Inspired by the Trader Joe’s original corn salsa, this is my copycat version of their Corn and Chile Salsa. Great with tortillas, tacos, quesadillas or as a condiment.

corn and chile salsa in small bowl with tortilla chips and corn in the background

If you’re a reader of my newsletter, you know that I just returned from a trip to New York City. A great time was had and much delicious food was consumed. That’s what holidays are for, right?

Like all good Canadians, I had to make a stop at Trader Joe’s before returning to Canada. I picked up all my favourites, including their Corn and Chile Salsa. It’s always popular here, so we polished off the little jar we brought back far too quickly.

Since it is corn season though, I decided a little at-home recipe re-creation was in order. I had to make 4 batches of corn salsa before I got it just right, so it’s safe to say I have a lot of corn salsa now :)

If you aren’t familiar with Trader Joe’s Corn and Chile Salsa, it is all about the fresh corn taste, light on vinegar and more of a sweet with a touch of heat salsa. The fresh corn flavour is front and centre.

Ingredients and Substitutions

Corn – fresh corn works perfectly for this salsa, but if it isn’t fresh corn season, canned corn is the best alternative. Frozen and thawed corn doesn’t stand up as well in texture or flavour.

Red Bell Pepper – for best flavour and most faithful to the original, use red bell pepper. In a pinch, orange bell pepper could be used.

Recipe Tips

  • I like to do all the prep work up front and have everything ready to go before I start the salsa cooking. It makes the whole process go more smoothly.
  • If you like a little more heat, you can increase the amount of crushed chilis to 1/2 tsp.
  • This recipe will make a quart of salsa. I just keep it in the fridge to eat up in the short term. If you want to keep it for longer, you would need to “can” using the hot water bath method.
corn and chile salsa in small bowl with tortilla chips and corn in the background

How to Enjoy Corn Salsa

You can enjoy this corn salsa with tortilla chips, or on tacos or quesadillas. It’s also great on hot dogs, sausages or burgers or alongside grilled pork of chicken.

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corn chile salsa in white bowl with corn cob

Get the Recipe: Corn and Chile Salsa (Trader Joe’s Copycat)

Corn, red pepper, jalapeno and onion, in a slightly acidic and lightly spicy sauce. Perfect with tortillas, tacos, quesadillas or as a condiment with hamburgers or hot dogs.
5 stars from 8 ratings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 64 servings



  • 4 cups fresh corn kernels, see notes for alternative*
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons finely jalapeno pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped


  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

To thicken:

  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 Tablespoons water


  • Combine mustard seed, coriander, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Remove corn kernels from cobs of corn until it measures 4 cups (about 4 large cobs). Set aside. Finely chop the red pepper, jalapeno and red onion and set aside.
  • Mix the cornstarch and water together in a small bowl and set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan, bring vinegar, white sugar and water to a boil. Add spice mix, red pepper, jalapeno pepper and red onion. Add 1/2 of the fresh corn kernels (about 2 cups). Stir well to combine. Return mixture to a boil, the reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Using an immersion blender, pulse the mixture about 10 times, or just until broken down slightly, but still chunky enough that you can recognize the pieces. (Alternately, if you don’t have an immersion blender, remove about 1/3 of the mixture and process lightly in a food processor or blender. Again, don’t process so much that you can’t recognize the various vegetables).
  • Add the remaining fresh corn kernels and simmer for 3 minutes. Add 2 Tbsp of the cornstarch//water mixture and simmer about 2 minutes more. If necessary add another 1-2 Tbsp of the cornstarch until the liquid thickens nicely and the corn you just added no longer tastes raw (should taste “fresh”, but not raw).
  • Using a ladle, spoon into jars, ensuring that each jar has a good amount of brine. Allow to cool in the uncovered jar for 10-15 minutes, then cover with a lid and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before eating.


Makes 1 quart (4 cups).
If fresh corn isn’t available, canned corn would be the preferred alternative. Frozen corn doesn’t work as well.
Calories are for a 1 Tbsp serving.
Be sure to read the notes above this Recipe Card, for more tips on making this recipe.
Cuisine: American
Course: Preserves
Serving: 1serving, Calories: 20kcal, Carbohydrates: 4g, Sodium: 11mg, Potassium: 36mg, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 135IU, Vitamin C: 6mg, Iron: 0.1mg
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