This easy Mexican Street Corn Salad recipe puts a fun twist on elotes. Smoky grilled corn, a creamy cumin-lime dressing, and pearl couscous (pasta) combine to create this delicious salad.
Note: This recipe was originally published in 2018. It was updated in 2021 to add new photographs. The original recipe remains the same. Enjoy!
You probably don’t know this, but most of the recipes I make for this blog are made and photographed 1-2 months before they actually are published. Sometimes it can get quite odd, making a full on turkey dinner in September (to prep for Thanksgiving) or fixing a corned beef for New Years, just so that I can have the recipe ready to go live in March for St. Patrick’s Day.
But with this post, that’s just not the case.
I was so excited to share this Mexican Street Corn pasta salad recipe with you that I could even wait a week! I fixed this salad, along with this Israeli Couscous Tabbouleh Salad for a Memorial Day BBQ with friends, and right now, I’m really wishing that we had leftovers because I’m totally craving this salad again!
This salad is based off of traditional Mexican Street Corn (or Elotes) – grilled corn that’s slathered in a tangy cream sauce and sprinkled with chili powder, cotija cheese and fresh cilantro. Traditionally the husks are tied up, making a handle of sorts, so that it can be enjoyed on the go. It’s my favorite way to eat corn nowadays and I basically never eat corn on the cob unless it’s dressed up with all those fixings now.
I love street corn so much that I even made it into these Mexican Street Corn Chicken Tacos.
And now, enter this Mexican Street Corn Salad with Couscous.
The smoky corn, the tang of the lime, that creamy sauce, and the surprise pops of pearl couscous – This is not your traditional, boring salad. Nope. You will be hooked on it – Promise.
Is Mexican Street Corn Salad spicy?
- As the recipe is written, is does pack some heat. You can tame down the heat by removing the ribs and seeds from your jalapeno. Or, for an even milder version, you can leave the jalapeno out altogether.
Can you make this Street Corn Salad with frozen corn?
- Yes, you can use frozen corn in this recipe. There’s no need to defrost it. Just heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over high heat and add 3 cups of frozen corn. Cook until it gets a nice char, about 5-7 minutes.
I want to make this Mexican Street Corn Salad for a potluck. Can I make this recipe ahead of time?
- Yes, you can make this salad ahead of time. I will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
What’s the best way to get the corn kernels off the cob?
- Place the grilled corn, stalk side down into the hole of a bundt pan and then cut around the cob. The kernels will fall right down into the pan and will make for much easier cleanup – You won’t be chasing those kernels all over the place.
- With black beans: Drain and rinse a can of black beans and toss them into the salad.
- With avocado: Pit and cube one avocado, and add it to the salad.
- With chipotle: To the dressing mixture, add one diced chipotle pepper and 1 TBSP adobo sauce from the can.
- No mayo: Use greek yogurt, or extra sour cream, in place of the mayonnaise.
I hope you love this Mexican Street Corn Salad with Couscous as much as I did! It will be perfect for summer grilling parties, but it’s also perfect for meal prep because you can make the salad up to three days ahead of time and pack it for lunch.
If you loved this Mexican Street Corn Salad with Pearl Couscous I would appreciate it so much if you would give this recipe a star review! Also, be sure to snap a picture of your finished dish and share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #platingsandpairings and tagging me @platingsandpairings.
Wine Pairings for Street Corn:
- Try pairing this salad with a creamy, fruit forward Viognier or an unoaked Chardonnay. Fruit-forward, with a bit of body to them, they stand up nicely to the spiciness of this dish.
More salad recipes:
- Cherry Tomato Salad with Roasted Lemons
- Farro Salad with Basil Lemon Tahini Dressing
- Kale Caesar Salad Recipe
- Radicchio Salad Recipe with Olives & Parmesan
- Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad with Mustard & Parmesan
Mexican Street Corn Salad
- 4 ears corn (husked)
- 1 1/2 cups pearl couscous
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (divided (6-8 limes))
- 2 teaspoons salt (divided)
- 1/2 red bell pepper (chopped)
- 1/2 small red onion (finely chopped)
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro (chopped)
- 5 green onions (chopped)
- 1 jalapeno pepper (diced (and seeded if less heat desired))
- 2 Tablespoons sour cream
- 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin ground
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup cotija cheese (or feta, crumbled)
- Prepare grill for medium heat. Grill corn, turning occasionally, until tender and charred, 8–10 minutes; let cool slightly. Cut kernels from cobs and transfer to a large bowl.
- Meanwhile, prepare the couscous. In a saucepan combine the broth, water, 1/4 cup lime juice and 1 ½ teaspoons salt, bring the mixture to a boil, and stir in the couscous. Cover the pan, and let the couscous simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the lid, fluff the couscous with a fork and let it cool in the pan.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ¼ cup lime juice, sour cream, mayonnaise, paprika, cumin, black pepper and remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Set aside.
- To the bowl with the corn, add the cooled couscous, bell pepper, onion, cilantro, green onions, and jalapeno. Stir to combine. Drizzle on the dressing, and the cheese and toss gently to combine. Season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.
- DO AHEAD: Dressing can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill. Corn can be grilled and cut from cobs 1 hour ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.
- You can also use frozen corn. There’s no need to defrost it. Just heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over high heat and add 3 cups of frozen corn. Cook until it gets a nice char, about 5-7 minutes.