Mexican Street Corn (Elote)

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Sweet, spicy, salty, and tangy all in one glorious bite, my recipe for Elote – aka Mexican Street Corn – is an explosion of Latin flavors that you will crave all summer long. This perfect side will be the smash hit of any barbecue!

one cob of mexican street corn on an oblong white dish with a lime wedge  

Oh elote how I love thee! When I see corn on the cob at the grocery store I get so excited. It’s a clear sign that summer is officially here.

Why This Recipe Works

Corn on the cob is one of the great joys of summertime! I especially love grilled corn on the cob when it’s slathered with layers of Mexican flavors like crema, chile powder, and lime.

This Mexican style corn on the cob (elote) is sold by street vendors all over El Paso and Juarez, so it makes me think of home. Usually Mexican street corn is smeared with mayonnaise, but I actually prefer the mild flavor of crema Mexicana or sour cream.

The combination of tangy crema, creamy butter, salty queso, spicy chile, vinegary hot sauce, and a squeeze of bright lime juice just makes my mouth water. Combine that with sweet, crunchy, peak-of-summer corn? SWOON.

I also love that this dish is easy to make, even for a crowd. Better yet? Your guests can add their garnishes of choice, making it perfect for picky family get-togethers.

Finally, I’m a huge fan of the fact that this is basically a no-dishes recipe. The corn cooks with the husks peeled back to use as a handle. When you’re done eating, the whole thing can get tossed right in the compost. It’s completely self contained!

overhead shot of grilled corn on the cob with the fixings for making it into elote laid out on a grey table

How to Make Elote Without Mayonnaise

You are going to love how easy this elote recipe is. First, heat the grill to medium-high heat.

Carefully pull back the corn husks, leaving them attached at the base. Remove the silk and rinse the kernels.

corn on the cob with husks pulled back but not removed prior to grilling

TIP: Soak the corn for a few minutes – this will help prevent husks from burning on the grill.

Lightly brush the corn with olive oil.

Add the corn to the grill and cook, turning every three minutes, until tender and slightly charred for about 12 to 15 minutes.

corn on a bbq grate

Serve with traditional garnishes so that everyone can fix their corn the way they want.

hand holding a pastry brush dipped in butter

I like to spread or brush on a layer of butter, followed by a layer of crema Mexicana.

pastry brush painting on crema to make grilled corn into Mexican elote

Next, sprinkle the corn with crumbled cheese (cotija or queso fresco).

rolling elote in cotija cheese

Finish it with a sprinkle of Tajín, squeeze of lime juice, and for an added kick, a drizzle of Mexican hot sauce.

hand pouring a pottle of tapatio mexican hot sauce onto a cob of elote

I am always grateful for a simple recipe. Just check out this video to see how easy Mexican street corn is to make! I can almost guarantee it will make your mouth water. And for a funny video, check out my kiddos in this “Nacho Libre” Parody – Get That Corn Out Of My Face

 

Easy Ingredient Substitutions

Feel free to make this elote recipe your own! Here are some simple substitutions you can make:

  • Crema Mexicana – While I love the mild flavor of crema, elote is often made with mayo instead. Feel free to swap the crema for mayonnaise, sour cream, or even greek yogurt if you prefer.
  • Crumbled Cotija or Queso Fresco – Cotija is most closely aligned with parmesan, while queso fresco has a flavor that is more similar to feta. Feel free to use any of these options.
  • Tajin – This delightful Mexican seasoning mix is a favorite of mine (seriously, try some just to rim your margaritas!) because it combines chili powder with lime and sea salt. If you don’t have any on hand, simply sub in some chili powder (hot, if you prefer) and a touch of extra kosher salt.

How to Serve Street Corn

As with most delicious street foods, elote is best served hot off the grill. I love keeping the husks on the cobs so that you have a built in handle – it’s so convenient!

While I prefer eating corn off the cob, you can certainly be daintier about it if you like. Simply shave the kernels into a cup and serve Elote en Vaso (Corn in a Cup).

This delightful side is one I could literally eat as a meal, but it also pairs well with just about every other barbecue item. Pair it with:

4 cobs of corn that have been turned into elote on a teal rectangular serving dish with lime wedges

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to boil the corn first before grilling it?

Nope! The grill will do all of the work. Just don’t be afraid of kicking the heat all the way up to a medium-high and letting the corn cook for about 12 to 15 minutes.

Can I use frozen corn?

If you’re really craving Mexican street corn, try roasting or boiling frozen corn kernels and make Elote en Vaso (Corn in a Cup) or Mexican Street Corn Salad

Can I make elote without a grill?

If you don’t have access to a grill, you can use the broiler in your oven! Place the rack close to the broiler, and cook the corn for about 6 to 8 minutes per side, until the level of char is to your liking. Be sure to keep a close watch on anything you broil! Once it’s charred, dress the cob as you desire.

If you don’t want to grill — no problem! Feel free to steam or boil corn.

Can I make vegan Mexican street corn?

Sure! Simply swap in a vegan sour cream, mayo, or greek yogurt substitute and opt for a dairy free cheese.

Need more summer side inspiration?

Check out these other tasty recipes:

Have you made this Mexican Street Corn (Elote)? Rate the recipe and leave me a comment below to let me know how it turned out! To get more Muy Bueno recipes delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for my email newsletter

Mexican Street Corn (Elote)

This messy goodness is sweet, spicy, salty, and tangy, all in one glorious bite. It’s an explosion of Latin flavors that you will crave all summer long.
4 pieces of Mexican street corn on a serving platter
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote
Rate this Recipe »

Ingredients

  • 4 ears of corn, husked and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • unsalted butter, softened
  • crema Mexicana or sour cream
  • crumbled cotija or queso fresco
  • Kosher salt
  • Tajin
  • Mexican hot sauce, such as Valentina
  • limes

Instructions

  • Heat grill to medium-high heat.
  • Carefully pull back the corn husks, leaving them attached at the base. Remove the silk and rinse them.
  • Soak the corn for a few minutes – this will help prevent husks from burning on the grill.
  • Lightly brush the corn with olive oil.
  • Add the corn to the grill and cook, turning every 3 minutes, until tender and slightly charred for about 12 to 15 minutes.
  • Serve with traditional garnishes so that everyone can fix their corn the way they want.
  • The traditional way is to spread on a layer of butter, and then layer with crema Mexicana. Next, sprinkle the corn with crumbled cheese. Finish it with a sprinkle of salt, ground chile, squeeze of lime juice, and for an added kick drizzle Mexican hot sauce.

Video

Notes

  • If you don’t have access to a grill, you can use the broiler in your oven! Place the rack close to the broiler, and cook the corn for about 6 to 8 minutes per side, until the level of char is to your liking. Be sure to keep a close watch on anything you broil! Also, feel free to steam or boil corn.

Nutrition

Calories: 264kcal, Carbohydrates: 17g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 22g, Saturated Fat: 10g, Cholesterol: 36mg, Sodium: 648mg, Potassium: 256mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 783IU, Vitamin C: 6mg, Calcium: 36mg, Iron: 1mg

I’d love to see what you cook!

Tag #MUYBUENOCOOKING if you make this recipe.

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