Elote is classic Mexican street corn, grilled and slathered in an irresistible sauce. Built-in handles make for easy eating!
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
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, cotija, 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.
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!
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!
Variation: elote salad!
Once you’ve made elote a few times, another great way to serve it is as a salad! This Elote Salad recipe uses corn cut from the cob, seasoned with the same flavors. The creamy sauce is out of this world! It’s great as a summer side dish or a component in a bowl meal.
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:
- Shrimp: Quick Shrimp Tacos, Perfect Grilled Shrimp or Cilantro Lime Shrimp
- Tacos: Cauliflower Tacos, Loaded Quinoa Tacos, or Refried Bean Tacos
- Enchiladas: Quinoa Enchiladas, Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas or Vegan Enchiladas
- Salad: Mango Salad with Grilled Shrimp
- Margaritas: Classic, Skinny, Frozen, Jalapeno, Strawberry, or Watermelon
- Sides: Mexican Coleslaw or Mexican Salad
- Dips: Refried Bean Dip, Best Salsa, Simple Guacamole
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:
- How to Cook Corn on the Cob: all the best ways!
- Oven Roasted Corn on the Cob
- Creamy Corn Chowder or Vegan Corn Chowder
- Black Bean and Corn Salsa
- Roasted Poblano & Corn Pizza (or Calzones)
- How to Roast Corn on the Grill
- Summer Quinoa Salad with Corn
This elote recipe is…
Vegetarian and gluten-free.Print
Elote is classic Mexican street corn, grilled and slathered in an irresistible sauce. This recipe has an added bonus: built-in handles for easy eating!
- 8 ears corn
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil (grapeseed, vegetable, sunflower — or substitute olive oil)
- ½ cup sour cream or Mexican crema
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- ½ cup crumbled feta cheese, cotija cheese, or queso fresco
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Lime wedges, for serving
- Cilantro, for garnish
- Heat a grill to medium high.
- 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).
- Use your hands to rub oil on each corn cob evenly, then place them on a baking sheet.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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