This Instant Pot Mexican Corn Quinoa Salad Is the Perfect Side Dish

This quinoa salad is everything you love about elote (but healthier).

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Mexican street corn, also known as elote, is a beloved street food in Mexico and parts of the United States. First it’s roasted on a grill, giving it that smoky taste and charred appearance. Then it’s loaded up with rich and buttery spreads like butter and crema fresca, chile powder, lime juice, and cotija (a traditional Mexican cheese). 

This goes without saying, but like most street foods, it’s not exactly the healthiest take on corn on the cob; however, it checks off all the right boxes for a delicious treat on the go.

This quinoa salad takes some of the basic elements of elote—the corn, cotija, and spices—and puts it in a hearty and nutritious salad. Quinoa is a gluten-free grain (well, technically it’s a seed) that is high in magnesium, zinc, iron, and folate, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 

Oh yeah, and the best part? This Mexican corn quinoa salad comes together in just a few minutes—literally, just a few—thanks to the Instant Pot.

Instant Pots are essentially pressure cookers, but they’ve been redesigned to be as versatile and user-friendly as ever. You can pressure cook, slow cook, saute, and more, all in one single appliance. Things that used to take a hefty chunk of time (like cooking quinoa) can now be accomplished in just a few minutes with these sleek machines.

Like all quinoa salads, this elote-inspired dish is great hot, cold, or at room temperature, so it’s perfect for packing for lunch or for potlucks and picnics. Bonus: It’s way less messy than actual elote, so you can eat it casually at your desk without bringing attention to yourself. 

This Mexican street corn quinoa salad is meant to be a side dish, but you can easily convert it to an entree with the addition of some protein, like black beans, chickpeas, seared or baked tofu, or roasted chicken. 

And finally, cotija can be difficult to find in some areas of the United States, so if you’re having trouble tracking it down, feel free to omit—or swap it with grated Parmesan, which is similarly dry, tangy, and crumbly.

Love Mexican food? Try these other Mexican-inspired dishes:

Recipe adapted from the American Heart Association Instant & Healthy Cookbook.

  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 16 oz frozen corn
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 jalapeño, deveined and diced
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 and 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 medium green onions, sliced
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 3 tbsp cotija cheese
Add oil to the instant pot and heat on sauté mode. Add corn and cook for five minutes, stirring frequently. Next, add quinoa, jalapeño, chili powder, salt, and water. Secure the lid of the instant pot and cook on high pressure for 3 minutes. When it finishes, immediately release the pressure valve. Once all pressure is released, you can open the lid and transfer quinoa salad to a serving dish. Stir in cilantro, green onions, and lime juice. Top with a sprinkle of cotija cheese and, if desired, more cilantro.

Nutrition Information

Recipe Serves: 8
Nutrition Information Based on a Single Serving
Calories 1547%
Fat 4gr6%
Cholesterol 3mg1%
Sodium 127mg5%
Carbohydrates 28gr21%
Fiber 3gr12%
Sugar 4gr8%
Protein 6gr11%

*Percent Daily Value are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Dietary Needs

Gluten Free
Gluten Free
Lower Cholesterol
Lower Sodium
Lower Sodium
Lower Sugar
Lower Sugar