Fresh summer grilled corn on the cob, tossed with bell peppers, creamy avocado, lime, cilantro, sriracha and green onions – make this bold-flavored charred corn salad for summer.
It’s great for a picnic, potluck, buffet, dinner or lunch bag. Colorful, zesty with a touch of heat, made in 20 minutes plus a bit of rest time to meld the flavors.
The slight crunchiness and charred taste of the fresh sweet corn kernels is the star, but the lime, sriracha, cilantro, and other add-ins are a real flavor bomb.
My friend Fran and her son, Daniel created this corn salad recipe and it’s become a summer staple at our house – our friends and family rave about it.
The recipe is a guideline, so feel free to adjust the ingredients to your taste. Try to get fresh local corn from the grocery store or farmer’s market if you can.
Ingredients – tailored to your taste
Fresh corn on the cob: Buy sweet corn, yellow corn, white corn or ‘peaches and cream’ corn (also called bi-colored corn – a cross between yellow and white. Do not buy field or feed corn which is used for livestock and corn products. See FAQs for how to select the best corn.
Other salad ingredients include red pepper, avocado, chopped green onion and fresh cilantro.
Vinaigrette: We’re using a simple lime vinaigrette with fresh lime juice, lime zest, olive oil, sriracha, salt, and pepper.
Variations and substitutions:
- Other diced, grilled vegetables such as zucchini or red onion
- Toss in some crumbled feta cheese, queso fresco or some cotija cheese
- For a complete meal, add tofu, grilled chicken or crumbled cooked sausage.
- Chopped black or green olives
- Chopped fresh cherry tomatoes or juicy heirloom tomatoes
- Seasonings such as pinch of chili powder or smoked paprika adds a nice smoky flavor
- Parsley instead the cilantro
- Chives instead of green onions
- Grilled poblano peppers instead of bell pepper (adds more spice)
- Use half a seeded jalapeno pepper instead of the sriracha
Step by step instructions
Tip for shelling corn
Removing kernels from the cob is easy, but it can be messy. The kernels can fly around. Here’s a quick video with a simple clean way to shell corn. It just takes a minute. Instructions are in the recipe as well.
- Skip the grilling: Instead of using fresh ears of corn, use frozen corn niblets (cooked or just thawed) and roasted red peppers from the jar. This takes less time, but you won’t get the great char marks or flavors. Or cut the raw kernels off the corn cob.
- Replace the homemade lime vinaigrette: Just toss the corn salad with a couple of tablespoons of prepared basil or cilantro pesto. Or a bottled vinaigrette.
What to serve with grilled corn salad
This is a perfect side dish with Sous Vide Flank Steak, Glazed Pork Chops and Grilled Chili Lime Chicken Wings, Ground Chicken Burgers on the Grill, Rack of Lamb on the Grill, baked beef back ribs with maple bourbon glaze or Lemon Herb Chicken.
You can also serve this salad cold as a chunky dip with tortilla chips.
Look for corn with bright vibrant green husks that are tightly wrapped around the cob. The silk should be moist, not dry or brittle. Kernels on medium and larger size cobs will be sweeter as they have had more time to mature.
It is safe to eat raw corn. Just make sure you pick the freshest corn you can find and rinse it well under cold water. If you’re concerned at all, you can also give it a quick blanch in boiling water.
As long as it’s not sitting out in the hot sun, you can leave the salad sitting out at room temperature for up to a couple of hours.
- You can make the corn salad a day or two ahead. In fact, the extra sitting time gives the flavors time to blend. If the avocado is very ripe, I suggest adding it just before serving. Store the salad in an airtight container.
More summer salad recipes
- roasted vegetable salad with quinoa
- corn and tomato salad
- panzanella salad with charred snap peas
- tomato and onion salad
- BBQ sweet potatoes and apples
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Charred Corn Salad With Lime and Cilantro
- 4 corn on the cob, outer husks and silk removed
- 1 red bell pepper, cored and cut into 4-5 large pieces
- 1/2 ripe, but firm avocado, peeled and diced (or use the whole avocado if you like)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives or green onions
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro or more, to taste
- 1 lime (about 2 tbsp juice plus 1 tsp zest)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon sriracha hot sauce (or to taste)
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- GRILL AND PREP CORN AND PEPPER: Heat grill to medium-high heat. Oil grates with oil spray or with a paper towel dipped in canola oil or other vegetable oil. Place corn and red pepper pieces on grill. Grill for 8-10 minutes total, turning to char evenly or until veggies are tender-crisp. Using a sharp knife, stand up each corn in a bowl with a small inverted cup in it and slide the knife down each side to cut off the kernels into the bowl. Here’s a quick video with a simple clean way to shell corn. Dice the red pepper. You can peel off the charred skin if you like (I don't bother).
- MAKE LIME VINAIGRETTE: In a small cup, whisk all lime vinaigrette ingredients together.
- ASSEMBLE: Place cooked corn, pepper, avocado, green onion and cilantro in a medium bowl. Pour on the vinaigrette. Gently mix everything together. Taste and adjust seasonings until you're happy with it. Let the salad sit for 10-20 minutes at room temperature or in the fridge to let the flavors blend (if you have time).
- Variations – add-ins:
- other diced, grilled vegetables such as zucchini or red onion
- toss in some crumbled feta cheese
- for a complete meal, add grilled chicken, tofu or crumbled cooked sausage.
- chopped black or green olives
- canned black beans, rinsed and drained
- chopped fresh cherry tomatoes
- parsley instead the cilantro
- chives instead of green onions.
- poblano peppers instead of sweet bell peppers
- Use half a seeded jalapeno pepper instead of the sriracha
- Make ahead: You can make the corn salad a day or two ahead. In fact, the extra sitting time gives the flavors time to blend. If the avocado is very ripe, I suggest adding it just before serving. Store the salad in an airtight container.