Corn salad is one of my all-time favorite summer recipes. The sweetness of the corn cuts through the cherry tomatoes and fresh English cucumber, creating a superb plant-based salad that tastes like sunshine in a bowl.
One of the best things about this corn salad recipe is how adaptable it is. The cucumbers and tomatoes can be swapped out according to what you find at your grocery store or local market, and the corn can be prepared however you see fit.
How to choose the best corn for your salad
Like any other vegetable, corn is a great deal yummier when ripe. If picked before they are ready you will find the corn kernels have less flavor than normal and will lack juiciness. While this works fine for stir-fry, a summer corn salad is best made with sweet, succulent kernels. One of the best ways to guarantee your corn is ripe is to buy seasonally. Peak sweetcorn season is May through September, when you will be able to find sunshine ripened ears in all 50 states.
Look for corn with dark brown “tassels” – the silky beard at the end of the ear. This means the corn is ready to be eaten. The husk should have firm, dark green husks, and you should be able to feel the individual kernels through the leaves. If it is safe and courteous to do so, pull back the husk a little, and make sure the kernels are filled from the base to the tip.
What type of corn is best for a corn salad?
You can use any sweet yellow corn for this recipe! I opted for fresh, uncooked kernels, but feel free to adapt according to your taste and what you have readily available.
Shuck the corn by removing the leaves and fine fibers. Cut the corn kernels away from the cob by placing it on its end and cutting downwards. Repeat on all sides, then transfer to a large salad serving bowl.
Place a steaming basket over a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Add the shucked corn cobs and steam for 5 minutes. Remove from the steaming basket and allow the cobs to cool before cutting away the corn kernels and transferring to a large salad serving bowl.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the shucked corn cobs and boil for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the water and allow to cool before cutting away the corn kernels and transferring to a large salad serving bowl.
Heat your grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Grill the shucked corn cobs until browned and lightly charred on all sides. This should take around 10 minutes. Remove from the grill and allow to cool before cutting away the corn kernels and transferring to a large salad serving bowl.
Open the cans, measure out 4 cups (reserve any excess canned corn for another use), and transfer to a fine mesh strainer to drain away as much liquid as possible. You can use the corn straight from the can, or transfer to an oiled skillet and brown slightly over high heat.
Place the frozen corn into a fine mesh strainer to defrost and release any excess water. Once defrosted, the corn is ready to use. If desired, transfer to an oiled skillet and brown slightly over high heat.
How to make corn salad
Once your corn is prepared its time to assemble your salad. This recipe is a showcase for the best summer produce, so as with your corn, make sure your fresh ingredients are fresh, ripe and juicy!
These little tomatoes are juicy, sweet, and tangy, and are the perfect foil for our fresh corn. That being said you can easily switch them up for your favorite variety. If you use larger fruit then simply cut down to size for the salad. If your tomatoes are especially juicy then you might like to drain them of any excess water, to avoid making your corn salad too soggy.
I like English cucumbers in this corn salad recipe, but truth be told, Persian cucumbers would work just as well. The only real difference between the two is that the Persian variety is smaller and tends to have few seeds, compared to its English cousin which does not. Feel free to remove the seeds from the cucumber, if they bother you.
Slice your red onion as finely as possible, to avoid overpowering your corn salad. We’re looking for a subtle, aromatic flavor, not a mouthful of onion with every bite. If you prefer you can switch red onion for thinly sliced green onion.
Corn salad dressing
The dressing for our corn salad is a combination of olive oil, lime juice, and a dash of nutritional yeast. The nooch will add depth of flavor to the dressing, as well as a slightly creamy, cheese-like tang. If that’s not your thing then feel free to leave out the nutritional yeast.
Assemble your salad
Combine your salad ingredients in a large bowl, drizzle with your dressing, and voila! Your corn salad is ready to go. This recipe is lovely as a light main dish, or with some grilled tofu or as a side to a vegan burger or sandwich.
If you’d like to add a creamy component to your Corn Salad, you could add one ripe avocado (cut into cubes) or some crumbled vegan feta cheese.
Looking for more Summer Inspired recipes?
Here are a few of our reader favorites:
Watermelon Salad with Mint + Vegan Feta
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