Mexican Street Corn

Learn how to make delicious, authentic, and healthy Mexican Street Corn. It’s perfect for entertaining, potlucks, BBQs, and all types of parties.

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a bowl of esquites.

Other side dish recipes you might enjoy include these parmesan crusted potatoes and this recipe for garlic butter fried corn.

Why we love this recipe

This Mexican corn recipe, known as Esquites or Elote in a Cup, is really versatile. Whether served as a snack on the go, a side dish at a barbecue, or a topping for tacos, there are various ways to enjoy this recipe.

Esquites evoke the vibrant and lively atmosphere of Mexican culture bringing a real essence of classic Mexican street food.

This recipe is also naturally gluten-free!

a bowl of Mexican street corn.

Ingredients

  • olive oil + ghee – you can also use vegetable oil and butter. A great nugget of culinary wisdom I learned from a professional chef I worked with was that using both oil and butter together will prevent it from burning and allow for higher-heat cooking. Perfect for this recipe!
  • corn – use fresh corn from the cob, canned, or frozen for this recipe. It uses approximately 3 ears of corn to make 3 cups. It all depends on their size. See the expert tips below for defrosting frozen corn.
  • fine sea salt
  • cotija cheese – this is a crumbly aged Mexican cheese with a slightly salty taste. You can substitute it with other saltier cheeses such as parmesan or feta cheese.
  • green onions – thinly sliced, starting with the white part.
  • fresh cilantro – finely chopped.
  • mayonnaise – I always use our homemade mayo. It takes 10 minutes a week to have this prepped in my fridge. So fresh and good!
  • sour cream
  • garlic – minced up super fine.
  • fresh lime juice – roll the fruit on your counter pressing down slightly before slicing it in half with a sharp knife. This releases the juice allowing you to get more out of your lime.
  • Tajín this is a mild Mexican seasoning that features ground dry chile peppers and dehydrated lime. It is very mild in flavor. You can substitute chili powder or even smoked paprika.

Equipment

ingredients on a counter.

How to make Mexican Street Corn

Step 1

First, start by adding the minced garlic to the fresh lime juice. Let this sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. This will allow the flavor of the garlic to soften and mellow a bit so it isn’t overpowering.

minced garlic soaking in lime juice.

Step 2

Heat oil and ghee in a large skillet over medium heat.

Step 3

Then, add the corn and sprinkle it with sea salt. Stir the kernels to coat them with the oil and distribute the salt. Then, pat the corn into an even layer and let it sit for 2 minutes without stirring. This technique will add a charred effect to the corn like it was cooked on a grill.

corn in a skillet.

Step 4

After the first 2 minutes of sitting, toss the corn again and then repeat the process of letting it sit for 2 minutes a couple more times to char all sides of the corn.

charred corn cooking in a skillet.

Step 5

Transfer the charred corn to a large mixing bowl and set aside.

charred corn in a mixing bowl.

Step 6

In a small bowl, make the sauce by stirring together the mayo, sour cream, lime juice, minced garlic, and tajin together to combine.

Pour this over the warm corn and stir to coat everything.

dressing tossed in with charred corn in a mixing bowl.

Step 7

Add the sliced green onions, cilantro, and crumbled cotija cheese.

Stir it all well and sprinkle with more tajin on top for presentation.

green onions and cilantro tossed with the charred, dressed corn to make Mexican street corn.

Expert tips

When using frozen corn, simply add it to a mesh sieve and rinse it with cold water to thaw it out.

Want that nice charred effect on the corn? Let the corn kernels sit without moving them while they cook in the hot skillet.

Recipe variations

  • Add a fiery kick to the corn by mixing some minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. The smoky heat will take this recipe to the next level.
  • Dice ripe avocados and gently fold them into the corn and create a Mexican street corn salad. The creamy texture will add a buttery richness to the dish.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve it in the traditional Street Style in small disposable cups or bowls, just like in Mexican street food stalls. Sprinkle some of the crumbled cheese on top, followed by a sprinkle of the Tajín seasoning, and garnish with a lime wedge.
  • Serve it as a side dish alongside grilled protein, such as shrimp, steak, or chicken.
  • Offer it as a unique topping for tacos along with black beans and salsa.
  • Serve it with tortilla chips as a dip. It’s a fantastic option for parties or BBQs.
Mexican street corn in a bowl.

FAQS

Are esquites served hot or cold?

It is commonly enjoyed warm when freshly prepared. However, in my experience, I’ve noticed it also tastes great both chilled and at room temperature.

Can Mexican Street Corn be made ahead of time?

Yes! To make this ahead of time, prepare the corn mixture as directed, but hold off on adding the toppings. Store the mixture in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, reheat the corn quickly in a microwave or warm skillet, then add the toppings before serving.

Are there any variations based on regional preferences in Mexico?

Yes, some regions may add different seasonings, such as epazote in Oaxaca or ancho chili powder in the central and northern regions. Also, the toppings used can vary, with some regions incorporating additional ingredients like diced tomatoes, red onions, or avocado.

Storing and reheating

Store any leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Enjoy it chilled or at room temperature.

To reheat, add it to a small saucepan and warm it over medium-low or reheat it quickly in the microwave.

overhead view of Mexican street corn in a bowl.

More delicious side dish recipes

a plate of spaghetti squash hash browns.

Spaghetti Squash Hash Browns

A pasta salad without mayo in a bowl.

Easy Pasta Salad with No Mayo

a bowl of fattoush salad.

Fattoush Salad with Dressing

a crispy potato wedge being dipped into ketchup

Oven Baked Potato Wedges

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a bowl of Mexican Street Corn.

Mexican Street Corn

Sharon Rhodes
Learn how to make delicious, authentic, and healthy Mexican Street Corn. It’s perfect for entertaining, potlucks, BBQs, and all types of parties.
5 from 47 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Appetizer, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 6
Calories 155 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
  

Instructions
 

  • Start by adding the minced garlic to a small bowl and covering it with the lime juice. Do this first so the lime juice has time to soften the falvor of the garlic. Set it aside.
  • Next, heat the oil and ghee over medium heat in a large skillet.
  • Add the corn to the hot skillet and sprinkle it with the salt. Stir the corn well to coat with the oil and salt.
  • Spread the corn into an even layer in the skillet and allow it to sit without stirring for 2 minutes to develop a charred color.
  • Toss the corn and repeat the process 2 more times – flatten it evenly and let it sit without stirring for 2 minutes – to get the charred effect on all sides.
  • Remove the corn from the heat and transfer it to a mixing bowl.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the mayo, sour cream, and tajin. Add in the soaked garlic and lime juice and stir again. Pour this dressing over the warm corn and stir to combine.
  • Next, stir in the green onions and cilantro.
  • Finally, fold in the crumbled cheese.
  • Sprinkle with more tajin on top for presentation and serve.

Video

Notes

Tips for corn

Use fresh corn from the cob, canned, or frozen for this recipe. It uses approximately 3 ears of corn to make 3 cups. It all depends on their size.  
When using frozen corn, simply add it to a mesh sieve and rinse it with cold water to thaw it out.

Storing and reheating

Store any leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Enjoy it chilled or at room temperature. To reheat, add it to a small saucepan and warm it over medium-low or reheat it quickly in the microwave.

Nutrition

Calories: 155kcalCarbohydrates: 13gProtein: 3gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 374mgPotassium: 157mgFiber: 2gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 352IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 45mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Esquites, Mexican Street Corn
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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6 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This Mexican street corn is a new addition to my comfort food! I had this after our exams and it was so comfy and delicious!

  2. 5 stars
    This street corn recipe was fantastic! I loved that it was off the cobb! So flavorful (and I loved how colorful it was on the table).

  3. 5 stars
    This Mexican street corn recipe was so fresh and flavorful! What a great side dish for Taco Tuesday.

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