Elote Recipe (Mexican Corn)

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Elote, also known as Mexican Street Corn, features juicy, charred corn on the cob coated in a creamy mayo sauce, then sprinkled with chili powder and cilantro. It’s a standout at summer cookouts, BBQs, and Cinco de Mayo celebrations.

If you prefer your corn off the cob, grab my creamed corn recipe, or give this Mexican Corn Chicken Salad a try.

Ears of corn smothered with mayonnaise and dusted with chile powder.


 

With Cinco de Mayo around the corner, I’m already pondering over the perfect dishes to prepare for the celebration! One classic I’m certain to include is Elote, also known as Mexican Street Corn. Honestly, smearing corn with this delicious mix of mayo, chili powder, cheese, and lime might be the best way to eat it. Having enjoyed it frequently as my top street food pick in Mexico, I can vouch that it’s an excellent addition to any BBQ or potluck.

This tasty, charred corn on the cob is a must-have for any Mexican-themed feast. The combo of a creamy, cheesy sauce with hints of chile, lime, and cilantro transforms ordinary corn on the cob into an incredibly delectable treat.

What is Elote?

Elote translates from Spanish to English as “corn cob”, but this Mexican Elote is not your standard corn on the cob. It’s smothered in a cheesy, creamy mayo sauce with intense Mexican flavors like lime, ancho, and cilantro. Elote is one of the most popular street foods you can get in Mexico. In addition to being sold on the streets, you’ll also find it at markets, festivals, fairs, and restaurants. But it’s just as fun and easy enough to make right at home!

Four ears of corn charring in a cast iron skillet.

What You’ll Need

Get ready to make this delicious Elote corn with my easy elotes recipe. Below, you’ll find a list of all the ingredients required to bring this classic Mexican street food to your table.

  • Corn on the Cob: You’ll need 4 ears.
  • Mayonnaise: The mayo adds richness to the sauce and acts as a creamy binder for the toppings.
  • Mexican Crema, Plain Yogurt, or Sour Cream: Used to add tanginess and creaminess to the sauce. Any of these can be used interchangeably, depending on what you have on hand.
  • Cotija Cheese: A salty, crumbly Mexican cheese.
  • Garlic: Garlic powder can be used in a pinch.
  • Lime Juice and Lime Zest: Adds a bright, citrusy note, balancing the creaminess of the mayo and dairy.
  • Ancho Chile Powder: Offers a mild heat and a hint of smokiness. Smoked paprika mixed with cayenne pepper can be used as an alternative.
  • Salt: Enhances all the flavors.
  • Cilantro Leaves: Adds a fresh, herby lift to the dish.
  • Lime Wedges: Used for serving to add extra zest and acidity when squeezed over the corn.
Charred corn on the cob placed in a mayo mixture.

How to Make Elote

  1. Prepare the Corn: Husk the ears of corn and remove the silk. Snap off the ends or shanks.
  2. Cook the Corn: You have several options for cooking your corn on the cob:
    • Char in a Skillet: Heat a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the corn and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes per side or until charred all around.
    • Boil: Boil the corn in a large pot of water for about 20 to 30 minutes until tender.
    • Grill: Grill the corn over medium heat, turning occasionally, until cooked through and charred in spots, about 25 minutes.
    • Air Fryer: Cook the corn in an air fryer at 400°F for about 12 to 14 minutes, turning halfway through.
  3. Make the Dressing: In a mixing bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, yogurt, half of the grated cotija cheese, garlic, lime zest, lime juice, ancho chile powder, and salt until thoroughly combined.
  4. Add Herbs to Dressing: Set aside 1 tablespoon of chopped cilantro for serving; add the rest to the mayonnaise mixture and whisk to combine.
  5. Coat the Corn: Once the corn is cooked, use a pair of tongs to roll each ear in the mayonnaise mixture until well coated.
  6. Garnish and Serve: Transfer the dressed corn to a serving platter. Garnish with the remaining cotija cheese, a sprinkle of ancho chile powder, and the reserved cilantro. Serve with lime wedges on the side for squeezing over the corn.

Recipe Tips

  • Use fresh corn. It should have bright green husks, and the kernels should be plump and juicy.
  • Make ahead. You can save some time by husking your cobs ahead of time or buying pre husked corn on the cob. Also, make the sauce and keep it refrigerated until ready to use.
  • Save time. Add the chile, lime, and cilantro directly to the mayo and cheese mixture to save steps in the coating process.
  • Set up your stations ahead of time. Have one station for the mayonnaise mixture, another for the cotija cheese, and a platter for serving. Move along from right to left.
  • Use a pastry brush. Using a pastry brush to spread the mayonnaise mixture evenly over the cobs is helpful.
Elote (Mexican Street Corn) served on a platter with lime wedges.

Serving Suggestions

Mexican street corn is the absolute best side dish for any Mexican-inspired meal – like mahi mahi tacos, quesadillas, burritos, enchiladas, or mushroom fajitas. These Chili Lime Steak Fajitas would also be amazing with Elote!

It’s also a great dish to bring to a potluck. Other nice sides to serve with it are cornbread, baked beans, and tortilla chips with mango guacamole, queso, or fresh salsa. Don’t forget the margaritas or mojitos!

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

Store the corn covered in a sealed container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. To reheat, warm the corn in a 350˚F oven for several minutes or until hot.

More Corn Recipes

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4.91 from 10 votes

Elote (Mexican Street Corn)

Elote, aka Mexican Street Corn, is charred and juicy corn on the cob smothered in mayo, chile, lime, and cilantro sauce.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients 

  • 4 ears corn on the cob
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt, sour cream, or Mexican crema
  • 1 cup finely grated cotija cheese ,, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic,, finely minced
  • zest of 1 whole lime
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons ancho chile powder,, plus more for serving
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves,, chopped
  • lime wedges,, for serving
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Instructions 

  • Husk the ears of corn and remove silk. Snap off the ends, or shanks.
  • Heat a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium high heat until hot. You need a hot pan so that when you add in the corn, it starts to char immediately.
  • Add ears of corn to the hot skillet and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until charred all around. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes.
  • In the meantime, whisk together mayonnaise, yogurt, ½ cup grated cotija, garlic, lime zest, lime juice, ancho chile powder, and salt in a mixing bowl; whisk until thoroughly combined.
  • Set aside 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro for serving; add the rest to the mayonnaise mixture and whisk to combine.
  • Remove ears of corn from the skillet.
  • Using a pair of tongs, pick up the corn, one by one, and roll in the mayonnaise mixture.
  • Transfer to a serving platter.
  • Garnish with more cotija, a sprinkle of ancho chile powder, and reserved cilantro.
  • Serve with lime wedges.

Notes

  • Fresh Corn: Always choose the freshest corn for the best flavor and texture. It should have bright green husks, and the kernels should be plump and juicy.
  • Char it Well: Charring the corn properly is key to getting that delicious smoky flavor.
  • Spice it Up: Feel free to adjust the amount of chili powder to suit your heat preference. Some like it spicy, some not so much.
  • Grill Option: If you have a grill, use it! Grilling corn gives a wonderful flavor that’s hard to replicate in the oven or on the stove.
  • Serve Immediately: Elote is best served right away while it’s still warm and the coating is creamy and delicious.

Nutrition

Calories: 360kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 47mg | Sodium: 926mg | Potassium: 330mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 926IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 212mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.

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24 Comments

  1. Maria says:

    Madam, I hate to be that person but authentic Mexican street corn is not roasted.. instead boil it with butter for about 10 minutes and then put all your fixens on it.

  2. Sheila says:

    YUM. The best corn you’ll have!

  3. Carrie Arlene says:

    I made this for the 4th of July. The little kids didn’t care for it but the older kids and adults liked it a lot. I had extra sauce left over and it was really good as dip with Lays chips. I used chile and lime seasoning instead of ancho chile and lime zest. I forgot the lime juice unfortunatley.

  4. Suzy says:

    This corn has the best flavor! We loved it!