Grilled Corn Salad

Summery corn salad, made with grilled or toasted corn, zucchini, red bell pepper, red onions, cilantro, and seasoned with cumin, oil and vinegar.

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4


  • 4 ears of corn, do not shuck (or 2 1/2 cups frozen corn for the non-grill option)
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1 5-inch long zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 serrano chili pepper, seeded and minced (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (best if you toast whole cumin seeds then grind)
  • 1/4 cup crumbly salty cheese such as feta or cotija (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp cider vinegar or lime juice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


1 Prepare your grill for high, direct heat. Oil the grill grates. Rub a little olive oil over the bell pepper. Place the corn (in their husks) and red bell pepper directly on the grill grates. (See our method for grilling corn-on-the-cob.) Cover the grill.

Turn corn occasionally, so that every part of the husk is blackened. Turn the red bell pepper occasionally until the skin has blistered up all around it. This should take 15 to 20 minutes.

For the last 5 minutes or so, rub olive oil over the zucchini pieces and place the zucchini pieces directly on the grill grate, cut side down. Turn them over after a few minutes when they have some nice grill marks on them. Let them cook for just a minute or two on the other side.

1a - no grill version Alternatively you can prepare the vegetables on the stove-top. Shuck the corn and use a knife to remove the kernels from the cobs. If you don't have fresh corn, you can easily use frozen. Coat the bottom of a large, sturdy relatively stick-free (can use cast iron) pan with a little olive oil. Heat the pan to high. Spread out the corn kernels on the pan. If frozen, they will defrost almost immediately. Don't stir them that much, just let them cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to toast. When they get a little browned, remove them from the pan to a bowl. Lay the zucchini pieces on the pan and brown on both sides, do not over cook, remove from pan. The bell pepper does not need to be cooked, it can just be seeded and chopped fine.

2 Let the corn cool down for a few minutes and pull back the husks. Stand the corn husks vertically, tip facing down, in a large shallow bowl or baking dish. Use a sharp knife to make long, downward strokes, removing the kernels from the cob, as you work your way around the cob.

Once the bell pepper has cooled a bit, remove the outer peel. Cut open the pepper, remove the seeds and stem. Chop the bell pepper into small pieces.

Slice the slightly browned zucchini again lengthwise and chop into small pieces.

3 Place grilled or toasted corn kernels, chopped bell pepper, chopped zucchini, red onion, cilantro, and serrano (if using) into a large bowl.

grilled-corn-salad-method-1 grilled-corn-salad-method-2

Add the cumin, olive oil, vinegar or lime juice, and crumbly cheese (if using). Mix gently. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve cold or at room temperature.

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  • goola

    How can cotija compare with feta? The grilling method is preferred right?

    Cotija is a salty crumbly Mexican cheese and feta a salty crumbly Greek cheese. The flavors of this salad are Southwestern, so cotija is probably more appropriate, but feta will do too. Regarding grilling or not grilling, 6 of one, half dozen of the other. It all depends on your cooking set up. If you have a grill, and it’s a hot summer day and you don’t want to get your kitchen hot by cooking in it, then grilling is a great way to go. If on the other hand you don’t want to bother with getting the grill going, you can easily make this on the stove top. Grilling will give more smokey flavor, stove-top more from browning. ~Elise

  • Jessica

    I’ve made this salad twice and I love it! Though corn off the cob is not usually my preference, I might even prefer this salad to a messy cob :) The last time I made it, for a potluck BBQ, it was gone before anyone could get seconds!! I definitely recommend giving it a try.

  • Aquarijenn

    I made this tonight for dinner and it was amazing! The sweetness of the corn offset the lime juice perfectly. I omitted the cheese and onion and added a can of seasoned black beans and diced tomatoes. I can’t wait to have some for lunch tomorrow. Thanks for the great recipe!

  • Katie

    I absolutely LOVE this recipe! The no-grill version works very well, and I highly recommend toasting the cumin. The one change I made was that I serve it right away; I liked it better straight off the “grill” than I did chilled.

  • Alli

    The grocery store was out of zucchini so I substituted with 2 peaches, and the flavor was just awesome, complimented the cumin perfectly!
    Great recipe – will defiantly be making this again!! Thank you!

  • Lucinda

    Oh, I just made this salad for a Fourth of July BBQ. It is so good. Thank you for posting. FYI… I didn’t think it was so much work for a salad. Well worth any effort it may be!

  • Tonya

    We had this for dinner last night as a side to the red chile grilled chicken. Very tasty! My boyfriend — the in-house grill guru — said it was a lot of work, but the end result was well worth it!

  • Lyndee

    The perfect meal to take for lunch the next day. I love it!

  • Baxter

    I made this dish over the weekend with great results. A tip for roasting bell peppers, after they come off the grill but them in brown paper bags, e.g. lunch bags, to cool. The bag helps retain some heat and moisture, which results in the pepper being easier to peel.

  • brad

    I make a very similar corn salad in the winter using frozen corn and hominy roasted in the oven.

  • Dragon

    I think I would serve this salad with some homemade pita chips. I brush my pita chips with oil and sprinkle paprika, salt and pepper. I might skip the paprika this time and sprinkle cumin instead for this salad. Looks delicious!

  • Eren

    I just made this, and wow! Your dad was right to insist, thank you!

  • Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)

    Your dad is right — this is a great summer salad, but as you can make it with frozen corn, it could really work all year round, too.