Grilled Mexican Street Corn Recipe

If you've never tried elotes, or Mexican street corn, then you are missing out. Picture all of the goodness of charred corn on the cob, then add some creaminess, cheesiness, acidity, and some spice — and there you have elotes! Recipe developer Michelle McGlinn is admittedly not a big fan of corn, but absolutely swears by her elotes recipe. "Seriously, corn is so much better drenched in crema and cilantro," she says. We're certainly not arguing with her there.

She goes on: "The crema [after the addition of some chili powder] is a tiny bit spicy, and the lime and cilantro make it so fresh and a little bit sweet," McGlinn describes. Pair the elotes with tacos, chips and guacamole, or a refreshing margarita to stay on the Mexican food theme, or whip the dish up to accompany really any main course. Elotes are also a great option for backyard barbecues or summer dinners, and your family will surely thank you for making what is not typically the most exciting side dish a total scene stealer.

Gather the ingredients for elotes

To make elotes, you'll of course need fresh corn on the cob, along with vegetable oil, salt, pepper, Mexican crema (or sour cream), mayonnaise, lime juice, cotija cheese, chopped cilantro, chili powder, Tajín, and some lime wedges.

Get the broiler going

While you might expect to use a grill in a recipe like this, you'll actually broil the corn, a method that McGlinn says is "super quick and still achieves a char like the grill would." Not everyone has access to a grill, but if you have an oven, then you likely have a broiler, so this special method is quick, accessible, and easy. So, go ahead and get the broiler preheating on high, then place the top rack at the top of the oven (it should be about 3 or 4 inches below the broiler).

As the broiler preheats, you can focus on the corn. Shuck each ear and remove any hairy fibers. Brush the corn all over with vegetable oil, sprinkle on salt and pepper, then arrange each ear on a foil-lined sheet pan.

Allow the corn to cook and char

Pop the sheet pan into the oven, allowing the corn to broil for 12 to 16 minutes. Be sure to rotate each cob halfway through so that every kernel gets cooked and chars evenly.

Mix up the tangy crema

As the corn broils, you can mix up the tangy, creamy sauce that will go on top. In a bowl, mix together the crema, mayonnaise, lime juice, cheese, cilantro, and chili powder, then set it aside for a bit.

McGlinn acknowledges that "corn on the cob is inherently messy," so she does offer up a solution. "You could use the same method of broiling or grillin, then shave the kernels into a bowl and combine with the crema," she explains. While she notes that this is "not as fun" as eating it right off the cob, it is significantly less messy, and you could even shave the kernels off and right into the bowl of crema that you just mixed up. 

Assemble the elotes and serve

Once the corn is done cooking, remove it from the oven. Spread lots of the crema mixture right onto each cob, then sprinkle on some cilantro, cotija cheese, and a pinch of Tajín. Serve each cob with a lime wedge, and you're ready to dive right in. "My mom always served these in summertime with tacos, birria, pambazos and a side of arroz rojo," McGlinn recalls. She also notes that it's easy to make elotes in large batches, so if you want to make the most impressive and sought-out dish at a party, you can't go wrong here.

Elotes (Mexican Street Corn) Recipe
4.9 from 92 ratings
There's no tidy way to eat corn on the cob. So you might as well lean in and slather it with some spiced crema and top it with cheese, cilantro, and more!
Prep Time
10
minutes
Cook Time
12
minutes
Servings
4
Servings
elote corn on baking sheet
Total time: 22 minutes
Ingredients
  • 4 ears corn on the cob
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • ½ cup Mexican crema or sour cream
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • juice from ½ lime
  • ½ cup cotija cheese, plus more for topping
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro, plus more for topping
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon Tajín
  • lime wedges, for serving
Directions
  1. Preheat the broiler to high and place a rack at the top of the oven, 3 to 4 inches under the broiler.
  2. Shuck the ears of corn, removing any hairy fibers.
  3. Brush the corn on all sides with vegetable oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange on a foil-lined sheet pan.
  4. Broil for 12 to 16 minutes, rotating halfway through, until kernels are shiny and plump and tops are beginning to char on each side.
  5. In the meantime, mix together the crema, mayonnaise, lime juice, cheese, cilantro, and chili powder in a small bowl.
  6. Once the corn is cooked through and charred on top, remove it from the oven. Brush a generous amount of the crema mixture onto each cob, then sprinkle with cilantro and cotija. Sprinkle a pinch of Tajín on each cob and serve with lime wedges.
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