Summer is just around the corner and you know what that means: PEAK CORN SEASON. Which means taco week gets upgraded with juicy shredded chicken and a side of summer corn salsa, which cook together on a sheet pan for easy clean up.
Sure, you can get corn year-round, but there's something special about corn when it's in season. It's bright and sweet, and the kernels pop and burst in your mouth.
Summer corn brings back memories of the stand at the Baltimore Farmer's Market with a truck bed filled with corn so sweet and juicy you could eat it raw off the cob.
It reminds me of summers at Pierce Camp Birchmont, where color week always ended with a beach BBQ; Bobby, the waterfront director would dunk ears of corn in melted butter, husks pushed back to protect his hands, before roasting them over a fire pit and passing them out to campers.
So when it comes to making the perfect summer corn salsa, how do you choose: raw or grilled?
I refuse to even consider the question; This summer corn salsa brings you the best of both worlds by using two or three ears of buttery, oven-roasted corn and one ear of fresh sweet corn.
The end result is a savory corn salsa with just a hint of sweetness, complete with bright cherry tomatoes, scallions and red onions for bite, a squeeze of lime juice for acidity, and a bit of thinly sliced fresh cilantro that ties it all together.
But what to do if you don't have access to a grill or a fire pit for your corn? You use your oven, of course.
And while you've probably seen people wrap corn in foil to do this — I've found you can actually skip that step. Just rub the corn in softened butter, sprinkle on some salt, pepper, and a pinch of taco seasonings, and roast it for 30 minutes, rotating a few times as it cooks.
And since you're getting out a sheet pan anyway you might as well use the other half of it to make the chicken for your tacos at the same time. Right? Right!
Simply pat dry two ~1 lb chicken breasts, season with salt and pepper, then pat on a dry rub of taco seasonings and cook them right alongside the corn. No fuss, no mess, just great easy tacos with a summer corn salsa.
some notes on sheet pan chicken tacos with summer corn salsa:
- Some corn cobs are sweeter than others. Before you decide which ones to roast and which one to leave raw, slice off a few kernels from each to taste. Save the best tasting one to use raw.
- You can swap the spice blend on the chicken for 2-3 tablespoon of any taco seasoning blend.
- To help you adjust the number of servings, a good rule of thumb is: 1 ear of corn = ¾ cup corn kernels; 1 lb chicken breast = 3 cups shredded chicken.
- Depending on the size of your chicken breasts they'll take anywhere from 20-30 minutes to cook. The best way to measure doneness is by inserting an instant read thermometer into the thickest part of the breast. When it hits 160°F it's done.
- I used the center-bottom rack of my oven for this so the corn wasn't too close to the heating coil at the top of the oven. But every oven is different so adjust yours accordingly.
- I used two forks to shred my chicken, but if you have a fancy chicken shredding tool that makes you feel like Wolverine, go for it.
- Any cherry tomatoes will do, but I always go for my fave NatureSweet Cherubs or D'vines. They're tiny, but packed with so much flavor.
recipes you might like
- homemade corn tortillas
- one avocado guac with quick pickled red onions
- easy salsa roja
- diy homemade hot sauce
- one-skillet cacio e pepe rigatoni
- 10-minute corn fritter avocado "toast"
Sheet Pan Chicken Tacos with Summer Corn Salsa
for the chicken
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (approx .5-.75 lb each)
- 2 teaspoon chili powder
- ¾ teaspoon cumin
- ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¾ teaspoon paprika (smoked, if you have it)
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
for the corn salsa
- 3 ears corn on the cob (husked and strings removed)
- 3 tablespoon butter (softened)
- 8 cherry tomatoes (chopped)
- 1 scallion (thinly sliced)
- 1 jalapeno (minced, seeds & ribs removed)
- ¼ cup red onion (minced)
- 1 clove garlic (minced or microplaned)
- ½ teaspoon fresh cilantro (minced)
- 2 tablespoon lime juice (juice of one medium lime)
for the tacos
- taco shells or tortillas of your choice
- 1 large avocado (thinly sliced)
- ¼ cup cotija (crumbled)
- quick pickled red onions* (for topping)
- sour cream or greek yogurt lime sauce*
- hot sauce (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Mix the taco seasonings together in a small bowl.
- Rub 2 ears of corn all over with softened butter. Season with salt and pepper on all sides. Sprinkle with a few pinches of the taco seasoning blend. Arrange on one half of the sheet pan.
- Pat dry the chicken breasts and season both sides with salt. Pat a generous amount of the taco seasoning onto both sides of the chicken breasts, and arrange them on the other side of the sheet pan.
- Roast the chicken and corn on the sheet pan for 20-30 minutes. Rotate the corn every 10 minutes for even cooking. Depending on the size of your chicken breasts they may be done earlier than the corn. Test with an instant read thermometer at the thickest part of the breast. When it reaches 160°F, the chicken is done and can be removed to a plate to rest.While the chicken and corn are cooking, wash and dry the raw ear of corn and prep the rest of the salsa ingredients.
- Give the chicken and corn at least 10 minutes to rest, then shred the chicken with two forks or shredding claws if you have them. Set aside. Use a sharp knife to cut the corn kernels off both ears of roasted corn and the 1 ear of raw sweet corn.
- In a medium bowl combine the corn kernels with the additional salsa ingredients, finishing with the squeeze of lime juice and a few pinches of salt and pepper to taste.
- Salsa can be served chilled or at room temp.
- Heat the tortillas in a bare skillet over medium heat or remove the parchment paper from the sheet pan and let them hang out there for a few minutes in the oven as it cools down.
- Assemble your tacos and enjoy!
- You can swap the spices for the chicken for 2-3 tablespoon of any taco seasoning blend.
- Find the instructions for quick-pickled red onions and a simple sour cream/greek yogurt lime sauce here.
- Taco seasoning blend is loosely adapted from Gimme Some Oven.
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