Elotes (Grilled Mexican Street Corn) Recipe (2024)

Why It Works

  • Grilling shucked ears of corn directly over very hot coals brings out the corn's nutty flavor and chars the kernels slightly.
  • A blend of garlic, cilantro, chile powder, mayo, and Cotija cheese in the sauce, plus a final squeeze of lime, makes the corn sweet, salty, savory, nutty, creamy, and tart all at once.

Elotes—the classic Mexican street food of corn on the cob charred on the grill, then slathered in a spicy and creamy chili, garlic, and Cotija cheese–spiked sauce—are the best way to serve corn, period.

I know that's a bold statement, but it's one I've backed up with years of detailed scientific studies on the eating habits of my wife and the occasional friend or neighbor. I've calculated to several decimal places exactly how much faster the average ear of corn cooked in this manner disappears from the table and down the gullet of an unsuspecting dinner guest than an ear of corn cooked through other means, cross-referencing and controlling for seasonality, the°Bxof the corn, and the starting appetite of the diner. I've conducted blind, double-blind, and even triple-blind* taste tests and run the results through sophisticated analysis algorithms I had specially programmed.

*That's when even the corn doesn't know it's being eaten.

The most delicious thing about all those delicious ingredients is that they become even more delicious when you combine them all in a creamy sauce.

Don't believe me? Just try out this recipe, risk-free. If you are in any way unsatisfied, I offer a 100%, no-questions-asked, money-back guarantee.**

** Cost of time, ingredients, internet connection fees, paper, printer ink, gas, coal, cooking equipment, beers, or any other items of actual monetary value not included.

As luck would have it, I've since lost all of this data in an unfortunate diving accident (note: never attempt to free-dive without rubber pants your size), but believe me when I tell you that I have rigorously proven this corn to be more delicious than any other.

Want to know how to take what's already more delicious and turn it into something that's more than more delicious?Slather more delicious item A over more delicious item B to create more more delicious item C.

Grilling the Corn

The basic premise is to start out with really greatgrilled corn, already inarguably one of the most delicious things on the face of the planet. There are many ways to grill corn, but in this case, you want to go with fully shucked cobs, cooked directly over very hot coals. If all goes well, the corn should be completely cooked through just as it begins to char, rendering each kernel bursting with sweet juice, with a rich, nutty flavor from the toasting.

Making the Sauce

Next up, you'll want to combine a few more delicious things. Cotija cheese, crumbled finely (if you can't find it, a good, crumbly feta will do well); Mexicancrema(or sour cream); mayonnaise; garlic; cilantro; and powdered chile.

Elotes (Grilled Mexican Street Corn) Recipe (1)

A + B = C, but magically, C > A + B. That's the magic of synergy in foods, and it comes out in spades in this recipe. The result is sweet, salty, savory, creamy, nutty, and—with the help of a squeeze of lime—tart. To my mind, it's the very best way to get a taste of summer. Gloriously drippy, fat-smothered summer.

Go Big With Portions

When I make corn like this, I plan on atleastan ear and a half per person, though, realistically, it's better to go with two. It's that darn delicious.

And, if you're in the mood for something a bit more demure, you can always go the fork-and-plate route by makingesquites, a close cousin to this dish, and equally delicious.***

*** How can the most delicious way to eat corn be just as delicious as a different way to eat corn? Because they're both the most delicious way. Just go with it.


How to Make Elotes (Grilled Mexican Street Corn)

July 2013

Recipe Details

Elotes (Grilled Mexican Street Corn) Recipe

Prep0 mins

Cook45 mins

Active30 mins

Total45 mins

Serves4 servings


  • 1/2 cup (110g) finely crumbled Cotija or feta cheese, plus more for serving

  • 1/4 cup (60ml) mayonnaise

  • 1/4 cup (60ml) sour cream or Mexican crema

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems

  • 1/2 teaspoon ancho or guajillo chile powder, plus more for serving

  • 1 medium clove garlic, finely minced (about 1 teaspoon)

  • 4 ears shucked corn (see notes)

  • 1 lime, cut into wedges


  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 coal grate. Alternatively, 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.

    Elotes (Grilled Mexican Street Corn) Recipe (2)

  2. While coals heat, combine cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream or crema, cilantro, chile powder, and garlic in a large bowl. Stir until hom*ogeneous and set aside.

    Elotes (Grilled Mexican Street Corn) Recipe (3)

  3. When grill is hot, place corn directly over hot side of grill and cook, rotating occasionally, until cooked through and charred in spots on all sides, about 8 minutes total.

    Elotes (Grilled Mexican Street Corn) Recipe (4)

  4. Transfer corn to bowl with cheese mixture and use a large spoon to evenly coat corn on all sides with mixture. Sprinkle with extra cheese and chili powder and serve immediately with lime wedges.

    Elotes (Grilled Mexican Street Corn) Recipe (5)

Special Equipment

Charcoal grill or gas grill, chimney starter


When husking your corn, remove the silk and husk from the cob, but keep a few inches of the stalk end attached to use as a handle. If your corn is already husked, skewer the cooked corn with a wooden skewer.

  • Mexican
  • 4th of July
  • Vegetarian Sides
  • Grilled Vegetables
  • Corn
Elotes (Grilled Mexican Street Corn) Recipe (2024)


What's the difference between elote and street corn? ›

Elote, commonly called Mexican Street Corn, is grilled corn smothered in a creamy mayo sauce and topped with chili powder, cheese and lime. Serve it as a snack or side dish for summer BBQ's and potlucks.

What is the powder they put on elotes? ›

The classic seasoning for elote is chili powder, but we have also found that we love it with smoked paprika. So maybe do a few cobs with each and see which one you prefer.

What is Mexican elote made of? ›

Also called Mexican street corn, elote is a Mexican preparation of corn on the cob. The ears of corn are grilled, then slathered with mayo or crema, and finally topped with lime, chile, and Mexican cheese such as Cotija. Commonly sold by street vendors in Mexico, elote makes a great snack.

What is elote seasoning? ›

A bold and versatile seasoning blend, our Elote Seasoning blend is filled with chili pepper, cumin, lime, parmesan cheese and garlic. Just as versatile as our Everything Bagel blend, this shaker is delicious on everything from elote street corn on the cob and scrambled eggs to popcorn and even BBQ pork ribs.

What is the yellow sauce on elote? ›

Elote (pronounced: eh-loh-teh) is a dish comprised of cooked sweet corn slathered in a spicy mixture of mayonnaise, crema, and chili powder, and then sprinkled with cheese.

Why is Mexican street corn so good? ›

This Mexican street corn tastes sweet and savoury, tangy and spicy in the same bite. It's messy to eat but well worth it. Elote is a delicious summer side dish for any Mexican-inspired meal.

What is a substitute for cotija cheese? ›

Feta cheese, Quesco fresco and Goat cheese crumbles are the top 3 cotija cheese substitute. Romano cheese is also a good replacement.

Is elote unhealthy? ›

Elote is a favorite summer BBQ treat. Caramelized grilled corn is slathered with a sauce made from Mexican crema, then sprinkled with cotija cheese and cilantro. Butter may be good, but this corn cannot be... Corn is rich in fiber and carotenoids, which makes it healthy for the gut and eyes.

Is elote seasoning the same as Tajin? ›

Elote seasoning, also known as Tajin, is a traditional Mexican spice blend that is commonly used to enhance the flavor of elotes, which are grilled Mexican street corn. The seasoning typically consists of a combination of chili powder, salt, and dried lime.

What are the ingredients in everything but the elote? ›

Sugar is followed by sea salt, corn flour, chile pepper, Parmesan cheese, chipotle powder, natural flavor, citric acid, dried cilantro, organic rice fiber, and cumin powder.

Why is elote so good? ›

This iconic dish, often referred to as “elote mexicano“, combines the sweetness of tender corn kernels with a luscious coating of mayo, tangy crumbled Cotija cheese, and a sprinkle of chili powder or Tajín seasoning.

What does the word elote mean in Spanish? ›

"Elote" is a noun which is often translated as "corncob", and "maíz" is a noun which is often translated as "corn". Learn more about the difference between "elote" and "maíz" below.

Do you use chili powder or Tajin for elote? ›

Tajin- some sort of chili powder is usually added to elotes, and my favorite is Tajin. It's also something you can easily find at any grocery store. Hot sauce- This is optional- I like Tapatio or Valentina but you don't have to add hot sauce if you don't want to.

What is in Trader Joe's everything but the elote seasoning? ›

In the spirit of our Everything But the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend that came before it, Trader Joe's Everything But the Elote Seasoning Blend is "Everything" you might find on elote—chile pepper, Parmesan cheese, chipotle powder, cumin, dried cilantro, sea salt, etc. —minus the corn itself.

What is a substitute for Tajin in elote? ›

You can substitute Cotija cheese, Feta, or Parmesan Cheese. Substitute Tajin Seasoning with a mixture of chili powder, cayenne pepper, or paprika. For those who love garlic, crushed garlic is fantastic when included in this Elote in a Cup recipe.

Why is elote called street corn? ›

The origins of street corn lie in the streets of Mexico, where it's known as “elote.” With a history dating back centuries, the indigenous peoples of Mexico prepared this dish before any Europeans landed in the New World.

Why is corn called elote? ›

In Spanish, the word “elote” literally translates to “corn”. Considering this, tracing the origins of Mexican street corn requires taking a look back at the history of corn in Mexico.

Why do they call it street corn? ›

This is because street vendors across Mexico serve this deliciousness on a stick, and they've been doing it for a long time. Well, since elotes are corn on the cob that's served on a stick, and since they are traditionally served on a street, the name street corn stuck.

What are the different types of Mexican corn? ›

There are currently 64 criollo (native) varieties of maize in Mexico, although the most common species are:
  • Cacahuazintle. ...
  • Chapalote. ...
  • Teocintle. ...
  • Blue maize (Zea mays azul) ...
  • Popote corn (Zea mays with popcorn) ...
  • Elote corn (Zea mays dulce) ...
  • Criollo maize (landraces)


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