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My first introduction to Mexican street corn was not in Mexico but at a cookout that I attended in Wisconsin several years ago. Another guest had brought the ingredients and made it for everyone right there. In that version, the corn was on the cob. I was hooked as soon as I took my first bite!
Later, as I visited the Riviera Maya, I searched for street vendors selling these mouthwatering cobs of goodness. It didn’t take long as there are plenty of street corn vendors, called ‘eloteros’, in most busy areas.
What I did discover is that these vendors also sold an off-the-cob version in a cup. Score! Not only is this convenient but it’s much easier to make at home since I almost always have a couple of bags of frozen corn in the freezer.
On and Off the Cob
Mexican street corn on the cob is known as ‘elote’ in Mexico. Most commonly it is boiled in water with salt or other spices such as tequesquite, epazote, the Santa Maria herb (feverfew), or pericon. Condiments such as butter, mayonnaise, and crumbled cotija cheese, chili powder, lime juice, and salt are added onto the corn.
Off the cob and typically served in a cup, Mexican street corn is known as ‘esquites’, though it is sometimes known as ‘elote en vaso’ (little corn-cup). Preparation and condiments are similar but with the kernels cut from the cob.
The Best Cheese to Use
The traditional cheese used for Mexican street corn is cotija cheese. Cotija can sometimes be difficult to find so queso fresco is a good alternative. Cotija crumbles nicely and has a nice, salty flavor. It is similar to Feta cheese but is a little drier and crumbly, which makes it great for sprinkling on your favorite Mexican dishes.
Grilled Mexican Street Corn
If you want to go all-out and actually grill fresh corn for this recipe, you absolutely can. In Mexico, it is called ‘elotes asados’ on the cob or ‘esquites asados’ off the cob.
After grilling the corn you can use a knife and cut the kernels into a large bowl and follow the rest of the recipe as directed. Trust me, it tastes amazing. It just takes a little more effort.
As a Side Dish
Personally, I prefer the recipe as-is when served as a side dish, and I serve them in 6-ounce porcelain ramekin bowls. However, if you want to add a little more substance to this recipe to serve as a side dish, or even as a dip, you can always add some additional ingredients. You can add grilled zucchini, sliced cherry tomatoes, avocado, chopped jalapeños and/or sautéed onion.
Need more ideas? Mexican street corn goes well as a side with these dishes:
- The Best Chicken Enchiladas
- Vegetarian Enchiladas
- Chicken Tamale Casserole
- Steak, Chicken, or Shrimp Fajitas
- Your Favorite Tacos
- Enchilada Style Baked Chicken
Mexican Street Corn Cups
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 lb frozen corn
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/2 tsp Sriracha or to taste
- 1/2 cup cotija cheese or queso fresco crumbled
- 1/4 cup cilantro or to taste
- chili powder to taste
- 1 lime cut into wedges
- Bring 1 cup of water to a boil and add sugar.
- When water is boiling, add corn and cover with lid.
- Simmer corn for 3-5 minutes or until corn is cooked through and tender.
- While corn is simmering, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, sriracha, Kosher salt, and lime in a small bowl.
- When corn is done cooking, drain well and return to pan. Allow to cool for about 3 minutes.
- Combine sriracha and mayo and add the mixture to the corn until well combined.
- Divide corn into 4 individual cups and top with queso fresco, cilantro, a dash of chili powder, and a lime wedge.
- Serve immediately