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Elote (Mexican Street Corn)

In the bustling streets of Mexico, a mix of flavors and aromas emerges from food carts and stalls, capturing the essence of the country’s vibrant culinary culture. Among the plethora of delectable options, one street food stands out as an iconic and beloved treat: the Mexican elote. This corn dish, adorned with an array of enticing toppings, embodies the essence of Mexico’s rich culinary heritage.

In today’s article, we bring Mexican corn into the home with this recipe for Elote.

Historical and Cultural Context

Elote’s roots are deeply intertwined with the history of Mexican cuisine. Corn, or maize, holds immense significance as a staple food in Mexico, with a history dating back thousands of years to indigenous civilizations. As a crop that sustained ancient cultures, corn is revered as a symbol of life and sustenance. Elote emerged as a way to celebrate this sacred crop, transforming it into a savory delight that encapsulates Mexican identity and heritage. So, without further ado, let’s look into the ingredients required for this recipe!


6 ears of fresh corn, husked
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream or Mexican crema
1 cup crumbled cotija cheese (or feta cheese as a substitute)
1 teaspoon chili powder (or more to taste)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 lime, cut into wedges
Optional: 1 clove garlic, minced


  1. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Place the husked corn directly on the grill. Cook, turning occasionally, until the corn is lightly charred on all sides, about 10-12 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, sour cream or Mexican crema, and minced garlic (if using).
  4. Once the corn is cooked, use a brush to generously slather the corn with the mayonnaise and sour cream mixture.
  5. Sprinkle the corn with the crumbled cotija cheese (or feta cheese) while turning to ensure it sticks to the corn.
  6. Sprinkle chili powder over the corn to your desired level of spiciness.
  7. Garnish the elote with chopped cilantro and serve with lime wedges on the side.
  8. Squeeze lime juice over the elote before eating for an extra zesty flavor.

Note: If you prefer not to grill the corn, you can also boil or steam it until tender and then follow the same steps to dress it with the toppings.

Toppings and Flavors

The toppings on elote are both traditional and diverse, offering a range of textures and tastes. While mayonnaise, cotija cheese, chili powder, and lime form the classic quartet, innovative variations have emerged. It is possible to have your elote drizzled with butter, smothered in creamy crema, or infused with additional spices for a fiery punch. Creative twists include adding crushed tortilla chips for crunch or mixing in roasted vegetables for an extra layer of depth. A more recent popular variant that has gained some popularity is ‘Elote Loco‘, which translates as ‘Crazy Corn’.

Street Food Experience

A quintessential element of Mexican street food culture, elote vendors can be found on bustling corners, at fairs, and during local festivals. The scent of grilling corn and the vibrant display of colorful toppings beckon passersby, inviting them to partake in the sensory experience. Elote vendors are fine purveyors of food and they are integral to the fabric of local communities; allowing people to connect, mingle and relax.


  1. Esquites: This is essentially the deconstructed version of elote. Esquites are Mexican street corn kernels usually served in a cup. The corn is removed from the cob and mixed with mayonnaise, cotija cheese, lime juice, chili powder, and sometimes added epazote or cilantro.
  2. Mexican Street Corn Salad: A lighter alternative to elote, this salad combines the flavors of elote but in a dish that’s easier to serve. It typically includes roasted corn kernels, mayonnaise or sour cream, lime juice, cotija cheese, chili powder, and cilantro.

Health Considerations

While elote is undeniably indulgent and flavorful, it’s worth considering its nutritional aspects. Corn itself offers dietary fiber and essential nutrients, but some toppings may contribute to its caloric content. Opting for lighter toppings or enjoying elote in moderation can help strike a balance between indulgence and health-consciousness.


In conclusion, elote, the beloved Mexican street corn, embodies the vibrant and rich flavors of Mexican cuisine. Its simplicity, yet explosion of taste from the combination of creamy, tangy, and spicy elements, makes it an iconic and irresistible treat. Embrace the spirit of this beloved street food, and delight in its savory, zesty, and utterly satisfying allure.