If you love corn, you’ll fall in love with elote: grilled corn on the cob smothered with mayo and topped with cheese, lime, and chile. It’s smoky, sweet, creamy, tangy, corny deliciousness.

It’s fresh corn season! I keep seeing buckets of fresh corn for sale and when I do, I can’t resist making elote. I love, love, love street food at home and elote is no exception. It’s easy to make and so worth it. Let’s do it!

elote mexican street corn | www.iamafoodblog.com

What is elote?

Elote, aka Mexican street corn, is a way of preparing corn on the cob. Fresh ears of char-grilled corn covered in mayo or crema (a type of Mexican sour cream) and then topped with cotija (Mexican cheese), chile, and a generous squeeze of lime. It’s the perfect snack or BBQ grilling side dish.

How to make elote

  1. Grill – Griller’s choice: husked or unhusked, it’s up to you. Grill the cobs over hot until the corn starts to char and the kernels are juicy, sweet, and almost bursting.
  2. Mix – Make the sauce by mixing mayo or creama with lime juice and lime zest.
  3. Slather – When the corn is ready, generously slather each ear with the sauce.
  4. Dust – Cover the smothered ears of corn with cotija, chopped cilantro, and a sprinkle of chile powder.
  5. Serve – Enjoy immediately with any extra sauce and toppings on the side.

elote mexican street corn | www.iamafoodblog.com

Elote ingredients

Now that you know what it is, it’s time to make it. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • corn on the cob – fresh sweet corn, best from May through September. The sweetness and crunch of corn work beautifully with the tangy, savory, spicy flavors.
  • mayo or crema – this is what’s going to give your elote richness and flavor. Both mayo and crema are popular for elote, but mayo is more of a common fridge item. That being said, crema, or Mexican sour cream, is delicious! It’s a slightly thick, drizzlable tangy sauce that tastes a little like sour cream.
  • limes – use the whole lime! The zest adds a delightful zing and squeezes of fresh lime juice bring everything together.
  • chile powder – spicy, sweet, and just a little heat. Use your favorite chile powder. Chile powder will give you smokiness and heat. That is, don’t use a chili spice mix, but ground up chile peppers. We like chipotle chile powder, ancho chile powder, or even Tajin. Usually, we go with chile powder so we can control the salt content ourselves, but you can also try Trader Joe’s Everything but the Elote seasoning blend or other seasoning blends.
  • cotija cheese – crumbly, salty, a little bit firm, there’s nothing quite like cotija, a Mexican cheese. Made from cow’s milk, it comes in young or aged and the difference is mild with more moisture and dryer and firmer. You can usually find it in the cheese area. If you can’t, a passable substitute is parmesan.
  • cilantro – fresh cilantro adds a nice herby-ness and aroma.

making elote mexican street corn | www.iamafoodblog.com

How to choose the best corn on the cob

Look for cobs with bright green, tightly wrapped, slightly damp husks. The little fluff at the top, called a corn silk tassel should be a golden light color with silky, distinct strands. When you gently squeeze the cob, it should feel firm and plump.

What kind of cheese for elote?

The gold standard for elote is cotija, a firmish white Mexican cheese that’s mild and salty. It comes both young and aged and both are delicious, with the younger being a bit more mild and the aged having more flavor. If you can’t find cotija, you can also go with queso fresco, which is mild and milkier. If you don’t have access to either, parm or mild feta is delicious as well.

cotija cheese | www.iamafoodblog.com

What kind of chile powder for elote?

In Mexico, they typically use chile pequin. Pequin peppers are tiny and cute but pack a punch. For the powder, dry pequin are ground into powder. It’s citrusy and nutty, smoky and spicy. You can find it online in Mexican grocery stores, or sometimes in the international aisle.

Do you need to cook corn before grilling?

Nope! You can eat fresh corn raw. Of course, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. That being said, you don’t need to cook corn before grilling. If you’re wondering why we are grilling corn if you can eat it raw, it’s because corn tastes even better cooked. Grilling makes the corn sweet and tender while adding smokiness.

grilled corn | www.iamafoodblog.com

Can you make elote without a grill?

Yep! You can simply boil, steam or microwave your corn and skip out on the grilling. Your corn won’t have a signature smoky grilled flavor but it will still be delicious.

You can also grill/char corn on a grill pan or in a frying pan on the stove. Simply heat a frying pan or grill pan over medium-high and cook, turning the cobs, until slightly charred.

Elote in a cup

Most corn-on-the-cob eaters know the pain of corn floss. No more! Elote in a cup aka esquites has all the deliciousness of on the cob without the pesky undignified gnawing. Elote en vaso or corn in a cup is super popular. Little cups of steaming hot corn dressed with lime, creama, cheese, and spice spooned up and sold on the streets of Mexico. Simply cut the corn off the cob before dressing it and you’ll have corn floss no more.

elote mexican street corn in a cup | www.iamafoodblog.com

How to cut corn off the cob

I like laying corn flat on a cutting board and cutting. The kernels stay intact and it’s not at all messy. I think it’s the safest way to cut corn off the cob.

  1. Place the ear of corn flat on a cutting board
  2. Use a chef’s knife along one side of the ear of corn and cut off the kernels.
  3. Flip the flat side so it’s on the surface of the cutting board and is stable. Cut off another side, flip and continue until all the corn is off the cob.
  4. That’s it! Hope you get a chance to enjoy some elotes this summer! I’ll be enjoying mine out of a bowl (not a cup, a cup is too small) to avoid cornfloss.
elote mexican street corn | www.iamafoodblog.com

Elote (Mexican Street Corn)

Serves 4
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 4 ears corn
  • 1/4 cup Mexican crema or mayo
  • 1 lime zested and juiced
  • 1/3 cup cotija cheese crumbled, about 3oz
  • 2 tbsp cilantro chopped
  • 1/2 tsp chile powder or to taste


  • Shuck the corn, removing the husks (or leaving them on if desired). Grill over high to medium-high, flipping as needed, until tender and charred, about 8-10 minutes.
    grilled corn | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Mix the mayo and crema together with the lime juice and zest.
    elote mexican street corn sauce | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Remove the charred, cooked corn from the grill. Brush or generously spoon on the sauce then top with cotija, cilantro, and chile powder to taste.
    making elote mexican street corn | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Enjoy!
    elote mexican street corn | www.iamafoodblog.com

Estimated Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Elote (Mexican Street Corn)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 294 Calories from Fat 131
% Daily Value*
Fat 14.6g22%
Saturated Fat 4.8g30%
Cholesterol 40mg13%
Sodium 567mg25%
Potassium 689mg20%
Carbohydrates 33.9g11%
Fiber 5.7g24%
Sugar 6.6g7%
Protein 12.4g25%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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