Roasted Corn Tiger Salad

by Caroline
Published: Last Updated on

Cool, refreshing roasted corn tiger salad is a fantastic accompaniment to grilled, spicy meats. Fresh corn is combined with crunchy vegetables and tossed in a tangy dressing with savory cheese. 

Not that you need an excuse to eat fresh corn – but if you ever needed one, here’s your answer. 

Roasted Tiger Corn Salad is the best of all worlds. It’s an easy, mostly-raw, salad made with Asian-inspired seasoning crossed with Mexican flavors from queso fresco (or cotija cheese, depending on your fancy).

This dish requires minimal cook-time (you’ll just have to char the corn), and is a great make-ahead dish for a gathering or portioned out in meal prep. 

Traditional tiger salad (aka lao hu cai) originates from northern China and is often paired with spicy meats. It’s a bright and flavorful salad, often including cucumbers, cilantro, and scallions. 

Avocados and limes

Why You’ll Love Roasted Corn Tiger Salad: 

  • It’s healthy. The salad is full of fresh vegetables, and healthy carbs and fats. 
  • It’s satiating. Avocado, cotija cheese, and hearty, sweet corn help to make this dish filling. 
  • Easy-to-find ingredients. You should have no problem finding the ingredients for this recipe at your local grocery store. 
  • You can make it ahead of time. Yes, you can make this a day before… the flavors will only improve! That’s why I love it for meal prep (with some protein on top) or as a side dish for a party or gathering. 
  • You can get creative. If you prefer to have other veggies mixed in, go right ahead! The key here is to include crunchy vegetables. 
roasted corn tiger salad

How to Make Roasted Corn Tiger Salad:

Before you get started, make sure you have prepped your vegetables and chopped them up. I’d recommend keeping everything bite-size so it combines nicely. 

1. Toast the Sesame Seeds

In a dry pan over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds. This takes anywhere between 30 seconds and 2 minutes depending on your stove. Don’t walk away! They burn quickly. Once toasted, remove from the heat and pour in a small dish. 

2. Roast the Corn

Next, you need to roast the corn. For ease, I find that roasting the corn in a pan on the stove works wonderfully. Therefore, in this recipe I recommend heating up some oil in your pan and roasting the corn until it browns on all sides. 

(Note: Make sure you chop the corn off of the cob. I’m sure you could leave it on, but it may be harder to handle after it’s cooked). 

To allow the corn to brown, refrain from moving it around the pan too much. If it sticks, just add a bit more oil. 

Another reason I prefer pan-roasting the corn is because you get additional flavor from the sesame oil. 

3. Mix the Dressing

In a small bowl, combine the sesame seeds, garlic, lime juice, remaining sesame oil, vegetable oil, red pepper flakes, rice vinegar and salt. Stir until the salt is dissolved and set aside.  

4. Toss to Combine

Add all the ingredients together – except only add half of the cheese and cilantro (you’ll use that as garnish later). Let the salad sit in the refrigerator in an airtight container for at least 3 hours to allow the flavors time to meld. 

5. Enjoy!

This dish is best served within 24 hours – enjoy cold, along side other protein or on top of a salad. 

roasted corn tiger salad

How to Store Roasted Corn Tiger Salad 

This dish is best eaten within 2 days. I find that as time passes, the liquids from the marinade tend to fall toward the bottom of the container, so give it a stir before serving. 

That said, I have eaten this dish 3-4 days after making it and it is still delicious. 
If not eaten the day-of, leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  Unfortunately, this dish does not freeze well (cucumbers don’t like the freezer). 
Roasted corn tiger salad

Roasted Corn Tiger Salad Tips

  • For a complete meal: Add chopped chicken, shrimp, or steak. 
  • Want a meatless entree? Consider eating this on top of salad, and add chopped tofu. 
  • Can’t find (or don’t have) queso fresco or cotija cheese? Feel free to use some salty feta cheese instead! 
  • Like a little extra kick? Add some finely chopped chilies to the dish. (Or, if you’re anything like me, you’ll add a bit of sriracha drizzled on top). 
  • Don’t have fresh corn? That’s okay! You can use frozen corn kernels – just don’t defrost them ahead of time. I don’t advise using canned corn, as all of the liquid may prevent the corn from browning properly. 
Roasted Corn tiger salad

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roasted corn tiger salad

Roasted Corn Tiger Salad

Classic tiger salad is a bold, yet refreshingly light salad. This recipe is a riff on the original by using fresh summer corn charred to perfection.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Resting time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Asian
Servings 8 servings
Calories 186 kcal


  • Medium skillet or grill


  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds,
  • 3 ears of corn, raw and kernels sliced off of the cobs
  • 1 ripe avacado
  • 1/2 English hothouse cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeds removed, and sliced horizontally 1/4 inch thick.
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1 small shallot, halved and sliced thinly
  • 3-4 scallions, sliced thinly (including greens and white part)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, stems removed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup Queso fresco or Cotija cheese, crumbled


  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce (preferably low sodium)
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt, (3/4 teaspoon if using Morton's)


  • In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds until a deep golden brown and fragrant, tossing regularly to ensure they do not burn. Transfer them to a large, shallow bowl.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is glistening, add the corn and allow it to roast for 8 to 10 minutes. Stir the corn occasionally, but allow it to sit so it can char slightly. Set aside to cool.
  • To the bowl with the sesame seeds, add the garlic, lime juice, remaining sesame oil and vegetable oil, red pepper flakes, salt, and rice vinegar. Stir vigorously until the salt is dissolved.
  • Add the corn, avocado, cucumber, red pepper, shallot, scallions, half of the queso (about 2 tablespoons), and half of the cilantro. Toss to combine and add more salt to taste. Allow the salad to rest in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours to allow the flavors to meld.
  • To serve, top with the remaining queso fresco, cilantro, and any additional scallions.


Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit's Grilled Corn Tiger Salad 
  • Fresh lime juice trumps the stuff in a squeeze bottle. 
  • If you can't find queso fresco or Cotija cheese, a mild feta cheese would work fine. 
  • The original recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of oil from a jar of chili crisp (Lao Gan Ma). IF you can find this, use it instead of the red pepper flakes. 
Keyword Healthy, Summer Salad, Tiger Salad

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