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…
Twice baked sweet potato recipe: The perfect fall side that’s super easy to make
This is one of our favorite sweet potato recipes
Twice baked sweet potatoes

Twice-baked potatoes are one of those indulgently satisfying, comforting, cheesy sides that warm to the absolute core. But when you twice-bake a sweet potato, all of those comforting feelings get a savory autumn upgrade that's unparalleled in both taste and coziness. Twice-baked sweet potatoes are the perfect fall dish. They're simple enough to enjoy as dinner itself, sitting on the sofa under a big quilt, or as an impressive side dish on a holiday as special as Thanksgiving.
Of course, sweet potato recipes are abundant this time of year, but this one, in our opinion, takes the cake. Baking sweet potatoes is exactly like baking regular potatoes. Simply wash, pierce with a fork, rub a little oil for crispy skin, and bake. Once cooked through, that beautifully orange filling is scooped out and mixed with just about anything you like, from cream cheese to butter and herbs to marshmallow fluff. This is a great recipe to experiment with all of your favorite fall flavors.

Twice-baked sweet potato recipe

Read more
This pumpkin risotto is the fall comfort food you need in your life
Risotto is a lot easier to make than you think
Pumpkin risotto on the plate - a traditional Italian recipe

Risotto is one of those dishes that's gotten a reputation for being something of a diva. This comfortingly creamy and cheesy rice dish is made by lovingly tending to it with warm stock ladled in a bit at a time rather than simply dumping all the ingredients into a pot and calling it a day.

So while it does require a bit more care than a simple white rice or pilaf, it doesn't deserve the high-maintenance reputation it has. And let's be honest -- even if it were more than a little bit challenging to make, the rewards would be well worth the effort. Risotto is a meal that feels luxurious and rich. Its creamy, velvety texture is absolute heaven on earth. And when this dish is given an earthy autumnal upgrade, it becomes the meal everyone craves at the end of a long, cold fall day.

Read more
Salsa macha keeps indefinitely in your cupboard, tastes great on everything, and is dead-simple to make
You're going to want to make a lot of this one.
Salsa macha

When it comes to authentic and delicious Mexican cuisine, Rick Bayless knows what he's doing. The famed chef and restaurateur is known for his numerous prestigious achievements, from winning the title of Bravo's Top Chef Masters to his Public TV series, Mexico - One Plate as a Time. The man is a legend, and everything he cooks is equally legendary, turning the simplest condiment, like pickled onions, into something extraordinary.

This time, he's blessed the world with his incredible salsa macha recipe, a nutty, tangy salsa that's used typically as a topping for dishes instead of a dipping sauce. The salsa's origins are debated, with hints of both Mexican and Asian touches, and the combination is remarkable. Made from dried chilis, crushed peanuts, garlic, and oil, salsa macha is perfect atop any number of dishes, from seafood to steak and everything in between.
Rick Bayless Essential Salsas: Salsa Macha

Read more