Embrace the taste of summer with this vibrant Roasted Chili Corn Salsa. With only seven ingredients, this dairy-free, mayo-free appetizer is a hit at every gathering.
Enjoy it with corn chips! They scoop up this salsa perfectly.
See How it's Done
Watch the recap with the Roasted Chilli Corn Salsa Web Story. It's done in a flash!
Why this Easy Copycat Recipe Rocks
When you're in the middle of corn season, it's time to take advantage of it! It's plentiful and inexpensive. I could have made summer meals for my family gatherings, like a quinoa salad or this bean and mango salad.
But I was aiming for something more festive, where the star ingredient could shine.
While surfing the internet, I recently unearthed a popular recipe, a particular roasted chili corn salad. It's served by a Mexican American restaurant chain, Chipotle Mexican Grill.
The dish caught my eye and made my mouth water. It excited me enough to call me to drive to the restaurant to discover these new flavors.
But mission impossible.
The remote location nipped in the bud any desire to go 195 km away from home. Ottawa, Ontario, could forget about me. However, even if a perfect imitation was unlikely, nothing was lost.
"If I can't go to Chipotle, I thought, I'll bring Chipotle to me." So, I set about the task, and I didn't regret it.
Every bite transports you to a lively fiesta.
The corn is devilishly sweet, and the lips tingle, given the heat of the poblano and jalapeño peppers. Then the freshness of the lime juice arrives. The smoky poblano peppers also please the palate. Keeping your fork from diving into the plate is challenging.
I can imagine eating this salsa with almost any plant-based protein (tofu, tempeh, or whatever), drenched in a plant-based mayonnaise or toast. Or maybe tomorrow, in a burrito bowl.
- Corn. The original recipe apparently called for frozen sweet white corn instead of yellow corn. In my opinion, the taste between the two doesn't really differ. So, I opted for shucking corn on the cob for freshness and liveliness. Ditch canned corn. The salad just won't be as crispy.
- Poblano pepper. This Mexican ingredient can be found in Latin American markets or the international produce aisle. If nothing else, get an Anaheim peppers at the grocery store. Select whole poblano chilis in jars if you're short on time, don't have an oven or gas stove, and want something ultra-convenient.
- Red onion. Prefer this kind, as it brings color to the primarily yellow and green dish.
- Cilantro. It must be fresh.
- Lime juice. I highly recommend freshly squeezed lemon juice. Pre-bottled juices will not impart the same fresh flavor to the salsa.
How to Make Chipotle Corn Salsa Step by Step
This homemade Chipotle corn salsa has two steps.
Step 1: Roast the poblano pepper
Fear of failure overcame me, and I dreaded roasting chilis for fear of burning them. That's because the name Naïby-who-burns-everything precedes me (thanks, little brother 😅). Yes, it may sound intimidating, but it's as easy as pie. Really!
You can have roasted poblanos in three different ways:
- On an open-flame gas stove
- On a charcoal grill
- Under the broiler.
A. On an open-flame gas stove or charcoal grill
The fastest way to do this is directly on the stove over an open flame. When cooking on a charcoal grill, you must think about what is needed to start it. Other than that, the method is the same. Be careful, however, not to burn yourself and not to let the poblano pepper burst and smoke when the skin starts to blister.
Turn the flame on the gas stove to HIGH. Using tongs, place the poblano directly over the flame until the skin is charred and blistered ① turning it occasionally, about 2 to 3 minutes (aluminum foil is fine too). Transfer a bowl covered with a plastic wrap or into a resealable bag for 10 to 12 minutes ②. Scrub and discard the blackened skin ③. Lay the fire-roasted poblano peppers flat, cut off the stem, remove the seeds and membranes, and finely chop ④.
B. Under the broiler
Place peppers on a baking sheet directly under the broiler. Place on the oven rack at the highest level. This way, the chili is as close to the broiler as possible.
Cook and blister the chili under the broiler for 3 to 7 minutes or until the skin is sufficiently charred and blistered. Gently remove the chili, turn them over and repeat the process until the entire chili is charred. The time required will vary considerably depending on your oven type.
Then, prepare it according to the previous instructions.
Step 2: Prepare the corn.
With the corn on the cob ⑤, although it is possible to keep the kernels raw, I cook them. Then I let them cool long enough to handle with my bare hands. As soon as they are ready, I shuck them by placing each ear of corn upright on a rimmed plate and loosening, "shaving," so to speak, the kernels with a knife.
With frozen corn kernels, you'll need to cook them according to package directions, then spread them out on a baking sheet to cool.
- Chef's knife, 8". I can't live without my dimpled Mac Japanese knife. It's my arm extension (that's how you should feel).
- Citrus reamer. I have a citrus press that is a nice sturdy one with a handle. I love it. But something made of glass or wood is excellent too. Or just use the fork and scoop the seeds by putting your hand underneath.
- Measuring cup and spoons.
Keys to Success: My Top Tips
De-seed to lead. Removing the seeds and ribs is the best way to reduce heat in chilies.
Glove for the chop. When preparing chilis at home, wear gloves if you're not used to chopping them! The capsaicin in the peppers and the chili oils, especially the jalapeños, can transfer to your skin or areas that are sensitive to touch and cause a burning sensation.
Fresh squeeze please. Be sure to use freshly squeezed lemon juice for the best flavor. There is no comparable substitute!
Dice nice. Cut ingredients finely! Large chunks will disrupt the balance of flavors.
Let it rest for the flavors to invest. Let your salsa rest for at least an hour before serving so the flavors can meld.
Simple Substitutions and Add-ins
- Make the salad more kid-friendly. Substitute green bell peppers for the chili pepper.
- Add textural contrast with roasted corn. Spread corn kernels in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until golden brown, stirring twice, about 30 to 40 minutes.
- Pack the salsa with protein. Add 1 cup of black beans.
- Turn your salsa into a creamy corn salad. Coat the salad with plant-based mayonnaise. In a high-speed blender, blend ¼ cup cashews with ½ cup water, 1 ½ teaspoon lemon juice, 2 minced garlic cloves, ½ teaspoon chili powder, ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper to taste until smooth. Add the cream to the corn salsa recipe below, stir to combine, and sprinkle optionally with ¾ cup of vegan cheese.
- Go for parsley instead of cilantro. That's if you just don't have any or you're one of the super tasters who find that this aromatic herb tastes like soap.
- Bring up the heat. Leave the seeds and membranes in the jalapeño peppers or replace them outright with serrano peppers.
Special Diets Corner
If you have any food intolerance, here are some ideas to make this chipotle chili corn salsa...
- Low-FODMAP vegan. Remove the red onion or add asafoetida for flavor.
Answers to your Burning Questions (FAQ)
No, the chili corn salsa is not. Poblano chilis rank pretty low on the Scoville scale (the standard for measuring the heat of various chili peppers), so they're very mild. It can be mellowed further by omitting the diced jalapeño.
This salsa is meant to be served cold!
Both work. If fresh, the kernels can be removed from the corn cob, whether raw or cooked. If frozen, let them thaw in a colander for about 30 minutes, shaking it a few times. Then cook them according to package directions and spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet to cool. If it simplifies things, note that 300-350 g (10-12 oz) kernels are needed for a single batch.
Of course, you can! It will give a sweeter taste to the salsa. You can also make a mixture of the two.
Absolutely. Like any other pepper, poblano peppers can be eaten raw or cooked in many meals. They don't need to be roasted, although they are more delicious this way.
How to Store this Dish
This corn salsa recipe from chipotle will last in the fridge for 3-5 days, but I recommend serving it during the day for better flavor and for a brighter color of the poblano pepper.
What to Serve Chili Corn Salsa with
This sweet corn salsa makes a great side dish and is good with:
- Plant-based protein (tofu, tempeh, or other)
- Tortilla or corn chips
- Burrito bowl (imagine a burrito that has been torn open. Its filling ingredients are placed in a bowl)
- Tacos or taco salads
- A plate of nachos.
Make this Dish Now
Late summer calls for corn for a festive recipe. Since it's plentiful, you might as well take advantage of it. This homemade chipotle roasted chili corn salsa has simple ingredients. Discover these not-so-spicy peppers if they're new to you.
Don't be afraid to roast them. It's no more complicated than you think.
Salsa means fresh ingredients, so make sure they are.
You'll love the tons of fresh flavor that this fresh salsa brings to your mouth. It's sweet, juicy, spicy, smoky, tangy.
Leaving any leftovers from this perfect appetizer will be unthinkable after the first bite.
If you try this recipe, I want to know about it! I always appreciate your feedback. Leave a star rating in the recipe card right below and/or a review in the comment section further down the page. You can also follow me on Pinterest, Facebook, or Instagram. Sign up for my email list, too!
Copycat Chipotle Corn Salsa Recipe
- Chef's knife, 8".
- Citrus juice squeezer.
- Measuring cup
- Measuring spoons.
- 2 cups corn kernels fresh or frozen (Notes)
- 1 large poblano pepper roasted, peeled, seeded, and diced (or 2 medium)
- ½ cup diced red onion
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 jalapeño pepper stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped (Notes)
- ½ tablespoon fresh lime juice
- ½ teaspoon salt or to taste (Notes)
- Tortilla chips to serve
- Cook corn according to package instructions. Spread on a baking sheet to cool.
- In a large bowl, add cooled corn, red onion, jalapeño peppers, poblano pepper, cilantro, and lime juice. Season to taste with salt and serve with tortilla chips, burrito bowls, and tacos.
- Let the fresh salsa sit for at least an hour before serving to allow the flavors to blend.
- This corn and roasted chili salsa will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. However, serving it during the day is recommended for the poblano pepper's better flavor and brighter color.
- Cooked corn: Bring a large pot of water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil over high heat. Add two ears of corn to make 2 cups and boil for 3 to 5 minutes. Then plunge the cobs into a large bowl of ice water. When the corn is cool enough to handle, loosen the kernels with a knife—"shaving" it, so to speak—and transfer the kernels to a large bowl.
- Frozen corn: Frozen kernels work just fine. Let them thaw in a colander for about 30 minutes, shaking it several times. Then cook them according to package directions and spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet to cool. Whether cooked or raw, this recipe can be made at any time of the year. Note that you'll need 300 g to 350 g (10 to 12 ounces) beans for a single batch.
- Jalapeño peppers: the best way to reduce the heat of the peppers is to remove the seeds and ribs. Caution. Wear gloves if you're not used to handling them!
- Chop the ingredients finely! Large chunks will disrupt the balance of flavors.
- Lime: Be sure to use fresh, freshly squeezed lemon juice for the best flavor. There is no substitute for it!
- Salt: note that the saltiness changes depending on the type of salt. I use kosher salt in all my recipes, but be aware that Morton Kosher Salt is twice as salty as the previous kosher salt. Also, the lemon juice enhances the salt enough that you don't need to use a ton of it.
- Roasted Chilli and Roasted Corn Salsa. Spread corn kernels in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until golden brown, stirring twice, about 30 to 40 minutes.
- Roasted Chili Corn Salsa with vegan mayo. Drench the salad with vegan mayonnaise. In a high-speed blender, blend ¼ cup cashews with ½ cup water, 1 ½ teaspoon lemon juice, 2 minced garlic cloves, ½ teaspoon chili powder, ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper to taste until smooth. Add the cream to the corn salsa recipe below, stir to combine, and sprinkle optionally with ¾ cup of veggie cheese.
- Black bean and roasted chili corn salsa. Add 1 cup of black beans.
- Spicy roasted chili corn salsa. Leave seeds and membranes in jalapeños or substitute serrano peppers for jalapeños.
- More kid-friendly. Substitute green bell pepper for the jalapeño.
- Roasted chili corn salsa without cilantro. Substitute fresh parsley for cilantro.
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