Elote, or Mexican street corn, is corn on the cob covered in creamy mayo and topped with cilantro, lime juice, Cotija cheese, and chili powder. It’s the most delicious Mexican side dish!
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If there’s a dish that embodies what a Mexican summer feels like, this elote recipe is it!
There’s fresh corn covered in creamy mayonnaise, lime juice for some brightness, cotija cheese, cilantro, and a dash of chili powder to give everything a little kick. It’s finger-licking good and always a hit with the family.
What Are Elotes?
Elotes, also known as Mexican street corn, are a popular Mexican street food made from grilled or boiled ears of corn on the cob that are slathered with a creamy sauce typically made from mayonnaise or sour cream, lime juice, and spices such as chili powder. They’re then rolled in crumbled cotija cheese and garnished with cilantro.
Elotes are often served on a stick or a skewer, making them easy to eat on the go, and are a beloved street food in Mexico and in many Mexican-American communities in the U.S.
What’s the difference between elotes and esquites?
The main difference is that elotes are served on the cob, whereas esquites are served off the cob and in a cup or bowl.
- Corn: I used 4 medium yellow ears of corn on the cob, husked and silked. You could also use white corn.
- Lime juice: Adds a great bright and citrusy flavor that is perfect with the mayo.
- Mayo: I used regular mayo, but you can also use light mayo.
- Garlic: Finely minced garlic adds for depth of flavor to the creamy mayo sauce.
- Butter: For brushing on the elotes before adding the creamy mayo sauce. It give the corn that delicious savory flavor we love!
- Cayenne: Adds just the right level of heat, but you can substitute regular chili powder instead if its too spicy.
- Cotija cheese: Crumbly and salty cotija cheese adds just the right amount tang and spice!
- Cilantro: Top your elote with chopped cilantro for a fresh herb flavor to help cut the creamy mayo sauce.
How To Make Mexican Street Corn
- Make the mayo sauce: Start by making the creamy mayo sauce. Mix mayonnaise, lime juice, garlic, and ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Set aside.
- Cook the corn: You can do this on the grill or the stove. To boil it, add the ears of corn to a large pot of boiling water and cook for 5 minutes or until tender and bright yellow. Transfer to a plate and set aside to cool.
- Assemble the elotes: Using a brush or spoon, coat all sides of the corn with melted butter, then generously slather each with the mayo sauce. Then sprinkle each ear generously with cotija cheese, the remaining cayenne pepper, and chopped cilantro.
- Cook the corn for only 5-6 minutes to ensure it doesn’t overcook and become too mushy.
- You can also grill the corn for a more charred flavor. See the recipe card below for grilling instructions.
- If you can’t find Cotija cheese, you can use feta or parmesan instead.
- This elotes recipe calls for cilantro, but if you dislike it, you can either replace it with fresh parsley or omit it altogether.
- Consider switching out the cayenne for a different chili powder variety, like ancho chili powder or chipotle chili powder.
Elotes are great as a snack paired with a refreshing drink, like horchata or watermelon agua fresca.
They also make a great side dish when grilling carne asada or pollo asado.
- Water as needed
- 4 ears of corn, husked
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon lime juice (about ½ medium lime)
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced or grated
- ½ teaspoon cayenne*, divided
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- ½ cup crumbled cotija cheese
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the corn and cook for 5 minutes, or until tender and bright yellow. Transfer to a plate and set aside to cool while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
- In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, lime juice, garlic, and ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
- Using a brush or spoon, coat all sides of the corn with melted butter, then generously slather each corn with the mayonnaise mixture.
- Sprinkle each ear generously with cotija cheese, the remaining cayenne pepper, and chopped cilantro.
- Spice level: Cayenne pepper will add a delicious spice to the elotes. If you don’t want it too spicy, you can use the typical chili powder found in most grocery stores. If you want to use the traditional chile that’s used in Mexico for elotes, try ground chile piquin.
- Esquites: If you prefer corn cut from the cob, try making Esquites instead, which is Mexican street corn served in a cup.
- Grilled corn: Grilling the corn instead of boiling it adds a delicious flavor to the elotes. To grill, brush each ear of corn with vegetable oil, then grill over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes per side until it’s cooked through and charred in some spots.
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