Easy Southern Corn Salad is a flavorful and colorful summer side dish that is kid-friendly and perfect for casual backyard barbecues and potlucks. Full of fresh-picked sweet corn, this make-ahead wonder only takes minutes to prepare and pairs beautifully with grilled or smoked entrees.
Made without mayonnaise, Southern Corn Salad is fresh, light, and wholesome. The ultimate in summer deliciousness, it’s a great way to get your kids to eat more veggies and whole grains.
Why you will love this recipe:
- It’s quick and easy to make.
- Because it can be served at room temperature, this summer corn salad is perfect for taking to the beach or on a picnic.
- This fresh salad is even better the next day as leftovers. I have had it for lunch for the last two days and enjoyed every last bite!
Here’s what you will need:
Fresh sweet corn – is a delicacy all by itself, but combined with the rest of the ingredients, it becomes the ultimate summer side dish.
Red onion – with its slightly milder onion flavor, not only adds beautiful deep color to this dish, but it also provides the perfect balance of flavor.
Fresh basil – brings its aromatic herby flavor to this party. While tomatoes are the classic pairing with basil, it pairs beautifully with the fresh corn and adds a bright, refreshing taste.
Cider vinegar, olive oil, kosher salt, and black pepper – (not pictured) make up the delicious salad dressing. This tangy dressing brings all of the ingredients together in this simple but flavorful side dish.
Here’s how to make it:
Gather your ingredients and cut the bottom off of the unshucked ears of corn. Then, place two ears in the microwave.
Cook on high for three minutes. Let it cool and, using a potholder or dish towel, squeeze at the top. Like magic, the husk and silk will slip right off. Set aside and repeat with the other ears.
Use a sharp knife, slice the kernels off the cob, cutting close to but not through the cob.
Combine the cider vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper in a medium-size bowl to make the dressing. Mix well. Add the onion and kernels and toss to combine.
Just before serving, add the basil and stir to combine. Serve immediately.
Frequently asked questions:
I’ll bet you didn’t know besides being a delicious side dish made with fresh corn, the term “corn salad” also refers to a wild weedy plant that Thomas Jefferson once cultivated at his home in the early 1800s.
But today’s post is all about the classic salad we eat, and I can’t wait for you to try it.
I’m guessing a few of you out there might not be a fan of red or raw onions. But, please don’t let that prevent you from making this delicious salad.
Of course, you can leave them out, but besides giving a nice pop of color, the red onions add a wonderful layer of flavor. I’ll bet if you give them a chance, you will be happy you did.
Southern corn salad pairs beautifully with my Grilled Ham Steak, Smoked Beef Short Ribs, Smoked Burgers, Smoked Ribeye Steak, Grilled Beer Can Chicken, Grilled London Broil, Smoked Spatchcock Chicken, and Grilled Bone-In Pork Chops.
If you have leftovers, consider yourself lucky. If it’s possible, leftovers are even better the next day. Store any leftovers covered in your fridge for up to five days.
In the South, Silver Queen corn, with its high sugar content, reigns supreme. Freshly picked Silver Queen is so tender and sweet, many folks like to eat it raw. Unfortunately, it has a short growing season, and it isn’t always available.
For this recipe, any variety of sweet corn, including yellow, white, and bi-color, work as long as it is fresh. Even field or dent corn, as it is sometimes called, works if it has just been picked.
Always buy it fresh in the husks. Look for bright green husks that are tightly wrapped and feel the kernels. The kernels should feel plump and evenly filled out. The tassels should be brown and slightly damp. If they are black, it isn’t fresh.
To cook the corn on the stove instead of the microwave, remove the husks and silk and place it into a large pot of boiling water over high heat. Cover the pot and turn the heat down to medium. Cook for 4-6 minutes. Drain.
You can also cook it on your grill. To do this, shuck it first, then place it directly on the grill grate over a medium-hot fire and cook for eight to ten minutes, turning occasionally.
I don’t recommend frozen or canned corn for this recipe. Fresh is the best!
The sugars in sweet corn start converting to starch the minute it’s picked. So try to purchase your corn the day you plan to make this dish. If you have to store it, leave it in the husk and keep it in your refrigerator crisper drawer.
More corn recipes:
If you like corn, you might also want to try these delicious and popular recipes featuring corn: Easy Spicy Southern Corn Casserole, Easy Cheesy Hot Corn Dip, Corn, Tomato and Avocado Salad, Fried Corn, and Southern Homemade Creamed Corn.
More Southern-style recipes:
I have no shortage of Southern-style recipes on my blog. If you are interested in more recipes or menu ideas, you might also want to check out my Southern Potato Salad, Southern Field Peas, Fried Green Tomatoes, Squash Casserole, Green Tomato Pie, and Zipper Peas.
Just in case you need more inspiration, you can find all of my Southern-style recipes here.
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Southern Corn Salad Recipe
- 5 ears fresh corn
- 1 small red onion minced
- 3 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon fresh basil chopped
- Use a sharp knife and slice the bottom off of the unshucked ears of corn. Place them in the microwave, two at a time.
- Cook on high for three minutes. Let the corn cool slightly and, using a potholder or dish towel, squeeze at the top. The husk and silk will slip off. Set aside and repeat with the other ears of corn.
- Combine the cider vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper in a medium-size bowl. Mix well. Add the onion and corn kernels and toss to combine.
- Just before serving, add the basil and stir to combine. Serve immediately.
**This recipe was originally posted on April 15, 2018. It was republished on August 17, 2021, with new photos, the addition of a FAQ section, and with more tips. There were no changes to the original recipe.