Hold onto your spurs, Cowboys and Cowgirls, this fresh corn salsa is going to rock your world! It is an easy stir-together recipe that only takes 20 minutes to make, and pairs well with tortilla chips, grilled chicken, tacos, and a variety of Mexican food recipes!

a white bowl with corn salsa

Why We Love This Recipe

If you love fresh corn, then this salsa is going to be your new favorite way to enjoy it! Around here, we can never have enough corn recipes at this time of year! From this delicious honey garlic corn on the cob to this sweet corn gazpacho, there are so many fun and tasty ways to use it.

Make this corn salsa recipe for an easy summertime appetizer or add it to your cookout menu or Mexican food party for a fun twist on salsa and chips. Best of all it is vegan and gluten-free too so a wide variety of guests will be able to enjoy it.

It only takes 20 minutes to make, so it also works well as a condiment for a weeknight dinner. Furthermore, if you omit the optional tomatoes, this is a great tomato-free alternative to traditional salsa or pico de gallo.

Ingredient Notes For This Recipe

the ingredients for this salsa with labels
  • Corn: You will need 3 cups of corn for this recipe. Fresh corn cut off the cob is best and will give you the best sweet flavor and crunchy texture. One large ear of corn yields about 1 cup of kernels. No need to cook it! You can also substitute frozen corn that has been thawed.
  • Jalapeños: For spice, we've added minced jalapeño peppers. They can vary widely in terms of how spicy they are, so you can add them to taste. Include seeds if you like a bit more heat, and omit them to keep the salsa milder.
  • Cilantro: For fresh Mexican flavor, add in chopped cilantro. Wash it and spin it dry before chopping it. If you do not care for the taste of cilantro, you can omit it altogether.
  • Red Onion: The finely chopped red onion adds color and allium taste. You can sub in chopped scallions or sweet onion instead. Make sure to chop the onion finely (pieces about the same size as the corn kernels), so it blends into the salsa and isn't too overpowering.
  • Lime and Salt: To give this salsa bright acidity, add in freshly squeezed lime juice. One juicy lime will yield about 3 tablespoons of juice. The salt balances the lime. We've called for table salt here. If you use kosher salt, you will need to double it as it is lower in sodium.
  • Optional Additions: To add more variety to the salsa, you can also add black beans and chopped ripe tomato. These are optional, but they do add great texture and color variation.
  • Optional Ground Chipotle: We ended up adding in ground chipotle chile at the end because the jalapenos varied so widely in terms of their heat. After a day in the fridge, we found that we wanted a bit more heat and added in the chipotle for enjoying the salsa on the second day.

How to Make Corn Salsa

cutting the kernels off the cob into a bowl

Cut the Kernels Off The Corn

  • The easiest way to cut the kernels off the corn is to stand the corn on end in a large bowl. This prevents them from falling all over the work surface. You can also set the corn on an inverted bowl like in this corn chowder Recipe.
  • Using a sharp chef's knife, cut along the kernels and allow them to fall into the bowl.
  • Discard or compost the cobs and continue making the salsa right in the bowl.
the salsa ingredients in the bowl before they are stirred together

Add In The Remaining Ingredients

Next add in the jalapeños, cilantro, onion, lime and salt and toss to combine. If you are using the black beans and tomatoes you can also stir them in.

You may want to taste the salsa before adding in additional jalapeño pepper or chipotle because it may be spicy enough without them!

a bowl of corn salsa with a chip in it, garnished with cilantro sprigs and lime wedges

Variations To Try

  • We think roasting or grilling the corn as we did in this recipe for roasted corn and avocado salad would be delicious!
  • As you know, if you have tried our smoky chipotle guacamole dip, we adore canned chipotles in adobo, so it pretty much goes without saying that you can substitute canned chipotle in adobo to taste for the jalapeño chile and ground chipotle.
  • Instead of tomatoes, use charred tomatillos like we did for our healthy green chicken enchiladas.

Expert Tips and FAQs


Can This Be Made Ahead of Time?

The salsa keeps for three days but the flavors fade a bit. We found that we needed to pep them up a bit by squeezing on an additional half of a lime and add a pinch of salt. Though initially the salsa didn't need the chipotle, on the second day the spiciness had mellowed enough that we felt that it could use the addition of the chipotle. For an even fresher taste and appearance, try prepping the ingredients ahead but keep the ingredients separate. Stir them together before serving.

Can Avocado Be Added To This?

We did enjoy the taste and creaminess of adding a diced avocado, but on the second day it turned an unpleasant color and it also made the texture of the salsa a bit off. So if you do want to add it in, do so just before serving.

What to serve with this recipe

  • The best way to serve this corn salsa is with tortilla chips, but we also love it spooned over chicken for a family friendly dinner.
  • Corn salsa is a delicious accompaniment to beef barbacoa Tacos as well. We love the sweetness with the rich and tender meat!
  • We also think you could make cauliflower rice and pork carnitas burrito bowls with this salsa for a yummy dinner idea!
  • These pulled pork tacos are another recipe to pair this with as well.

Thanks so much for reading! If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review. We would love to hear what you think!

Happy Cooking!

~Katie

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a close up of corn salsa

Corn Salsa

  • Author: Katie Webster
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 0 mins
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 5 cups 1x
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: No cook
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Description

This simple corn salsa is ready in minutes and is a great alternative to traditional salsa or pico de gallo. Pair it as an appetizer with tortilla chips or pair it with grilled chicken or your favorite Mexican recipes. 

If you love this recipe as much as we do, let us know with a 5-star review in the comments!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 3 cups corn kernels, from about 3 large ears corn
  • 1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, minced (seeded if desired)
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ cup finely chopped red onion
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 medium tomato, seeded and diced, optional
  • ¾ cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed, optional
  • ¼ teaspoon ground chipotle chili or smoked paprika, optional or to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine corn, jalapeno, cilantro, red onion, lime, salt in a large bowl. Add tomato (if using), black beans (if using.)
  2. Taste and add chipotle or smoked paprika to taste (if using.) Serve immediately.

Notes

  • Tip: To cut the corn off the cob stand corn on end in a large bowl. Cut kernels off the cob with a sharp chef’s knife into the bowl. Measure out 3 cups of kernels and reserve any extra for another use. Proceed with making the salsa in the bowl.
  • The amount of heat in this salsa is totally customizable. For mild salsa use only one seeded jalapeno. For more heat add the second jalapeno. And for hot salsa add in the seeds (They carry more heat than the green part of the chili.)
  • Taste the salsa before adding the chipotle. If you want the smoky flavor but no more extra heat use smoked paprika instead.

Make-Ahead: Will keep for 3 days sealed in a resealable container in the refrigerator. The flavors and spiciness will fade after one day. Stir, taste, and adjust seasoning as necessary. Add additional lime, salt, and chipotle chili to taste.

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a bowl of corn salsa with a chip in it, garnished with cilantro sprigs and lime wedges and the recipe title on top of the image.