My Creamy Sweet Corn Salad recipe is an easy summer side dish with lots of fresh basil and a yummy sour cream and buttermilk dressing. This simple salad could easily steal the show at your next barbecue!
Creamy corn salad is one of the highlights of summer
This is not a year round recipe, much as I would like to tell you that it is. The corn has to be fresh and in season, so be sure to make it in high summer when the corn is glorious, and you won’t regret it. We look forward to it every year.
Ingredients for a simple corn salad
- corn on the cob ~ this salad depends on great fresh corn: white, yellow, or bicolor. While most recipes for corn salad will tell you you can substitute frozen corn ~ I won’t. It just isn’t the same.
- red onion ~ I love the bite it gives to the salad. You could substitute green onions if you prefer.
- fresh basil ~ lots! Corn and basil are best buds.
- mayonnaise ~ don’t shy away from this summer salad workhorse, and make your own, if you like.
- sour cream ~ I love the tang.
- buttermilk ~ this thins down the dressing and adds great flavor.
- salt and fresh cracked black pepper ~ I like it simple, but I’ll sometimes add some smoked paprika for an extra kick.
How to par steam corn for summer corn salads
Everyone has their favorite method, but par steaming makes the corn sweet, tender but still crunchy, and bright yellow.
- Husk the corn and remove as much of the corn silk as possible.
- Load the corn in the steamer basket of a deep pot, mine is from Lagiole and it works for pasta too. Add enough water to come up just past the bottom of the basket.
- Bring the water to a boil, cover, and steam for 5 minutes, no longer.
- Immediately plunge the hot corn into an ice bath to stop the cooking and set the color.
- Once cooled, let the corn dry on a clean kitchen towel before removing the kernels.
You could also grill, char, or blister your corn for this salad, find directions in this post for Blistered Corn and Asparagus Salad.
The best way to remove kernels from a corn cob
I stand my corn on a baking sheet (stem end down) and slide a sharp knife down the cob to remove the kernels. A baking sheet works better than a bowl because you have greater stability and complete access to the whole cob. The baking sheet catches all the falling kernels.
Sometimes corn kernels slice off the cob in sheets, like mine did. No worries, just break them apart as you add them to your bowl.
This corn salad highlights fabulous summer corn
But if you want to go rogue, I won’t stop you!
- Bring cucumbers into the mix.
- Make it a Southwest corn salad by adding beans, peppers, etc.
- Add cherry tomatoes, cukes, zucchini, …make it a farmers market medley.
- Sprinkle crisp bacon crumbles over top. Not into bacon? How about topping your corn salad with Fritos (it’s a thing.)
- Ina Garten omits the creamy dressing and goes with oil and vinegar.
- Add diced jalapeños for a kick.
- Give it a south of the border vibe with lime juice, cilantro, and Mexican créma in place of the sour cream and buttermilk. See my Mexican Street Corn Salad for inspo.
To make this corn salad ahead
- Prepare the salad a day ahead but toss with the fresh basil right before serving. You may want to toss with some extra dressing if necessary. Taste for seasoning, too, it might need more salt or black pepper.
I love potluck salads!
- Russian Beet Salad with Sour Cream and Dill
- Lentil Salad with Cucumber and Mint
- Sour Cream and Onion Potato Salad
- Mediterranean Bean Salad
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Creamy Sweet Corn Salad
- 6 ears corn (allow roughly one ear of corn per serving)
- 1/2 cup minced red onion
- handful fresh basil leaves
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 5 Tbsp buttermilk
- 1/2 tsp salt, or more to taste
- fresh cracked black pepper to taste, I add lots
- paprika or smoked paprika to taste, optional.
- Shuck the corn and remove as much of the cornsilk as you can. Steam the corn for 5 minutes in a large pot with a steamer basket insert. You can also simply boil the corn in a large pot of salted water. Don't over cook the corn, it only needs 5 minutes.
- Drain and immediately plunge the corn into ice water. This will stop it from cooking further, and will keep it bright yellow. Let the corn fully cool in the ice water, then let dry on a clean kitchen towel. Remove kernels from the cob and add to a large bowl.
- Meanwhile whisk together the dressing ingredients, and add salt and pepper to taste. Add the paprika of you like.
- Add the onion to the bowl with the corn and toss with enough dressing to generously coat everything. Note: you may not use all the dressing. Chill the salad until you are ready to serve. Just before serving, roll and slice the basil leaves into thin ribbons, and add them to the salad. Toss with more dressing if needed.
- The salad keeps a day or two in the refrigerator. You can refresh the dressing if needed.