Mexican Recipes/ Side Dishes

Esquites – Mexican street food at its best!

I was recently introduced to Esquites (Mexican Corn Salad) by my daughter who was visiting from New York. One evening, she agreed to make a side dish for dinner, and while I was preparing the salmon for the main course, I couldn’t help but be wowed by the colorful corn salad she was preparing.

Esquites are kernals of corn slathered with mayonnaise, crumbled cheese, lemon juice, chili powder and cilantro – usually served in cups by Mexican street vendors. “Spicy, crunchy, creamy” are words that can be used to best describe this dish. It worked perfectly with my salmon, but would also be great as a side for a barbeque.

You can use either fresh or frozen corn for this dish, but I can tell you right up front that using fresh corn is the best. I like to char my corn a bit as I cook in on the stovetop, however you can just cook it normally.

For part of the year, I live very close to the Mexican border, in fact, so close that if I’m not careful heading south on the freeway, I might wind up crossing over into Tijuana! Due to my love of Mexican food, I recently took a tour of various Tijuana street food vendors- I tasted tacos stuffed with mariscos (sea food), tostadas topped with ceviche, tortas stuffed with cheese and finely sliced roast beef (and even ice cream served at a shop next to a Sam’s Club) but no Esquites! However, it doesn’t matter since I am now able to make my own!

Interviewing an owner of a Tijuana street food outlet: “What, no esquites for sale?”

Esquites (Mexican Corn Salad)
Serves 4
A spicy, crunch and creamy corn salad- from south of the border!
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
  1. 3 cups corn, fresh or frozen
  2. 2 tbsp cooking oil
  3. 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  4. 1-2 garlic cloves, diced
  5. ½ cup scallion greens (green part of spring onions)
  6. Juice from 1 lime
  7. ½ jalapeno, seeded and diced
  8. ½ cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
  9. 2 oz cotija cheese (or feta cheese)
  10. 2 tsp chili powder, to taste
  11. chili flakes, to taste
  12. salt to taste
  1. If using fresh corn, remove the corn kernels from the cobs (using about 4 cobs). Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add the corn kernels and stir occasionally until the corn turns golden brown or slightly charred. Alternatively, prepare frozen corn according to directions on package.
  2. Transfer corn to a large bowl, add remaining ingredients and adjust seasoning according to taste. Garnish with a slice of lime and several pieces of whole cilantro (coriander). Serve warm or cold.
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  • Reply
    Lynn @ Oh-So Yummy
    January 20, 2016 at 9:41 am

    I wanted to eat this as soon as I read the title. anything CORN! Looks simple to make too! Is there something I can use instead of jalapenos? Or just leave them out? I am afraid of spicy foods…
    Lynn @ Oh-So Yummy recently posted…The Marine Room – San Diego Restaurant Week previewMy Profile

  • Reply
    January 20, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    I love corn, but have not heard of this salad…it sure sounds and looks delicious Fran…cheese and all…simple and easy…the way I like it!
    Have a great week 🙂
    Juliana recently posted…Have You Ever Cooked Sous Vide?My Profile

  • Reply
    John/Kitchen Riffs
    January 20, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    LOVE this dish! Never made it, for some reason. Can’t imagine why not — it’s just excellent. And your version looks superb. Thanks!
    John/Kitchen Riffs recently posted…Cabbage, Kielbasa, and Black-Eyed Pea SoupMy Profile

  • Reply
    January 21, 2016 at 10:39 am

    This is just my kind of salad: I love everything with corn in it and the colors and creaminess of this treat looks and sounds so tempting.
    Daniela recently posted…Hidden Treasures, Culinary Highlights and Natural Wonders-The Splendor of Peru’s Southern CoastMy Profile

  • Reply
    January 23, 2016 at 6:45 am

    Simple and so delicious .. this is a great recipe Fran.

  • Reply
    Denise [email protected] Brazil To You
    January 24, 2016 at 2:29 am

    Except for the cotija cheese, I have all the ingredients at home. I gotta try this at home. Love corn and everything else made with it.

  • Reply
    Melanie @ Melanie Cooks
    January 28, 2016 at 7:52 am

    I never heard of this salad, but it looks delicious! I love all the ingredients that are in it, I need to give it a try!
    Melanie @ Melanie Cooks recently posted…Best Easy Slow Cooker Beef Chili RecipeMy Profile

  • Reply
    Kathy @ Beyond the Chicken Coop
    January 28, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    I think I’m in love with this dish! Anything spicy, crunchy, and creamy has my name all over it!
    Kathy @ Beyond the Chicken Coop recently posted…Baked Chicken NuggetsMy Profile

  • Reply
    Peachy @ The Peach Kitchen
    January 30, 2016 at 10:38 pm

    I love corn and this looks like a great side dish to meats and fish!

  • Reply
    Simply Sweet Justice
    February 9, 2016 at 1:28 am

    I’ve never tried anything like this! As soon as I start seeing fresh corn in the store, I’m making this. It will be a great side dish for parties!
    Simply Sweet Justice recently posted…Whole-Grain Sunflower Rye BreadMy Profile

  • Reply
    Lynn @ Oh-So Yummy
    June 2, 2016 at 7:25 am

    I made this earlier this year and it was very tasty without the jalapenos (I can’t do spicy)! I only shared a little bit with the hubby haha! 🙂
    Lynn @ Oh-So Yummy recently posted…Tostadas North Park – Food and Drink PairingMy Profile

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