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A closeup photo of a large platter of grilled corn salad with cherry tomatoes and basil and a creamy sesame dressing on the side.
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5 from 2 votes

Grilled Corn Salad with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil

This smoky, hearty grilled corn salad with cherry tomatoes, basil, onions and a creamy sesame seed dressing is not just out-of-the-world delicious, it is also free of any added oils. You can fire up the grill for this recipe, or make it in your kitchen, over the stovetop, and it's great both as a side or a light meal. It's also vegan, of course, and it can be nut free and soy-free.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: Grilled Corn Salad
Servings: 4
Calories: 164kcal


  • Grill pan or cast iron skillet (if not using a grill)


  • 4 ears corn (husks and silks removed)
  • 1 lemon (sliced, optional)
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • ½ red onion (minced)
  • ½ cup basil leaves (torn into large pieces)
  • 6 oz tempeh bacon (optional, especially if soy-free. Chop into ½-inch pieces)

For creamy sesame seed dressing

  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (lightly toast the raw seeds on a skillet until a couple of shades darker)
  • 2 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon maple syrup (or sugar)
  • 2 tablespoon tamari (or soy sauce. If soy-free use salt or no-salt seasoning)
  • 1 tablespoon raw cashews


  • Make the dressing by placing all of the dressing ingredients in a blender. Process until smooth and creamy.
  • Roast or grill the corn on a hot charcoal or gas grill until the kernels sizzle and pop and char.
    Alternatively, and this is my favorite method, roast it directly over a gas stovetop using a pair of tongs. This needs some skill so do it at your own discretion. You should roast the corn over medium-low heat and turn it frequently with the tongs. You will hear a lot of sizzling and popping as the corn cooks and chars.
    You can also use a grill pan or a regular cast iron pan to grill the corn. Just place the corn ears on a hot pan and turn over frequently, allowing all sides to roast evenly.
  • Immediately after the corn has roasted, rub a slice of lemon over the kernels. Be careful as the corn is hot. This adds great flavor to the corn, but you can omit if you wish. Cut the corn kernels off the cob using a knife and collect them in a bowl.
  • Add the remaining salad ingredients to the bowl--the cherry tomatoes, onion, basil, and tempeh, if using. Toss to mix.
  • Pour the creamy sesame dressing on top or serve on side.


  • My favorite way to grill the corn is directly over the stovetop because it's the quickest, although the popping corn does make a small mess that you will need to clean up later. 
  • You can add other or more veggies to this salad, including bell peppers, zucchini squash, cucumbers, radishes and more. Baby spinach or arugula would be nice adds as well with the roasted corn.


Calories: 164kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Potassium: 454mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 531IU | Vitamin C: 32mg | Calcium: 101mg | Iron: 3mg