Elotes are the ultimate Mexican street food that is even popular in the US. This delicious corn on the cob is tangy, spicy, salty, and sweet all in one bite!
Corn on the cob is definitely one of my favorite foods from my childhood. I remember it as being really fun to eat, while also feeling like an adult for actually enjoying a vegetable.
If you love corn, you NEED to try it this way! Elotes can be made in a variety of ways, and this is the classic elote. The most authentic way is to boil some corn, slather on mayonnaise and lime juice, then cover in cotija cheese and chile powder. Hot sauce is optional and I usually see Valentina or Tapatio.
If you’re like my husband who hates eating corn on the cob (because it gets stuck in his teeth), you can make this in a cup with all the same ingredients! You can use canned corn or just cut it off the cob. This is called esquites and is much easier to eat, but not quite as fun 🙂
Ears of corn- White corn is traditionally used in Mexico, but I just use sweet yellow corn because it’s much easier to find. Sweet corn is a vibrant yellow color with plump kernels. For a mess free experience, you can also opt to use corn off the cob to make esquites instead. Its the same thing as elotes, but in a cup.
Mayonnaise, crema, butter, & lime- this combo is totally customizable. Some street vendors only use mayonnaise & lime, and other use only crema (Mexican sour cream) & lime. Sometimes I don’t even see them adding butter, but a lot of them do. I like a combination of all of these together. This will get brushed onto the corn so that the rest of the ingredients can stick to it.
Cotija chese– cotija cheese is VERY fragrant. I know a lot of people that like cheese but can’t do cotija. It’s a crumbly, salty cheese that is the Mexican equivalent to parmesan cheese. If you can’t find any but want something similar, you can try feta cheese or queso fresco which are a bit milder.
Tajin- some sort of chili powder is usually added to elotes, and my favorite is Tajin. It’s also something you can easily find at any grocery store.
Hot sauce- This is optional- I like Tapatio or Valentina but you don’t have to add hot sauce if you don’t want to.
Grilling vs Boiling:
I love grilled corn on the cob, but I don’t always have time to fire up and clean the grill. Charred corn will definitely add a nice layer of smoky flavor, but most street vendors in Mexico do not actually make it that way. The majority of them boil the corn!
If I have time or if I’m making elotes for an special occasion, I will most likely grill them. Not only does it add an extra layer of flavor- it also looks better. But for the most part, I usually just boil the corn because it’s less work, tastes just as good, and is true to how they are normally made anyway.
Like with any dish, there are tons of variations that street vendors have come up with over the years to keep up with current food trends. Below is a list of some of my favorite variations of elotes that I have tried!
Elote con chicharrones- Elotes covered in crushed pork rinds
Snack chip elotes- Elotes coated in crushed chips like hot cheetos, takis, doritos, etc
Tostielotes- A bag of tostitos chips with elote ingredients as a topping
Dorielotes– a bag of doritos nacho flavor chips with elote ingredients as a topping
Elotes (Mexican Street Corn)
- 4 ears of sweet yellow corn
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp Mexican crema
- 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
- 1 tbsp butter
- cotija cheese
- Husk the corn and cut off any protruding core pieces at the base.
- Boil for 5 minutes only. Any longer than that and you will have mushy corn. Alternatively, you can grill the corn over medium high heat, turning over as it becomes slightly charred all over.
- While the corn is boiling, mix together mayonnaise, crema, butter, and lime juice until smooth. I prefer the milder flavor of the crema and butter mixed with the creamy mayo, but you may omit the crema and butter if you want.
- You don't have to skewer the corn, but it is a bit easier to eat this way. Let the corn cool enough to handle, then make sure you use thick skewers that are strong enough to hold the weight of the corn.
- Using a brush, slather the mayo/crema mixture all over the corn. Do not slather on the mixture if the corn is still hot. It should be lukewarm to prevent the mixture from sliding off.
- Sprinkle generously with cotija cheese all over,
- Optional: drizzle over your favorite hot sauce. I use Valentina or Tapatio
- Sprinkle desired amount of Tajin or whichever chili powder you prefer.