Elote (Mexican Street Corn)
Elote (or Grilled Mexican Street Corn) is an easy side dish that will be a favorite for years to come! Welcome to elote – your new favorite way to eat corn! The corn is grilled to charred juiciness then slathered with a creamy chili, cilantro, lime sauce then dusted with Cotija cheese. It tastes like a fancy side but SO EASY so it’s perfect for all your potlucks and barbecues. Elote Mexicano is prep ahead friendly, gluten free, makes fabulous repurposed leftovers and is always a hit!
Servings Prep Time
6ears of corn 18minutes
Cook Time
12minutes
Servings Prep Time
6ears of corn 18minutes
Cook Time
12minutes
Elote Corn (Mexican Street Corn)
Ingredients
  • 6 ears cornhusks and silk removed
  • 3oz. Cotija cheese or queso frescocrumbled (3/4 cup)
Creamy Sauce
  • 1/4cup sour cream or Mexican crema
  • 1/4cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2cup packed cilantrominced
  • 1tablespoon lime juice
  • zest from one lime
  • 1/2teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4tsp EACH chili powder, cayenne pepper, ground cumin, pepper(omit cayenne if you don’t like heat)
  • 1/8teaspoon smoked paprikaoptional
Chili Oil
  • 2-3tablespoon Vegetable oil
  • 1/2teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Add Creamy Sauce ingredients to a large plate and stir to combine. Spread cheese crumbles on a separate plate. Set aside.
  2. Whisk together Chili Oil ingredients on a large plate. Add corn one piece at a time and brush evenly in oil.
  3. Grease and heat grill to high heat. Once hot, add corn and close the lid. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side, rotating the corn until all of the sides are lightly charred, about 10-12 minutes, closing the lid in between rotations.
  4. Immediately after removing from grill, working with one piece of corn at a time, transfer corn to plate with mayonnaise mixture and turn and brush to evenly coat. Transfer corn to cheese plate and sprinkle all over corn (I don’t recommend rolling the corn as it gets really clumpy once it comes in contact with the sauce).
  5. Garnish with additional cilantro if desired. Serve immediately.
Recipe Notes

TIPS FOR ELOTE RECIPE

  • Use real mayonnaise:  The mayo is needed because it acts like a glue to adhere the cheese to the corn. Please use real mayonnaise and not miracle whip.  I highly recommend full fat.  If you are vehemently opposed to mayonnaise, you may substitute with sour cream, but it has a tendency to slip off the corn easier.   I don’t recommend swapping it with Mexican crema as crema is thinner than both mayonnaise and sour cream.
  • Mexican Crema OR Sour cream:  Both will work great in this recipe so if you already have sour cream on hand, use that.  If using Mexican crema, look for crema Mexicana, which is typically the thickest crema variety sold, for the best sticking power. If you want to go all sorts of non-traditional, you may substitute Greek yogurt, but I would omit the lime zest as Greek yogurt is tangier than sour cream or Mexican crema.
  • Cotija substitutes:  Is traditionally found with the specialty cheeses and should be readily available.  If Cotija isn’t available, substitute with queso fresco and if that’s not available then substitute with Pecorino Romano.  Pecorino Romano is saltier and tangier than Parmesan which is milder and nuttier.
  • Use fresh corn immediately:  Fresh corn is the sweetest and juiciest used within the first 1-2 days.  The sugars begin converting to starch soon after the corn is harvested. Make sure you store your corn in the refrigerator to stall this process.
  • Shucking tip:  You can microwave your corn for a minute or two before shucking which will make stubborn silk come off easier.
  • Purchase shucked corn:  If you want to save some time making elote Mexicano, purchase already shucked corn – no dealing with all that pesky silk!
  • Grilled corn vs boiled corn: I highly recommend grilling your corn for this elote recipe because you will not only get sweet and juicy but complex and smoky flavor and it soaks in more flavor from the lime and seasonings.  That being said, if you don’t have a grill, you may boil the corn or roast it in the oven.
  • Prepare stations first:  We want both the sauce and cheese stations read to go before you grill the corn because you’ll want to assemble the Mexican elote as soon as it comes off of the grill.
  • Use a pastry brush:  This will help you create a thin layer of creamy sauce instead of a goopy one – because remember, a little goes a long way!
  • Sprinkle cheese, don’t roll:  I don’t recommend rolling the elotes in the cheese as the cheese gets really clumpy after mixing with the mayo/sour cream mixture.  Instead, it is best to lean the tip of the elote corn on the cheese plate with one hand so it’s not touching the cheese and sprinkle the cheese on top with a separate hand.
  • How to serve:  I recommend small bowls of extra chili powder, cayenne pepper, cilantro, lime wedges and Cotija, so individuals can customize their elote.
  • Leftover elote:  See post for TONS of serving ideas for leftover elote.

Can I Bake or Boil Corn for Elote?

Authentic elote boasts the smoky char of the grill (thus the name Mexican GRILLED Corn), but you can boil or roast your corn instead:

TO ROAST CORN for ELOTE:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place a baking rack on top of prepared baking sheet.
  • Place corn brushed with oil directly on the baking rack.
  • Bake for 35 minutes or until corn is tender, turning half way through.

TO BOIL CORN for ELOTE:

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Add corn and cook 8-10 minutes or until tender. 
  • Carefully drain corn and pat corn dry.

HOW LONG IS ELOTE MEXICANO GOOD FOR?

  • SERVE:  Elote is best served right away while still warm and should be refrigerated after 2 hours. 
  • LEFTOVERS:  You can slice the corn off the cob and serve in any of my leftover ideas in the post.
  • STORE:  Place elotes on a plate and cover with plastic wrap or foil.  Store in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

HOW TO REHEAT MEXICAN ELOTE

Elote is best served fresh for the juiciest corn and the brightest flavors.   Still, you may reheat elote with these different options: 

  • Microwave:  Place elote corn on a microwave safe plate and cover with a damp paper towel.  Microwave for 20 seconds followed by 10 second intervals until warm.
  • Oven: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Wrap elote in foil and bake for 5-7 minutes or until warm.