Addictively delicious, this Copycat Trader Joe’s Corn and Chile Salsa is wonderful with chips, on salads, sandwiches, quesadillas, pizza… you name it!
If you’re a frequent flyer at Trader Joes, you’ve probably seen their Corn and Chile Salsa. If you haven’t tried it, you’re missing out on something wonderful! While it looks a like a simple jar of corn with bits of red pepper, there’s an explosion of flavor in your mouth with the first bite. I’m happy to now have this Copycat Trader Joe’s Corn and Chile Salsa in my recipe arsenal and I think you ‘ll agree!
I call my version Copycat Trader Joe’s Corn and Chile Salsa because it was inspired by the TJ’s version. It’s similar in the flavor profile, with all the same ingredients, but I’ve lightened it up a bit. The Trader Joe’s version has more sugar, hence more calories; 45 calories per 2 tablespoons. Mine has 25 calories for the same size serving and has a fresher, but still super delicious, flavor. You won’t miss the extra sugar. That’s a win-win in my book!
Something else I really like about this copycat version vs the real deal, is the color. The TJ’s version is a little murky in color. The recipe I’m sharing today keeps the bright, vibrant yellow hue of the corn. I love that!
I also love that you can enjoy this Copycat Trader Joe’s Corn and Chile Salsa year round, as it can be made with fresh or canned corn. Don’t use frozen corn though. I tried it and found that the crispness of the fresh (or even canned) corn, is lost in the freezing process. Of course, fresh summer corn can’t be beat, but the canned corn version is also delicious (and way easier) too!
If I’m using fresh corn I use my favorite, easy microwave method to cook the corn. Just pop a couple ears of corn into the microwave, unhusked. Cook on high power (the amount of time will depend on how many ears you’re cooking). Remove the corn from the microwave and let it cool a bit. Then just pull back the husks and silk from the top on down and the corn is perfectly cooked with barely a single strand of silk to be found!
What to do with the Copycat Trader Joe’s Corn and Chile Salsa
- Serve it as a relish for hot dogs, bratwurst, burgers, etc
- Serve it as a dip with pita or tortilla chips.
- Use it as a topping for a southwest salad. We love to make it with grilled chicken, sliced peppers and red onion
- Tuck it into quesadillas, paninis and grilled sandwiches.
- Add a can of black beans (drained), a small chopped red onion, and a chopped avocado to 1 cup of Copycat Trader Joes Corn and Chile Salsa for a delicious and super easy black bean dip.
- Spoon it over grilled chicken or shrimp.
- Spoon it over a block of cream cheese and serve it with crackers.
Café Tips for making this Copycat Trader Joe’s Corn and Chile Salsa
- If using canned corn, use the best quality, crisp canned corn. I like Del Monte Summer Crisp Whole Kernel Golden Sweet Corn as well as the Trader Joe’s brand corn.
- Whole mustard seeds can be found in the spice section of most larger grocery stores, in bulk at specialty stores like Whole Foods and Sprouts and also online.
- Coriander is the seed of the cilantro plant. It’s flavor is a bit citrusy. Don’t worry if you’re not a cilantro lover. The flavors of the seed and the fresh plant, are nothing alike.
- I like to make this salsa at least a few hours before serving to allow the flavors to meld.
- I’ve seen recipes online for corn salsa that use frozen, thawed corn but don’t try it with this recipe; the crispness of the corn is important and it’s lost in the freezing process.
P.S. Want to serve a really special appetizer? Make a batch of these Lemon Rosemary Flatbread Crackers to serve with this salsa. Delish!
What I used to make and serve this Copycat Trader Joe’s Corn and Chile Salsa
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- 4 medium ears of sweet corn unhusked (or 1 can yellow corn)
- ¼ cup finely diced sweet yellow onion
- ¼ cup finely diced red bell pepper
- 1-2 teaspoons finely chopped jalapeno pepper start with 1 and add more, if you want more heat
- 3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- If using canned corn, drain corn well and transfer to a medium size bowl.
- If using fresh corn, place 2 ears at a time in the microwave and cook for 5 minutes on high power. Carefully, with oven mitts, remove corn from microwave and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Repeat with remaining 2 ears of corn. When cool enough to handle, pull off husks and silk. Lay corn on it’s side and cut kernels from cobs, rotating the ear of corn as you go. Transfer corn to a medium size bowl.
- Add diced onion, red bell pepper and finely chopped jalapeño to bowl with the corn. Stir to combine.
- Combine vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, coriander, cumin, crushed red pepper and salt in a medium size, microwave safe bowl. Stir well to combine. Microwave on high power for 1 minute.
- Remove vinegar mixture from microwave and add to bowl with corn mixture. Stir well.
- Allow salsa to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.
- Serve immediately or transfer to a glass jar or storage container and refrigerate till ready to use. Salsa will keep in refrigerator for 5 days to 1 week.
See Café Tips above for lots of helpful information regarding this recipe.