Inspired by the Trader Joe’s original, this is my copycat version of their Corn and Chile Salsa. Great with tortillas, tacos, quesadillas or as a condiment.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Get the Recipe: Corn and Chile Salsa (Trader Joe's Copycat)
- 4 cups fresh corn kernels, see notes for alternative*
- 1 1/2 cups finely chopped red bell pepper
- 3 Tbsp finely chopped jalapeno pepper
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch
- 2 Tbsp 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.
OMG!!! This is so good! My daughter’s friend introduced this to us but the closest TJ is 3 hours away. Now I can make my own. It is delicious! Spot on, thank you!!
I’m so glad to hear, Cheryl! I had to make a lot of batches to get the right balance of flavours, but I thought it came really close to the original, too :) Thanks so much!
Hi there, can’t wait to try this! I’m from the U.K. and always bring this salsa back! Quick question- do you use red or green jalapeños? ( I’ve never cooked with them before so don’t know the difference but have only eaten green jalapeños poppers). Also does it matter if the jalapeños are from a jar- I’m having problems getting fresh or is it much difference if they are fresh?
Hi Henrietta, I use green jalapenos and have only ever used fresh. That said, if you can’t find fresh, you could use jarred, though I think I might try adding them later in the process, so they don’t disappear into the mixture. I might chop and add after the blending part and before the thickening part. That way, you will still have some visible pieces of jalapeno. Just a thought, anyway :)
Have you tried freezing the finished salsa?I would love to make this but I couldn’t possibly eat 4 cups by myself even though this is the best salsa ever.
Hi Tamara and thanks! I haven’t frozen it myself, as I have just found people to give my extra to every time I make it. I think it would freeze just fine though. Just be sure to leave room in your freezer container for expansion and thaw in the fridge, as needed.
Can this be canned and put in a water bath?
Possibly, but I’m not a master canner, so I can’t say for sure. You should do some research and see if it meets the standards for canning based on the ingredients.
We live in China, and I was dismayed to find that my husband had eaten our last jar of TJ Corn Salsa. “It’s great on everything!” he said. Your recipe is a lifesaver. Made it today, gave half of it away tonight to other excited expats, will make more soon. From very far away, thanks!
I am so glad to hear, Amanda! I had to make many, many batches of this to try and duplicate it, as I am 4 hours and an international border away from the nearest Trader Joes. Not nearly as far as China though :) Thanks!
This was great! We upped the jalapeños because we love spice and had a ton of them to use from our garden. We used it on chicken quesadillas, sausage tostadas and as a dip with tortilla chips. I think it would be make a nice salad mixed with black beans and cooked rice. Will definitely make again!
Sounds great! And yes, I thought that too. Would be great with black beans and rice! Thanks :)
The nearest Trader Joes is over two hours away so I’m very happy for your recipe…I’m sure it took a lot of trial and error to get it just right.
Thanks Karen! It’s always nice to enjoy these things without the travel :)
Great recipe Jennifer! I’d love this on a grilled brat! Perfect for game day eats!
Thanks Mary Ann and yes, perfect on brats!
Looks like you nailed it! We also really enjoy the TJ corn chile salsa:) Love grilling some fish and smothering it in it:)
Thanks Milena, It was not the easiest to replicate, but was a fun challenge. (My nearest Trader Joe’s is 3 hours and a border away :)
I need to heap this on whatever I’m having for dinner tonight! I’ve never had TJs, but my regular supermarket makes something similar and I can’t wait to try this homemade version, thanks Jennifer.
Thanks Sue! It’s quite addicting and I was sorry to see the empty jar. So I had to figure it out :)
I could eat this on just about anything Jennifer. Such a great way to enjoy summer corn! Wish we still had fresh corn like this – so good and sweet! Enjoy :)
Thanks Tricia! Fresh corn is still plentiful here, but canned corn would work for this one as well :)