When you’ve got super fresh, sweet summer corn, use it as the centerpiece of a salad, raw and straight off the cob. Grilled corn is also great as an ingredient (not just a side on its own), so here are nine corn salad recipes that will have you making the most out of those precious peak-season kernels.
Bushels upon bushels of corn waiting to be husked are a sure sign that summer is here. While a good old straight up cob is a pleasure and a seasonal rite, corn has a sweetness and a savoriness to it that is too good not to spread around. It pairs and contrasts beautifully with other summer produce, practically demanding to be tossed into a colorful and chunky salad.
Related Reading: 11 Summer Salads with No Lettuce In Sight
Raw corn and tomato salads are popular with the Chowhound community: Jeserf adds sweet onion, cilantro, lime juice, and minced serrano chiles; meatn3 mixes raw corn with a can of drained and rinsed black beans, avocado, tomatoes, cumin, cilantro, lime juice, and hot sauce. “It is so easy to vary this and it always disappears fast,” she says. Meanwhile, luckyfatima dresses raw corn with lemon juice, melted butter, red chile powder, roasted cumin, and salt. JeremyEG likes raw corn tossed with good olive oil and salt, and topped with grated parmesan or pecorino. For an unconventional salad, cathyeats combines raw corn, basil, and chopped plums. “Sounds weird,” she says, “but it’s great!”
Basically, there are are near-infinite ways to build raw corn salads, so we encourage experimentation in the kitchen—and we like charred corn in these same sorts of preparations too. Here are some of our favorite recipes to gorge on during corn season.
Chef's Basics Select Salad Bowl with Cooler Pack, $11.99 from Amazon
This large bowl with built-in cooler pack and serving utensils that nest in the lock-on lid is perfect for taking your salad on a socially distant picnic.
Juicy, crunchy, and creamy, this salad combines the tartness of tomatillos with sweet corn, cool jicama, and meaty tomatoes, topping it all off with a thick, smoky avocado-chipotle dressing that happens to be vegan too. Get our Tomato, Tomatillo, and Corn Salad with Avocado Dressing recipe.
Simple yet stunning, this easy salad goes with anything grilled, and is perfect for picnics too. It’s perfect with heirloom tomatoes or sweet orange Sungolds, but to preserve their texture, don’t add the tomatoes until after this comes out of the refrigerator (same with the fresh basil). Get our Fresh Corn and Tomato Salad recipe.
Zyliss Corn Stripper, $12 from Sur La Table
Designed to be more effective at shaving corn kernels off compared to a knife.
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3. Maque Choux
A Cajun classic (that’s “mock shoe” to all you non-Louisianans). Featuring crispy okra and a boost from cream and bacon, it’s the perfect side for Cajun shrimp or jambalaya. Get our Maque Choux recipe.
Zucchini and corn are a pairing that sings of summer. But what really sets this recipe apart is the addition of a garlicky lemon-basil vinaigrette. The pine nuts and goat cheese don’t hurt either. Get the Corn and Zucchini Salad with Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette recipe.
Most of the corn here is actually in the dressing (some blended in, some left whole), but there’s no reason not to toss in extra kernels since the sweet pops of flavor are so good with all the other smoky, spicy, savory notes. Get the Chipotle Shrimp Cobb Salad with Jalapeño Corn Vinaigrette recipe.
Related Reading: How to Buy Shrimp
The Southwestern salad gets an upgrade: Built around the usual suspects of corn, beans, avocado, and cheese, it introduces quinoa for a healthy, protein-packing twist, and the light chipotle vinaigrette lends a kick. Get the Mexican Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, Corn, and Avocado recipe.
Bright, light, fresh, and crisp, this salad combines corn with a garden’s worth of veggie pals, including radishes, cucumber, tomatoes, and fresh herbs. What better way to celebrate summer’s bounty? Get the Garden Fresh Corn Salad recipe.
Grilled Mexican street corn is a crowd-pleasing summer BBQ side, but turn it into a salad and it’s even easier to serve and enjoy. Prepare to share the recipe because everyone will want it. Get the Elote Corn Salad recipe.
Related Reading: 11 Ways to Eat Elote When You Just Can’t Get Enough
You don’t often see mozzarella in a corn salad, but you should, because it’s delicious, as this Caprese-inspired take proves. Fresh basil and juicy tomatoes also star, of course, and the light white balsamic dressing lets them all shine. Get the Caprese Corn Salad recipe.
Related Video: How to Minimize Mess When Cutting Corn Off the Cob