Grilled Mexican Corn Chicken Salad

5 from 10 votes
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There’s no salad recipe more fitting for summer than this Mexican Street Corn Salad with Grilled Chicken! If you’re a fan of Elote, or traditional esquites, you will love this tangy, spicy chicken and corn salad.

mexican corn chicken salad served on an oblong salad plate


Why We Love This Mexican Corn Chicken Salad

  • Unique Flavor Twist: Experience the delicious variation of Mexican Street Corn Salad, combining the traditional grilled corn with the exciting flavors of Esquites and grilled chicken.
  • Texture and Taste: The combination of juicy, slightly charred chicken and corn, seasoned with lime and chili, offers a smoky flavor and satisfying texture.
  • Tangy: The salad is not only visually appealing with the addition of cherry tomatoes and cotija cheese but also provides a perfect balance of tangy and spicy flavors.

What Is Mexican Street Corn?

Mexican Street Corn, or Elote, is a fantastic treat featuring grilled corn cobs smothered in a creamy, zesty sauce with lime juice and ancho chili powder and topped with cotija cheese, offering a spicy and smoky flavor. This salad recipe takes inspiration from the traditional Esquites, an off-the-cob version of Elote, where corn kernels are sautéed with onions and mixed with classic Elote toppings like lime juice, chili powder, and mayonnaise for a unique twist.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Corn: Remove the husks before starting.
  • Chicken: It’s best to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs, but chicken breasts will also work.
  • Seasoning: Before you grill the chicken and the corn, season them with salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste.
  • Lime Juice: Mix the corn kernels with fresh lime juice for tangy flavor.
  • Garlic: Mince before beginning.
  • Mayonnaise: To add some creaminess to the corn.
  • Mexican Cream: Nonfat plain yogurt will also work – this too adds creaminess.
  • Chili Powder: Ancho chili powder adds a little spice to your salad!
  • Olive Oil: If you don’t want to use olive oil, canola oil or some other cooking oil could be substituted.
  • Honey: For a touch of sweetness.
  • Lettuce: I like to use mixed salad greens.
  • Tomatoes: Throw in some multi-colored cherry tomatoes.
  • Cheese: Crumbled cotija cheese is a must!
  • Garnish: Finish off your salad with fresh chopped cilantro.

How to Make Mexican Corn Chicken Salad

  1. Preheat the Grill: Heat an outdoor grill – or use a grill pan – to medium-high and lightly oil the grates.
  2. Grill the Corn and Chicken: Season corn and chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Grill them covered for 13 to 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked and the corn is lightly charred. Let chicken rest for 5 minutes then slice into strips.
  3. Season the Corn: Remove kernels from the cobs and mix with lime juice, garlic, mayonnaise, Mexican cream or yogurt, and ancho chili powder.
  4. Prepare the Dressing: Whisk together olive oil, lime juice, honey, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
  5. Assemble the Salad: Toss salad greens and cherry tomatoes with dressing. Top with corn mixture, chicken slices, and cotija cheese, and garnish with cilantro.
mexican corn chicken salad served on an oblong salad plate

Recipe Tips And Variations

  • Do I Have to Use Fresh Corn? No, you could use frozen/canned corn if you don’t have fresh. Instead of grilling, sauté the kernels in butter with onions, like you would if you were making traditional esquites. Fresh corn is usually best in that case, too, but frozen will definitely work.
  • Grease the Grill Grates: This helps with achieving those perfect char marks, and also ensures that your chicken/corn won’t stick to the grates when you try to flip or rotate them.
  • Can I Make this Salad Ahead? Sure! Sometimes I like to make the corn and the chicken ahead of time, refrigerate them, and then make the actual salad itself later. Don’t add the dressing until you are ready to serve the salad.
  • Cotija Cheese Substitution: It’s not always easy to find cotija cheese, so you can use feta in its place if you want.
  • Chili Powder Substitution: Smoked paprika can be used in place of chili powder if you like.
  • Other Garnishes: Chopped scallions and chopped parsley are also good toppings for this salad.
  • Add Avocado: Creamy avocado tastes good in practically any salad!
  • Add Jalapeños: If you’re all about the spice, add some chopped up jalapeño peppers to your salad.
  • Storage: You can store this esquites chicken salad in the fridge for up to about 3 days. Leftovers make a great lunch!
slices of chicken thighs on a bed of lettuce with halved cherry tomatoes, corn kernels, and cotija cheese

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    5 from 10 votes

    Grilled Mexican Corn Chicken Salad

    If you're a fan of Elote or traditional esquites, you will love this tangy, spicy chicken and corn salad.
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 20 minutes
    Resting Time: 5 minutes
    Total Time: 40 minutes
    Servings: 6


    For the Chicken and Corn

    • 4 ears of corn,, husks removed
    • 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
    • salt and fresh ground black pepper,, to taste
    • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
    • 1 garlic clove,, minced
    • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
    • 1 tablespoon Mexican cream,, or use nonfat plain yogurt
    • 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder

    For the Dressing

    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
    • 2 teaspoons honey
    • ½ teaspoon salt,, or to taste
    • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper,, or to taste

    For the Salad

    • 6 to 8 cups mixed salad greens
    • 1 to 2 cups multi-colored cherry tomatoes,, halved
    • cup crumbled cotija cheese
    • fresh chopped cilantro,, for garnish
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    • Preheat an outdoor grill to medium-high. You can also use a grill pan.
      Lightly grease the grill grates with oil.
    • Season the corn and the chicken thighs with salt and pepper.
    • Transfer corn and chicken to the grill; cover and cook for 13 to 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and corn is lightly charred, turning chicken and corn once halfway through cooking.
    • Remove cooked chicken and corn from grill and let chicken rest for at least 5 minutes before cutting it into strips.
    • In the meantime, cut the kernels from the cobs and place them in a bowl.
      To the kernels, add 2 tablespoons lime juice, minced garlic, mayonnaise, Mexican cream or yogurt, and ancho chili powder; mix and stir until well combined. Set aside.
    • In a small mixing bowl make the dressing by combining olive oil, lime juice, honey, salt, and pepper; whisk until thoroughly incorporated.
    • Place the mixed salad greens and cherry tomatoes in a large salad bowl and toss with the dressing.
    • Top the salad with the corn mixture, chicken slices, and cotija cheese.
    • Garnish with cilantro and serve.


    Calories: 313kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 117mg | Sodium: 344mg | Potassium: 590mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 867IU | Vitamin C: 22mg | Calcium: 68mg | Iron: 2mg

    Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.

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    1. Shannon says:

      You don’t marinate or season the chicken?

      1. Katerina says:

        The chicken is seasoned with salt and pepper, which gives it a nice basic flavor. The rest of the ingredients in the salad, like the lime juice, garlic, Mexican cream, and chili powder, really enhance the overall taste, so there’s no need to marinate the chicken.

    2. Meghan says:

      Loved this will make it agsin