This grilled Mexican street corn recipe (aka Elotes) is classic Mexican street food at it’s best. Lightly charred corn on the cob slathered in a creamy chili, lime sauce and topped with cilantro and cotija cheese is a great side to serve at any summer cookout.
Grilled Mexican Street Corn Recipe
I went to the last three years of high school in a part of Nebraska where cornfields stretched as far as the eye can see. Every summer, most of the kids in my small town who were old enough and wanted to earn some money would go to work in the cornfields. So it’s no surprise that I ate my fair share of corn growing up.
But I had never tried this amped up Mexican street food version of corn on the cob until recently and I knew I needed to share it on here in case you haven’t tried it yet either! This is food truck and farmer’s market fare that you might have tried, even if you haven’t been to Mexico!
This is not your everyday corn on the cob, although that’s delicious too just slathered in butter with salt and pepper. But it could be your everyday corn on the cob since the recipe is so easy! It’s definitely perfect for your next backyard cookout, Cinco de Mayo celebration, or BBQ. Just make sure to have plenty of napkins handy, because it’s definitely going to make a mess!
Corn is one of our favorite summertime sides because it has a natural sweetness to it that is brought out even more by grilling it over a flame. There are lots of ways to go about grilling corn on the cob, but for this recipe, we fully shuck the cobs and put them directly on the grill so that the kernels can char slightly, which adds a little bit of smokiness. My girls are always happy to help shuck corn, just as I was when I was a kid and would sit on the back porch at my grandparents’ house, shucking the corn that came out of their garden.
Then once the corn is grilled, it gets coated with an easy sauce made by stirring together Mexican crema or sour cream (there are differences but for purposes of this recipe, I just use whatever I have on hand) with some mayo, bright citrusy lime zest and juice, minced garlic, chopped cilantro, and chili powder, along with salty cotija cheese.
If you haven’t tried cotija cheese before, it’s super tasty and is somewhere between Parmesan and feta on the flavor scale. It comes in a little round block and you crumble it fresh. I absolutely love it on tacos, with beans, and on this grilled corn!
I find the easiest way to get the sauce on the corn is to just stick the grilled cobs in a baking dish and spread the sauce on top, then give them each a turn to coat them evenly in that delicious stuff! You can fancy them up from there by sprinkling with a little extra chili powder, crumbled cotija cheese, and chopped cilantro, and I definitely recommend serving them with extra lime wedges to spritz over the top!
I served these with carne asada, charro beans, and horchata and it made the most delicious Mexican dinner I think I’ve ever had.
More Mexican Side Dishes for Cinco de Mayo
- 8 medium ears sweet corn, husks removed
- 1/2 cup sour cream or Mexican crema
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon chipotle pepper
- 2 teaspoons lime zest, from one lime
- 2 tablespoons lime juice, from one lime
- 1 cup cotija cheese, crumbled and divided
- Additional chopped cilantro, for garnish
- Lime wedges, to serve
- Heat a gas grill to 400 degrees F, or prepare charcoal for a charcoal grill. Husk the corn.
- While the grill is heating, mix together the sour cream, mayonnaise, cilantro, garlic, chipotle pepper, lime zest, lime juice, and 1/2 cup of the cotija cheese. Taste and season with salt, if needed.
- Grill the corn by placing the husked corn directly onto the grill grates. Grill for about 10 minutes total, turning every 2-3 minutes until the kernels are lightly charred on all sides of the cobs. Remove from the grill to a large baking dish or plate.
- Using a brush or spoon, slather each ear of corn with the sauce, then sprinkle with remaining crumbled cojita cheese. Sprinkle with additional chipotle pepper and chopped cilantro and serve with extra lime wedges, if desired.
While not a perfect substitute, grated Parmesan cheese or crumbled feta may be used in place of cotija cheese. Also, if you have ancho chili powder on hand, you could replace the 1/4 teaspoon of chipotle chili powder with 1 teaspoon of ancho chili powder instead.
Adapted from Simply Recipes.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 175 Saturated Fat: 6g Cholesterol: 30mg Sodium: 313mg Carbohydrates: 2g Sugar: 1g Protein: 3g