Creamy Corn Dip With Feta, Mint, and Tomatoes

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Overhead view of corn dip
Serious Eats / Lorena Masso

WHY IT WORKS

  • A moderate oven temperature helps the fresh corn maintain its pop even after cooking.
  • Feta adds salinity that pairs perfectly with the sweet corn.
  • Topping the dip with mint, olives, and cherry tomatoes provides a fresh, cooling counterpoint to the hot dip.

When it’s good, summer corn doesn’t need much in terms of culinary meddling. A quick steam, a swipe of butter, and a sprinkling of salt are all it takes to enjoy corn at its sweetest and freshest. But for parties and picnics, a composed dish of corn is sometimes preferable to everyone gnawing on cobs, and corn dip is one great way to go. Rich and satisfying, this hot corn dip is nothing like the sour cream-and-mayonnaise–drenched renditions you may be familiar with. Instead, it relies on cream cheese, feta, and half-and-half for its luxuriously creamy texture and balanced salty-sweet flavor, and a topping of mint, olives, and cherry tomatoes for freshness.

Taking a dip of corn dip
Serious Eats / Lorena Masso

Reconsidering Your Go-To Corn Dip Dairy

I have some experience with the cheeses typically used in hot dips, which are often made from cream cheese, mozzarella, cheddar, and Monterey Jack. These dips are often good right out of the oven—they’re melty and offer up delightful cheese pulls, but within minutes they become stiff and congealed, making it difficult and messy to scoop with a cracker. After several rounds of my own testing in search of a solution to this, I decided to skip the “cheese pull” moment and prioritize creamy and dip-able longevity instead.

I knew I wanted a cheese that didn’t become so elastic once heated, since that usually means it’ll suffer a rubbery fate once it begins cooling back down to room temperature. Here’s where feta comes in: The meltability and stretchiness of cheese depends on many factors, including age, acidity, and chemical composition. In feta’s case, its relatively high water content and high acidity (it has a pH around 4.5) means it doesn’t truly melt and flow into a gooey pool when heated. Instead, feta softens and becomes incredibly creamy, making it an ideal cheese to use in a hot dip. Feta also packs a briny punch that perfectly complements the sweetness of fresh corn.

Mise en place of ingredients for corn dip
Serious Eats / Lorena Masso

A corn dip with just feta, though, would be too salty and not quite creamy enough. It needs a partner to help balance its salinity. By using equal parts feta and cream cheese along with half a cup of half-and-half, I was able to strike a balance of flavors and textures: briny but not overwhelmingly so, and creamy and flowing, neither too watery nor threatening to turn into rubber as the heat fades.

The process of combining the feta, cream cheese, and half-and-half can be an annoying one, as cream cheese resists thinning with more liquid ingredients. To make this recipe as painless as possible, I came up with a method in which you scatter cold chunks of cream cheese around the bottom of the baking dish, then add everything else, and give it a good mix partway through baking; by waiting until heated, you’re able to blend the three types of dairy effortlessly.  A thorough mixing halfway through baking, when the cream cheese was sufficiently melted by the oven heat, made easy work of combining everything together.

Oregano and red onion baked into the creamy base further enhance the overall flavor of the dip.

Preparing the Corn

I played around with pre-cooking the corn under the broiler and in a hot pan on the stovetop, with the hope that I could develop a roasted flavor for the dip. While the broiler in particular gave the corn some nice char, both pre-cooking methods ultimately produced a dip in which the corn was overcooked and too soft. My preference in the end was to just add raw kernels to the dip and bake it all together at a moderate 350ºF (180ºC) for 30 minutes, which yields kernels with a sweet corn flavor while retaining just enough freshness for them to pop in every bite.

The Topping

As-is, the corn dip I’d developed was wonderfully creamy and bursting with a complex flavor of sweet, fresh corn balanced by a subtle briny edge. But it still needed something to make it truly sing. I settled on an unconventional (at least as far as corn dips go) topping of vibrant fresh mint, olives (to pick up on the feta’s underlying brininess), and juicy cherry tomatoes. It’s a Mediterranean twist on an American classic, and wow does it work.

How to Make an Amazing Corn Dip Featuring Cream Cheese, Feta, Mint, and Tomatoes

How to Make an Amazing Corn Dip Featuring Cream Cheese, Feta, Mint, and Tomatoes

RECIPE DETAILS

Creamy Corn Dip With Feta, Mint, and Tomatoes

Prep10 mins
Cook30 mins
Total40 mins
Serves6 to 8 as an appetizer
 

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces (227g) plain, full-fat cream cheese
  • 4 ears sweet corn, shucked, kernels removed (about 3 cups fresh corn kernels)
  • 8 ounces (227g) drained feta cheese, finely crumbled
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) half-and-half
  • 1/2 small red onion (about 3 ounces; 85g), thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves (0.3 ounces; 8g), finely chopped
  • 1 medium clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Kosher salt (see notes)
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives (about 3 ounces; 85g), halved (see notes)
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, torn
  • Crackers or pita chips, to serve

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Using your fingers, break up the cream cheese into dollops and evenly distribute around the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish.

    Overhead view of cream cheese broken up into clumps
    Serious Eats / Lorena Masso
  2. In a large bowl, combine the corn, feta, half-and-half, and red onion with 2 tablespoons (30ml) olive oil, oregano, garlic, red pepper flakes, and a generous grinding of black pepper. Using a silicone spatula, scrape the mixture into the baking dish over the cream cheese.

    Four image collage of ingredients for corn dip in a bowl being mixed and then spread over cream cheese in baking dish
    Serious Eats / Lorena Masso
  3. Transfer baking dish to oven and bake until the cream cheese has softened, 15 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven and use the silicone spatula to stir the cream cheese into the corn mixture until fully incorporated, making sure to scrape up all the cream cheese from the bottom and corners of the dish. Return baking dish to the oven and continue to bake until the dip begins bubbling around the edges, 15 to 20 minutes longer.

    Corn dip in oven
    Serious Eats / Lorena Masso
  4. Remove the dish from the oven and, using the spatula, stir the dip together again. Season to taste with salt to taste, if needed, and top with olives, tomatoes, mint, and the remaining 1 tablespoon (15ml) oil. Serve with crackers or pita chips.

    Two image collage of stirring corn dip and finished dip topped with tomatoes and olives
    Serious Eats / Lorena Masso

Special Equipment

8-inch square baking dish or other 2-quart capacity oven-safe dish, silicone spatula

Notes

Because different varieties of feta have different salinities, there’s no measured additional salt in this recipe. Taste the baked dip and season as needed before adding the fresh toppings.

Pit-in olives are often better-quality than pre-pitted ones; we recommend buying pit-in olives and removing the pits yourself.

Make-Ahead and Storage

You can assemble the dip, cover the dish, and refrigerate it for up to 2 days before baking. When ready to cook, increase baking time to 45 minutes. Once baked and cooled, dip can be reheated in either the oven or microwave until hot in the center.

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