Creamy Sweet Corn Salad


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 sweet corn salad in a glass bowl

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.

Corn and basil salad in a bowl

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.
fresh corn on the cob

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.

  1. Husk the corn and remove as much of the corn silk as possible.
  2. 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.
  3. Bring the water to a boil, cover, and steam for 5 minutes, no longer.
  4. Immediately plunge the hot corn into an ice bath to stop the cooking and set the color.
  5. 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.

cooking corn for corn salad
drying steamed corn on a kitchen towel

The best way to remove kernels from a corn cob

Corn on the cob is great, but sometimes you need to release all those niblets for a fresh corn salad like this, creamed corn, or a corn casserole. 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.

removing corn kernels from the cob

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.
ingredients for a summer corn salad

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!

summer corn and basil salad




5 from 9 votes

Creamy Sweet Corn Salad

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!
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Yield 6 -8 servings
Author Sue Moran


  • 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.

Cook’s notes

Serving suggestions…

Fresh corn salad goes with just about any summer meal, especially grilled meats and fish.
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.
creamy sweet corn salad pin
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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    July 6, 2022 at 8:40 am

    5 stars
    So Unique!
    Thank you, Sue, for such a delicious summer salad! It was quick to make with 3 main simple fresh great ingredients.
    I had never paired corn and basil before and was not sure how they would complement each other, but the end result was so unexpectedly tasty – at least unexpected for me! The wee bite of the red onion was the perfect supporting player.
    Because I wanted to preserve the freshness of the basil, I have just served out what was needed for a meal and then added in the appropriate amount of basil chiffonade. The corn salad has stayed creamy in between servings and it tastes as flavourful and fresh as the first day – working on day 3!
    Another winner and keeper in my book, Sue . . . thank you again for your creativity and for sharing that wealth with your followers!
    As a note of interest, I did add sweet Hungarian Paprika – 1/8 teaspoon – and for our family it was the perfect amount! I also only used a 1/4 teaspoon of pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt for the main recipe and then everyone can add more of one or both as their tastes desire. I have found the flavours in the dressing develop in a lovely way as the salad has sat overnight in the fridge.

  • Reply
    Kim Roberts
    July 22, 2021 at 5:35 pm

    Do you make corncob jelly with the cobs?

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      July 22, 2021 at 6:12 pm

      No, I’ve never done that, interesting!

  • Reply
    Mary Kusiek
    September 5, 2020 at 1:34 pm

    Haven’t tried this yet, but wanted to say I love using the word chiffonade which is what you are doing with the basil. ??

    • Reply
      September 5, 2020 at 3:26 pm

      Yes, it’s so pretty!

  • Reply
    Nancy Shaw
    August 23, 2020 at 2:33 pm

    5 stars
    Hi Sue, I love these summer recipes. I noticed you use buttermilk throughout. Is there any substitute? I never have it on hand and when I do, most of it goes bad. Do you have a special way of making regular milk or half and half into buttermilk? Thank you so much for all of your fabulous recipes!

    • Reply
      August 5, 2021 at 2:12 pm

      put a teaspoon of vinegar in you reg mild and it will be buttermilk.

  • Reply
    August 8, 2020 at 9:23 pm

    5 stars
    I made the corn salad last night and it is fabulous!!! I used the remaining dressing in my potato salad with beets, sprinkling a bit of apple cider vinegar on the potatoes before adding the dressing and it was spectacular also!! I love beets!!

  • Reply
    Jane .
    July 30, 2020 at 2:32 pm

    I use an angel food pan or bundt pan when cutting corn off the cob. Just stick cob in hole and slice downward. No mess

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