This Sweet Corn Salad with Bacon combines the sweetness of fresh corn with the smokiness of bacon. Throw in some red onion, tomatoes, basil, and a creamy dressing made with mayo, lemon juice, and just a little bacon fat and you’ve got a bright and colorful side dish that’s perfect for your next summer bbq, gathering, or potluck.
I just love fresh corn. Whether it’s fried corn (my favorite), grilled, or in succotash, I’ll gobble it right up. So when summer rolls around and those stacks of fresh corn show up in the grocery stores and roadside stands, I’m always grabbing some.
The biggest challenge with fresh corn is getting it cleaned. Shucking and getting the silks off the corn is often maddening. But it doesn’t have to be.
Years back, someone showed me that when you cook corn in the husks, you get great flavor AND the steam that is created makes the husks and silks just fall right off. Now, I was a bit skeptical, but it 100% works. It’s why I always recommend grilling corn right in the husk. And it’s why I include the microwaving instructions for the corn in this recipe.
You simply microwave 2 ears of corn right in the husks. Then, once they’re cool enough to handle. You shuck it. You can do it the traditional way or you can follow what I think is an even easier method… Cut off the bottom of the cob about two rows of kernels above the stem end. Then, pinch the top of the husks and silks in one hand and shake the ear out of the cut end. It can take a little shaking, but it should slide right out of the husks and silks without much other cleaning. It’s genius!
But what if it’s not summer and you can’t get your hands on fresh corn to make this Sweet Corn Salad with Bacon? Well, have no fear. This recipe works great with frozen corn, too. Sure, it’s a little different, but will still go a long way at satisfying your craving for corn salad. You’ll need about 2 (10-ounce) bags of frozen corn to replace the fresh corn in this recipe. And since most of them can be steamed right in the bag, it makes it even easier.
A few things to keep in mind…
To add even more smoky flavor, I add 1 tablespoon of the rendered bacon fat to my dressing. It’s an optional step, but sure does add flavor. With that being said, you can replace the bacon with 1/2 cup of the real crumbled bacon that you can buy in the little pouches at the grocery store. In that case, you won’t have the bacon fat, but it will still be delicious.
I used grape tomatoes in the recipe, but you can certainly use regular diced tomatoes in roughly the same measurement.
When it comes to the basil, we tested it both with and without and loved it both ways. But the green sure does make the salad look even more colorful, so we chose to keep it. You could also swap it for fresh cilantro, parsley, or even dill – if you wanted.
Sweet Corn Salad with Bacon
- 6 slices bacon (about 1/2 cup cooked and crumbled)
- 6 ears fresh sweet corn* (about 4 cups of kernels)
- 1 cup sliced grape tomatoes
- 1/2 large red onion, finely diced (about 1 cup)
- 1/2 cup mayo
- 1 tablespoon bacon fat
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
- Cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat for the dressing. Drain on paper towels. Crumbled when cool. Set aside.
- Working in batches, prepare the corn by cooking 2 un-shucked ears in the microwave on high for 4 minutes. Repeat the process with remaining uncooked corn. This cooks the corn and makes it easy to shuck and remove the silks. Once cool enough to handle, cut off the bottom of the cob about two rows of kernels above the stem end, then pinch the top and slide the cob out of the husks and silks. Clean any remaining silks off. Cut the kernels off the cobs with a sharp knife, working to get as close to the cob as possible without cutting into it. You'll need about 4 cups of kernels.
- Make the dressing by whisking the mayo, warm bacon fat, and lemon juice together in a small bowl.
- In a large bowl, combine the corn, tomatoes, crumbled bacon, onion, and basil. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve chilled or at room temperature.