This smoky Charred Corn Salsa is super easy to make and absolutely delicious with chips, on top of tacos, or even served as a corn side dish or charred corn salad! If you're in the mood for something new, give this easy corn salsa a try!
As the weather gets cooler, I love putting a warm spin on my favorite foods. This charred corn salsa is the perfect example.
Of course, I can just take a can of corn and toss it with the rest of the ingredients and have a lovely corn salsa or corn salad side dish. BUT I can take an extra 5 minutes to give that corn a lovely char in the skillet, and add a splash of liquid smoke and have the most DELICIOUS smoky charred corn salsa ever!
- As a tasty salsa, with chips
- With tacos, such as my ground pork tacos
- As a side for chili lime swai fillets or with blackened salmon
- As a corn side dish with BBQ pulled chicken
- With this turkey black bean quesadilla or air fryer quesadillas
- As a simple, tasty charred corn salad
Related recipe: Summer Chickpea Salad
A few simple ingredients
This corn salsa has just a few basic ingredients:
- 1 can corn (drained)
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
- 1 jalapeño (seeds removed and finely diced)
- 1 small tomato (diced)
- 1 splash liquid smoke
- 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves (minced)
- 2 tablespoon red onion (finely minced)
- 1 tablespoon lime juice (from ½ lime)
- Salt and pepper
→ Jalapeño: Use as much or as little as you want! To tone down the heat, just add the diced jalapeño to the skillet with the corn and let it cook as the corn gets nice and charred. This will mellow out some of the heat. Or skip the jalapeño if you don't want any spice.
→ Red onion: You can swap this out for yellow onion or shallot. I always recommend marinating the diced raw onion in lime juice for a few minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. This helps mellow out the sharp onion flavor and infuses the lime juice with a subtle onion flavor, giving the whole corn salad a lovely flavor instead of having sharp bits of onion throughout.
→ Liquid smoke: This is optional, but adds such a nice smoky flavor to this salsa! I've tried a couple different kind and they are all delicious! Hickory or mesquite is always a good safe bet. Here is a cute and inexpensive set of different flavors that's great to have on hand in the kitchen.
→ Lime juice: Use freshly squeezed lime juice instead of the bottled stuff! It really makes a difference in how fresh this salsa tastes! I love using this citrus squeezer when I need to squeeze just a little bit of lime or lemon juice, it's so easy and takes just a few seconds!
Related recipe: Cheesy Chicken Corn Dip
How to make charred corn
Making charred corn is super easy: Just add a tiny bit of olive oil (½ tablespoon is enough) to a skillet and add your drained corn. Cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
The corn will release some liquid at first, and will appear like it's stewing instead of charring. That's ok! Keep going! The liquid will evaporate and the corn will start to get a nice lovely black char where it touches the skillet.
Make sure to stir frequently to prevent the corn from burning!
I like to add the diced jalapeño with the corn so it loses some of its spiciness (I'm cooking for a 3 year old) but that is completely optional.
Make the corn salsa
Start by marinating the minced red onion in the lime juice. You can do this in a small bowl or directly in the bowl where you will mix the salsa.
The red onion just need a quick few minutes in the lime juice to lose its sharp flavor and infuse the lime juice with a wonderful subtle red onion flavor. No need to time anything here, just leave it in for as long as it takes you to char the corn and get the rest of the ingredients ready!
Then simply combine all the prepared ingredients and the warm charred corn in a bowl and mix.
Serve warm, or let it chill in the fridge and give the flavors a chance to meld together - either option is delicious!
Other recipes you will love:
- Roasted tomatillo salsa with peach
- Skillet beef nachos
- Warm bell pepper salad
- Ground pork tacos
- Mexican lasagna
- Easy chicken mole
- Mexican pasta salad
If you enjoyed this recipe, let me know with a comment and a star rating below. And don't forget to share it on Facebook and save it on Pinterest for later!
Charred Corn Salsa
- 2 tablespoons minced red onion
- 1 tablespoon lime juice or to taste
- 1 15-oz can corn drained and rinsed
- 1 jalapeño seeds removed and diced
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tomato diced
- 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves diced
- ¼ teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1 splash liquid smoke (optional)
- ground black pepper to taste
- Combine the minced red onion and lime juice in a bowl. You can use a small bowl/cup, or do this right in the bowl where you will mix your salsa. Let the onion marinate for a few minutes while you prepare the rest of the salsa.
- Heat ½ tablespoon olive oil in a medium skillet, and add the drained corn (optional: add the minced jalapeño to the pan, see notes). Cook over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes, or until the corn starts to char, stirring frequently. The corn will release liquid first, but keep cooking until the liquid evaporates and the corn starts to char.
- In a medium / large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the salsa, including the marinated red onion and the charred corn, and mix. Serve warm, or allow to chill and enjoy within 2 days.
- If using frozen corn, use about 1¾ - 2 cups frozen corn, and allow it to thaw completely before starting this salsa.
- The first step of marinating the onion is optional, but it helps the onion lose its sharp raw flavor and get a nice subtle onion flavor throughout the salsa.
- To reduce the spice from the jalapeño, add it to the skillet with the corn and let it cook with the corn for a few minutes. Otherwise, raw jalapeño definitely has a bite to it! So proceed according to your preferences.