Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Esquites is the side dish your spring and summer menus need (and we have a great recipe for it)

All of the incredible flavor of Mexican street corn, none of the mess

Serious Eats/Facebook

If you’ve ever had proper Mexican street corn, you know that it isn’t an exaggeration to say that there’s really just nothing better in existence. There’s a reason that adorable little kid went viral for singing corn’s praises — everyone can relate. Because, of course, we can. A sweet and golden, freshly harvested piece of early summer corn, slathered in sour cream, cheese, summertime citrus, and delicious spices? No. There’s nothing better, and we will die on that hill.

Unfortunately, there’s one drawback to this summertime snack. It’s messy. Granted, that’s also one of the beautiful things about it, but there are certain occasions when that wet, drippy, creamy goodness isn’t always welcome. Thankfully, there’s an answer to this little problem. Esquites.

Esquites has all the flavor of Mexican street corn, but rather than being served on a stick, it can be served neatly in a bowl, ready to be topped on chips, in a taco, or let’s be real — nothing but a spoon.

How to customize your own

The other beautiful thing about esquites is that the dish is easy to customize for any number of dietary preferences or restrictions. The esquites recipe below, for example, calls for bacon which you could easily leave out. The mayonnaise can simply be swapped for a vegan version if that’s your preference. Not a fan of the heat? Go easy on the chilis. So long as the corn has that traditionally perfect char, and it’s held together with a creamy, delicious, savory base, you’ve got yourself a winning dish that will disappear in seconds.

Mexican street corn salad (esquites) recipe

(From Serious Eats)


  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 4 ears of fresh corn, shucked, kernels removed
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 ounces of feta or Cotija cheese, finely crumbled
  • 1/2 cup of finely sliced scallions, green parts only
  • 1/2 cup of fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and stemmed, finely chopped
  • 1 to 2 medium cloves of garlic, pressed or minced on a microplane grater (about 1 to 2 teaspoons)
  • tablespoons of mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice
  • Chile powder or hot chile flakes (to taste)


  1. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet or wok over high heat until shimmering.
  2. Add corn kernels, season to taste with salt, toss once or twice, and cook without moving until charred on one side, about 2 minutes.
  3. Toss corn, stir, and repeat until charred on the second side, about 2 minutes longer.
  4. Continue tossing and charring until the corn is well charred all over, about 10 minutes total. Transfer to a large bowl.
  5. Add cheese, scallions, cilantro, jalapeno, garlic, mayonnaise, lime juice, and chile powder and toss to combine.
  6. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and more chile powder to taste. Serve immediately.

Editors' Recommendations

Lindsay Parrill
Lindsay is a graduate of California Culinary Academy, Le Cordon Bleu, San Francisco, from where she holds a degree in…
The 5 best Indian butter chicken recipes we’ve tasted
Master an Indian cuisine favorite with these chef-curated butter chicken recipes
Indian butter chicken in a black pan with a spiral of cream being added.

Creamy and savory, Indian butter chicken is a must-order for any fan of Indian cuisine. An extremely popular dish at most Indian restaurants in America, this combination of tender chicken and rich sauce is equally delicious with basmati rice or Indian naan. While butter chicken can be time-consuming to make, the results are deliciously fulfilling and perfect for leftovers.

To help us navigate this classic dish, The Manual has collected five amazing recipes from various chefs and Indian cuisine professionals, including Maneet Chauhan, a Food Network star, and restaurateur Gaurav Anand. With the expert guidance of these chefs, butter chicken can be a great addition to anyone's dinner repertoire.

Read more
You need this pumpkin chili recipe in your life
Give this favorite fall dish a pumpkin twist with this amazing chili recipe
best pumpkin chili recipe 3

When we think of pumpkin as an ingredient, our minds tend to settle on all of the wonderful fall sweet treats and desserts it can provide — pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice lattes, any number of warm, fresh-from-the-oven autumn breads and cookies. This time of year, there's no shortage of pumpkin in all of its autumnal dessert glory, and we obviously love it. But because pumpkin is such a star of the sweet world, we can tend to forget that it shines just as magnificently as a savory ingredient. Pumpkin offers a smooth, gentle richness when prepared in savory applications. Its velvety texture and earthy notes can give dishes like soups and chilis a total fall glow-up. And this pumpkin chili recipe is a perfect example.

We all love a good chili in the fall. Dish us up a big bowl, put some football on TV, and we're set for the day. But with the addition of pumpkin to this fall favorite, you get something truly special. The wholesome and healthy, decadently delicious addition of pumpkin elevates your chili from standard to spectacular.
Pumpkin chili recipe

Read more
The 5 Best Grilled Chicken Salad Recipes for the Summer
Chicken salad with crackers

As with baseball, martini specs, and politics, people tend to have very strong opinions about chicken salad. In the South, nearly everyone has their version of "the best chicken salad" that almost always comes from a mother or grandmother. Heated debates over additions and mix-ins like fruit and nuts are commonplace. Screaming matches over the correct brand of mayonnaise happen more than you think. (Spoiler alert: the correct answer is Duke's.)

The way we see it, there are two very distinct groups; traditional and modern. For the traditionalists among us, chicken salad is just chicken, mayonnaise, celery, spices, and seasonings. That's it. Others enjoy having grapes or apples and walnuts or pecans in their chicken salad and that's fine. We aren't here to pass judgment. We're here to give you the best-tasting chicken salad recipes we can find, from traditional and simple to more modern versions.

Read more