Mexican Street Corn, or Elotes, is corn on the cob covered in creamy mayo and topped with cilantro, lime juice, Cotija cheese and chipotle chili powder. Grilled, steamed, or boiled, it’s a perfectly easy Mexican summer side dish!
If there’s a recipe that embodies what a Mexican summer feels like, this Mexican Street Corn is it! You’ve got freshly grilled corn covered in creamy mayonnaise, lime juice for some brightness, Cotija cheese, cilantro and a dash of chipotle chili powder to give everything a little kick.
Why this Mexican Street Corn recipe is so great:
- The cilantro and lime juice add brightness, the Cotija cheese balances out the creaminess of the mayo and the chipotle chili powder gives it a nice little kick!
- You can make it inside or outside – pop it on the grill in the summer, or in the winter you can make it by steaming or boiling it.
- You don’t even need a plate to eat it! Just leave the husks attached and use those as a handle, or stick a wooden skewer on one end for easy holding.
Elotes? What’s that?
Elotes is the Spanish name for Mexican Street Corn. In Mexico, they’re sold from carts on the street, hence the term “street corn”. The word “elote” refers to corn in general, whether it’s on or off the cornstalk.
Mexican Street Corn holds a special place in my heart. The smell of it reminds me of my childhood summers walking around my family’s hometown in Mexico. I’d pass by street vendors selling elotes and couldn’t help but want some.
Next thing you know, I’d be walking through the outdoor market with an elote in one hand, happy as a clam. It just doesn’t get much better than that.
What’s the difference between elotes and esquites?
If you love Mexican Street Corn, then you’re going to love Esquites! Esquites is Mexican street corn served off the cob and in a cup, whereas elotes is Mexican street corn served on the cob.
How To Make Mexican Street Corn
Preheat the grill to medium-high heat (about 375°F to 400°F. Brush each ear of shucked corn with oil to make sure it doesn’t stick to the grill. (photo 1)
Place the corn onto the grill grates and cook for about 2-3 minutes per side, until all the sides are cooked through and browned in spots. Remove from the grill and transfer to a large plate or baking sheet. (photo 2)
In a small bowl, add mayonnaise and lime juice. Mix together to combine. (photo 3)
Using a brush or butter knife, spread the mayo mixture onto each ear of grilled corn, then sprinkle each ear with the Cotija cheese, cilantro, and chili powder. (photo 4)
Tips for making the best street corn
- Try using a brush instead of a butter knife to spread the mayo and lime juice mixture onto the corn. It will help evenly cover the surface.
- To grill the corn with the husk on, just leave the husk undisturbed while it’s on the grill to help the corn steam. Cook for about 10 minutes, turning frequently, until the husks become charred and the corn is tender.
- If you’re making this for kids (or others) who might have trouble eating off a cob, slice the kernels off the cob into a bowl with a knife. Then mix in all of the remaining ingredients.
Don’t have a grill? No problem!
Though this recipe calls for grilling the corn on the cob, it’s not required. I prefer grilling it because it adds another layer of flavor and a little element of summer that just can’t be replaced, but if you live in an apartment building and have no grill (or maybe it’s the middle of winter and you have a hankering for some Mexican corn), then steamed or boiled corn will also work.
Full instructions on how to steam or boil corn on the cob below in the recipe card.
- If you can’t find Cotija cheese, you can use feta or parmesan instead.
- This elotes recipe calls for cilantro, but if you’re someone who doesn’t like cilantro you can either replace it with fresh parsley or omit it altogether.
- Consider switching out the chipotle chili powder for a different chili variety, like ancho chili powder or cayenne chili powder.
What to serve with street corn
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- 4 medium ears sweet corn, husks and silk removed
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1/2 cup crumbled cotija cheese
- 2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- Preheat a grill to medium-high heat (about 375°F-400°F). Using a brush, coat each ear of corn with oil to make sure it doesn't stick to the grill during cooking.
- Place the corn onto the grill grates, cover and let cook for about 2-3 minutes, until the corn is cooked through and charred in some spots. Turn the cobs and repeat the grilling process until all the sides are cooked and browned. Remove the corn from the grill and transfer to a large plate or baking sheet. (You can also steam or boil the corn if you don't have a grill. See instructions below in the Notes section.)
- In a small bowl, add mayonnaise and lime juice. Mix together with a spoon.
- Using a brush or a butter knife, spread the mayonnaise mixture onto each ear of grilled corn.
- Sprinkle each ear with 2 tablespoons of Cotija cheese, 1 tablespoon of cilantro and a pinch of chili powder. Taste and season with salt if desired.