Elote (Mexican Grilled Corn)

Elote is classic Mexican street corn, grilled and slathered in a irresistible sauce. This recipe has an added bonus: built-in handles for easy eating!

Elote (Mexican Grilled Corn)

This elote is the perfect summer side dish, if you ask us. One bite of this irresistible Mexican grilled corn and you’ll be a believer: it’s sweet, smoky, savory, creamy, and tangy: all at once. It’s charred perfection and slathered in a creamy spiced sauce with cheese crumbles. Here’s the very best elote recipe you can make at home (though of course, it’s better on the street in Mexico!). It shows you how to grill corn perfectly and keep the husk as a built-in handle. Serve it with tacos like these favorite grilled shrimp tacos, grilled fish, or a good old burger.

Related: 15 Summer Side Dishes You Need

Grilled corn on grill

What is elote?

Elote is grilled corn that’s slathered in a sauce of sour cream, mayonnaise, and chili powder, and sprinkled with cheese. It’s a popular snack served by street vendors in Mexico, so it’s often called Mexican street corn. Of course, it’s the very best on the street in Mexico or cities that have a strong Mexican heritage: there’s nothing like it!

What makes elote so irresistible is the contrasts of flavors and textures. You’ve got the sweet corn, charred to smoky perfection on the grill, then the creamy mayo and sour cream sauce. Our sauce has chili powder, garlic powder and cumin, then it’s filled with chunks of feta or queso fresco cheese. Serve it with tangy lime and cilantro, and the crunch of the corn against the creamy, messy sauce is satisfying in almost a primal way.

Elote Recipe (Grilled Mexican Corn)

How to make elote

The main skill in how to make elote is grilling corn. There are lots of different methods for how to grill corn, but here’s what we think is the best way. Peel back the corn husks and tie them with twine to make a built-in handle for eating the corn. Then place the cobs right on the grill and char to perfection.

Move over, little plastic corn pokey thingies. This organic corn handle is summer’s hot new trick! Here’s how to make elote (for quantities, jump to the recipe):

  • Preheat a grill to medium high heat.
  • Shuck the corn by peeling down the outside layers one at a time and keeping them attached, facing downwards away from the cob. Then use kitchen twine or string to tie the leaves together. Rub the corn with neutral oil.
  • Place the corn on the grill grates and grill for about 12 to 15 minutes, until blackened, turning often.
  • Mix up the sour cream and mayo sauce (see recipe below).
  • When the corn is done use a spoon to spread on the sauce. Use the husk as a handle for easy eating!
Shucked corn

Tips for the corn husk handle!

It takes a bit of extra time to husk the corn to make the handle, but it’s absolutely worth it! Here are a few tips to know about the process:

  • Be patient! Instead of pulling off the husk as you would normally, you’ll keep each leaf and pull it back. It takes a little more time, but it’s worth it in the end. It took Alex and I about 15 minutes to husk all of the corn and then tie down the husk with kitchen twine.
  • Start with the outer-most leaf first. It’s important to start with the outer-most leaf and pull down one leaf at a time, gradually working your way around the corn.
  • Cracks are ok. When you pull down the leaves, you may notice they crack a little at the bottom. That’s completely ok: just keep pulling the remaining leaves — it doesn’t have to be perfect!

How to serve elote

Alex and I last served this Mexican grilled corn on a menu that included Grilled Shrimp Tacos and Lime Daiquiris. It truly could not have complimented the meal more. It’s one of our very favorite vegetarian Mexican recipes! Here are a few more Mexican style ideas on dinners, sides, and drinks that would compliment elote:

Elote | Mexican grilled corn

What to do with corn on the cob?

It’s sweet corn season! Alex and I got a big bag of corn from our local farmer’s market to make this elote recipe. Here are some corn recipes we recommend to use up an abundance of this tasty vegetable:

This elote recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free.

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Elote recipe (Mexican Street Corn)

Elote (Mexican Street Corn)


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (30 votes, average: 4.37 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x

Description

Elote is classic Mexican street corn, grilled and slathered in a irresistible sauce. This recipe has an added bonus: built-in handles for easy eating!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 8 ears corn
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil (grapeseed, vegetable, sunflower — or substitute olive oil)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or Mexican crema
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese or queso fresco
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Lime wedges, for serving
  • Cilantro, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Heat a grill to medium high.
  2. Shuck the corn by peeling down the outside layers one at a time and keeping them attached, facing downwards away from the cob. When you’ve finished, use kitchen twine or string to tie the leaves together (see the photos).
  3. Use your hands to rub oil on each corn cob evenly, then place them on a baking sheet.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the sour cream, mayonnaise, feta or queso fresco (crumbling any large chunks into smaller chunks with your fingers), chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, and kosher salt in small bowl.
  5. Place the corn on the grill and cook until it begins to blacken, then turn. Cook about 12 to 15 minutes total, until blackened on all sides.
  6. Place the corn back on the baking sheet and use a spoon to coat it with cheese mixture. Garnish with a squeeze of lime and torn cilantro leaves. Serve immediately, using the tied husks as a handle for easy eating.
  • Category: Side
  • Method: Grilled
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Keywords: Elote, Elote Recipe, Mexican Street Corn, Grilled Corn, Grilled Corn Recipe, How to Grill Corn

Last updated: April 2020

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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