Mexican Street Corn Salad (AKA Esquites or Elote) drizzled with a Creamy Jalapeno Sauce is quicker, tastier, and easier with the help of an Instant Pot. Get ready for the best corn dish you will ever, and I do mean ever, experience. Sweet, smoky, tangy and addictive, this salad will be your new party dish go to!
This Mexcian Street Corn Salad makes me so happy! Who eats nearly 4 cobs of corn in one sitting? Me, you, EVERYBODY, that's who! Cuz sweet corn covered in a creamy dressing and ignited with flavorful spices and zippy lime juice is a “can't stop, won't stop” kind of situation.
Truly, I plant corn every summer just to experience this salad with corn that I literally pressure cooked within 60 seconds of pulling it off the stalk.
As bad luck would have it, a family of raccoons ravaged my corn last year and left me very few corn cobs left. But guess what, jokes on them cuz those little thieves may have experienced the joy of playing Tarzan through my corn stalks, but they will never, ever get a bite of my Mexican Corn Salad, oh no they won't.
I'm just saying that to make myself feel better. Someone please tell me how to beat one of the smartest animals in the world. I NEED my fresh corn!
To their credit, they do politely pile their half-eaten cobs of corn very nicely on my back porch step. Rub it in why don't ya.
WHAT IS ELOTE? WHAT IS ESQUITES?
Elote is a popular corn dish sold by vendors on the streets of Mexico. Traditionally a corn cob is covered in mayo or crema then sprinkled with cotija cheese, salt, chili powder, and a squeeze of lime. It's eaten right off the cob in the most awkwardly messy fashion possible. “Is there something on my face/in my teeth?” Absolutely there is, and some in your hair as well.
Esquites is basically the same flavor combo, but it is served and eaten with a bit more dignity from a cup with a spoon. I can't eat messy, I just can't. This is where my love lies.
You'll see this Mexican Street Corn Salad referenced as both an Elote Salad or Esquites which both basically mean: corn that's been cut off the cob and combined with mayo, cheese, spices, and lime.
My version today is lightened up in the calorie department, but amped up flavor-wise. Trust me, I'm a mayo lovin' girl, but this version will have you convinced this corn is even better without it.
WHY YOU WILL LOVE THIS ELOTE CORN SALAD
- Let the pressure cooker cook your corn to perfection while you multitask and chop the other ingredients. No grill or pot watching here!
- Layer on top of layer of fresh, flavorful ingredients. This is the perfect example of the saying “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
- It can be served hot, warm, or cold, whatever you're feelin'.
- I'm cuttin' out the mayo for something healthier, so second and third helpings are basically a given.
- Three words – Creamy Jalapeno Sauce – come to mama
HOW TO MAKE EASY MEXICAN CORN SALAD
- Layer corn cobs in the pressure cooker and cook at high pressure for 1 minute, quick release
- Cut corn off the cob, don't bother to break up the large pieces, those are the prize bites
- Pour out the water from the pot, hit saute, get it nice and hot, then add your butter and corn
- Let it carmelize just a bit, 2 – 3 minutes
- Add the onion and jalapeno, saute for 3 minutes, add the garlic, stir for 1 minute
- Remove the pot from the base and add the remaining ingredients and half of the crumbled cheese; stir to combine
- Pour into a pretty bowl (or serve straight from the pot) with the remaining cheese sprinkled on top
- Add Jalapeno Cream Sauce ingredients to a food processor or blender
- Blend until smooth and serve on the side
TIPS FOR THE BEST ELOTE SALAD
- Fresh corn on the cob is the best (vs frozen or canned). I'm talking fresh, as in, you just picked it off the stalk. If using storebought, use it within a few days of buying it for the best flavor and texture.
- Any crumbly Mexican cheese will work like Cotija or Queso Fresco. A creamy goat cheese carefully crumbled over top is also amazing!
- Take the time to caramelize the corn in the butter, it makes the dish noticeably better.
- Don't cheat and use bottled lime juice here. It just doesn't have the fresh punch of a real lime
HOW TO SERVE MEXICAN CORN SALAD
- A bowl and a spoon and a drizzle of Jalapeno Cream Sauce. No fuss, maximum joy
- With a side of Corn Chips, the Trader Joe's ones are THE BEST
- Over grilled chicken or steak
- In a lettuce cup or wrapped in a tortilla
VARIATIONS OF ELOTE CORN SALAD
- Canned or thawed frozen corn can be used in a pinch
- Add more veggies: Avocado, black beans, and/or roasted red bell pepper are all amazing
- Omit the Jalapeno Cream Sauce or substitute it with this fabulous Romesco Sauce
- Throw the pressure cooked corn on a super hot grill for a few minutes to get a smokier flavor
WHAT TO SERVE WITH MEXICAN CORN SALAD
- Anything grilled: Specifically this Lemon Garlic Chicken.
- Fruit: Watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew – anything cool and refreshing to go alongside the Jalapeno Sauce heat.
- Bread: Crusty Bread, Breadsticks, Focaccia Bread, etc.
It's not a proper party until someone shows up with the Mexican Corn Salad. Go ahead and be that hero, then let me know how it goes, would ya? Hearing your experience of the recipes here is what brings everything full circle!
HOW TO KNOW IF A JALAPENO IS SPICY?
I figured I better bring this up, since a flamin' hot jalapeno will ruin my beloved sauce here.
First of all, note that the majority of the heat lies in the ribs and seeds. If you want to avoid a spicy dip, remove them. If you want to guarantee your mouth will be on fire (ME!), go ahead and leave them all in.
Jalapenos that are old and stressed (related to its growing habitat) will be hotter. If a jalapeno is red or has white lines along the length of the pepper, it will likely be very spicy.
On the other hand, jalapenos that are smaller, smooth without any white striations tend to be more mild.
Something to remember when you're out shopping! You can read more about this trick here.
TOOLS USED TO MAKE INSTANT POT MEXICAN CORN SALAD
- Instant Pot
- Favorite cooking spoons
- Best Cutco Knife EVER!
- High-Speed Blender or
- Food Processor
Instant Pot Mexican Street Corn Salad with Creamy Jalapeno Sauce
Sweet, smoky, tangy Mexican Corn Salad with a Creamy Jalapeno Sauce made even easier with the Instant Pot Pressure Cooker
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
- Category: Side Dish
- Method: Pressure Cooker
- Cuisine: Mexican
- 5 ears of corn (see note if using canned or frozen)
- 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
- 1/4 cup diced sweet or red onion
- 1 jalapeno seeded for less heat and finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons minced cilantro
- 3 tablespoons Greek yogurt (whipped cream cheese or sour cream also work)
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- juice and zest of 1 lime (or 2 if you like it extra lime-y)
- 1/2 – 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- freshly cracked black pepper
- 1/4 cup crumbled cotija cheese, queso fresco, or goat cheese, divided
For the Jalapeno Cream Sauce
- 2 jalapenos, halved, seeded and deveined
- 1 cup loosely packed cilantro
- 1/4 cup sour cream or greek yogurt
- 1 small clove garlic
- juice of 1/2 lime
- kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup olive oil (or 2 tablespoons oil and 2 tablespoons water to make it lighter)
- Add 1 cup of water to the pot of the pressure cooker and place a collapsible steamer basket or a trivet inside. Stack corn on the trivet.
- Secure the lid and turn pressure release knob to a sealed position. Cook at high pressure for 1 minute.
- When cooking is complete, use a quick release.
- Let corn cool until it can be handled, then cut corn off the cob.
- Discard the water from the pot, dry it and return it to the base. Select saute and let it heat until very hot.
- Add butter and corn and occasionally stir until the corn is lightly caramelized, about 2 – 3 minutes.
- Add onion and jalapeno, saute and stir for another 2 minutes.
- Add garlic and stir for 1 minute. Turn off pressure cooker and remove the pot to a hot pad.
- Add remaining ingredients and only 2 tablespoons of the crumbled cheese of choice and toss to combine.
- Pour into a pretty bowl for serving, top with remaining 2 tablespoons of cheese and garnish with minced cilantro.
- Scoop into a dish, drizzle with the Jalapeno Cream Sauce, and serve with a side of corn chips if desired.
To Make the Jalapeno Cream Sauce
- Place jalapenos, cilantro, sour cream (or yogurt), garlic, lime juice, and salt in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
- Stream in oil as it mixes until emulsified.
- Taste and add more salt or lime juice as needed. If it's too spicy, add more sour cream (or yogurt).
- Store in the refrigerator for up to 6 days. Can be made in advance.
- Substitute with 4 cups of frozen or canned corn, if fresh corn isn't available
- Use fresh lime juice, always!
- Seed and devein the jalapenos in the recipe for a very mild dish
- If Jalapeno Cream Sauce is too thin, whisk in more sour cream or yogurt and place in the fridge to thicken
- The corn salad is still absolutely divine all by itself if you don't want the extra step of making the sauce
Keywords: mexican corn salad, jalapeno cream sauce, instant pot recipe
Plan on making this next week! One question I have is when using frozen corn do I do the same steps and length of cook time as I would with fresh corn?
Definitely can’t wait to have this!!
Hi Lyz! You’re talking about frozen corn kernels, right? Not frozen corn on the cob? When I use canned or frozen corn, I skip down to step 6. It’s amazing but make sure and try it with summer corn in the summer!
This is a fabulous recipe! My husband and I love it! Will definitely make again♥️
Gina, I’m happy to hear that! I could eat this all summer long!
This is amazing! I discovered Mexican Street Corn last summer at a festival, but was unable to duplicate the taste until I tried this recipe. And it is so much easier to eat! My husband and son loved it too, and between the three of us we polished it off quickly! The only thing I would do differently is to leave some seeds in from the jalepenos, to make it a little hotter. Oh, and I would make a bigger batch!
Dee, I definitely agree with more jalapeno heat! Did you try the sauce? It’s wonderfully spicy. I’m so glad you loved it and that it could bring back good memories of the festival 🙂
I am so excited to make this today- I have a silly question- is this beat served hot or chilled?
Natalie, I prefer it hot, but I’ve happily eaten it straight out of the fridge as well. Sorry, for the late response! I hope you loved it!
Made this for a friend’s birthday party who happens to be Mexican. He said the recipe ‘nailed it’. A small group of people polished off a doubled recipe in under an hour.
Alex, that’s just about the coolest thing I’ve heard all month! I love this recipe so much, I’ve been making it almost every week just for my family! Thanks for letting me know how it went.