Esquites (Warm Mexican Corn Salad) Recipe

Indulge in the rich flavors of Mexican cuisine with this delicious Esquites, a warm corn salad bursting with savory, tangy, and spicy notes. Perfect as a side dish or a light meal, this recipe is sure to delight your taste buds with its vibrant flavors.

Preparation Time:

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes


  • 4 cups fresh corn kernels (about 4-5 ears of corn)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 jalapeño peppers, finely chopped (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup crumbled cotija cheese (or feta cheese)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional toppings: Tajín seasoning, hot sauce, lime wedges


Cook the Corn:

  1. If using fresh corn on the cob, shuck the corn and carefully cut the kernels off the cob.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the corn kernels to the skillet and sauté for about 5-7 minutes, or until the corn is golden and slightly charred, stirring occasionally.

Prepare the Esquites:

  1. Push the cooked corn to one side of the skillet and add the minced garlic, chopped onion, and jalapeño peppers to the empty space.
  2. Sauté the aromatics for 2-3 minutes until softened and fragrant, then mix them with the corn.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low.

Add the Flavors:

  1. Stir in the mayonnaise, crumbled cotija cheese (or feta cheese), chopped cilantro, lime juice, and chili powder into the corn mixture.
  2. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, stirring gently, until the cheese is melted and the flavors are well combined.


  1. Transfer the Esquites to a serving bowl.
  2. Garnish with additional crumbled cheese, chopped cilantro, a sprinkle of chili powder, and optional toppings like Tajín seasoning or hot sauce.
  3. Serve warm with lime wedges on the side for squeezing over the salad.

Serving Suggestions:

  • Side Dish: Perfect alongside grilled meats, tacos, or enchiladas.
  • Light Meal: Enjoy as a satisfying vegetarian dish with a side of avocado or a fresh salad.

Cooking Tips:

  • Fresh Corn: Use fresh corn for the best flavor, but frozen corn can also be used if fresh is not available.
  • Charred Corn: Don’t shy away from a bit of charring on the corn kernels; it adds a smoky depth to the dish.
  • Adjust Spice Level: Remove the seeds and membranes from jalapeños for a milder flavor or add more for extra heat.

Nutritional Benefits:

  • Corn: Rich in fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin.
  • Cotija Cheese: Adds calcium and protein, enhancing the savory flavor of the dish.
  • Cilantro and Lime: Provide freshness and a burst of citrusy flavor.

Dietary Information:

  • Vegetarian: Suitable for vegetarians.
  • Gluten-Free: Naturally gluten-free.
  • Low-Carb Option: Reduce the amount of corn or substitute with diced zucchini or bell peppers for a lower-carb version.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe:

  • Bold Flavors: Combines tangy, savory, and spicy elements for a flavorful experience.
  • Quick and Easy: Ready in just 25 minutes, making it perfect for weeknight dinners.
  • Versatile: Can be customized with your favorite toppings and easily adjusted to suit your spice preference.


Esquites is a delightful Mexican corn salad that brings together the vibrant flavors of fresh corn, tangy cheese, zesty lime, and aromatic spices. Whether served as a side dish or a light meal, this recipe is sure to please your palate with its savory and satisfying taste. Enjoy the warmth and richness of Esquites as a delicious addition to your Mexican-inspired menu.

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