Elotes is grilled corn on the cob, usually spread with mayonnaise (or sour cream or crema) and topped with a salty crumbly cheese, chile powder, cilantro and lime juice. Elotes – Grilled Mexican Street Corn is a crowd-pleasing, show stopper for your backyard BBQ or summer cookout party! Naturally gluten-free with option for dairy-free, too.
Elotes or Grilled Mexican Street Corn is ones of those simple but impactful dishes that is so fun and great for a party. It is popular at fairs, farmers markets, and is a great street food. This isn’t exactly a fork and knife food so just embrace the delicious mess!
Elotes is an amazing option for entertaining. Mexican Street Corn is always a crowd pleaser that takes traditional grilled corn to the next level. It pairs alongside nearly everything from chicken wings, to burgers, you can grill up fajitas or make homemade carnitas and your elotes would pair beautifully.
You want to start by preheating your grill to high. Next, we want to get the sauce started. This recipe is minimal on ingredients, which is great and easy, but the ingredients that we use compliment the whole dish and really pack a punch. We include several swaps that are available below with the recipe.
You will combine the sour cream (or crema) and the mayo, with the garlic, lime juice, chipotle pepper, cilantro and salt. Whisk well to combine. Give a taste and adjust the seasonings to your preference. Set aside. As the sauce sits, the flavors will naturally development and taste better with time. If not using straight away place in an air-tight container in the fridge. Extra sauce can be stored up to 1 week in the fridge in an airtight container.
Husking the corn is a great activity to get kids involved. Give them a paper bag and take them outside and start husking! It’s a great way to get some laughs be part of the cooking process. Don’t worry if there are still some strings of the husks on the corn, they will burn off on the grill.
When you are ready to grill the corn, brush grill grates of your gas grill with oil then heat to high. I used some melted ghee. Be careful if using a spray oil because your grill will flame up which can be scary and dangerous.
Place the corn on the grates on high heat, cook about 3 to 4 minutes until the corn kernels begin to look charred and golden brown. You may hear a popping here and there which means you should rotate your corn. Every few minutes you want to turn the corn with tongs, until cooked through and lightly charred on all sides, about 10-12 minutes depending on how hot your grill is.
When the corn is browned on all sides, remove from the grill onto a serving plate or sheet pan. Immediately brush each ear of corn with the crema mixture. Do your best to get it all the way around. This is a messy food – just embrace it. It is truly a fun food to eat with a group, at the lake, in your backyard, or even just standing next to the grill.
Sprinkle with crumbled cojita cheese, add some fresh cilantro and additional chipotle pepper, if you would like. Squeeze some fresh lime over all the corn and serve immediately with extra lime wedges.
Another option if you are not interested in eating off the cob no problem! Simply use a sharp knife and cut the corn off the cobb. Place the corn in a bowl. Mix in a few tablespoons of the sauce, top with cilantro and cojita cheese, extra lime juice, and people can serve themselves that way. Cut off the cob, Elotes is great as a less-messy side dish, it can also get stirred up to combine and served a delish dip as an appetizer with veggies or chips and you can even spoon it over a bit ‘ol salad with your favorite protein. It’s loaded with flavor.
If you can’t tolerate diary there are some great lactose free sour creams options, cheese options, and avocado mayo is a great option and can be found at many local grocery stores these days. If you like spice add a little more chipotle pepper if you don’t simply forgo it. Like many of our recipes this is versatile, and you can substitute ingredients to fits your needs.
We hope that you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!
- 8 ears of corn, husked
- ⅓ cup Mexican crema, or sour cream (see notes)
- ½ cup avocado oil mayonnaise
- ½ cup fresh cilantro, finely minced, plus more for garnish
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon ground chipotle pepper, guajillo or ancho chili powder, to taste
- lime zest from one lime
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, from one lime
- ½ cup cotija cheese, crumbled
- Lime wedges
- Start your grill and set to high.
- Husk corn
- Make the sauce. Mix the sour cream, mayo, lime juice, cilantro, a sprinkle of salt, a sprinkle of chipotle pepper, minced garlic. Set aside or in the fridge.
- Brush grill grates with oil or butter. (Spray can cause the grill to flame up)
- Place corn on grill and cook about 3-4 minutes per side. Stay close by because you want to rotate the corn so that it gets charred.
- Remove corn and set on a baking sheet or serving plate.
- Brush the corn with the crema sauce. Make sure to get around all sides.
- Sprinkle with crumbled/grated cojita cheese, fresh cilantro, and chipotle pepper if you want some more spice.
- Place some extra lime wedges close by for an extra squeeze of lime on the corn.
If you are dairy-free leave out the sour cream or use a dairy-free sour cream and skip the cotija cheese and add an additional sprinkle of sea salt at the end, or try a salty dairy-free crumbled cheese that you like, vegan parmesan would be nice. For vegan you can make with my vegan mayo and a vegan cheese.
You can also make this without the mayo and just use sour cream. You can also try swapping in some Greek yogurt to the mixture. We find the mayo and sour cream combo to have the best flavor.
Spice options: If you’re sensitive to spice, choose a mild chili powder blend. For a little spicy and a little tart Tajin, which is a mix of chili powder and lime.
If you can't find cotija cheese try finely crumbled feta cheese or finely grated Parmesan instead.