Mexican Street Corn (Elote)

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.

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!

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. 

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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.

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!

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. 

 

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Mexican Street Corn

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!

Course Side Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword corn, mayonnaise, sour cream
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 189 kcal

Ingredients

For the sauce:

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream or Mexican crema
  • 1/2 cup finely crumbled Cojita or feta cheese plus for more serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder or guajillo chili powder, plus more for serving
  • 1 clove garlic finely minced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems

For the corn:

  • 4 ears corn shucked
  • 1 lime cut into wedges, for serving

Instructions

To use a gas grill:

  1. Set half the burners of a gas grill to high heat. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil grilling grate.

To use a charcoal grill:

  1. Light 1 chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread coals evenly over half of a coal grate.  Clean and oil grilling grate.

To make the sauce:

  1. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine mayonnaise, sour cream, cheese, chili powder, garlic, and cilantro. Stir until combined and set aside.

To make the corn:

  1. Place corn directly over hot side of the grill and cook, rotating occasionally, until cooked through and charred in spots on all sides, about 8 minutes total.

  2. Transfer corn to bowl with cheese mixture and use a large spoon to evenly coat the corn on all sides with mixture.

  3. Sprinkle with extra cheese and chili powder and serve immediately with lime wedges.

 

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