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Esquites - Mexican Street Corn Salad

Bringing the vibrancy of a bustling Latin street market into your home with this bold esquites recipe.

February 1, 2021
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EsquitesPhoto By Canva
Difficulty Medium
Servings 4-6 people
Preparation 5 mins
Cooking 20 mins
Total 25 mins



  1. Heat the oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until toasted and golden brown, about 15 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Remove from the heat and let the corn cool for a few minutes.
  3. Transfer the corn to a large bowl. Add the cilantro, jalapeño, Cotija, mayonnaise, lime juice, and chili powder, and stir to combine.
  4. Top with more Cotija cheese and cilantro and serve warm or at room temperature.
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 Esquites
Serves 4-6
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*
Cholesterol 20 mg6.7%
Sodium 520 mg22.6%
Potassium 378 mg8%
Protein 8.6 g17.2%
Total Fat 13 g16.7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.


  • The corn can be cooked up to a day in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature for about 15 minutes before assembling the salad.
  • Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • For the freshest results, feel free to grill the corn on the cob or in a cast iron pan for added flavor.
  • You can use frozen corn, just note that the salad tends to be softer due to the added moisture.
  • Add some smoked paprika to the chili powder for some extra smokiness.
  • Perfect idea for a potluck.
Rate This Recipe

Corn esquites have been consumed by Central Americans for hundreds of years. Nowadays, like its cousin elotes, you can mainly find this dish on the menu of many street vendors. Well, with this recipe, you can bring this famous street food into your own home to enjoy.

This recipe is perfect for switching up taco night and is so quick and easy to make it can be enjoyed after a long day on the go. It is also incredible how a recipe with so few ingredients can have such bold flavor.

What's the Difference Between Elotes and Esquites?

It is not hard to get elotes and esquites mixed up as there is almost no difference in the ingredient list. However, there is one major difference and that is how it is served. Elotes are probably the most popular or at least what is seen most often served on a street corner on the cob.

It is probably the most popular just because it can be eaten with one hand, which would mean that esquites are served in a bowl. Again, these two share the exact same ingredients, it is just the manner in which you serve it that makes all the difference.

What Does Esquites Mean?

The word esquites has a long history. A much longer history than Mexico itself actually. The origin of esquites comes from an old Aztec word meaning “toasted corn”. This suits the dish quite well since toasted corn is that main ingredient.

Is Esquites Served Hot or Cold?

Esquites like its close cousin elotes, is best served either warm or at room temperature. This is so that the bold flavors do not get muddled up in a cold dish.

How Do You Eat Esquites?

The only way that esquites cannot be eaten is like its cousin elotes that is still on the cob. Esquites are generally served in a bowl so feel free to dig in how you see fit.

Who Invented Esquites?

Legend has it that this delicious dish was brought about by the Aztecs during the rule of Tlaxocihualpili between the years of 1335 and 1347. Apparently back then the recipe consisted of chopped onion, fried green chile, and chicken. It is assumed that the recipe was cut down since poor people on the streets did not raise chickens.

What Cheese Can I Substitute for Cotija?

One of the best things about cooking is that you can choose to add or change up anything you want to any recipe. With that being said if you are just looking for a direct substitute for cotija there are a few options to choose from.

The most direct substitute is queso fresco. This cheese is creamy but has a hint of saltiness. It is a little bit drier than cotija but has a more pronounced flavor. Another great substitute, though not necessarily in traditional Mexican food, is feta cheese. Feta is rich, with hints of salt like queso fresco it is super creamy and will lend itself well to esquites.

Recipe byPetite Gourmets

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