Bring the heart of Mexico right into your kitchen with none other than Mexican street corn. Think sweet, salty, tangy, and spicy flavors all packaged together to form mouth-watering elotes!
There aren't many recipes out there everyone can agree upon. But this just might be the one...
What are elotes?
Elote in Spanish means "corn," referring to the whole ear. In street food form, elotes are grilled corn, brushed with mayo or crema, covered in cotija cheese, and topped with chile powder, lime, and the like.
The result? An on-the-go snack that's smoky, sweet, creamy, and tangy all at the same time.
Starting to see why Mexican street corn is enjoyed by everyone with a pulse?
You can find vendors (eloteros) on the streets of Mexico selling elote pierced with wooden skewers and covered in signature toppings to provide the ultimate flavor experience.
Elote comes from the Nahuatl (Mexicano) word elotitutl, which loosely translates to tender cob.
Corn has been a staple in the Mesoamerican region since the Aztec civilization.
That's a long time.
Although it's gone through many changes since the Aztecs, corn is still the main ingredient in a large majority of modern Mexican meals (like this one).
Although you can find it all around the country, it is said that elotes originated in southern Mexico.
Regardless of who made them first, you're going to want to make Mexican street corn over and over again!
Are elotes vegan?
This antojito (snack food) is not traditionally vegan. But knowing how delicious elotes are, we had to make a dairy-free recipe so everyone can experience food heaven!
If you can't tell, we are very excited to share this recipe with you!
Mexican street corn is generally eaten from a wooden skewer, but any way you serve them will work just fine!
Eat one by itself, or serve it alongside some of our favorite meals like:
We're so excited for you to try this recipe. Like we keep saying, elotes are a crowd-pleaser!
🍲 Key ingredients
For a complete ingredient list and step-by-step guide, scroll down to our recipe card.
Taste: with a sweet, buttery flavor (and a serious crunch factor), corn steals the show in this recipe. Don't have a grill? No problem! Cooking your corn cobs on a cast-iron griddle not only makes nice char marks, but it also lends a smoky flavor — just like when you get it on the street corner!
Health: because of its high fiber content, corn is great for digestion. Not only that, corn is actually full of vitamins and minerals like vitamin B3, B5, B6, and potassium.
Fun fact: corn is edible right out of the husk. Cooking it merely warms it up and adds flavor (like if you grill it).
Mayo or Mexican crema
Taste: depending on which recipe you look at, it may call for mayo or Mexican crema. Regardless of what you choose, you'll want a creamy, thick, and slightly tangy base to spread all over your cob. We sometimes like mixing the two together!
Health: if you use our Mexican crema, you'll receive health benefits from the cashew base. Since we're obsessed with heart health, we have to tell you that eating cashews have been linked to a lower risk of heart disease. So, all the more reason to drench these elotes.
Taste: this well-known Mexican cheese is salty, creamy, and mild in flavor. The crumbly texture is perfect for sticking to the corn cob. If you don't have cotija cheese, some other great options include vegan queso fresco or parmesan.
Health: our vegan cotija is made from a base of almonds, which provide a healthy dose of magnesium. Did you know low magnesium levels can cause high blood pressure regardless of your weight?
Options: here's where it gets interesting. We've tried many different types of chile powder on our elotes, each providing a unique characteristic. But, the seasoning you need on your Mexican street corn is Tajin!
If you can't find Tajin in your usual grocery store or a Latin American market, try to find ancho chile powder or even chipotle chile powder.
Taste: Tajin plays two flavor roles in this recipe. It's slightly spicy and tangy. As you can imagine, it pairs incredibly well with smoky, sweet corn.
If you have questions about this Mexican street corn recipe, don't forget to check out our FAQ section at the bottom of this post.
Step 1: preheat a cast-iron griddle to medium-high and remove the husks from your corn cobs.
Step 2: prepare your toppings! Mix about half the lime juice with your vegan mayo or crema. Cut the other half of the lime in wedges for serving. Crumble or grate the cotija cheese and chop the cilantro.
Step 3: when the griddle is hot, cook the corn directly on it for about 10-12 minutes, making sure to rotate each cob throughout to get char marks on all sides.
Step 4: once the corn is cooked, brush with vegan mayo, a sprinkle of cotija, tajin or ancho chile powder, and a lime wedge.
Note: we enjoy these served with chopped cilantro and Valentina hot sauce, but they're not necessary.
These never seem to last very long in our house. But if you have leftover elotes, follow these storage instructions to keep them super fresh.
Keep the toppings separate from the corn cobs if possible. It's best to use the corn within 2-4 days if it's cooked. If the toppings are on the cobs, get them in your belly within 1-2 days.
Corn on the cob is freezer-safe and will keep for up to 6 months. Blanch the cobs first, allow them to cool, then transfer to an airtight container or freezer bag for storage.
You can bake the corn cobs on a parchment-lined pan at 350 degrees F until warm. You can also cut the corn and toppings away from the cob and heat them in a baking dish or skillet.
Cook the corn and prepare all toppings. Allow the corn to cool, then store everything covered in your fridge. When you are ready to serve, lightly brush the cobs with vegan butter or oil and quickly char over medium-high heat. Serve with all the fixins'!
💭 Tips & variations
We'd like to share some tips and variations we learned while experimenting with this Mexican street corn recipe:
- Grill or griddle. To get that smoky flavor, make sure you use a grill or griddle to get those nice char marks.
- No grill, no problem. You can also steam or boil the corn if you don't have access to a grill or griddle.
- Mix all the toppings together. Instead of adding them one-by-one, you can always mix the garnishes together in a bowl to save time.
- Leave on the shank. The bottom of the cob doubles as a stick to hold, so don't cut it off if you want to keep your hands clean.
- Brush on the mayo or crema. Using a brush rather than a knife makes this job 100x easier.
- Switch up the cheese. If you don't have the right ingredients, try out our queso fresco or parmesan, which both go well with this recipe.
🍴 Tasting notes
We love elotes, and we know you will too. They're:
If you try this Mexican street corn recipe, please rate it and leave us a comment below! Want to stay up-to-date with new recipes? Subscribe to our newsletter or connect with Broke Bank Vegan on social media. Happy eating!
Mexican Street Corn (Elote Recipe)
- Cast-iron griddle
- Basting brush
- 4 ears of corn ($3.39)
- 1 lime, juiced ($0.06)
- ⅓ cup vegan mayo ($0.64)
- ⅓ cup vegan cotija cheese ($0.42)
- 2-3 teaspoon Tajin seasoning or ancho chile powder ($0.05)
- Chopped cilantro optional
- Valentina hot sauce optional
- First, preheat a cast-iron griddle to medium-high and remove the husks from your corn cobs.
- In the meantime, prepare your toppings. Mix ½ the lime juice with vegan mayo (or Mexican crema). Cut the other half of the lime into wedges for serving. Crumble or grate the cotija cheese and chop the cilantro. Set aside.
- When the griddle is hot, cook the corn directly on it for about 10-12 minutes, making sure to rotate each cob throughout to get char marks on all sides.
- Once the corn is cooked, brush with vegan mayo, a sprinkle of cotija, tajin or ancho chile powder, and a lime wedge. Some people (like us) also enjoy these served with chopped cilantro and Valentina hot sauce. Enjoy!
- If you don’t have access to vegan cotija cheese, try using queso fresco, parmesan, or feta.
- If you don't have vegan mayo, these are delicious with Mexican crema (or a mix of both).
- The ancho chile powder provides a smoky flavor to help replace what a grill offers.
- Optional ingredients are not reflected in the price or calories of our recipes.
- We calculate nutritional information for our recipes with Cronometer.
- Recipe cost calculations are based on ingredients local to us and may vary from recipe-to-recipe.
- All prices are in USD.
♻️ Similar recipes
For more tasty Mexican antojitos featuring corn, check out our:
- Corn dough empanadas to truly experience authentic Mexican finger food.
- Bean and cheese sopes if you want tons of flavorful ingredients served on a crispy corn dough.
- Easy tamales for a step-by-step guide to finally learn how to make this traditional snack.
- Sweet potato and black bean quesadillas if you want a quick snack or a weeknight dinner packed full of flavor.
If you have fresh corn on the cob available, that's ideal. But, frozen corn works in this recipe as well.
You can definitely fry the cobs in a pan. The preferred method is of course a grill, but don't let that deter you! A griddle or pan both work.
Yes, this recipe is suitable for those following a gluten-free diet.