Grilled Mexican Street Corn

June 5, 2017

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Mexican Street Corn is one of the ultimate summer side dishes! This version is just as good as the kind I got from street vendors in Mexico. When I serve this at parties, there’s never any left over!

Mexican Street Corn on a large white platter. Corn cobs are topped with mayonnaise, cotija cheese, and chili powder.

What is Mexican Street Corn?

This is a popular Mexican street food (elotes) you’ll find people snacking on throughout Mexico. Fresh corn is cooked, then slathered with mayo or crema, topped with cotija cheese, and dusted with chili powder. Here’s my take on it.

I grill it for a nice charred flavor. Then I top with a light layer of a creamy cilantro mayo, then it’s coated with the classic salty cotija, dusted with chili powder and cayenne pepper for a kick, and it’s finished with a just a spritz of tart, fresh lime for one last layer of flavor.

Once you try it for the first time you’ll be wondering “where has this been all my life?”

12 cobs of fresh corn on a grill to make Mexican Street Corn.

Mexican Street Corn Ingredients

Although Mexican corn on the cob requires a few extra ingredients to make, it’s incredibly simple to prepare. Here’s what you’ll need to make elote corn:

  • Yellow sweet corn
  • Mayonnaise
  • Cilantro
  • Garlic
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Cotija cheese
  • Ancho chili powder
  • Lime wedges

How to Make Mexican Street Corn

  • Preheat a grill over medium-high heat.
  • Stir together mayonnaise, cilantro, garlic, cayenne pepper.
  • Place cotija cheese in a shallow dish long enough to fit corn.
  • Grill until charred on all sides, turning every few minutes, about 8 – 9 minutes total.
  • Brush corn with mayo mixture, roll in cotija and sprinkle with spices. Serve with limes if desired.

Corn cob being rolled in cotija in a shallow dish to make Mexican street corn.

How to Pick Corn That’s Super Sweet

  • Check the husk. It should be nice and bright green. It shouldn’t be dry, leaves should be soft, pliable and almost seem a little wet.
  • Check the silks/tassles. Those thin strings at the top of the corn should be golden or light brown and sticky, not black. And they should look fresh, not wilted or dry.
  • Check the corn. Peel back the husk a bit, corn should be filled in to the top and full and plump throughout.
  • Watch out for worms and other bugs. Obviously. If you see a row of corn that’s been nibbled on, let’s avoid that one.

Can I Use a Mayo Substitute?

If you don’t have mayo on hand or you’re opposed to using it, Mexican crema, sour cream, or Vegannaise would be good substitutes. You can’t get rid of the creamy mayo component altogether though, because that’s what makes Mexican street corn so good!

Mexican Street Corn close up image.

Can I Use Miracle Whip?

I know many people have a strong preference for using mayonnaise or Miracle Whip in certain dishes like pasta salad. But this Mexican corn with mayo is best with, well, real mayo! Miracle Whip is too sweet and will alter the flavor of this elote corn.

Do I Have to Grill the Corn?

If you don’t own a grill or if it’s freezing cold out, you can also just boil the corn or roast it in the oven.

Stack of Mexican street corn on a plate.

Tips for the Best Mexican Grilled Corn

  • Sprinkle over the cotija if you want a lighter coating (rather than rolling).
  • Add chili powder to taste. Some people like a lot, while others like just a few dashes.
  • Start with great corn and use a good quality mayo.

More Mexican Side Dishes You’ll Love:

Mexican Street Corn
5 from 1 vote

Grilled Mexican Street Corn (Elotes)

An ultimate summer side dish! Corn cobs are grilled for a nice charred flavor then slathered with a creamy mayo mixture, rolled in cotija cheese and dusted with chili powder and cayenne for a little kick. No one can resist!
Servings: 6
Prep10 minutes
Cook10 minutes
Ready in: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 6 ears yellow corn , shucked (that pictured here is a double batch of this recipe)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (preferably 1/4 cup regular and 1/4 cup light)
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro , plus more for garnish
  • 1 small clove garlic minced
  • 1 fair pinch cayenne pepper , plus more for topping, to taste
  • 1 cup finely crumbled Cotija cheese
  • 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder , then more to taste
  • Lime wedges , for serving (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat a grill to medium-high heat (to about 450 degrees F).
  • Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl whisk stir together mayonnaise, cilantro, garlic, cayenne pepper. Set aside. Place cotija cheese in a shallow dish long enough to fit corn.
  • Once grill is preheated, place corn on grill, leaving space between them. Let grill until charred on all sides, turning every few minutes, about 8 - 9 minutes total.
  • Working with one cob of corn at a time, using a spatula brush all sides with the mayonnaise mixture then lightly roll in cheese to coat with a thin layer (it should look somewhat sparse, don't overdue it or the cheese will be overwhelming and you won't have enough to coat all of them). Transfer to a serving platter or baking sheet and repeat with remaining corn.
  • Sprinkle corn with chili powder, then a little cayenne pepper if desired, then turn to opposite side and sprinkle with more chili powder.
  • Sprinkle lightly with more cilantro and serve with lime wedges if desired.

Notes

  • Sprinkle over the cotija if you want a lighter coating (rather than rolling).
  • Add chili powder to taste. Some people like a lot, while others like just a few dashes.
Nutrition Facts
Grilled Mexican Street Corn (Elotes)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 271 Calories from Fat 180
% Daily Value*
Fat 20g31%
Saturated Fat 6g38%
Cholesterol 30mg10%
Sodium 413mg18%
Potassium 258mg7%
Carbohydrates 18g6%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 7g8%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 345IU7%
Vitamin C 6.3mg8%
Calcium 125mg13%
Iron 0.7mg4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.