This sesame corn salad recipe is fresh, colorful, and addictive, making it a great choice for parties or to serve alongside a meal. The salad includes sweet corn, grape tomatoes, assorted bell peppers, green onions, and a light sesame dressing. It’s a very flexible recipe; you can swap out the sesame dressing for your favorite, or change up some of the ingredients based on your personal preference.
No one seems to believe me, but I often say that “my favorite food is the food other people make for me.” It could be a ham and cheese sandwich on white bread or a fancy dinner. I honestly don’t care.
I’ve felt this way for most of my life. There’s something about being served a homemade meal that’s so comforting and lovely.
This sesame corn salad is based on a recipe my friend Anj made for her 40th birthday party a few weeks ago. I asked for more details as I fawned over my plate and tried not to gobble it up too quickly.
She said her mother has made variations of this summery corn salad for years, and now she does as well with a few minor tweaks. I’ve included notes below on some of the ways her mother prepares this salad differently, in case you’d like to experiment.
- Sweet corn (I used frozen)
- Grape or cherry tomatoes
- Bell peppers
- Sesame oil
- Rice vinegar
- Peanut butter (or tahini)
- Light brown sugar
- Onion powder (optional)
How to Make Sesame Corn Salad
This salad comes together in minutes. Here’s what you do:
- Chop up and measure out the veggies.
- Prepare the sesame dressing by pureeing in a blender.
- Combine the vegetables and dressing in a bowl.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning if desires, then serve!
- I used frozen corn since fresh isn’t in season for a couple months. I defrosted it according to package instructions and it turned out perfectly. Canned would work as well, but I personally prefer frozen over canned veggies. While I plan to try this with fresh corn later this summer, I was warned that it might create a starchy mouthfeel. I’ll update after testing!
- I used green and orange bell peppers, since red and yellow are already included from the tomatoes and corn. The color variety is very appetizing. However, any bell pepper will work, and I know many of you aren’t crazy about green bell peppers. You could also try a poblano pepper for some mild heat!
- You can barely taste the peanut butter; it’s just there for creaminess and the flavor complements the sesame oil nicely. Tahini has a similar texture and it’s made from sesame seeds, so that would be another good option. Note that it’s slightly more bitter and less sweet than peanut butter.
- I recommend briefly microwaving the peanut butter before adding it to the blender (around 10 seconds). This will thin it out and help it incorporate easier. Many natural peanut butters have a slightly gritty texture, so you might want to avoid them.
Substitutions and Variations
One thing I love about this corn salad is how flexible it is! Here are a few ideas based on Anj’s comments and some ideas I was considering before settling on the final ingredients.
- Add an avocado! I think the creaminess would be incredible here, but it will shorten the shelf life of the salad.
- You can use red onions or shallots in place of the scallions. Sweet onions would also work well.
- Anj’s mom typically adds pineapple. I love pineapple, but I was torn about whether I’d enjoy it with these ingredients. If you try it, let me know what you think in the comments!
- Her mother also uses a mayo and vinegar based dressing, which I think would work well. She used a bottled sesame dressing and the flavors were so complementary, which is why I went with sesame.
If you’re planning on serving this corn salad as a side dish alongside dinner, here are a few main courses that would pair well:
- Crispy Sesame Chicken Fingers
- Buttermilk Chicken
- Salmon Chowder (I would try a non-sesame dressing with this)
More Corn Recipes
You can also see my full archive of corn recipes here!
Sesame Corn Salad
For the Sesame Dressing
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed or avocado oil (see notes)
- 2 tablespoon sesame oil (I recommend Kadoya)
- 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon onion powder (optional but recommended)
- 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter (see notes)
For the Corn Salad
- 3 cups sweet corn (frozen, canned, or fresh; see notes about using fresh)
- 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved (cherry tomatoes may be substituted)
- 2 medium bell peppers, diced (any color will work; see notes)
- 1/2 cup scallions, sliced
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
- Prepare the dressing: Combine the oils, brown sugar, salt, pepper, onion powder, and peanut butter to a blender. Puree until smooth.
- In a large bowl, combine the corn, tomatoes, peppers, and scallions. Turn on the blender again for a moment to re-mix the ingredients, then toss with the salad, along with the salt and pepper.
- Serve immediately, or cover and place in the refrigerator for a few hours. The salad tastes best the same day, but can be enjoyed for up to 48 hours.
- If you don’t like sesame dressing (or don’t want to make a homemade version), this salad will work with most dressings.
- You can use any neutral-flavored oil in this dressing if you don't have grapeseed or avocado oil. Extra virgin olive oil also works, but don’t use one that’s overly bitter.
- You can also use tahini in place of the peanut butter, which might help enhance the sesame flavor.
- You can use fresh corn in this recipe when it's in season, but it will add a slight starchiness to the salad.
- You can use shallots or red onions in place of the scallions.
Please read my full post for additional recipe notes, tips, and serving suggestions!
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