Fresh Corn Salsa with Lime and Cilantro

published Jul 16, 2022
Corn Salsa Recipe

A sweet celebration of peak summer corn.

Serves6 to 8

Makesabout 5 cups

Prep20 minutes

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A photograph of a white bowl containing corn salsa, with sliced jalapenos on top, and a tortilla chips around it.
Credit: Laura Manzano

Corn salsa is a celebration of summer’s bounty, highlighting the natural sweetness of fresh corn in its purest form. Raw corn is best for corn salsa: It’s crisp, sweet, crunchy, and fresh. Frozen corn is often stripped of its crunch, as kernels become soggy when defrosted. Grilled corn makes an amazing salsa, too, but for much less effort, take raw corn as it is and learn to appreciate the value of the phrase “less is more.” 

What Is Corn Salsa Made Of?

The best corn is sweet right off the cob, so this salsa has lots of tang and bold flavors to give it balance and punch. Raw onion can be astringent and powerful, but marinating it in lime juice along with grated garlic and ginger softens the onion and mellows it, giving it a less bracing presence when mixed together as a salsa. Fresh herbs are welcomed everywhere, but a salsa without them would truly be nothing. And finely chopping scallions, as opposed to just thinly slicing, ensures they incorporate well into the mix. 

Credit: Laura Manzano

Can You Freeze Corn Salsa? 

It is not recommended to freeze corn salsa. The acidity of the lime juice softens the corn when it sits for too long, and freezing and defrosting the salsa only accelerates that process. 

What Can I Use Corn Salsa For?

There’s nothing better than crisp sweet corn salsa on a salty, crunchy tortilla chip. You’re reuniting corn with corn, and it’s a happy marriage indeed. But corn salsa is amazing in a variety of applications.

  • Mix it with sour cream, mozzarella, and bake it in a 425ºF oven for 20 minutes for a fun spin on Korean corn cheese dip.
  • Stir it into chicken tortilla soup for crunch and color. 
  • Sprinkle it over nachos.
  • Mix it into a taco salad.
  • Combine it with ground beef or turkey and brown rice for a protein-packed lunch bowl. 
  • Add it to a burger with pepper Jack cheese and avocado for a Tex-Mex twist. 

Corn Salsa Recipe

A sweet celebration of peak summer corn.

Prep time 20 minutes

Makes about 5 cups

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info


  • 3

    medium limes

  • 1 clove


  • 1 (1/2-inch) piece


  • 1 tablespoon

    plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar

  • 2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, plus more to taste

  • 1/2

    small red onion

  • 8 medium ears

    fresh corn

  • 2

    large scallions

  • 1/2 small bunch

    fresh cilantro

  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper


  1. Prepare the following, adding each to the same small bowl as you complete it: Finely grate the zest of 2 of the medium limes (about 1 tablespoon). Juice 3 medium limes until you have 1/3 cup. Finely grate 1 garlic clove. Peel and finely grate 1 (1/2-inch) piece ginger until you have 1/2 teaspoon.

  2. Add 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar and 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Whisk until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Finely chop 1/2 small onion (about 1/2 cup) and add to the bowl. Set aside to let onions soften and garlic and ginger mellow.

  3. Meanwhile, shuck 8 medium ears fresh corn. Cut the kernels off the cobs: I prefer to lay each ear on a cutting board and cut down the side of the cob to remove the kernels. Then, I rotate the cob so the flat (cut) end is against the board and continue cutting and rotating (you should have about 4 cups total); place in a large bowl.

  4. Prepare the following, adding each to the bowl of corn as you complete it: Thinly slice, then finely chop 2 large scallions (about 1/4 cup). Finely chop the leaves and tender stems of 1/2 small bunch fresh cilantro until you have 1/4 cup.

  5. Add the onion mixture, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Stir well to combine. Taste and season with additional salt as needed.

Recipe Notes

Fresh corn substitute: 4 cups of thawed frozen corn can be used instead of fresh.

Make ahead: The corn salsa can be made up to 1 hour ahead and refrigerated until ready to serve.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.