Elote (Mexican Street Corn)

Plater of Mexican Street Corn topped with fresh cilantro and slices of limes
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You know you’re in the thick of summer when the markets brim with fresh, sweet corn on the cob. Suddenly, it’s everywhere! We buy it by the bushel (or at least it feels that way) and bring it home to make mountains of elote, also known as Mexican street corn.    

You Had Us at Mexican Street Food

Our passion for Mexican food is well-documented, and so you all probably knew that it was only a matter of time before we shared our recipe for elote. Corn on the cob slathered in butter is no slouch of a side dish, but when summer peaks and corn is abundant (not to mention cheap) after the inaugural ear of butter-coated corn, we’re ready for something with a little more kick. You, too? Well, then you need this elote recipe in your (corn-filled) life!

Plater of Mexican Street Corn topped with fresh cilantro and slices of limes

What Is Elote? 

The precise definition of authentic elote is—as is true of many of the best global street foods—a bit difficult to pin down.  Elote recipes vary a bit, but this Mexican corn on the cob is usually charred on a grill and then slathered in a creamy topping that can be comprised of sour cream, crema or regular old mayo (yes, corn with mayo!). The cream-ified Mexican grilled corn is then rolled in some combination of fresh cojita cheese, chili or chipotle powder (sometimes in the form of Tajín), a squeeze of lime and maybe a sprinkling of cilantro.

Ingredients for Elote (Mexican Street Corn)

Mexican Corn on the Cob 101: What You’ll Need

Our classic grilled Mexican street corn recipe relies on easy-to-find ingredients to create the creamy, slightly spicy, smoky corn on the cob that we crave when we think of authentic elote. We focused on making this an easy Mexican street corn recipe, too, so the ingredient list is blessedly short—after all, it’s all about the perfect simplicity of in-season, grilled corn on the cob.  Here’s what you’ll need: 

  • Corn on the cob. 
  • Chipotle mayonnaise. We have to say that using chipotle mayo instead of plain feels like a real stroke of genius. Spicy and cooling all at once, it’s just too great. You can use store bought, but why bother when we’ve got a handy recipe for homemade chipotle mayo right here?
  • Cotija. Cojita is a delightfully salty, aged Mexican cheese that’s readily available in the U.S. and is considered the classic elote cheese.  
  • Fresh cilantro. As ever, if you’re a cilantro hater, it’s OK to skip it. 
  • Chipotle powder. Maybe not the most common ingredient, but essential for its smoky peppery flavor. Plus, you need it for the chipotle mayo anyway!
  • Lime. Fresh limes make everything good—and now that we mention it, why not buy extra and make margs?!
Platter of four corn on the cob, grilled.

How to Grill Corn for Elote

Grilling corn is our favorite way to cook it, and for this Mexican street corn recipe, it’s the only way to cook it. A smoky, heady char is what makes grilled Mexican street corn so addictive—don’t fear the heat! Here’s how to grill corn for our elote recipe: 

  • Shuck the corn—meaning peel off the outer husks—and remove as many of strings of corn silk as you can without fussing too much over every last one. Leave the end piece if you can, so that you’ll have something to hold onto while you eat the corn. 
  • Prep the grill! If you’re grilling over gas, heat it to medium-high, and if you’re working with charcoal, just get those coals good and hot. 
  • Grill! Yep, just lay the corn cobs naked on the grill and let that fire do the rest. Turn the cobs often, so that all sides of the corn cob get nice color. You want a good char on the kernels, but pull it off before it is burnt—this usually about ten minutes.
Plater of four corn on the cob, grilled and topped with cotija, cilantro, chipotle mayo, and fresh cilantro for Elote

How to Make Mexican Street Corn 

In truth, this isn’t just an easy Mexican street corn recipe—it’s also really fun to make. We like to make a party out of it and gather the crowds when it’s time to slather the corn on the cob with mayo and all of the other delicious corn toppings. Here’s how to assemble the street corn: 

  • Let the corn cool just a bit. We like to dress it up while it’s still warm—but not searingly hot—from the grill. 
  • Spread chipotle mayo all over the corn. You can use the back of a spoon to do this, or a pastry brush is really handy (and fun) for this, too. Yes, this gets messy. Yes, it is so worth it. 
  • Sprinkle with crumbles of salty cotija, cilantro and shakes of chipotle powder. This is why we like to make it a party—everyone can doctor their grilled ears of corn with as much or as little of these goodies as they want. 
  • Finish it off with a squeeze of lime juice, and dig in! 

Tools You’ll Need: 

Other Mexican Recipes You’ll Love: 

Whether you’re on the hunt for something quick and easy or for more of a project, here are TK recipes we return to again and again: 

How Much Floss Did You Need After Eating This? 

We want to know! We also—more seriously—want to know how you liked it!! Snap a photo of your elote! Tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper.Happy eating!

Elote (Mexican Street Corn)

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 ears corn
1/3 cup chipotle mayonnaise
1/4 cup cotija cheese
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
1 tbsp chipotle chili powder (or regular chili powder)
1 lime, quartered

Method

  1. Preheat grill to medium high. Prepare corn by removing husk and silk. Set corn directly on hot grill and allow to cook, rotating often, until slightly charred on all sides.
  2. While still warm use the back of a spoon or a pastry brush to spread the chipotle mayo all over each corn. Sprinkle with cotija cheese, fresh cilantro and chipotle powder. Serve with a lime wedge. Enjoy!