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How to Make Esquites

Esquites are a popular Mexican street food snack made from cooked corn kernels, typically served in a cup or bowl and seasoned with various savory ingredients.

The corn used for esquites is usually sweet corn that has been boiled or grilled and then removed from the cob. The kernels are then cooked in a skillet or pot with butter or lard until they become tender and slightly caramelized.

Once cooked, the corn is mixed with various flavorful ingredients. This can include mayonnaise, lime juice, chili powder, crumbled cheese (such as cotija or feta), and chopped cilantro. Some variations might also include diced onions, hot sauce, or other seasonings, allowing for different regional and personal preferences.

Esquites are typically served hot, often sold by street vendors in Mexico. They are commonly enjoyed as a snack or light meal, served in cups or bowls with a spoon. The combination of sweet corn with savory, tangy, and spicy flavors creates a delightful taste experience, while the mixture of textures—soft corn kernels, creamy mayonnaise, and crumbled cheese—adds to its appeal.

This flavorful and comforting dish represents a beloved part of Mexican street food culture, offering a balance of savory, sweet, and zesty flavors that have made it a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

Key Takeaways

  • Who this dish appeals to: Street food enthusiasts, corn lovers, those seeking a quick and satisfying snack.
  • Estimated duration: A speedy preparation process that takes approximately 15-20 minutes.
  • Nutrition facts: A wholesome and tasty treat featuring the goodness of corn.

About this Recipe

Esquites is a versatile dish that allows for customization based on personal preferences. This recipe provides a foundation for crafting this delectable street food favorite.


  • 4 cups fresh corn kernels (about 4-5 corn cobs)
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup cotija cheese, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional: Hot sauce for added heat


  1. Prepare Corn Kernels:
  • If using fresh corn cobs, shuck the corn and carefully remove the kernels using a knife.
  1. Cook Corn:
  • In a large skillet, heat the corn kernels over medium heat until they are slightly charred, stirring occasionally. This takes about 5-7 minutes.
  1. Combine Ingredients:
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked corn with mayonnaise, crumbled cotija cheese, chili powder, cayenne pepper, and chopped cilantro.
  1. Season and Serve:
  • Season the Esquites with salt to taste.
  • Divide the mixture into cups or bowls for serving.
  1. Garnish and Enjoy:
  • Garnish each serving with additional cotija cheese, a sprinkle of chili powder, and a lime wedge on the side.
  • Optional: Drizzle with hot sauce for those who crave extra heat.
  1. Serve Warm:
  • Esquites are best enjoyed warm. Serve immediately for the ultimate street food experience.

Serving Suggestions

  • Pair with grilled meats or seafood for a satisfying meal.
  • Serve as a topping for tostadas or as a side dish to complement your favorite Mexican dishes.
  • Experiment with different cheese options, such as queso fresco or feta, for a unique twist.

Storage Options

Esquites are best enjoyed fresh, but any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days. Reheat gently on the stove before serving.

Ingredient Substitutes

  • Cotija Cheese: Substitute with queso fresco, feta, or Parmesan cheese.
  • Mayonnaise: Use Mexican crema or sour cream for a tangy variation.

Alternatives to this Dish

Experiment with additional toppings like chopped green onions, diced tomatoes, or avocado slices to create your personalized version of Esquites.


Esquites encapsulates the vibrant and flavorful street food culture of Mexico, bringing the joy of corn to your taste buds. With its perfect balance of textures and tastes, this dish is an invitation to experience the simple pleasures of Mexican cuisine. ¡Buen provecho!