Elote (Mexican Street Corn)

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Elote is by far one of my favorite Mexican side dishes! Juicy, charred corn on the cob gets slathered with a creamy mayo spread, then it’s topped with cotija cheese, chili powder, lime juice, and fresh cilantro.

Elote on a plate with limes

I love classic grilled corn on the cob, but elote is next level. It has so much flavor with just a few simple ingredients and is a joy to eat on a sunny day — especially when you’re in Mexico!

But if you’re not in Mexico, you can easily make elote at home. Just toss some corn cobs on the grill, whip up the creamy mayo sauce, and then add a few toppings. Your crowd will go head over heels for it! So on your next fiesta night when you’re whipping up ceviche, carne asada and a few margaritas, don’t forget to make this authentic elote recipe.

Ingredients for elote on a table

Mexican Elote Ingredients

Only a few fresh ingredients are needed to make this traditional recipe:

  • Corn: The star ingredient! Grab a few corn cobs from the market.
  • Lime: You can use regular limes or Mexican limes for this recipe. I’m sticking with Mexican limes for a more authentic flavor profile and tarter juice!
  • Mayonnaise & Sour Cream: Many street carts in Mexico use only mayonnaise, but I love a creamier blend that’s 50/50 mayonnaise and sour cream. You could also swap sour cream with my lime crema for an extra layer of lime goodness!
  • Cotija Cheese: This aged Mexican cheese is a crucial part of elote! It’s crumbly, salty, and creamy — perfect for sprinkling on top of grilled corn.
  • Chili Powder & Cilantro: A dash of chili powder is a must. But if you find that half a teaspoon is not enough, feel free to add more!

Find the printable recipe with measurements below

Elote vs Esquites

Before we dive into the recipe, let’s talk about the difference between elote and esquites. Elote is Mexican street corn on the cob and esquites is boiled corn in a cup with similar ingredients (mayonnaise, cheese, and chili powder or hot sauce).

But as I was hunting for elote carts in Cabo San Lucas (which I have some exclusive footage in the video below!), I quickly realized that elote is more common in other regions of Mexico such as Guasave or Mexico City (where it originated from).

Instead, plenty of esquite carts and stands were found near Cabo’s marina. So a quick heads up — don’t expect a bounty of elote in Cabo!

How To Make Elote

While some recipes use boiled corn, I highly recommend grilled or roasted corn. It’s much more flavorful with those charred bits!

Grill the corn. Heat an outdoor grill (or indoor grill pan) over medium heat. Place the corn directly on the grill, close the lid, and cook for about 10 minutes, rotating every few minutes for an even char.

Grilled corn for elote

Add the lime juice. Transfer the corn to a plate and squeeze lime juice on top while it’s still warm. Don’t skip this part because you want the kernels to soak in the lime juice!

Helpful tip: Add a long wooden stick into the corn to act as a handle. This will make it easier to pick up and eat!

Grilled corn on a plate for elote

Add the creamy mayo layer. Stir together the mayonnaise and sour cream. Then brush a layer all over each piece of corn.

Brushing mayo on elote

Sprinkle the finishing touches. Sprinkle cotija cheese over each corn cob, then finish with chili powder and chopped cilantro. And because I like my elote extra limey, I recommend squeezing extra lime juice on top before serving — it makes all the difference!

Elote on the cob on a plate

Storage Tips

While elote is best served fresh, leftovers will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days.

Better yet, you can also shave off any leftover corn to sprinkle on top of a taco salad and burrito bowls, or turn it into an elote dip!

More Mexican Recipes

Round out a summer fiesta with these Mexican recipe favorites:

Enjoy this Mexican elote all summer long! If you make it, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this recipe in the comment box below.

A plate of elote with cheese and lime

Elote Recipe (Authentic Mexican Street Corn)

5 from 4 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan

Description

Elote is the best Mexican side dish! Juicy and charred corn on the cob is topped with limey mayo, cotija cheese, chili powder, and cilantro. Watch the video below!

Video

Ingredients  

  • 4 ears corn
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream or Mexican crema (or lime crema for an extra punch of lime flavor!)
  • ½ cup finely crumbled cotija cheese
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • chopped cilantro for garnish

Instructions 

  • Heat an outdoor grill (or grill pan if made indoors) over medium heat. Place the corn directly on the grill, close the lid, and cook for 10 minutes, rotating every few minutes for an even char.
    Grilled corn for elote
  • Transfer the corn to a plate, and squeeze lime juice on top while it's still warm. Optional: stick a wooden stick in the end as a handle.
    A plate of grilled corn for elote
  • In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise and sour cream. Then brush a thick layer all over each piece of corn.
    Slathering mayo on elote
  • Sprinkle cotija cheese all over each piece, then sprinkle with chili powder and chopped cilantro. Serve immediately, while still warm.
    A plate of grilled elote on the cob

Nutrition

Calories: 256kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 325mg | Potassium: 297mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 429IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 116mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Elote, Elote on the cob, Mexican street corn
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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10 Comments

  1. I basically turned this into a salad (used canned corn because that’s what I had on hand and charred it in a cast iron skillet). I didn’t measure anything, and I used soft goat cheese, but it turned out soooooo good! Thank you for this fantastic recipe, Lisa! I’ll have to try it with corn on the cob soon.5 stars

    1. Hi Katie – what you just made was a version of esquites! ;) Which is essentially elote in a cup or salad form. I actually plan to add a recipe for that soon, so you’re just ahead of the game. Haha!

  2. Made this for a family fajita dinner a couple weekends ago. Everyone love it! Very easy and delicious!5 stars

  3. I would have never thought to add “toppings” to grilled corn. But this recipe is amazing and so flavorful! Thank you Lisa for introducing me to new flavors and recipes.5 stars

    1. You’re more than welcome, Kaye! I’m thrilled you loved this classic Mexican recipe. :)