Sweet Corn Salsa

This Corn Salsa is a make ahead friendly, healthy, potluck pleaser with chips or pile it on tacos, quesadillas, grilled chicken, salmon, pork and more! Readers call it “OVER THE TOP delicious!! and “eating it with a fork YUMMY!!” It’s elevated with charred corn (grill and skillet directions), key spices and a rainbow of ingredients for an explosion of tangy, salty, sweet, spicy, smoky, fresh, juicy, and crunchy YUM!

top view of fresh corn salsa in a bowl with a holding a chip



  • CHARRED CORN.  Sweet corn is already delish but grilling fresh sweet cobs of corn right on the sizzling grill or charring canned or frozen corn in a hot cast iron skillet enhances their natural sweetness delivering smoky, succulent, sweet corn you will be eating with a spoon.
  • QUICK AND EASY. You just need 20 minutes!
  • ADDED CRUNCH. A red bell pepper and English cucumber add sweet, contrasting CRUNCH.
  • CUSTOMIZABLE:  Add your favorite ingredients such as avocados, black beans, mangos, more jalapenos, etc.
  • STRESS FREE POTLUCK PLEASER. Make this Corn Salsa recipe in advance then bring it out when it’s time to serve for stress free entertaining, lunch or dinners without the last-minute hustle.
top view of corn salsa for tacos
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Let’s take a closer look at what you’ll need to make this corn salsa (measurements in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):

  • Corn: for the BEST Corn Salsa recipe, you will need four ears of sweet corn on the cob and then cut the kernels straight from the cob.  If you want to ramp up your corn salsa, I highly suggest grilling or charring in a skillet – I’ve included instructions below.
  • Red bell pepper:  I recommend red bell pepper because it is sweeter than other colors, but you can substitute if you only have other peppers on hand.  I like to to dice the bell peppers so they are “salsa” consistency.
  • Tomatoes. use Roma tomatoes rather than larger tomatoes because they have a higher ratio of flesh to watery inside. Make sure you remove any watery flesh so your corn salsa doesn’t become diluted or soggy.  I actually cut all of the flesh out of my tomatoes before chopping. 
  • English cucumber:  cucumbers are optional but I love the fresh crispness they add.  I like English (hothouse) cucumbers so you don’t have to peel them, but you can certainly substitute with a peeled cucumber. 
  • Red onion.  I like the fresh pop of red onion but you may also use green onions.  If you’re not a fan of raw red onions, you can cook them 30 seconds or so in the microwave to soften the bite or use less.
  • Jalapeno:  remove the seeds and the white veins of your jalapenos because these pack the fieriest heat. Use one jalapeno for mild and then you can add additional jalapeno to taste. If you feel like your Corn Salsa is missing something – it probably heat, so add more chopped jalapeno!  
  • Fresh cilantro: adds a bright, fresh, citrus pop.  You can use more or less to taste.
  • Lime juice: you can use fresh or bottled lime juice and use more or less to taste.
  • Apple cider vinegar: I like using cider vinegar in connection with lime juice as I feel like it pumps up the flavor profile without adding too much acidity.  If you don’t have cider vinegar, you may add additional lime juice.
  • Garlic:  I prefer garlic powder because I feel like it gets more evenly distributed but feel free to substitute with fresh garlic.
  • Salt:  corn LOVES salt!  It awakens all the flavors!  Use more or less to taste.  
  • Seasonings:  ground cumin, and smoked paprika round out the flavor profile.
side view showing how to make corn salsa by adding corn, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers jalapenos, lime juice and cilantro to a bowl


While corn on the cob is my absolute favorite corn for Corn Salsa and Corn Salad, you may also substitute with canned corn or frozen corn.

  • This Corn Salad recipe calls for 4 ears of corn which means you’ll need approximately 3 ½ – 4 cups of corn.
  • Take care you use SWEET canned corn.
  • If using canned corn, take care to rinse and drain it first.
  • For the best flavor, char your canned sweet corn in a skillet (instructions to follow).
  • If using frozen corn, do not thaw it before charring in a skillet.
  • Frozen corn will take a few extra minutes to char.


Let’s take a closer look at how to make corn salsa with step-by-step photos (full recipe in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):

  1. Char Corn:  Char corn on the stove or on your grill:


  • Peel the corn
  • Remove all the silk
  • Lightly brush all over with olive oil
  • Grease and heat grill to high heat
  • Grill corn over direct heat for 10-12 minutes, turning until lightly charred on all sides, closing the lid in between rotations
showing how to make corn salsa by grilling fresh corn on the cob


If you don’t have corn on the cob or have access to a grill, you can still char frozen, canned, or fresh corn in a cast iron skillet:

  • Heat one tablespoon olive oil in large cast iron skillet over high heat
  • Add the corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until corn starts to char, approximately 5 minutes (a few minutes longer if frozen)
  • Transfer kernels to a large bowl to cool so they don’t continue to cook
showing how to make corn salsa with canned corn by charring in a skillet
  1. Add ingredients to a large bowl:  Choose a bowl that gives you some wiggle room to toss, so everything can get evenly combined.
top view showing how to make corn salsa by adding corn, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers jalapenos, lime juice and cilantro to a bowl
  1. Add lime juice and seasonings:  Toss the corn with lime juice, apple cider vinegar, garlic, cumin, smoke paprika powder, salt and pepper.
showing how to make corn salsa by stirring ingredients in a bowl
  1. Taste and adjust:  Taste your corn salsa with a chip if you’re serving with chips (because chips add saltiness) or with a fork if not serving with chips.  Add additional lime juice for tangier, salt for more flavor, jalapeno for spicier (and more flavor). 
  2. Serve:  I recommend letting the Corn Salsa rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, but if you don’t have time, then you may serve immediately.
top view of burnt corn salsa in a bowl


  • Use fresh corn immediately.  Fresh corn is the sweetest and juiciest used within the first 1-2 days.  The sugars begin converting to starch soon after the corn is harvested. Make sure you store your corn in the refrigerator to stall this process.
  • Purchase shucked corn.  If you want to save some time, purchase already shucked corn – no dealing with all that pesky silk!
  • Do I have to char my corn?   I highly recommend charring your corn because you will not only get sweet and juicy but complex and smoky flavor and it soaks in more flavor from the lime and seasonings.  That being said, if you are in a hurry, raw corn is also sweet, juicy and delicious. 
  • How do I cut corn off the cob?  I find the easiest way to cut corn off the cob is to stand it upright on the cutting board and slice down the corn with the knife slightly angled in so you get all of the kernels.   This way, you don’t run the risk of slicing your fingers off if slicing it lying horizontally.  I have also seen the trick of standing corn on the cob on the center of a Bundt pan so the kernels drop right into the pan when sliced off, but I haven’t found this necessary.


I personally love this Corn Salsa exactly as written but feel free to add in anything your heart desires.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Avocado:  chop and add just before serving.  Use avocados that are ripe but on the firmer side so they don’t get mushy in the salsa. If you add avocados, keep in mind the leftovers will not keep for as long or as well because the avocados will brown and get mushy.
  • Black beans:  rinse and drain one 15 oz. can black beans.  Black beans will drastically change the flavor profile of your Corn Salsa into a hearty, richer salsa that won’t taste as fresh – still delicious, just different.
  • Mangos:  add a sweet juicy pop.  They are particularly a good idea if you decide to add black beans.
  • Cheese: crumbled cotija cheese or queso fresco add a creamy saltiness.  Take care to add less salt to the Corn Salsa recipe if you know you are going to be adding cheese then add salt to taste if needed.


This Corn Salsa goes with everything, not just chips!  I love to add it to chicken tacos, quesadillas, Mexican Salads, or burrito bowls.  It also pairs well with grilled steak, pork, poultry, shrimp and fish.  Here are a few more creative uses:

  • Grains:  add quinoa, couscous, or rice to make it a quinoa/rice corn salad along with additional olive oil and seasonings.
  • Cheesy rice: You can also make it more hearty by adding it to Cilantro Lime Rice or Mexican Rice along with cheese or sour cream/Greek yogurt.
  • Salad:  add corn salsa to leafy salad greens or kale or make it a kale (quinoa) salad.
  • Protein: make corn salsa a meal by adding rotisserie chicken, Mexican chicken, chipotle chicken or chili lime chicken, carne asada steakbeef barbacoa, ground turkey, ground beef, etc.
  • Pasta:  Add corn salsa to zoodles or other pasta/noodles with a little Greek yogurt.

Sweet Corn Salsa FAQs

Should you cook salsa when making it?

Yes! Cooking corn for salsa enhances its sweetness, softens its texture, and adds a smoky flavor, contributing to a more complex and flavorful salsa.

up close of scooping easy corn salsa recipe with a tortilla chip

Want to try this Corn Salsa RECIPE?

Pin it to your appetizer or Mexican Board to SAVE for later!


©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

Fresh Corn Salsa

This Corn Salsa Recipe is a MUST MAKE recipe this season! It’s tangy, salty, sweet, spicy, smoky, fresh, juicy, and crunchy all at the same time. This Corn Salsa is made with charred, caramelized sweet corn, crispy bell peppers, crunchy cucumbers, juicy tomatoes, spicy jalapenos, kickin’ garlic and zesty cilantro all brightened by fresh lime juice.  This Corn Salsa recipe can be served as an appetizer with just chips at any potluck or pile it on tacos, quesadillas, grilled chicken, salmon, and pork. It also makes a fabulous side to practically everything because it is delicious with just a fork! No matter how you serve this Corn Salsa recipe, you will be blown away at just how fabulous it is!
Servings: 10 -12 servings
Total Time: 32 minutes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes

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  • 4 ears of sweet corn husks removed
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes diced
  • 3/4 cup diced English cucumber
  • 1/4 cup diced red onions
  • 1-2 jalapenos seeded, deveined, minced (1 for mild)
  • 1/3 cup packed cilantro minced
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp EACH ground cumin, salt
  • 1/4 tsp EACH garlic powder, smoked paprika, pepper


  • GRILL CORN: Lightly brush each ear of corn with olive oil. Grease and heat grill to high heat (450 degrees). Once hot, add corn and close the lid. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side, rotating the corn until all of the sides are lightly charred, about 10-12 minutes, closing the lid in between rotations. Set the corn aside and allow to cool enough to handle. Cut the kernels off of the cob and transfer to a large bowl.
  • OR SKILLET CORN: Cut the kernels off of the cob. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large cast iron skillet over high heat. Add the corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until corn starts to char approximately 5-7 minutes. Transfer kernels to a large bowl.
  • ASSEMBLE: Add all of the remaining Corn Salsa ingredients to the grilled corn and toss tot evenly coat. Season with additional lime juice and/or salt and pepper to taste.
  • SERVE: Let rest for 30-60 minutes at room temperature to let the flavors meld or serve immediately. Corn Salsa will keep covered in the fridge for up to 4-5 days, but is best the first day.

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  1. Jamie says

    This Corn Salsa looks heavenly! I know just what I’m making for our potluck this weekend. Thanks for all the great recipes- they never disappoint!

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome Jamie, thank YOU for making them! I’m excited for you to make this corn salsa as well – I think you’re going to love it!

  2. Mary D. says

    Just made a half batch without blackening the corn because I had boiled leftover on the cob. It is so good, I am eating it with a fork YUMMY!! Also used regular yellow onion cause I did not have red.

    • Jen says

      I’m so happy you loved this Corn Salsa! I’am right there with you – I eat it with a fork!

  3. Abby says

    Do you think I could sprinkle some cojita or feta over the top of this?

  4. Jess says

    Can this be canned for storage?

    • Jen says

      Hi Jess, you need to use a recipe specifically for canning recipes because they are only validated for safety as written. Sorry!

  5. Deb Poehlmann says

    OMG!!! This salsa is OVER THE TOP delicious!! Make sure to use every ingredient—you will not regret it!!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Deb for your awesome comment! I’m thrilled you love this corn salsa as much as us!

  6. Brandie says

    This was amazing. Made it Sunday for a cookout and I just made another batch to take as a snack for work this weekend. Delicious, didn’t change a thing.

    • Jen says

      Awesome Brandie, I’m so pleased this corn salsa is a new repeat favorite!

  7. Erica says

    LOVE this recipe. Delicious!!!

  8. Paula says

    I have a question. I am having this on the 31st Oct. I can still get corn on the cob. Can I grill/char outside and cut it off the cob and freeze it? Will it still have that distinct flavor?

    • Jen says

      Hi Paula, yes you should be able to roast and freeze it. Spread the corn kernels on a baking sheet in a more or less single layer. Freeze, uncovered, for one hour, then transfer the frozen kernels to freezer bags or containers. Enjoy!

  9. Josh says

    Freaking delicious. The fresh produce gives it that home garden taste. We used a can of black beans with ours.

    • Josh says

      Also did the avacado crema (which is extremely easy) and the seasoned pork recipe (for tacos). The corn salsa was my favorite by far. Nice cold summer snack for these hot days.

    • Jen says

      Awesome Josh, I’m so pleased you loved it!