Lightened-Up Esquites {Mexican Street Corn Salad}

April 28, 2020

Take traditional Esquites Mexican street corn salad for a healthier spin with this lightened up version made with low-fat Greek yogurt. The perfect party food paired with tortilla chips or side dish for your next Taco Tuesday!

mexican street corn salad dip with chips

I was compensated for writing the original article, “Sweet Summer Corn,” and developing the recipe found in the August 2016 issue of Today’s Dietitian. I was not compensated for sharing the column or magazine with readers on my blog. All opinions are my own.

Corn is at it’s prime right now and I’m loving it! There are so many delicious ways to enjoy sweet summer corn – grilled on the cob, tossed into my lunch salad, added to salsa or grain saladsstuffed into avocados, pureed into soup, used to make savory pancakes. I’ll even add corn kernels to stir fries and my summer shakshuka for more color, flavor, and nutrition, and especially in this Esquites Mexican Street Corn Salad.

Corn Nutrition

On that last note, let’s talk for a minute about the nutritional value of sweet corn. It’s unfortunate that corn gets a bad rap considering what a delicious vegetable it is and how good it actually is for you. One large ear of corn is a good source of fiber, vitamin C, folate, magnesium, and potassium. It’s also a good source of lutein and zeaxanthin, phytonutrients linked to reduced risk of cataracts and macular degeneration, which are common in the aging population.

Esquites Makeover

Now, let’s get to this recipe! Traditional Mexican street corn, also known as elote, is served on the cob. It’s quite delicious – they serve it at one of my favorite restaurants, BarTaco – but it can be a mess to eat! Enter Esquites, the off-the-cob, salad/dip version. Traditionally, elote and esquites Mexican street corn dishes are made with mayonnaise and can cost you anywhere from 120 to 300 calories per serving – and trust me, you may very well eat more than one serving, that’s how good it is!

To keep you from using up all your calories on one dish alone (after all, you need to save some room for your tacos!), I made this lightened-up esquites Mexican street corn salad using nonfat plain Greek yogurt. The result – a creamy, smoky, tangy, sweet, and mildly spicy appetizer or side dish for only 78 calories per 1/2 cup serving.

This delicious, flavor-packed, vegetarian, and gluten-free recipe is a perfect hors d’oeuvre or appetizer with corn tortilla chips at your next party (think Cinco de Mayo, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day BBQ) or as a side for Taco Tuesday.


close up esquites mexican corn salad

How to Make Mexican Street Corn Salad

Lightened up esquites, Mexican street corn salad, is also incredibly easy to make. During the prime corn season, I use fresh corn on the cob, but if you want to make this during the rest of the year you can easily use frozen corn.

When using fresh corn, simply grill the cobs until they are tender and slightly charred on the outside. (If using frozen corn, you can sauté it in a skillet instead.) While the corn is grilling, whisk together plain yogurt, garlic, lime juice, chili powder (adjust if you want it spicier), and kosher salt.

When the corn has cooled enough to handle it, use a serrated knife to cut the kernels off the cob into a bowl. Add chopped scallions, jalapeño peppers, cilantro, and cotija cheese. (Cotija cheese is a Mexican cow’s milk cheese that can often be difficult to find. If you don’t have luck getting it, you can use crumbled feta instead.) Finally, toss with the yogurt sauce, add a touch more chili powder and salt and serve!

Tortilla Chip Mexican Corn Salad

This lighter version of the classic Esquites Mexican street corn salad is made with low-fat plain yogurt instead of mayonnaise to save on calories without sacrificing flavor. Serve as an appetizer with corn chips or as a side dish for your next Taco Tuesday, Cinco de Mayo celebration, or weekend barbecue. Get the recipe at JessicaLevinson.com | #vegetarian #glutenfree #corn #mexicancorn #recipemakeover #healthyrecipes #summerrecipes

Esquites {Mexican Street Corn Salad}

Yield: 8
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

This lighter version of a classic Mexican street food is made with low-fat plain yogurt instead of mayonnaise to save on calories without sacrificing flavor. Serve as an appetizer with corn chips or as a side dish for your next Taco Tuesday.

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, Kosher


  • Cooking spray or oil for grill grates
  • 4 medium ears of corn, husks and silks removed (or 16 oz frozen)
  • 1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped scallions
  • 1 tablespoon minced jalapeño pepper, seeds and ribs removed
  • 2 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup crumbled cotija cheese (or feta)


  1. Spray grill grates with nonstick cooking spray or brush them with oil. Heat grill to 400° to 450° F.
  2. Place corn on the grill and cook 15 to 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes until evenly grilled and kernels are tender. Remove corn from the grill and set aside to rest until cool enough to handle.
  3. While corn is cooking and resting, whisk together yogurt, garlic, lime juice, chili powder, and salt.
  4. Using a serrated knife, cut corn kernels off cob and place in a large bowl. Add scallions, jalapeño pepper, cilantro, and cheese to corn.Toss with yogurt sauce and season with more salt and chili powder if desired.


If using frozen corn, sauté in a small skillet instead of grilling.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 82Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 239mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 4g

Nutrition information was calculated by ESHA Food Processor. It may not be 100% accurate.

Have you ever tried Esquites Mexican Street Corn Salad?

What’s your favorite healthier recipe makeover?

Share with me in the comments below!

Mexican Street Corn Salad with Text Overlay

Esquites (Mexican Street Corn Salad) | This lighter version of a classic Mexican street food is made with low-fat plain yogurt instead of mayonnaise to save on calories without sacrificing flavor. Serve as an appetizer with corn chips or as a side dish. Recipe @jlevinsonrd.

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    1. Thanks so much Sonali! I had been wanting to make it at home for a long time, so I’m glad I finally got around to it. No better time than the height of corn season! Elote is definitely a mess, but so worth it 😉

    1. Yay, so happy to hear that! I bet it was extra creamy and delish with the avocado! I’m making it again this week and I have some avocados that are about to go bad, so think I’ll do the same!

  1. Now this is the kind of food my in-laws could eat for days!!! I’ll have to keep it handy for their visit this month

    1. ooh…they’re smart people then, Amanda! And smart of you to make sure you have it on hand for them 😉

  2. What a great snack! And with yogurt instead of mayo for a healthier mix! Looks delicious!

  3. OK what rock have I been living under that I’ve never tried this before!! And yet you’re speaking my language with the yogurt not mayonnaise. I’m a quirky one and I cannot stand the man a 🙂 everyone else in the family will love it for the Health – – not me 🙂 it’s all a taste thing!!

    1. Haha…you NEED to try it Carla! It is so delicious. Definitely tastes amazing and taste is really what it’s all about!

  4. I had a version of this at a Mexican restaurant ages ago – I’m definitely going to need to make this this summer!

  5. i love Mexican street corn with extra spices. i am definitely giving this a try at home…this version i can have 5 servings right???

  6. The colors in this are gorgeous!!! Love the flavor too! can’t wait to try it.

  7. Southwestern Cauliflower Rice Casserole Recipe {Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Vegetarian} says:

    […] on the kitchen counter, bell peppers, cilantro, cottage cheese, and shredded cheese in the fridge, corn in the freezer, and black beans in the pantry. Many of these ingredients are staples in my kitchen, […]

  8. 28 Corn Recipes to Enjoy this Summer – Adina Pearson, RD – Intuitive Eating Counselor says:

    […] Lightened-Up Esquites (Mexican Street Corn Salad) from Jessica at Nutritioulicious […]

  9. […] pairing that needs no explanation – I mean just look at the popularity of Taco Tuesday and Mexican cuisine in […]

  10. […] Lightened-Up Esquites {Mexican Street Corn Salad} via Nutritioulicious […]

  11. Love your recipes!
    The Mexican Street Corn Salad is delicious! But what is the serving size? 1 cup for 117 calories etc.?
    Thanks for getting back to me with this info.
    Judy Bender

    1. Hi Judy,

      Thanks for your question. I just double checked and updated the nutrition facts. 1/2 cup serving is 82 calories. So 1 cup would be 164 calories. Hope that helps and you enjoy the recipe!

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