What Is Mexican Street Corn And Why Should You Make It?

Mexican street corn, or elote in Spanish, is one of my favorite takes of the classic corn on the cob. Roasted or grilled to a slight char, covered in crema (or mayonnaise), different types of cheeses, and an assortment of spices, Mexican street corn is something everyone should try.

I'll never forget when I was first introduced to this simple, yet exquisite dish. I was at a wedding in Chicago and noticed a large group of people huddled around a large corn roaster and table of toppings. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out what was going on. What was the fuss all about? And then I tried it myself. I had an epiphany; it was like a religious experience or something of the sort. After the first bite, I was hooked, and my life has never been the same.

Ever since that night, some four or five years ago, I have made Mexican street corn whenever given the opportunity. Summer picnic? I'll bring the street corn. Family reunion? I've got this; I'll bring the street corn again. Random weeknight when my wife and kids are away? Street corn for one.

The History Of Elote

Corn has long been a staple of diets throughout the Americas, especially in Mexico, where elote originated. Over the past few centuries, the dish has become on of the most popular dishes in Mexico. The popularity of the dish grew exponentially in the urban landscapes of Mexico's largest metropolitan areas, where fans of elote needed a quick meal on the run. And at that point, it was only a matter of time before elote's influence spread across the border in the United States where you can find it at street fairs, baseball games, and yes, even weddings.

Basically, it's a simple, yet flavorful way to enjoy one of the most abundant (and cost effective) vegetables at our disposal. And the best thing about Mexican street corn is that it's easy to make. Don't believe me? Take a look at some of these recipes.

Grilled Mexican Street Corn

This dish includes all of the staples of proper Mexican street corn. You have your Cotija cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, cilantro, and lime, all painted atop an ear of charred corn. There is just something about those ingredients that make this recipe a must.

Time
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
Ingredients
  • 8 ears of corn, shucked
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • kosher salt
  • 1 cup of Cotija cheese
  • 1/2 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream
  • 1/2 cup of cilantro, minced
  • 2 teaspoons of lime zest
  • 1 teaspoon of ancho chili powder
Directions
  1. First, you'll want to get your grill started. While this grill is heating up, toss the corn in vegetable oil.
  2. In a small bowl, combine Cotija cheese (reserving 1/3 cup for later), mayonnaise, sour cream, cilantro, lime zest, and ancho chili powder.
  3. Next, place the corn in the hottest spot on the grill and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or when the corn is cooked through and charred. Make sure to turn the corn from time to time so that the charring is uniform throughout.
  4. Pull the corn and enjoy.

The BEST Mexican Street Corn Recipe

This recipe is a little on the simple side, but don't let that fool you. It's a quick fix and only includes a few ingredients, so there's no excuse for not cooking up this summertime dish.

Time
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
Ingredients
  • 6 ears of corn, shucked
  • 1/2 cup of mayonnaise
  • chili powder (to taste)
  • chopped cilantro (to taste)
  • lime wedges (to taste)
Directions
  1. First, you'll want to get your grill started. Make sure to get the grill up to a medium-high heat (if on a gas grill) or about 375 degrees (on a charcoal grill).
  2. Place the corn on the grill and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the corn is charred all around. Remove once desired doneness and char are achieved.
  3. Brush the corn with a thick layer of mayonnaise and sprinkle with the remaining ingredients before enjoying.

Char-Grilled Corn On The Cob With Tangy, Creamy Sauce

This recipe might seem like it's more complex than the others, which may be true, but it's worth the extra effort. The addition of the garlic and chipotle pepper really add an extra level of excitement to the dish while not overpowering the other ingredients at the same time. You get a little bit of something with every bite. And while this recipe makes 6 to 8 ears, you might want to increase the quantities. Yeah, it's that good.

Time
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
Ingredients
  • 6-8 ears of corn, shucked
  • 1/2 cup of Mexican crema
  • 1/2 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup of cilantro
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground chipotle pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons of lime juice
  • 1/2 cup of Cotija cheese
  • lime wedges (for serving)
Directions
  1. First, you'll want to get your grill started. Make sure to get the grill up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a small bowl, combine crema, mayonnaise, cilantro, garlic, ground chipotle pepper, lime zest, and lime juice. Once thoroughly mixed, set aside until the corn is ready.
  3. Cook the corn for around 6 minutes (3 minutes per side), or until the corn is cooked through and charred.
  4. Spread the sauce on the corn and then add the cheese at the very end.
  5. Serve with lime wedges for an extra boost of flavor.

Different Takes On Mexican Street Corn

All of those recipes are great, summertime side dishes or snacks, but what if you want street corn in the winter or on a rainy day this summer? What if you like corn but don't want to get messy? Look no further than these recipes that can be made on the stove, in the oven, or even in an air fryer.

It doesn't matter how you go about cooking your Mexican street corn because it's definitely going to taste great either way.

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