Mexican Street Corn

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Learn the secrets to authentic Mexican Street Corn (also known as elote), a simple, delicious snack made with just 5 key ingredients: Corn, lime, mayonnaise, Parm, and Tajin. This is exactly how the street vendors make it, and now you can too.

Ears of Mexican Street Corn in a dish.


 

Elote is a traditional Mexican street snack, eaten on the go. The cob is left whole or served on a stick. This Mexican Street Corn recipe is very similar to chaskas or esquites, a corn salad where the corn kernels are taken off the cob and dressed in a similar sauce. 

And the “sauce” is easy as can be: Fresh lime juice, mayo, Parmesan cheese, and Tajin (a chili powder with salt and lime flavors). Cilantro leaves are not commonly used even though they sound like they should be (and you can certainly add them if you want to).

You are also probably eager to sprinkle on a proper Mexican cheese such as cotija cheese on your elote, but Parmesan cheese in the green shaker can is closest to what they use, at least in Aguascalientes and Jalisco.

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for Mexican Street Corn.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Parmesan: Look for the grated Parm in the green shaker can. This might sound inauthentic, but it is closest to what street vendors actually use in the non-touristy parts of Mexico. Or, substitute Cotjia cheese or feta cheese.
  • Tajin seasoning: Tajin is a mild chili powder with a bright lime flavor that tastes great on Elote. Or, try regular chili powder, ancho chile powder, paprika, or even cayenne pepper (if you love the heat).

Step-by-step instructions

  1. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to boil. Add fresh corn and boil until bright yellow and tender, about 4 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly, then skewer with sticks if desired.
Corn on the cob on skewers, set on a baking sheet.
  1. Rub an ear of corn with half a lime.
A lime being rubbed on a corn cob to make Mexican street corn.
  1. Then coat with 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (a spatula works well).
Corn on the cob on skewers, set on a baking sheet.
  1. Coat with 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese and season with Tajin or chile powder to taste (I like about 1 teaspoon Tajin).
Corn on the cob on skewers, set on a baking sheet.
  1. Repeat with remaining ears of corn.
Ears of Mexican Street Corn on a board with lime slices.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes 4 tasty ears of corn. The recipe can easily be doubled or tripled.
  • Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Grilling: To grill corn instead of boiling it, leave it in the husk. Preheat a grill or grill pan over medium-high and clean and oil grilling grate. Place corn over direct heat and cook, rotating occasionally, until cooked through and charred in spots on all sides, about 8 minutes total. You can also grill the corn in a large skillet.
  • Customize your elote: My recipe is based on the street corn served in rural Mexico, specifically Aguascalientes and Jalisco. Resort towns might offer more varieties, and you can definitely make your elote your own. Try cilantro, green onion, red onion, minced jalapeño pepper, garlic powder, butter, or lime zest.
  • Extra corn: Have extra frozen corn on hand? Put it to use in Mexican Corn Salad (aka esquites), an appetizer made by tossing together mayonnaise, lime juice, Parmesan cheese, and chili powder. You eat with Doritos! So good. Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili and Corn Chowder are two amazing, hearty soups that also use frozen corn. Or try Corn Salad and stir in a flavorful chipotle-honey-lime dressing.
Mexican corn salad in a brown bowl.
Straight from the streets of rural Mexico, this Mexican Street Corn Salad (known as esquites by the natives) is super simple to make and so delicious. If you’re looking for the real deal, look no further. If you want to mimic the locals, serve it with a large bowl of spicy Nacho Doritios or tortilla chips.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you grill Mexican street corn?

You certainly can, but many purveyors simply boil the corn to keep things simple. The flavor is still delicious and authentic. To grill the corn, leave the husk on and cook over medium-high heat for about 8 minutes, rotating occasionally, until you get a nice char.

Does Mexican street corn contain sour cream?

Some recipes use a mixture of mayonnaise and sour cream for Elote. However, because street vendors in Mexican rarely have adequate refrigeration in their food carts, they typically skip the sour cream and use just mayonnaise. If we’re splitting hairs, it would be Mexican crema, not American sour cream. But it usually isn’t either one.

More Mexican recipes

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Ears of Mexican Street Corn in a dish.

Mexican Street Corn

Learn the secrets to authentic Mexican Street Corn (also known as elote), a simple, delicious snack made with just 5 key ingredients: Corn, lime, mayonnaise, Parm, and Tajin. This is exactly how the street vendors make it, and now you can too.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Calories 257
5 from 4 votes

Ingredients 

Instructions 

  • In a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to boil. Add corn and boil until bright yellow and tender, about 4 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly, then skewer with sticks if desired.
  • Rub an ear of corn with half a lime, then coat with 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (a spatula works well).
  • Coat with 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese and season with Tajin or chile powder to taste (I like about 1 teaspoon Tajin). Repeat with remaining ears of corn.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Parmesan: Look for the grated Parm in the green shaker can. This might sound inauthentic, but it is closest to what street vendors actually use in the non-touristy parts of Mexico. Or, substitute Cotjia cheese or feta cheese.
  2. Tajin seasoning: Tajin is a mild chili powder with a bright lime flavor that tastes great on Elote. Or, try regular chili powder, ancho chile powder, or even cayenne pepper (if you love the heat).
  3. Yield: This recipe makes 4 tasty ears of corn. The recipe can easily be doubled or tripled.
  4. Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 earCalories: 257kcalCarbohydrates: 20gProtein: 6gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 30mgSodium: 328mgPotassium: 308mgFiber: 2gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 496IUVitamin C: 12mgCalcium: 120mgIron: 1mg
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Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.

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Comments

  1. VERY yummy! It was so good, we made another batch right after!! We added lime in the sauce, and that gave it a little flavor. Will definitely make again! 🙂5 stars