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I’m betting that this Mexican street corn, known as elote, will be your new favorite way to eat corn on the cob this summer, even if you’re a purist in the corn department. The cobs are fire roasted until lightly charred, and then covered with a spicy mixture of sour cream, mayonnaise, cilantro, and chile powder, which melts into the hot kernels and tastes absolutely fantàstico!
Everyone who likes corn will love elote, so be prepared to make a couple cobs per person, no matter what. What’s even better is that even though it’s a little messy, it’s easy to make; you’re only limited by the space on your grill.
Need to make corn for a crowd? Click and slide the number next to ‘servings’ on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
What is Mexican Street Corn?
Elote is a traditional street snack, eaten on the go. The cob is left whole or served on a stick. It’s very similar to esquites, a corn salad where the kernels are taken off the cob and dressed in a similar sauce.
How do you make Mexican Street Corn?
If you have a hot grill and some corn, you’re halfway there. While the corn is cooking, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, cilantro, chile powder, a little garlic, and a crumbly Mexican cheese called cotija. This sauce gets slathered over the corn when it’s still hot. Another little sprinkle of cheese, maybe a squirt of lime. Delicious.
Is Mexican Street Corn served hot or cold?
Traditionally, this extraordinary food is meant to be eaten hot off of the grill, but if you’re late to the party, room temperature is fine too.
Can you make Mexican Street Corn for a crowd?
For larger parties, I place the roasted cobs, fresh from the grill, in a shallow baking pan with the sauce, and roll them around to get them efficiently coated. Then I stack them next to each other on a big tray, each one separated by a square of foil for easy grabbing. From there, I sprinkle on the extra toppings with the lime juice. It’s summer, so let’s not make it hard on ourselves.
Can you make Mexican Street Corn without a grill?
If there’s no room on the grill and you don’t mind a little heat in the kitchen, in a pinch you can cook the corn in an oven. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place corn, still in their husks, directly on the oven rack and roast until corn is soft, about 35-40 minutes. Peel down husks and spread with the mayonnaise and crema fresca mixture. Serve immediately with all the garnishes.
Can you make Mexican Street Corn ahead of time?
Because this corn tastes so sublime when it’s hot off the grill, try to make it right before you need it. There’s no reason you can’t get the sauce ready ahead of time, though, and have the corn shucked and ready to go, too.
Where can you find cotija cheese or crema?
Cotija is a mild but distinctly salty crumbled cheese, usually sold in bags. Mexican crema is a thinner cousin of sour cream; it’s what gives this recipe a little tang. Both can be found at Mexican markets in the dairy section.
Can you make Mexican Street Corn without mayo?
Some folks swear by butter in place of mayonnaise, so give it a try! (I’m guessing it will be fabulous.)
How do you grill corn without drying it out?
Because corn is high in natural sugars, the trick to grilling corn on the cob is to use a high heat. Lower heat can dry out fresh corn and make it tough.
What can be substituted for chili powder?
If you’ve looked all over and you can’t find chili powder, try a tiny sprinkling of cayenne or smoked paprika. A spice blend, Tajin, is wonderful too because it has some lime and salt added. Believe it or not, I’ve even heard of grinding up hot Cheetos and using the dust!
What can be substituted for sour cream?
In case you forgot to buy sour cream at the store, or you can’t find crema fresca, feel free to substitute a plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt in its place.
Can you make Mexican Street Corn in a cup?
Since this recipe is usually eaten on the cob, try making esquites, a spoonable corn salad, which is often served in a cup. The key to cooking esquites is to remove the corn kernels from the cob before you cook them. The get your skillet very hot and dump them in, letting them cook so the corn can caramelize before giving it a stir. The dressing is basically the same as this recipe, so toss everything together and serve immediately. A few chopped scallions thrown on top of everything couldn’t hurt, either.
What is a good substitute for cotija cheese?
Any slightly dry, easy-to-crumble cheese works well in place of cotija for Mexican street corn. Try grated Romano, Parmesan, or a drier style feta cheese.
Mexican Street Corn (Elote)
- 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.
- 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, or even cayenne pepper (if you love the heat).
- 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 the corn instead of boiling it, leave it in the husk. Preheat a grill 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.
Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.