This post may contain affiliate links. Learn more.

Elotes make something that’s already really good (hello, corn on the cob!) into something you’ll dream about with a tinge of lust in the off-season. Here’s how to make them quickly and easily on the grill or in the oven.

four ears of mexican street corn on a plate with lime wedges
Want to save this recipe?
Enter your email below and I’ll send it to your inbox. Plus get great new recipes every week!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Why we love this recipe

Mexican street corn is wildly popular for a reason. It’s a flavor explosion that takes a few simple ingredients to the next level.

  • Corn on the cob gets sweet and smoky on the grill or under the broiler
  • A dreamy, no-cook sauce made from mayo, ancho chili, garlic powder, lime, and salt gets slathered into every nook and cranny
  • Sharp, tangy cotija cheese and a sprinkling of fresh cilantro get sprinkled all over, making every bite a thing of smoky-sweet-savory-tangy-spicy beauty

I first posted elote here in 2017. I’ve since updated the post for clarity and tweaked the recipe as well.

What you’ll need

Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe.

ingredients in bowls
  • Corn on the cob: I live in New Jersey, where sweet Jersey corn is abundant in the late summer. This recipe is designed for that type corn, which is what you’ll find in much of the U.S. (You can use any color.) Traditional Mexican elote is made with Mexican white corn (elote blanco), which is a much firmer and less sweet corn that needs to be cooked for a much longer time.
  • Ancho chili powder has a sweet, smoky vibe and a low to medium heat factor. It’s perfect for this dish. If you can’t find it locally, you can buy it on Amazon.
  • You can use regular mayo for the sauce. I like to use Kewpie instead. It’s a Japanese brand of mayonnaise that’s creamier, tangier, and more umami-fied than American mayo.
  • Cotija cheese is a salty, tangy, Mexican cow’s milk cheese. It comes fresh or aged. You’re looking for the aged version here, which tends to be much easier to find in many parts of the U.S. anyway. It’s bright white and crumbles or grates beautifully.
  • Safflower oil is my high-smoke-point, neutral-tasting vegetable oil of choice. You can substitute another oil that has similar properties, such as canola, sunflower, peanut, corn, or vegetable oil blend.

How to make it

Here’s an overview of what you’ll do to make a great batch of Mexican street corn. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.

step by step
  1. Shuck the corn, leaving any stalk intact. Brush it with oil and grill or broil until charred and tender.
  2. Make the sauce by stirring together the mayo, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, lime zest, and lime juice.
  3. When corn has cooled slightly, brush some of the sauce onto each ear.
  4. Sprinkle with cotija and cilantro. That’s it!

Expert tips and FAQs

What are ancho chilis?

Anchos are poblano peppers that have been dried. Like poblanos, they have a mild to moderate heat profile and a gentle sweetness. They work beautifully in a recipe like this because they add just a bit of heat and tons of flavor.

What’s the difference between elotes and esquites?

These are two equally fabulous ways to serve Mexican street corn. Elotes are left on the cob. They make great party food, but if you’re looking for something a little more portable and fork-able, you might love our wildly popular esquites. It also goes by Mexican street corn salad or Mexican corn in a cup. You can make our version with fresh or frozen corn.

Can I make this recipe in advance? What about leftovers?

Elotes are great warm or at room temperature. You can grill the corn up to 24 hours in advance and reheat (or not) before topping and serving. Assemble shortly before serving.

Leftovers will keep in a tightly sealed container in the fridge for up to a week. You can keep them on the cob or cut them off to serve as esquites.

More favorite Mexican-inspired snacks, starters, and sides

four elotes on a plate with lime wedges

Hungry for more?

Subscribe to Umami Girl’s email updates, and follow along on Instagram.

four elotes on a plate with lime wedges
4.50 from 34 votes

Elote/Mexican Street Corn (Oven or Grill)

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
Elotes make something that's already really good (hello, corn on the cob!) into something you'll dream about with a tinge of lust in the off-season. Here's how to make them quickly and easily on the grill or in the oven.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Servings: 8
Want to save this recipe?
Enter your email and I’ll send it to your inbox. Plus get great new recipes every week!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Ingredients 

  • 8 ears corn
  • 1 tablespoon safflower oil
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Zest of one lime
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • ¼ cup crumbled Cotija cheese
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves
  • Lime wedges for serving, optional

Instructions 

  • Shuck corn, leaving any stalk intact. Brush each ear with safflower oil.
  • To grill the corn: Preheat grill to 400°F/high. Place shucked and oiled corn on grates and grill until nicely browned in spots and still tender, about 3 minutes per "side," 10-ish minutes total. Place on a serving platter to cool slightly.
  • To broil the corn: Preheat broiler to high with a rack about 6 inches below the heat source. Place shucked and oiled corn onto a rimmed baking sheet, leaving a little space between the ears if possible. Broil until nicely browned in spots but still tender, turning once each "side" has browned.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, 3/4 of the chili powder, the garlic powder, 3/4 of the lime zest, the lime juice, and the salt. 
  • When corn has cooled slightly, brush some sauce over each ear to lightly coat all kernels.
  • Sprinkle with Cotija on all sides, and with a bit of cilantro and the extra chili powder and lime zest.
  • Place on a serving platter and garnish with lime wedges if you like. Elotes are great warm or at room temperature.

Notes

  1. I live in New Jersey, where sweet Jersey corn is abundant in the late summer. This recipe is designed for that type corn, which is what you’ll find in much of the U.S. (You can use any color.) Traditional Mexican elote is made with Mexican white corn (elote blanco), which is a much firmer and less sweet corn that needs to be cooked for a much longer time.
  2. If your corn does not have any of the stalk still attached, that’s okay. Elote is a little bit messy to eat, but it’s no big deal. If you like, you can insert a soaked bamboo skewer into the stem end of each ear to use as a handle.
  3. Ancho chili powder has a sweet, smoky vibe and a low to medium heat factor. It’s perfect for this dish. If you can’t find it locally, you can buy it on Amazon.
  4. You can use regular mayo for the sauce. I like to use Kewpie instead. It’s a Japanese brand of mayonnaise that’s creamier, tangier, and more umami-fied than American mayo.
  5. Cotija cheese is a salty, tangy, Mexican cow’s milk cheese. It comes fresh or aged. You’re looking for the aged version here, which tends to be much easier to find in many parts of the U.S. anyway. It’s bright white and crumbles or grates beautifully.
  6. Safflower oil is my high-smoke-point, neutral-tasting vegetable oil of choice. You can substitute another oil that has similar properties, such as canola, sunflower, peanut, corn, or vegetable oil blend.
  7. Instead of sprinkling the cheese onto the corn, you can spread it onto a plate and roll the corn in it.
  8. I like to use a silicone pastry brush to spread the oil and the sauce onto the corn, but it’s not absolutely necessary. Use your hands for the oil and the back of a spoon for the sauce instead if that’s what you’ve got.
  9. Elotes are great warm or at room temperature. You can grill the corn up to 24 hours in advance and reheat (or not) before topping and serving. Assemble shortly before serving.
  10. Another serving option is to place the corn, sauce, cheese, and cilantro on the table separately and let folks assemble their own.
  11. Leftovers will keep in a tightly sealed container in the fridge for up to a week.

Nutrition

Serving: 1, Calories: 181kcal, Carbohydrates: 27g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 7mg, Sodium: 510mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 9g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Sides
Cuisine: Mexican
Tried this recipe?Mention @umamigirl or tag #umamigirl!

Hungry for more?

Subscribe to Umami Girl’s email updates, and follow along on Instagram.

P.S. Shucking corn on the porch in 2017 with George and Nana

family shucking corn on a porch
Hungry for More?
Subscribe to Umami Girl's email updates, and follow along on Instagram.
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

More Recipes

Carolyn Gratzer Cope Bio Photo

About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

4.50 from 34 votes (33 ratings without comment)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




4 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This recipe was perfect! I followed it exactly as written. It was better then the restaurants. I will be making this most Tuesdays!