Elote (Mexican Street Corn)

Grilled corn cobs coated with crumbled cheese and sprinkled with cilantro

The Spruce Eats / Nyssa Tanner

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 18 mins
Total: 28 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Yield: 8 ears of corn
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
261 Calories
19g Fat
20g Carbs
6g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 261
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 19g 24%
Saturated Fat 6g 29%
Cholesterol 29mg 10%
Sodium 587mg 26%
Total Carbohydrate 20g 7%
Dietary Fiber 3g 9%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 10mg 48%
Calcium 147mg 11%
Iron 1mg 4%
Potassium 248mg 5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Elote (eh-LOH-teh), also known as Mexican street corn, is salty, sweet, crunchy, and creamy in every bite. It hits all the right flavor notes, especially hot off the grill in the summer months when fresh corn is at its peak and abundantly available at every market. It's a popular street food in Mexico and can be served as a snack or side dish.

For a dish that has so many layers of flavor, the recipe is quite simple. Roast corn still in the husks to keep them moist—this is best done on the grill, but you can use the oven, too. Give them a quick char, then roll the ears of corn in a garlicky lime crema and crumbly, perfectly salty cotija cheese. A sprinkle of fresh cilantro and chili powder is the finishing touch.

Elote can be prepared using a pre-made spice mix called Tajín seasoning, which includes ground red chiles, sea salt, and dehydrated lime juice. This recipe calls for chili powder, but by all means, if you have Tajín, use it. Just cut back on the salt, as it's already in the blend.

Whip up a batch of elote as a fun summertime snack or appetizer or serve alongside tacos, carne asada, or your favorite barbecue fare.

“I adore corn on the cob, and when I’m not eating it buttered and salted, I’m preparing it as elote. This recipe is so easy and so delicious. I have to confess that I ate two pieces. Such great flavors with so little effort. Exactly my type of recipe.” —Diana Andrews


Elote (Mexican Street Corn)/Tester Image


A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 8 ears sweet corn, preferably in the husk, silks trimmed

  • 1/2 cup sour cream or crema

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise

  • 1 medium lime, juiced

  • 1 clove garlic

  • 1 teaspoon salt (less if using Tajin)

  • 1 cup crumbled cotija cheese

  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

  • 2 teaspoons chili powder, or Tajin

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients and preheat a grill to medium heat. (For an oven option, see variations below.)

    Ingredients for Mexican street corn recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Nyssa Tanner

  2. Grill the corn in its husk until sweet and tender, about 15 minutes, turning once or twice during cooking. Let cool a few minutes then husk the corn.

    Corn cobs with charred husks on the grill

    The Spruce Eats / Nyssa Tanner

  3. Char the corn directly on the hot grill for extra flavor and color, about 3 minutes, rotating a few times.

    Browned shucked corn cobs on the grill

    The Spruce Eats / Nyssa Tanner

  4. In a medium bowl, combine the sour cream, mayonnaise, and lime juice.

    Sour cream, mayonnaise, and lime juice being stirred in a glass bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Nyssa Tanner

  5. Using a Microplane or a garlic press, grate the garlic into the mixture. Add the salt and whisk to combine.

    Garlic being grated into the sour cream mixture with a Microplane grater

    The Spruce Eats / Nyssa Tanner

  6. Spread the mayo mixture onto a flat plate. Crumble the cotija cheese on a separate flat plate.

    Mayo mixture on one plate, crumbled cheese on another plate

    The Spruce Eats / Nyssa Tanner

  7. Roll the corn in the mayo mixture to completely coat the ear. You can use corn on the cob holders to help you roll them; tongs will also work.

    Roasted corn cob being coated in mayo mixture with metal tongs

    The Spruce Eats / Nyssa Tanner

  8. Roll the coated ear of corn in the crumbled cheese and set aside on a platter. Repeat with the remaining ears.

    Corn cob on plate with mayo, plate filled with crumbled cheese, and corn cobs coated with crumbled cheese on a third plate

    The Spruce Eats / Nyssa Tanner

  9. Top the corn with chopped cilantro and a sprinkle of chili powder, or Tajin. Serve immediately.

    Grilled corn cobs thickly coated with cheese and sprinkled with cilantro

    The Spruce Eats / Nyssa Tanner


When shopping for corn on the cob, look for bright green, firm ears with fresh-looking silks. If possible, peel back the top of the husk slightly to inspect the kernels—they should be plump, not shriveled. Store in a bag in the fridge and use as soon as possible.

Recipe Variations

  • If you don't have grill access, the corn can be roasted in the oven. Place the corn cobs directly on the oven rack in a 350 F oven and allow to roast until husks are dried out and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Husk and broil for more color if needed, about 3 minutes, turning once or twice. Proceed with the recipe as written.
  • Instead of cotija cheese, try a mixture of 3/4 cup of crumbled queso fresco and 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese.

How to Store

  • This is one of those dishes that's really best eaten warm right on the cob. However, if you have leftovers, you can keep them wrapped in foil or in a covered container for up to 3 days and then reheat in the oven, wrapped, at 350 F for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Otherwise, cut the kernels, sour cream mixture, and seasoning off the cob and store in a covered container for 2 to 3 days. Serve the leftovers as esquites.

What's the Difference Between Elote and Esquites?

The dish esquites is similar to elote, but the roasted corn is served completely off the cob instead of on it. Esquites and elote are both highly addictive snacky street foods in Mexico; esquites is often served in a cup and eaten with a fork or a spoon. This preparation is best warm, but it's also delicious served cold.

Is Cotija Cheese the Same as Queso Fresco?

Queso fresco and cotija cheese are fresh Mexican cheeses that are both super crumbly. Queso fresco has a milder, lightly tangy, and salty taste, while cotija is sometimes called the Parmesan of Mexico, with a saltier, more pungent flavor.