Stemless wine glass filled with corn salad, garnished with seasoned rim and lime wedge.

Esquites (Mexican Corn Salad) is perfect when you need a refreshing side dish for your next BBQ. It's light, spicy, and ready in minutes with just a handful of simple ingredients.

Horses in a wine glass on black surface. Text reads "Esquites (Mexican corn)".Horses in a wine glass on black surface. Text reads "Esquites (Mexican corn)".

Esquites: Mexican Corn Salad

If you’re ready to discover your new favorite BBQ side dish, then you need to try my Grilled Esquites. This makeshift version of my Elotes takes everything that’s great about the original and turns it into a game-changing salad that’s even easier to devour. This Mexican corn salad is packed with smoky, charred flavor from the grill, creamy acidity from the dressing, and a hint of spice from my Fiesta Rub that will have you coming back for more. It’s the perfect blend of simple ingredients and bold flavor that will make your backyard barbecue feel like a fiesta.

What are Esquites?

Esquites are a popular Mexican street food that are basically elotes (Mexican corn on the cob), but taken off the cob. To make them, you start with grilled corn kernels, then toss them in a creamy, spicy sauce. Then, you top them with cotija cheese, chili powder, and fresh cilantro. I love esquites because they are already taken off the cob. This means you don’t have to worry about husks or strings as much (although, let’s face it, corn is corn and you may still need to use some string). Overall, it’s an easier way to enjoy all the tasty flavors of Mexican street corn, which makes it perfect for serving at get-togethers as a delicious side dish.

Collage of images showing the steps to grill and shell corn for salad.Collage of images showing the steps to grill and shell corn for salad.

The best corn for grilling

When it comes to making the tastiest esquites, it’s essential to start with great corn. Look for cobs with husks that look fresh and green. Gently peel the top about an inch to check for well-developed kernels and unwanted guests (like worms). The silk should be pale and silky, not brown and brittle.

If you’re short on time, pre-shucked corn is a convenient option. While frozen or canned corn can work in a pinch, I highly recommend using fresh corn for grilling. The charred, smoky flavor you get from grilling fresh corn gives this Mexican Corn Salad a depth of flavor you can’t get any other way.

How long to grill corn?

Grilling corn for esquites takes about 8-10 minutes on the grill at about 350 degrees F. As the corn cooks, you’ll start to smell that irresistible sweet corn aroma in the air coming from the grill. Keep an eye on those kernels. You’re looking for a nice char on the outside while still having that perfect juiciness when you bite into them. Turn the cobs every couple of minutes to ensure even cooking and to get a nice char that adds both flavor and visual appeal to your Mexican Street Corn Salad.

Glass bowl with mayonnaise, surrounded by lime wedges and other dressing ingredients.Glass bowl with mayonnaise, surrounded by lime wedges and other dressing ingredients.

Seasoning and garnishes for esquites

While your sweet, smoky corn is crackling with flavor, this dish’s secret weapon is the seasoning. It’s a creamy, tart blend that coats each kernel in bright, spicy notes. Here’s what you’ll need to make it:

Here's what I recommend using to best dress this Mexican corn salad:

  • 1 cup cotija cheese (crumbled)
  • 2 Limes (from the dressing, cut into wedges)
  • fresh coriander (chopped)

How to prepare Esquites

Now that you have a craving for this delicious Mexican corn salad, let's see the simple steps to prepare it:

  1. Preheat the grill. Fire up your grill for medium-high heat, aiming for that sweet spot around 350 degrees F. I'm making this recipe on my Original Weber 22″ Charcoal Barbecuebut you can also do it on your gas grill. This temperature will give you perfectly charred corn without burning it.
  2. Prepare the corn. Peel the corn cobs and add the melted butter with a basting brush. A generous brushing of butter and a sprinkle of salt will help give the corn kernels a burst of flavor. Place the cobs directly on the grill and let the grate do its thing.
  3. Prepare the garnish. While the corn is grilling to perfection, make that creamy, spicy dressing by mixing it with a Rubber spatula. The mayo base gets a kick of flavor from my Fiesta Rub and bright lime zest. It’s a perfect balance of richness and spice. You can make your own rub at home using the recipe here, or use your favorite spice mix.
  4. Shell the grilled corn. Once the corn is nice and charred, it's time to make it as easy to eat as possible. Carefully remove the hot cobs and use a sharp knife to get those smoky kernels off the cob.
  5. Arrange in layers, serve and enjoy. Now for the fun part. Place the grilled corn kernels, your delicious seasoning, and some crumbled cotija cheese in glasses or on a plate. Each spoonful will be the perfect mix of smoky, creamy, tart, and totally satisfying.
Corn salad in a glass bowl garnished with lime wedges.Corn salad in a glass bowl garnished with lime wedges.

Serving and Storage Tips

  • Serving. I love serving esquites in stemless wine glasses. Presenting this layered corn salad in a glass takes it from a simple side dish to a showstopper. The layers of golden corn, creamy dressing, and crumbled cotija cheese create a visual feast that’s sure to wow your guests. But hey, a regular bowl or baking sheet works great too if that’s more your style.
  • Storage and heating. If you have leftovers (which is unlikely), store your esquites in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. To reheat, microwave for a while or leave at room temperature. A fresh squeeze of lime juice and a splash of cotija can liven up the flavors beautifully.

Other delicious recipes with corn

If you can't get enough of corn, you're in luck. Check out the Hey Grill Hey app to browse my collection of corn recipes. In the meantime, here are a few of my favorite ways to enjoy this summer BBQ staple:

Stemless wine glass filled with esquites, garnished with a flavored rim and lime wedge.Stemless wine glass filled with esquites, garnished with a flavored rim and lime wedge.

Easy recipe for grilled squites

Take that corn off the cob and put it in your mouth with this simple recipe for Esquites on your grill. Give it a try and remember to give the recipe a 5 star rating if you enjoyed making it. Don't forget to share your corn creations with me on Instagram Profile AND Facebook via tag @heygrillheyFor more tips, tricks and video tutorials for my tastiest recipes, go to my Youtube channel.

Calories: 267kilocalorie | Carbohydrates: 4G | Protein: 4G | Fat: 26G | Saturated fats: 7G | Cholesterol: 34mg | Sodium: 468mg | Potassium: 59mg | Fiber: 1G | Sugar: 2G | Vitamin A: 530IU | C vitamin: 6.5mg | Soccer: 135mg | Iron: 0.5mg

Nutrition information is calculated automatically and should only be used as an approximation.

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