that is thawed. If you can't find roasted corn, you can use plain.
Vegan Feta Cheese: Mexican Street Corn is usually topped with cotija cheese, but that's not available in a vegan version and I haven't tried making my own yet. However, I've been eyeing this Vegan Cotija by Dora's Table and I may have to try it soon. It looks phenomenal! But, for now, I'll use store-bought vegan feta.
I absolutely LOVE the new Follow Your Heart Vegan Feta Cheese and I've been using it for so many recipes. It has a great texture and a PERFECT tangy cheese flavor. I highly recommend trying it out if you can get your hands on it.
However, if you can't find it, you can use homemade Vegan Parmesan Cheese or a store-bought variety. You can also use vegan cheese shreds, nutritional yeast, or seasoned crumbled tofu. It all works!
Vegan Mayonnaise: The mayo adds a nice creamy texture and a bit of zing, but if you want to skip the oil, you can use my Vegan Mayo Recipe, this Vegan Sour Cream Recipe or use an oil-free store-bought variety.
If you want to skip the creamy-style dressing, you can just omit the mayo or sour cream and use lime juice with 1-2 tablespoons of avocado or olive oil instead.
Jalapeños: I love fresh jalapeños and they yield very mild heat when they are deseeded. For more heat, you can leave in some seeds. If you want to omit the heat, you can replace the jalapeños with red or green bell peppers.
Red onions: If you want a milder flavor, you can slice up 3-4 green onions and add them instead. 2-3 small shallots will work too.
Cilantro: If you aren't a cilantro fan, you can use chopped parsley instead.
Limes: I love fresh lime in this recipe, but if you don't have limes, you can use lemons instead. They are a bit tangier, so you may want to reduce the amount and add more to taste.
Seasonings: feel free to omit what's listed or add your favorite. I usually add ½ teaspoon each of cumin and coriander with a few grinds of fresh pepper.
Various ways to cook corn on the cob
- Grilled: Preheat a grill to medium-high heat (450 °F). Place the corn in their husks on the grill and close the lid. Cook for 15-20 minutes until husks are charred on all sides, turning every 5 minutes.
- Roasted: Preheat your oven to 425°F. Place the corn in their husks directly on the middle rack. Cook for 25-30 minutes until tender. You can also use foil if you don't have corn in the husk.
- Boiled: Remove husks and silk from the corn. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add corn and cook for 3-5 minutes until corn is tender and plump.
- Pan-Roasted: Remove husks and silk from the corn. Carefully cut the kernels off the cob. Now, heat oil or vegan butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add corn and cook until it browns on all sides. Stir occasionally. I suggest working in a few batches so it's easier to brown.
How to assemble
This part is super easy! Once you've cooked the corn, let it cool a little before handling it. Remove the husks and silk if it's still intact. Carefully cut off the kernels using a sharp knife and add it to a large bowl.
Now add the red onions, jalapeños, cilantro, feta cheese, mayonnaise, lime juice, garlic powder, chili powder, smoked paprika, and salt. Toss gently to combine.
Taste for flavor and add more lime juice or seasonings if needed. Sprinkle the top with additional feta cheese, chili powder, and smoked paprika. Serve right away or cover and chill until ready to serve.
More zing - add zest from 1 lime
More heat - add ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
Veggies - tomatoes, bell peppers
Protein - black beans or crumbled tofu
How to store
This will last in the fridge for 3-4 days as long as it's stored in an airtight container.
How to serve
Anything goes with this fresh Mexican corn salad recipe! You can enjoy it as a light meal or serve it as a side dish. It goes well with Vegan Burgers, Portobello Mushroom Steaks, Tacos, Vegan Fajitas, and more
More corn recipes to try:
I love to hear from you
If you make this Mexican Corn Salad recipe, let me know what you think by ★ star rating it and leaving a comment below. It would really make my day. You can also follow me on Instagram and share your creation with me. Just tag me @veganhuggs and hashtag #veganhuggs so I don’t miss it.
Mexican Corn Salad
- 6 ears fresh corn , in husk (see note for alternatives)
- 1 small red onion , finely diced
- 2 jalapeños , seeded and finely chopped
- ½ cup cilantro , chopped
- ⅓ cup vegan feta cheese , + more for topping (see note for substitute)
- ⅓ cup vegan mayonnaise , more if needed
- 3-4 tablespoons lime , fresh-squeezed (about 2 limes)
- ½ teaspoon granulated garlic
- ¾ teaspoon salt , more to taste
- ½ teaspoon chili powder , + more for topping
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika , + more for topping
- Grill, Grill Pan or Oven
- Preheat a grill to medium-high heat (450 °F). Trim silk off ends of the corn and remove any loose pieces, but leave the corn in their husks. Place the corn on the grill and close the lid. Cook for 15-20 minutes until husks are charred on all sides, turning every 5 minutes.
- Let the corn cool a little before handling. Remove husks and silk. Now carefully cut off the kernels using a sharp knife. Add kernels to a large bowl.
- Now add the red onions, jalapeños, cilantro, feta cheese, mayonnaise, lime juice, garlic powder, chili powder, smoked paprika, and salt. Toss gently to combine. Taste for flavor and add more lime juice or seasonings if needed. Sprinkle the top with additional feta cheese, chili powder, and smoked paprika. Serve right away or cover and chill until ready to serve.
- ROASTING: Preheat your oven to 425°F. Place the corn in their husks directly on the middle rack. Cook for 25-30 minutes until tender. You can also use foil if you don't have corn in the husk.
- BOIL: Remove husks and silk from the corn. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add corn and cook for 3-5 minutes until corn is tender and plump.
- PAN ROASTED: Remove husks and silk from the corn. Carefully cut the kernels off the cob. Now, heat oil or vegan butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add corn and cook until it browns on all sides. Stir occasionally. I suggest working in a few batches so it's easier to brown.
- Vegan Parmesan: Homemade or Store-Bought.
- Vegan Cheese Shreds
- Nutritional Yeast (2-3 tablespoons)
- Crumbled Tofu: add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and ½ teaspoon of white vinegar. Season with salt and toss together.
- More zing: add zest from 1 lime
- More heat: add ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- Seasoning: ½ teaspoon of cumin, black pepper, coriander
- Veggies: tomatoes, bell peppers,
- Protein: black beans or crumbled tofu.
- Jalapeños: Jarred jalapeños will work. If you want to omit the heat, you can replace with red or green bell peppers.
- Red onions: green onions
- Cilantro: parsley
Hello Melissa, I just made this to take to my Vegan nephew. But I would make this again anytime! The flavors are wonderful, and so easy to put together. I did add black beans as you suggested for extra protein. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful recipe!
Hi Jakalyn, you're most welcome! I'm so happy you liked the recipe. Thank you for making it and sharing your feedback with me 🙂
Just made this and I had to comment. The flavor is phenomenal! I used roasted canned corn because that’s all I had. So good! Thank you!