Mexican Street Corn Coleslaw

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Mexican Street Corn Coleslaw – 🌽🥬🌶️🧅 Grilled corn, red and green cabbage, red onions, jalapenos, cilantro, chili powder, and lime juice come together in this EASY side dish that’s packed with the flavor of traditional elotes! A crowd-pleaser at your next backyard barbecue, picnic, potluck, or fiesta! Think of it as an amped up version of coleslaw that’s irresistible!

A vibrant bowl of corn salad mixed with shredded purple cabbage, topped with fresh herbs and sesame seeds.

You don’t need to go to Mexico City for your elote fix! Because I have this deconstructed version of elotes-meets-coleslaw.

Wondering what traditional elotes are? It’s grilled corn on the cob that’s slathered with mayo, dusted with chili powder, and sprinkled with cotija cheese. It’s a crunchy, juicy, slightly spicy snack that’s very craveworthy!

And in this sense the coleslaw recipe is more like esquites – which instead of the corn being on a cob (elotes) the corn is shaved off the ear and served in a cup (esquites) with all the fixings and toppings!

But we don’t have to get bogged down other than to know this is such a super tasty dish!

A fork lifting a colorful salad with corn, shredded purple cabbage, herbs, and grains from a bowl, with vibrant textures and fresh appearance.

This Mexican corn coleslaw that’s infused with grilled corn, red and green cabbage, red onions, jalapenos and cilantro for so much authentic Mexican flavor.

The creamy mayo dressing is spiked with lime juice, cumin, smoked paprika, and chili powder for an amped up version of traditional coleslaw dressing.

Whether you want to serve this easy side dish at your next picnic, potluck, backyard barbecue, or fiesta it’s a crowd-pleaser. Or make it on a lazy summer day as a no-fuss snack. And did I mention how fast and easy this coleslaw is, too!

A vibrant bowl of corn salad with purple cabbage and parsley, surrounded by bowls of ingredients and spices on a textured surface.

Ingredients in Mexican Street Corn Cole Slaw

For this great side dish, you’ll need the following easy to find and very common ingredients including:

Vegetables

  • Corn – on the cob, frozen, or canned (listed in my order of desirability)
  • Red cabbage
  • Green cabbage – use a bag of coleslaw mix to save time!
  • Cotija cheese or queso fresco
  • Red onion
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Jalapenos – use a green pepper if you don’t want it spicy
Various fresh ingredients for cooking displayed on a kitchen surface, including corn, purple cabbage, onions, herbs, spices, and oils.

Dressing

  • Mayonnaise
  • Mexican crema or sour cream
  • Lime juice
  • Cumin
  • Smoked paprika
  • Chili powder
  • Salt

Note: Scroll down to the recipe card section of the post for the ingredients with amounts included and for more complete directions.

How To Make Mexican Street Corn Coleslaw

This is such a super simple coleslaw recipe to whip up!

  1. Grill the corn and after it’s cooled, slice it off the cob and place the cups corn in a large bowl. Or add thawed and drained frozen corn kernels or drained canned corn.
  1. Add the remaining vegetables to the bowl.
  2. Whisk together all the dressing ingredients, taste, and check for seasoning balance.
  3. Pour the dressing over the veggies, stir, toss, and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve it!

Storage and Make-Ahead Instructions

In the Refrigerator: This recipe will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. I don’t recommend freezing this recipe.

Make-Ahead: You can prep this up to 24 hours in advance and keep it refrigerated until you’re going to serve it. Note that the longer this Mexican street corn salad sits, the more ‘soupy’ the slaw will be since the natural liquid in the cabbage and vegetables will seep out in the presence of salt.

A vibrant bowl of salad with corn, red cabbage, herbs, and grated cheese, served in a white dish.

Want More Mexican Street Corn Flavor?

I have a popular recipe for Cheesy Baked Mexican Street Corn Dip which is a hot corn dip reminiscent of Mexican street corn! Creamy, cheesy, spiked with lime juice, chili powder, and a serrano chile or jalapeno for a touch of heat. Everyone loves this one!

Also try these Mexican Street Corn Deviled Eggs which take deviled eggs to the next level!

Mexican Coleslaw FAQs

do i have to use mayonnaise?

Yes you do. There’s no way to get the creamy flavor and creamy dressing texture for the dressing without it. Any fabulous coleslaw recipe, including this one, will have mayo. I don’t recommend omitting it (like using all sour cream, and no mayo). There are vegan mayo options that you can use if you have dietary restrictions.

what’s the difference between mexican crema and sour cream?

Crema is thinner than sour cream and not quite as tangy in my experience. You can turn American sour cream into a makeshift crema by thinning it out with a tablespoon or two of milk. Mexican crema is typically sold in the same area of the grocery store where you’ll find cotija cheese. I haven’t made this recipe using Greek yogurt so don’t know exactly how it will be although probably fine.

what’s the difference between cotija cheese and queso fresco?

Cotija is very dry, tends to be finer in texture, and is sharper because it’s more aged. Think of it like grated Parmesan (dry, fine, sharp). Queso fresco is a fresher, soft cheese, not sharp at all. It’s more like a crumbled feta, minus the boldness of flavor. I prefer cotija in this recipe because it has more flavor but use what you can find and prefer. If you can’t find either, consider Parm or feta cheese, or omit the cheese.

is this coleslaw spicy?

For us, it’s not “spicy” but it does have a great deal of flavor. Jalapenos don’t actually have that much heat, especially if you remove the seeds. And you’re flavoring a large quantity of cabbage (bland without help!) However, don’t confuse a short and squat jalapeno with a more slender serrano chile because they DO have heat! If you’re in doubt about the spice, omit the jalapenos or use 1/2 or 1 rather than two.

can i double or triple this mexican corn salad (or halve it)?

Yes, it’s easily scalable – up or down – to suit your needs.

what other add-ins pair well?

Crumbled bacon, pepitas, sunflower seeds, English cucumbers, or diced avocados are all great add-ins.

A bowl of colorful coleslaw with shredded purple cabbage, carrots, and a creamy dressing, served on a rustic table.

what to serve with Mexican coleslaw

This coleslaw is the perfect addition to any other Mexican-inspired recipes at your next backyard barbecue, picnic, potluck, or make it as an easy weeknight side dish. With a big bowl of tortilla chips and restaurant-style salsa for dipping, you’re set.

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5 from 4 votes

Mexican Street Corn Coleslaw

🌽🥬🌶️🧅 Grilled corn, red and green cabbage, red onions, jalapenos, cilantro, chili powder, and lime juice come together in this EASY side dish that's packed with the flavor of traditional elotes! A crowd-pleaser at your next backyard barbecue, picnic, potluck, or fiesta! Think of it as an amped up version of coleslaw that's irresistible!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6
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Ingredients  

  • 4 ears of fresh corn, cleaned and grilled* (see Notes for corn options)
  • 2 cups red cabbage, shredded
  • 2 cups green cabbage, shredded (use a bag of cole slaw mix to save time)
  • ½ cup cotija cheese, queso fresco may be subsituted
  • cup chopped red onion
  • cup cilantro, finely minced
  • 1 or 2 jalapenos, seeded and diced very small, or to taste
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup Mexicana crema or sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon cumin, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste if desired

Instructions 

Corn, Cheese, and Vegetables

  • Grill corn as desired, following the grilling instructions given in my Grilled Corn post, linked in the Notes below.
  • After it's been grilled and is cool enough to handle, using a sharp knife, shear the corn from the ears and add it to a large bowl.
  • Add the remaining vegetables including the cabbages, cotija, red onions, cilantro, jalapenos, and stir to combine. Tips – If you're sensitive to spicy food or are unsure about the overall heat level, use 1/2 to 1 jalapeno with the seeds and white membranes removed; or simply omit. Jalapenos aren't spicy for me, but everyone is different so start slowly and add to taste. If you can't find cotija or queso fresco, you can either use crumbled feta or simply omit the cheese.

Dressing

  • To a medium bowl, add all the ingredients, and whisk to combine until smooth. Taste, and make any necessary seasoning adjustments.

Assembly

  • Pour the dressing over the vegetables in the large bowl, and stir to coat evenly. Taste again for seasoning balance, and if necessary, add more salt, cumin, chili powder, etc. and stir to combine. Tip – If it tastes at all flat or boring, it likely needs more salt. You're seasoning a large quantity of vegetables which can be bland on their own, so don't be afraid to add additional salt (or other spices), to taste.
  • Cover, refrigerate, and serve chilled. Before serving, optionally garnish with additional cilantro, cheese, fresh parsley, or as desired. Make-Ahead – You can make this up to 24 hours in advance, noting that it will become more 'soupy' as it sits, as the natural juices from the vegetables seep out in the presence of salt. Storage – Leftovers will keep for up to 3-5 days airtight in the fridge, noting that the everything will become softer and soupier as it sits which is simply the nature of coleslaw.

Notes

Corn – I strongly recommend grilling fresh corn, either on an outdoor grill or use a grill pan indoors. Follow my Grilled Mexican Corn recipe instructions for how to do this perfectly and easily. You can use white or yellow sweet corn, or another favorite corn you like for grilled corn.
If you’re not able to grill corn or don’t want to, there is frozen corn that’s been previously grilled and I suggest using that (or just regular frozen corn). Make sure to completely thaw and then drain well so your coleslaw isn’t soupy.
Canned corn is my least favorite option for both flavor and texture, but it’s an option. Make sure to drain it well.

Nutrition

Serving: 1portion, Calories: 273kcal, Carbohydrates: 18g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 21g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 0.04g, Cholesterol: 30mg, Sodium: 683mg, Potassium: 359mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 1005IU, Vitamin C: 35mg, Calcium: 115mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

More Mexican-Inspired Corn Recipes:

Grilled Mexican Corn (Elote) — Learn how to make this EASY and FLAVORFUL grilled Mexican street corn at home in minutes!! Fresh sweet corn is covered in crema, cheese, and finished with chili, lime juice, and cilantro!!

Grilled Mexican Corn (Elote) - Learn how to make this EASY and FLAVORFUL grilled Mexican street corn at home in minutes!! Fresh sweet corn is covered in crema, cheese, and finished with chili, lime juice, and cilantro!!

Mexican Street Corn Deviled Eggs — Deviled eggs get a south-of-the-border makeover by incorporating grilled Mexican street corn, jalapeno, red onion, cilantro, lime juice, queso fresco, and chili powder! This is an EASY appetizer or picnic recipe that everyone adores! Serve these at your next summer event including Memorial Day, Father’s Day, Fourth of July, or make them for game day parties!

Mexican Street Corn Deviled Eggs - Deviled eggs get a south-of-the-border makeover by incorporating grilled Mexican street corn, jalapeno, red onion, cilantro, lime juice, queso fresco, and chili powder! This is an EASY appetizer or picnic recipe that everyone adores! Serve these at your next summer event including Memorial Day, Father's Day, Fourth of July, or make them for game day parties!

Cheesy Baked Mexican Corn Dip — A hot corn dip reminiscent of Mexican street corn!! Creamy, cheesy, spiked with lime juice, chili powder, and a serrano chile or jalapeno for a touch of heat! SO EASY and ready in 20 minutes!! Perfect for parties, potlucks, tailgating, or your next FIESTA!! 

Cheesy Baked Mexican Corn Dip — A hot corn dip reminiscent of Mexican street corn!! Creamy, cheesy, spiked with lime juice, chili powder, and a serrano chile or jalapeno for a touch of heat! SO EASY and ready in 20 minutes!! Perfect for parties, potlucks, tailgating, or your next FIESTA!! 

Mexican Corn and Black Bean Salad — An EASY corn salad with black beans, zucchini, red onions, cilantro, lime juice, and more!! So much Mexican-inspired FLAVOR in every bite of this family favorite recipe that’s sure to be a hit!

Mexican Corn and Black Bean Salad — An EASY corn salad with black beans, zucchini, red onions, cilantro, lime juice, and more!! So much Mexican-inspired FLAVOR in every bite of this family favorite recipe that's sure to be a hit!!

Skinny Mexican Bean and Corn Salad – Two kinds of beans, juicy corn, tomatoes, peppers, and more tossed in a light chili-lime-cumin vinaigrette! Healthy, easy, ready in 5 minutes, and loaded with flavor!

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Avocado, Black Bean and Corn Salad with Lime-Cumin Vinaigrette – Everything tastes better with avocado! Easy, healthy and tons of flavor!

Avocado, Black Bean and Corn Salad with Lime-Cumin Vinaigrette - Everything tastes better with avocado!! Easy, healthy and tons of flavor!

Grilled Corn and Avocado Salad — An EASY and HEALTHY salad that’s ready in 10 minutes and you won’t be able to stop eating it!! Juicy corn, creamy avocado, cilantro, and fresh lime juice is a FIESTA in your mouth!

Overhead shot of Grilled Corn and Avocado Salad in a white bowl

Grilled Corn Salad with Chicken — An EASY salad that’s ready in 15 minutes and you won’t be able to stop eating it!! Tender chicken, juicy corn, crisp bell peppers and tomatoes, creamy avocado, cilantro, and fresh lime juice for the WIN!

Grilled Chicken and Corn Salad -  An EASY salad that’s ready in 15 minutes and you won’t be able to stop eating it!! Tender chicken, juicy corn, crisp bell peppers and tomatoes, creamy avocado, cilantro, and fresh lime juice for the WIN!!

Creamy Mexican Grilled Corn and Zucchini Salad — A healthy, easy salad that’s ready in 15 minutes and so flavorful! Corn, zucchini, cilantro, queso fresco and more are tossed in a delish creamy lime sauce!

Creamy Mexican Grilled Corn and Zucchini Salad - A healthy EASY salad that's ready in 15 minutes and so flavorful!! Corn, zucchini, cilantro, queso fresco and more are tossed in a DELISH creamy lime sauce!!

Vegetarian Burrito Bowl Salad — Your favorite burrito ingredients minus the meat and extra carbs to keep things HEALTHIER!! Ready in 10 minutes and keeps you satisfied but not stuffed! Great EASY lunch, dinner, or meal prep recipe!!

Black Bean Burrito Bowl Salad - Your favorite burrito ingredients minus the meat and extra carbs to keep things HEALTHIER!! Ready in 10 minutes and keeps you satisfied but not stuffed! Great EASY lunch, dinner, or meal prep recipe!!

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Please note: I have only made the recipe as written, and cannot give advice or predict what will happen if you change something. If you have a question regarding changing, altering, or making substitutions to the recipe, please check out the FAQ page for more info.

Recipe Rating




Comments

  1. 5 stars
    My husband raved about this slaw! A few things I tweaked. I omitted the jalapeño since I can’t eat peppers. Also used purple cabbage only, no green. I will add more corn next time I make it. Overall, this was phenomenal and will definitely be making this again!

    1. Thanks for the 5 star review, Kelsey, and I’m glad this slaw got rave reviews and that it was phenomenal and you’ll definitely make it again!