This Roasted Chili Corn Salsa recipe is easy to prepare and only requires 6 ingredients along with a few pantry staples! Featuring sweet corn, crisp peppers, colorful onions, herbaceous cilantro, zesty lime and flavorsome seasonings, this fresh salsa with corn is bursting with bright flavors and juicy textures! It’s sweet, savory, salty, slightly spicy, a little smoky, moderately salty, 100% delicious and always a huge hit with a crowd!
You can serve this colorful corn dip in countless ways! It’s perfect as a dip with tortilla chips, as a garnish on chicken and fish, a topping for Mexican pizzas or tacos or try adding it to your favorite burrito bowl and salads! No matter how you serve it, this vegetable salsa will quickly become a healthy family favorite!
Update: This post was originally published in March 2015. I’ve made updates to the post below to include more information about roasted corn salsa! Plus, I’ve added step by step photos to show you exactly how quick and easy it is to make this Chipotle copycat recipe at home!
Corn lovers rejoice, because today I am sharing a colorful, healthy dip that is bursting with so much fresh flavor it will make your tastebuds clap!
Roasted Chili Corn Salsa recipe: overview
This salsa recipe features summer-fresh sweet corn beautifully roasted and kissed with the perfect smoky char! It’s sliced off of the cob and gently tossed with smoky poblano peppers, mildly spicy jalapeño, red wine marinated red onions, herbaceous cilantro, tart lime juice and flavorsome seasonings! The result is a homemade salsa that is fresh, vibrant and bursting with delicious flavors and juicy, crisp textures!
Aside from being absolutely heavenly in taste, this fresh salsa with corn is easy to make, can be prepared in advance, travels well and it’s easily customizable!
Oh, and did I mention this dip also doubles as a side dish, topping and a condiment!? Whether you serve this salsa as an easy appetizer with salty tortilla chips, use it as a filling for burritos, spoon it over chicken or fish, or just eat it by the spoonful, it’s the perfect versatile condiment to have on hand in the refrigerator!
Why you will love this chipotle corn recipe
- Perfect way to celebrate summer-fresh corn! Sweet, fresh corn is the undeniable star of this show!
- Amazing flavor! This salsa is bursting with so much flavor – it’s fresh, bright, sweet, savory, slightly smoky and 100% delicious!
- Simple and fast to make! This corn salsa recipe is incredibly easy to prepare and only requires about 15 minutes of hands-on preparation!
- Easy to find ingredients! You only need 6 simple ingredients along with a few pantry staples to create the best salsa with fresh corn!
- Versatile! This salsa is incredibly versatile and you can serve it numerous ways – not just as a dip! Try using is as a topping for tacos and nachos or as a garnish for chicken and fish!
- Make ahead! You can easily prepare this salsa in advance and store it in the refrigerator for snacking or easy entertaining!
- Crowd Pleaser! Everyone always devours this salsa, so I highly recommend you make a double batch!
What is corn salsa?
Corn salsa is a healthy, vegetarian dish that can be served as a dip, salad, topping or condiment. It is traditionally made with corn, onion, peppers and cilantro along with fresh lime juice and flavorful seasonings. Corn salsa is sweet, savory and mildly spicy in flavor.
What’s in it?
There are numerous variations of corn salsa and the exact ingredients will vary from recipe to recipe. However, every corn salsa will feature juicy, plump corn as the star ingredient!
This chipotle copycat recipe requires just six simple ingredients, along with a few pantry staples to create a salsa that is so fresh and bursting with bright flavors!
Ingredients in sweet corn salsa recipe
- Corn: For the best chili corn salsa recipe, you will need four ears of fresh corn on the cob. While I personally think fresh corn makes the best salsa, Chipotle actually uses frozen corn to make their roasted salsa – feel free to use that instead if you would like! (See below for tips on selecting the freshest corn at the store! Or, scroll down for tips on using frozen corn.)
- Oil or Butter: You will need a bit of oil or butter depending upon how you want to prepare and char your fresh corn on the cob.
- Onion: Red onions provide a mild, bright onion flavor and a pop of beautiful color! If you don’t like the taste of raw onion, you can soak dice and soak the onion in a bowl of ice water for a few minutes to mellow the pungent flavor!
- Vinegar: You will need 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar to “marinate” the red onions. Soaking the onions in vinegar helps to mellow their raw flavor while also providing the salsa with a depth of acidic flavor!
- Peppers: A mixture of poblano and jalapeño peppers provides the perfect combination of smoky and spicy flavors! If you prefer a mild salsa, make sure you remove all the seeds and ribs before dicing them! For an exact copycat chipotle corn salsa, I recommend charring your peppers! (See below for substitution ideas.)
- Seasonings: A combination of chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, kosher salt, ground pepper and sugar add a depth of flavors and round out the salsa beautifully!
- Cilantro: Fresh cilantro adds a ton of bright, earthy and slightly citrusy flavor that brings the salsa to life!
- Lime Juice: Fresh lime juice adds a bit of acidity. Make sure you use fresh limes and squeeze them yourself for the best flavor!
Substitutions, variations and toppings
Looking to make a few changes or additions to this roasted corn salsa? No problem at all – this recipe is super flexible and totally customizable! I encourage you to modify the recipe to your specific taste! Get creative in the kitchen – eliminate any ingredients that you don’t have on hand or simply don’t like and replace them with ones you love! Below are a few ideas to help get you started!
- Onion: If you prefer a milder onion flavor in your corn salsa, you can omit the red onion and substitute green onion instead!
- Peppers: If spicy salsa isn’t your thing, feel free to substitute the poblano and/or jalapeno with bell peppers! Sweeter red, yellow and orange bell peppers are my favorite in this recipe; however, green peppers will work too!
- Vinegar: The difference between a good and great salsa is a balance of flavor and great salsas use plenty of acids! If you don’t have (or like) red wine vinegar, you can substitute apple cider vinegar or simply use more lime juice!
- Herbs: If you aren’t a fan of cilantro you can substitute parsley or scallions!
- Tomatoes: Fresh Roma tomatoes will add delicious, juicy pops of garden-fresh flavor! Prior to adding the tomatoes to your salsa, make sure you remove all the seeds as well as the watery pulp!
- Black Beans: Beans are a great way to add plant protein and a bit more heft to corn salsa! Drain and thoroughly rinse one (15-ounce) can of black beans prior to adding them to the salsa.
- Avocado: Avocado is a delicious way to add a touch of creamy texture as well as healthy fats to this salsa! I recommend using a ripe (firm) avocado to keep the texture from becoming too mushy. Also, make sure you don’t add the avocado until just before serving prevent browning!
- Cucumber: Refreshing cucumbers are a wonderful way to add a touch of fresh crispness! I recommend using seedless (English) cucumbers so you can leave the skin on and minimize your prep-work!
- Fruit: Add a tropical flare to your salsa by adding in some fresh pineapple or mango!
- Cheese: Let’s face it, cheese is always a welcome addition to any dish! Cotija, queso fresco or feta are all delicious options that will add a ton of creamy texture and a bit of salty flavor!
How to select and store fresh corn?
Juicy kernels of corn are the star ingredient in this salsa; therefore, it’s imperative you select the best looking corn on the cob at the grocery store or farmer’s market!
How do you pick good corn on the cob?
Selecting the brightest, freshest, sweetest corn at the market is easy once you know what to look for! While peeling down the husk and taking a quick peek may seem like the easiest way to select an ear of corn, that method actually drys out the corn, shortening its shelf life.
Below are easy tips and fool-proof tricks for choosing the best corn without taking a peek!
- Touch: Pick up the corn and feel it. The husk should feel slightly damp and never dry. Next, use slight pressure to feel the kernels through the husk. The kernels should feel plump and ample. You want to avoid any cobs that have holes or divots where the kernels should be.
- Husk Color: Look for corn on the cob that has a bright green husk that wraps tightly against the cob. Don’t select any husks that are starting to yellow.
- Sight: You know those stringy, silky, fluffy things that stick up out of the top of the corn? Those are known as tassels. Fresh corn should have tassels that are brown in color and slightly sticky to the touch. Black, dry or mushy tassels indicate the corn on the cob is past its prime.
- Blemishes: Corn on the cob should have a husk that is completely intact without any holes. Small brown holes in the husk, especially towards the top, indicate worms or insects and those cobs should be avoided!
- Odor: Give the tassels on the corn a good sniff – they should have a sweet aroma. Always avoid corn that has a smell of decay or off-putting aroma!
How to store fresh corn?
Once you select the best corn at the market, it’s time to safely store it at home!
If you are going to cook or eat the corn the same day, it is fine to store it at room temperature on the kitchen counter. However, if you need to store the corn for more than a few hours, its best to wrap the corn tightly in a plastic bag and store it in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.
How to cook corn on the cob for salsa?
There are multiple ways to cook corn on the cob and everyone seems to have their own tip or trick for turning out the best, perfectly charred corn! Below are a few of my favorite methods for cooking corn, as well as a few simple tricks for obtaining the best flavor!
How to grill corn on the cob
If the weather is nice outside, grilling is my favorite way to cook corn! There are two different ways you can grill corn, depending upon how much time you have to dedicate to preparation.
Grilling with the husk on: Method 1
If you have the time, the best way to grill your corn is with the husk on. The husk protects the corn while it is cooking, preventing it from drying out. After the corn is just tender, you will remove the husk and place it back on the grill. This two-part grilling method results in corn that is incredibly juicy with the perfect smoky char!
To grill corn with the husk on: First, you will need to peel back the husk of the corn, leaving it intact at the root. Next, remove and discard all the silk (strings) from the corn, then recover the corn with the husk. Place the corn in a large bowl of cold water and let it soak for at least 30 minutes – this helps prevent the husks from burning on the grill! After 3o minutes, gently shake off all excess water from the corn and add it to the grill. Close the lid and cook for 7-8 minutes, rotating as necessary. Last, remove the corn from the grill and pull back the husks. Return the corn to the grill and cook, rotating until evenly charred all over.
- Pros: Superior taste and texture!
- Cons: You need at least 30 minutes of hands-off preparation.
Grilling without the husk: Method 2
If you are short on time, you can remove the husk and grill your corn without the husk in tact.
To grill corn without the husk: Remove and discard the husk, as well as the silk, completely from the cob. Next, brush the corn with a neutral oil or butter and add the corn the to grill. Close the lid to the grill and cook, rotating the corn as necessary, for 7-8 minutes or until evenly charred all over.
- Pros: This method is extremely quick and fuss-free!
- Cons: You will need to keep a close eye on the corn to make sure it doesn’t blacken too quickly. Also, the corn won’t turn out as juicy and tender as the method above.
How to cook corn on a gas stovetop
If it’s raining outside or you simply don’t feel like firing up the grill, you can easily cook corn on the cob over the flame on your gas stovetop!
To roast corn over open gas flame: Remove and discard the husk, as well as the silk, completely from the cob. Next, lightly spray the corn all over with a neutral cooking oil. Turn the gas flame on your stove top to between medium-high and high heat. Working with one ear of corn at a time, place the corn directly on the grate. Cook, rotating often, for 3-5 minutes. Note: You will hear some popping sounds while the corn is roasting – don’t worry, that is completely normal!
- Pros: Super quick and easy!
- Cons: You can only work with one cob at a time. Also, the corn won’t be as juicy and tender as other methods.
How to cook corn in a skillet
If you don’t have access to a grill or you simply feel like staying indoors, cooking corn in a skillet is super simple!
To cook corn on the stove: Shuck the corn, removing and discarding the husk and all the silk. Use a sharp knife to remove the kernels from the cob. Heat neutral oil in a large skillet (preferably a cast iron skillet) over medium-high to high heat. Add the kernels of corn to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn is slightly charred, approximately 5-7 minutes.
- Pros: Simple and fast!
- Cons: The corn will have none of that delicious, smoky flavor using this method.
How to cut corn off of the cob?
Just like cooking corn, there are many ways to cut corn off of the cob and everyone seems to have their own tip or trick. I’ve tried my fair share of different methods, and below are my two favorite mess-free ways to remove corn from the cob!
- Bundt pan: This is my absolute favorite method. Using a bundt pan makes quick and easy work for cutting corn off of the cob. Stand the corn on the cob upright and place the cut end in the center hole of your bundt pan. Hold the very tip of the cob, and using a sharp serrated knife, slice down along the cob, with the knife slightly angled inwards. Once you start slicing, the kernels will collect nicely in the bottom of the pan, versus rolling all over or bouncing off of your cutting board.
- Two bowls (one large and one medium): If you don’t have a bundt pan, this is the next best method for removing corn from the cob. Essentially, you will be forming a make-shift bundt pan by placing the medium bowl upside-down inside the large bowl. Then, stand the corn on the cob upright and place the cut end on top of the smaller (upside-down) bowl. Follow the instructions above from slicing the kernels off of the cob.
How to make fresh corn salsa?
Roasted sweet corn salsa is extremely easy to make and requires very little hands on prep time!
- Marinate the onions: In a glass bowl, combine red onions with vinegar. Stir well and set aside while you prepare the rest of the recipe. (Note: While this step is completely optional, I highly recommend not skipping it! The vinegar removes the bite of raw flavor from the onion and adds a depth of acidity to the salsa!)
- Char the corn: You can cook the corn a few different ways depending upon your preference. You can either char the corn on the grill or over the flame on your gas stove top. Once you cook the corn, allow it to cool and cut the kernels off the corn. Alternatively, you remove the kernels from the corn and char them in a skillet on the stovetop.
- Drain the onions: Drain the onions using a fine mesh strainer and add them to the mixing bowl along with the kernels of corn.
- Mix salsa: Add the remaining corn salsa ingredients to the mixing bowl with the corn. Gently stir until thoroughly combined.
- Set Aside or Chill (optional, but recommended): Cover the bowl and set it aside on the counter for 30 minutes or in the refrigerator for up to overnight to allow the flavors to develop and marry.
- Serve: Taste the salsa and adjust for seasoning. Serve and enjoy!
How to make corn salsa step by step photos
(Don’t forget to scroll down for the in-depth measurements and instructions in the complete printable recipe card at the bottom of the post!)
Chipotle corn salsa recipe: FAQ
Expert tips for the best chili corn salsa
- Corn: Fresh corn will always make the best tasting salsa! However, you can easily substitute canned corn if fresh is out of season, or frozen corn if you prefer an exact chipotle copycat recipe!
- Raw corn: If you are looking to save a ton of time and energy, you can skip cooking the corn all together! Raw corn is incredibly delicious (don’t knock it until you try it!) and it works beautifully in this salsa! However, if you opt for raw corn, it is imperative you let the salsa chill or rest at least 30 minutes before serving! Chilling or resting the salsa will help slightly soften the corn, giving it the perfect texture!
- Roasting peppers: If you want your chili corn salsa to taste exactly like Chipotle’s, you will need to roast or char your poblano and jalapeño peppers! You can roast your peppers on the grill or over a gas flame on your stove top – I’ve included instructions for both methods in the notes section of the recipe below!
- Customize it: This recipe is totally flexible! I encourage you to make it your own! Try adding fresh tomatoes, avocados, black beans or any salsa ingredient you love!
- Fresh lime juice: Make sure you purchase fresh limes and squeeze them yourself for the best taste – that stuff in a green jar isn’t going to do your salsa any favors!
Can I use canned corn instead of fresh corn?
If fresh corn is not in season, you can absolutely use canned sweet corn instead! You will need approximately 4 cups of corn to prepare this recipe. For the best taste, I highly recommend using fire roasted corn if you can find it! When using canned corn, make sure to thoroughly drain it before adding it to the salsa.
Can I use frozen corn to make salsa?
Yes, you can absolutely use frozen corn to make salsa! In fact, if you are looking for an exact copycat recipe, it’s reported that Chipotle uses frozen corn to make their chili corn salsa. You will need approximately 3 cups of frozen corn to prepare this salsa.
To make roasted corn salsa using frozen corn: First, you will need to thaw the corn overnight in the refrigerator and thoroughly drain it prior to using. Then, cook the corn according to the directions on your package of corn.
Is corn salsa healthy?
Homemade roasted corn salsa is healthy and made with fresh ingredients! Low in sodium, calories and unhealthy fats, corn salsa is a good source of potassium, vitamins and antioxidants.
How many calories and carbohydrates?
The exact amount of calories in Chipotle corn salsa will depend upon the exact brand of ingredients and precise measurements you use. This Mexican corn salsa recipe yields seven 1/2 cup servings and has approximately 20 calories and 5 grams of carbohydrates per serving.
Is corn salsa keto?
Unfortunately, corn is a starchy vegetable making this salsa is non keto-friendly.
Tips for serving salsa with corn
Looking for a new or exciting way to serve your fresh salsa? Below are a few unique ideas, plus some of my family’s favorite ways to enjoy heathy Mexican salsa!
Can I prepare this roasted chili corn salsa recipe in advance?
Roasted chili corn salsa actually tastes best if made in advance! Preparing the salsa in advance allows the flavors to develop and marry, which results in a more intensely flavorsome salsa! For the best taste, I recommend you make salsa at least 30 minutes in advance.
How to eat corn salsa?
Sweet corn salsa is extremely versatile and can be served numerous ways!
8 ways to serve salsa with corn
- Serve salsa as an easy appetizer with tortilla chips.
- Scoop salsa on top of nachos for a fresh twist.
- Add salsa to green salads for a burst of flavor and texture.
- Spoon salsa over fish, chicken or seafood.
- Use salsa as a topping for tacos or burrito bowls.
- Add it to the filling of quesadillas or burritos.
- Pile salsa on top of burgers for a fresh topping.
- Serve salsa as a healthy summer side dish garnished with plenty of fresh lime wedges.
Storing and freezing salsa
Food safety is important when it comes to storing your homemade salsa! Follow the simple tips below for properly storing and freezing your leftover salsa.
How long does corn salsa keep?
You should store any leftover roasted corn salsa in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Properly stored salsa will keep for up to 5 days.
Can you freeze corn salsa?
This corn salsa recipe freezes well! Corn salsa will keep in a freezer-safe jar or zip-closure bag stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Place frozen salsa in the refrigerator to thaw overnight before using. To brighten up the flavor, add fresh cilantro and a generous squeeze of lime juice just before serving!
Get in the kitchen and whip up this simple salsa! Refreshing and loaded with flavor, this roasted chili corn salsa will quickly become a family favorite! Oh, and if you love simple, fresh homemade salsas, be sure to try this Salsa Verde recipe next!
Until next week, friends, cheers!
More recipes using corn!
If you love this copycat chipotle corn salsa, try one of these delicious recipes next:
- Mexican Avocado Corn Salad
- Summer Corn BLT Salad
- Easy Chicken Corn Chowder
- Grilled Corn with Avocado Sriracha Butter
More homemade salsa recipes!
How to make the best roasted Corn Salsa recipe👇
Easy Charred Corn Salsa
- Mixing Bowl
- 1/2 small Red Onion – small dice (about heaping 3/4 cup)
- 2 TBS Red Wine Vinegar
- 4 ears Corn – husk and silk removed (SEE NOTES)
- Cooking Spray or Melted Butter (SEE NOTES - to cook corn)
- 2 medium Poblano Peppers (about scant 3/4 cup) (SEE NOTES)
- 1 Jalapeno Pepper (about 1/4 cup)
- 1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
- 1/4 tsp EACH: Chili Powder & Smoked Paprika
- Kosher Salt & Ground Black Pepper - to taste
- ¼ Cup Fresh Cilantro Leaves – chopped
- 3 TBS Fresh Lime Juice
- 2 tsp Honey - or more to taste (you can substitute Agave)
- Marinate Onions: In a non-reactive bowl, combine the red onions with red wine vinegar. Stir well to coat. Set aside and while you prep the rest of the recipe.
- Char Corn: You can cook (char) the corn a few different ways depending upon your preference! (SEE NOTES if you would like to char the peppers as well!)GRILL: Grease the grates of your grill and heat the grill to high heat (450 degrees F). Lightly brush the ears of corn with melted butter or oil. Add the corn to the grill and close the lid. Grill, rotating every 2-3 minutes, for a total of 10-12 minutes or until the corn is charred all over. Remove the corn to a plate. Set aside to cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, use a sharp knife to remove the kernels from the cob. Transfer the corn to a large mixing bowl.GAS STOVE TOP: Lightly spray the ears of corn with a neutral oil cooking spray. Turn the gas to between medium-high and high. Working with one ear of corn at a time, place the corn on the grate. Cook, rotating every 45 seconds to 1 minute, for a total of 4 minutes or until the corn is charred all over. Remove the corn to a plate and continue charring the remaining ears of corn. Set aside to cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, use a sharp knife to remove the kernels from the cob. Transfer the corn to a large mixing bowl.SKILLET (STOVE): Use a sharp knife to remove the kernels from the cob. Heat 1 tablespoon of neutral oil in a large skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high to high heat. Add the kernels of corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn is slightly charred, approximately 5-7 minutes. Remove the corn from the skillet and transfer it to a bowl or plate to cool slightly.
- Drain onions: Drain the onions in a fine mesh strainer. Add the onions to the mixing bowl with the corn.
- Mix Salsa: Add the remaining ingredients to the mixing bowl with the corn and onions. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Gently stir and toss to thoroughly combine.
- Set aside or Chill: Optional, but recommended for the best taste!If eating within the hour: Cover the bowl and set it aside to let the flavors develop and marry for at least 30 minutes. or Chill: Cover the bowl and transfer it to the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or up to overnight, to allow the flavors to develop and marry.
- Adjust for taste and Serve: Taste the salsa and adjust for seasoning (more lime juice, salt, pepper or honey) before serving. Enjoy!
- Corn: You can substitute canned or frozen corn for fresh corn. Substitute 3 heaping cups of canned or frozen corn.
- Canned corn: Drain the corn thoroughly before using. I recommend fire-roasted corn for the best taste.
- Frozen corn: Chipotle uses frozen corn in their salsa, so if you would like an exact replica, you can absolutely use frozen corn instead of fresh! Make sure you thaw and drain the frozen corn before cooking it according to the recipe instructions. Allow the corn to cool before adding it to the salsa!
- Charring Peppers: Chipotle roasts their peppers, so if you are looking for an exact copycat recipe, you will need to char your peppers! You can char them right next to you corn on the cob, using the grill or the flame of a gas stove (follow the instructions listed above for charring corn).
- Once you are done roasting the peppers, place the peppers in a large bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Set the bowl aside and let the peppers steam for 10-15 minutes - this will help loosen up the skin. Remove the peppers from the bowl and transfer them to a clean work surface.
- Optional: Use your hands to remove and discard all the charred skin.
- Prepare the peppers as directed - removing and discarding the stems, membranes and seeds (see below). Finely chop and use them in the recipe.
- Heat level: You can easily customize the heat level in this salsa to your specific taste!
- Spicy salsa, leave the seeds and ribs of peppers when chopping.
- Medium salsa, remove half of the seeds and ribs.
- Mild salsa, remove all the seeds and ribs.
- Poblano Substitution: If you prefer your salsa to be sweet, rather than smoky, you can substitute a red bell pepper for the poblano!
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