Also called elotes, this easy to make Mexican Corn On The Cob Recipe is a perfect appetizer or side dish for any outdoor gathering. Whether you turn it into a Mexican Corn Salad or a Mexican Pasta Salad, it deserves a spot in your arsenal of Mexican Food Recipes.
With Cinco de Mayo coming, I am super excited to spend more time outdoors and more importantly start grilling. And what is better than celebrating the arrival of spring with delicious a true Mexican classic. If you are a lover of Mexican food like I am, you are in for a treat.
You need two sets of ingredients for elote corn. The first one is your choice of corn (fresh, canned, or frozen). And the second one is the sauce ingredients.
What Kind Of Corn Should I Use
During the warmer months, I use fresh summer corn. You can shuck the corn and grill it on the cob, or cut it off the cob and cook it in a skillet.
During the winter months, if I can’t find fresh corn, I use canned (drained and rinsed) or frozen corn (no need to thaw). Now, before anyone sends me angry emails, I will tell you: True Mexican elotes are traditionally made with fresh corn.
However, if you don’t mind breaking a few culinary rules, using canned or frozen corn allows you to enjoy it even when it is snowing outside and grilling is not an option.
The ingredients for the Mexican corn sauce:
- Mexican Crema or Sour Cream: The authentic elote recipe is made with Mexican Crema, a thickened cream that is somewhere between American sour cream or French creme fraiche. Nowadays, you can easily find it in well-stocked supermarkets. However, if you can’t, you can use sour cream as I do in this recipe.
- Mayonnaise: Use a mayo brand that you like. I am a big fan of vegan mayo (affiliate link) but any brand would work.
- Chili Powder: Chili powder is the traditional Mexican corn on the cob seasoning. All you need is half a teaspoon of it.
- Lime Juice: Use fresh lime juice if you can.
Toppings to put on Mexican corn are:
- Cotija Cheese: Also called Mexican corn cheese, shredded cotija cheese is the traditional cheese to use as a topping. If finding cotija cheese is an issue, you can also use crumbly queso fresco. And if that is not an option, I’ve seen people use parmesan and feta cheese as well.
- An optional sprinkle of chili powder: I love a sprinkle of additional seasoning on top on top of the cheese mixture for extra tang and color.
- Chopped cilantro: All you need is a handful of fresh chopped cilantro.
Easy Street Corn Recipe – Made Two Ways
In this post, I am sharing two versions; (1) Grilled Mexican Street Corn On The Cob and (2) Skillet Mexican Street Corn Off The Cob.
In the first method, I am grilling fresh summer corn on the cob that you can easily find in warmer months.
And in the second one, I am cooking corn off the cob (aka cut corn – fresh, frozen, or canned) in a skillet, which you can do during the colder months.
I wanted to provide you with two different ways of cooking elote so that you can easily make it all year round.
Intrigued? Let’s break it down, first starting with the ingredients to make street corn, and then, with step-by-step instructions as to how to make Mexican Street Corn at home.
Grilled On The Cob
The process is making grilled Mexican corn is pretty easy and it is as follows:
- Prep the corn: Fold the husk of each corn back leaf by leaf and tie them with kitchen twine. Lightly brush oil or butter.
- Grill the corn on the cob: To cook the corn, heat a grill outside or a grill pan on the stovetop. Grill corn, turning occasionally until it is browned in spots, 3-4 minutes on each side making sure it doesn’t stick to the grill grates. Set them aside on a large platter when they are fully roasted.
- Make the corn on the cob sauce: Mix together sour cream (or Mexican crema), mayo, chili powder, and lime juice in a bowl.
- Brush with the sauce: Using a pastry brush, distribute the elote sauce all over the now-roasted street corn.
- Add the toppings: Sprinkle it generously with cotija cheese and garnish with chopped cilantro and a light sprinkle of chili powder seasoning, if using.
- Serve: Serve it with wedges of lime on the side.
Skillet Method – Off The Cob
Alternatively, you can use corn off the cob (aka cut fresh corn), canned (drained and rinsed), or frozen corn, and sauté it in a skillet with a little bit of oil or butter. I make Mexican Skillet Corn during the winter months when it is too cold to grill outside.
It is also sort of a deconstructed way of serving Mexican street corn similar to what they do in Mexico when they serve it in a cup.
To do so:
- Heat some oil a large skillet: You can use vegetable oil or butter.
- Sautee corn: Add the corn kernels and sauté, stirring often, until lightly charred, 7-8 minutes. Transfer into a salad bowl.
- Make the Mexican corn sauce: Whisk together sour cream, mayonnaise, chili powder, and lime juice in a bowl.
- Assemble: Pour the elote sauce over the sauteed corn. Give it a gentle toss. Sprinkle it with cotija cheese and garnish with cilantro.
- Serve in a cup: If you want to make it more authentic serve in small cups with extra toppings with lime wedges on the side.
In addition to being a great alternative to make in the winter months, this seasoned off the cob version is much easier to eat, especially if you are indoors.
- Make it a simple salad: If you want to turn it into more of a Mexican Corn Salad, you can also add some other Mexican ingredients like red onion, seeded jalapeno peppers, and garlic and serve it wedges of lime and more cheese on the side.
- Make it a pasta salad: Add in some cooked pasta in it and turn it into a Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad.
What Is Street Corn
Also referred to as Mexican elote, Mexican food corn, street corn, or Mexicorn on the cob, essentially it is corn on the cob smothered with a sauce made by using a mayo-sour cream mixture and sprinkling it with cotija cheese and fresh chopped cilantro.
It is considered as one of the most popular street foods in Mexico. Here in the US, it is served in popular restaurants like Chili’s, California Pizza Kitchen, and sometimes even in Whole Foods’ salad bar.
Think of my recipe here as a copycat version of the Mexican elote you enjoy in those restaurants.
For most Americans (and us), it is one of those addictive foods to treat your friends and family for summer cookouts. You can easily serve it by itself on the cob with a stick or in a cup, as a side dish with steak tacos or an appetizer with tortilla chips.
Regardless of how you serve, the combination of charred kernels smothered in a tangy sauce is guaranteed to please.
If you like this recipe, you might also like these recipes:
- Black Bean and Corn Salad
- Mexican Street Corn Salad
- Easy Mexican Recipes
- One Pan Mexican Quinoa
- Instant Pot Mexican Quinoa
- Mexican Stuffed Peppers
Mexican Street Corn Recipe
- 6 medium-size ears of yellow corn on the cob
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or melted butter
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup sour cream
- ½ teaspoon chile powder
- 1 tablespoon lime juice plus wedges of a lime for serving
- ½ cup crumbled cotija cheese
- 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro chopped
For Grilled Mexican Street Corn on The Cob:
- To prep the corn: Fold the husk of each corn back leaf by leaf and tie them with kitchen twine. Lightly brush corn on the cub with oil.
- Heat a grill pan or an outdoor grill. Grill corn, turning occasionally until it is browned in spots. Keep an eye on it as this happens rather quickly.
- To make the sauce: Mix together mayonnaise, sour cream, chile powder, and lime juice in a bowl.
- Brush each grilled corn the mayo mixture and sprinkle with cotija cheese. Garnish with cilantro and serve.
For Skillet Mexican Street Corn:
- To prep the corn: Cut the corn off the cob. I used 6 ears to get about 4 1/2 cups. Alternatively, you can also use canned corn or frozen corn. If using frozen, you do not need to thaw it out.
- Sauté corn: Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the corn, and stirring frequently, sauté for 5-7 minutes until it starts to char. If you are using frozen corn, you might need to cook a few minutes longer. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Make the sauce: Mix together mayonnaise, sour cream, chile powder, and lime juice in a bowl.
- Assemble: Add in the mayo mixture into the sauteed corn. Give it a mix. Stir in the cotija cheese and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve in small bowls with wedges of lime on the side.