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+ servings

Vegan Mexican Corn Salad

A plant-based take on the favorite Mexican salad, made with fresh corn, jalapenos, and a creamy cashew-based sauce. Recipe adapted from The Kitchn's Esquites (Mexican Corn Salad).

Course Side Dish
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Author Lindsey Johnson


  • 6 ears yellow or white corn husked
  • Olive oil for cooking
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 2 medium jalapeño peppers ribs and seeds removed, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 tablespoons vegan sour cream mayo or cashew cream recipe below
  • 2-3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika optional
  • Pinch cayenne pepper to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Lime wedges for garnish
  • Sliced or diced avocado for garnish (optional)


  1. Select desired cooking method - boiling, broiling, roasting, grilling, or sautéing. Husk corn and remove as much of the silk as possible, unless cooking corn on a grill. 
  2. To boil, fill a stock pot with water, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon sugar. Bring to a rolling boil. Add corn cobs and boil for 2-3 minutes, or until bright yellow in color. (If corn is white, the kernels will look plump and more translucent.) Remove from water and allow to cool slightly. Remove corn from cob.
  3. To broil, adjust oven rack so it is about 4 inches away from the heating element. Preheat broiler to high heat. Remove corn from cobs and place in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season with a little salt and pepper. Broil for 2-3 minutes, stir corn, then broil for another 2-3 minutes or until corn is golden and starting to blacken around the edges.
  4. To roast, preheat oven to 425°F. Rub corn with a little bit of olive oil and place cobs on a baking sheet or directly on oven rack. Roast for 10-15 minutes, or until corn is just cooked. The kernels will be plump and translucent. Remove corn from cob.
  5. To grill, fill a large bucket with water and soak corn, husks and silk still intact, for 1-2 hours. Preheat grill for direct heat. Remove cobs from water and allow to drain, then place directly on the grill grates. Cover with lid and grill for 15-20 minutes, or until husks are blackened. Remove from heat using tongs or heat-safe gloves. Allow to cook slightly. Pull back the husks - the corn should easily come away from the silk and husk. Remove corn from cob.
  6. To sauté, remove corn from cobs. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add a small amount of olive oil to the pan and allow it to heat for 20-30 seconds. Add the corn, working in two batches, if needed, so it's not too crowded. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 minutes, or until corn is tender-crisp and starting to brown around the edges. Transfer corn to a mixing bowl and set aside.
  7. To prepare salad: heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add a little olive oil. Add red onion, jalapeño, and garlic. Sauté for a few minutes just to cook out some of the rawness. remove from heat and transfer to the bowl with the corn.
  8. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until well combined. Taste and add more salt or lime juice, if needed.
  9. Transfer to a serving bowl or platter. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish as desired just before serving.

Recipe Notes

  • To make cashew cream, soak 1 cup raw cashews in filtered water for several hours or overnight. The longer they soak, the smoother and creamier the cashew cream will be. Drain the soaking water and rinse cashews well. Place the cashews in a blender or food processor with the juice of 1 lemon, a pinch of salt, and 1/4 to 1/2 cup water. Puree or process until creamy and smooth. Stop and scrape down sides and add more water, if needed, to aid in blending. The cream can be thick like sour cream or Greek yogurt, or thinner for drizzling depending on preference.