This fresh summer salad, boasting sweet corn, zesty peppers and onions, and creamy avocado is tossed in a tangy cilantro-lime vinaigrette and generously topped with queso fresco. It’s the perfect side dish for a summer barbecue, scooped up with tortilla chips as an appetizer, or alongside nearly any Latin-inspired meal. However you serve it, it’s guaranteed to be gone in a flash- whenever I serve this to guests, I’m asked for the recipe!
- Jalapenos – Jalapenos add a nice kick to this salad, but if you prefer less spice, feel free to leave them out. It’s equally great without them.
- Fresh Corn Cobs – If fresh corn isn’t in season or you’d prefer a time-saver, you can find pre-schucked ready-to-eat corn cobs in the produce section of some grocery stores. Frozen fresh corn also works great! I would not recommend canned corn for this recipe. If I’m being completely honest, I use a bag of frozen fresh corn most often. You don’t need to even cook it- I just thaw it in the refrigerator.
- Queso Fresco – Queso fresco is a crumbly, white Mexican cheese. It is readily available in most grocery stores and comes vacuum packed in about a 4-inch wheel. Look for it near the pre-packaged sliced cheeses, near other Latin cheese. Cotija is a similar cheese and they can be used here interchangeably. If you aren’t able to find those options, feta would be great in a pinch!
- Lime-Cilantro Vinaigrette – Note that this salad only calls for about half a recipe of dressing. The leftover dressing makes a great marinade, especially for fish tacos!
How to Make Corn Salad with Queso Fresco
- Begin by mixing up the Lime-Cilantro Vinaigrette. Lime juice, vinegar, garlic, salt, and a touch of sugar are combined in the blender. Then, with the blender running, you’ll drizzle in some oil and then some fresh cilantro.
- Next move onto the salad. If your vegetables are prepped and ready to go- this salad comes together fast! Start by slicing some fresh corn kernels off the cob. The kernels are boiled briefly, drained, and rinsed. If using frozen corn, you can simply let it thaw in the refrigerator- no cooking required.
- The corn is then combined with some diced red bell pepper, red onion, jalapenos, and queso fresco. Then it’s all tossed together with a generous splash of tangy Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette. The salad can chill in the fridge at this point until ready to serve.
- Right before serving, add in the diced avocados. Everything gets gently tossed together and seasoned with a little kosher salt and pepper to taste. Perfection!
This corn salad pairs well with other Latin-inspired dishes as well as any traditional barbecue fair. Here are some ideas to pull a whole meal together:
- The leftover Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette makes a fantastic marinade, especially for fish tacos (See Lime-Cilantro Vinaigrette post for instructions). It would also be fantastic for marinading chicken breasts or steak.
- Lime-Chili Rubbed Flank Steak
- Taco Chicken served in tortillas or over rice.
- Chicken or Steak Fajitas
- Quick and Easy Black Beans
- Brazilian Lemonade
- If I’m only using half of the Lime-Cilantro Vinaigrette, do I have to make the full recipe? I call for a full recipe of the vinaigrette so you can dress the salad to taste, which might be a little more than half a batch for some. It’s also easier to blend the full amount in your blender. If you think you’d rather not have leftover dressing, feel free to halve it.
- Does this corn salad need to be refrigerated before serving? Serve it right away or make it ahead and store it in an air-tight container in the fridge until ready to serve.
- Can I make the dressing ahead of time? Of course! Make the dressing up to a day or two before if desired. Just remember that lime juice will mellow over time, so you might need an additional squeeze of fresh lime juice to the corn salad right before serving.
Did You Make This?
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A fresh summer salad with corn, peppers, onions, and avocado in a cilantro-lime vinaigrette. Great as a side dish for barbecues, or alongside Latin favorites such as fajitas or tacos.
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2–3 juicy limes)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
4–5 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup oil (extra-virgin or light olive oil, canola oil, avocado oil, all work well.)
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro, stems removed
4 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
8 ounces queso fresco or cotija cheese
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
(optional) 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped (and seeded if desired)
1 large avocado, pitted, peeled, and cubed
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
In the jar of your blender, combine lime juice, vinegar, garlic, salt, and sugar. Blend until ingredients are completely combined. With the blender running, add the oil in a steady stream. Add cilantro and blend until the cilantro has broken down but still maintains some of its texture. Taste and feel free to adjust flavor with salt and pepper, or even extra sugar or lime if desired.
Bring about 1 inch of water to a boil in a large stock pot. When the water boils, add the corn and cook for 2-3 minutes. Drain and rinse and then add to a large bowl. Toss together the corn, red bell pepper, red onion, jalapeno pepper, and crumbled cheese (*NOTE: If you anticipate letting the salad sit for a while before serving, you may want to wait on the cheese and add it right before serving, with the avocado). Toss with Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette, feel free to add more or less, depending on your preferences. Chill until ready to serve. Right before serving, gently toss in the avocado and season with salt and pepper.
Keywords: Corn, salads