This Mexican grilled corn recipe makes Mexico’s corn on the cob street food snack called elotes, which we became addicted to on our first trip to Mexico many years ago. Super easy, it makes use of summer corn and is fantastic on its own or can be served as a barbecue side.
This Mexican grilled corn recipe for the famous Mexican corn on the cob street food snack called elotes is our favourite type of grilled corn on the cob. We became addicted to this in Mexico on our first trip to the country way back in 1993 and we ate it everywhere every chance we got, from Mexico City to Oaxaca, whether it was served either on the cob or in a cup.
When we returned home to Australia after a couple of months travelling around Mexico and the USA (where we had eloped and got married in the Little White Chapel in Las Vegas), we began making this Mexican grilled corn recipe – and hosting Mexican themed dinner parties and sunset margaritas on weekend evenings on our Potts Point balcony.
We were infatuated with Mexico. And there’s nothing like recreating the food and drinks of a place you travelled to and loved when you return home to transport you back to that destination – and that’s what we did with the food and drink of Mexico in our Sydney apartment all those years ago.
It’s a strategy we’ve continued here in Cambodia while we’ve been staying at home in recent months. We adore Cambodian food – which is why we’re researching Cambodia’s culinary history and writing a couple of Cambodia cookbooks – but we also love variety and miss travelling and making our favourite dishes from around the world has enabled us to travel virtually.
Which is why one of the cuisines we keep returning to and would keep making more often if we had access to the ingredients would be Mexican food, so let me tell you about this Mexican grilled corn recipe for Mexico’s corn on the cob street food snack called elotes.
Mexican Grilled Corn Recipe – How to Make Mexico’s Street Food Corn Called Elotes
I have to declare straight up that while our Mexican grilled corn recipe is incredibly delicious, we need to say that it is inspired by the Mexican street food corn we came to love so much on our Mexican trips. This is not an authentic Mexican elotes recipe for a few reasons.
Firstly, we can’t always get ancho chilli powder here in Cambodia, which is why we say “and/or” dried chilli flakes. We have to used dried chilli flakes, which we adore. I can sprinkle chilli flakes on everything, so that’s what we’re sprinkling on our corn cobs.
Secondly, we can’t get Mexican cotija cheese, so while we include it in this Mexican grilled corn recipe, below, we have to use crumbly feta cheese here in Cambodia. We’ve also said that grated Parmesan cheese is optional, and while this is not authentic, it’s incredibly delicious sprinkled on the corn and, combined with crumbly feta cheese, makes up for not having access to Mexican cotija cheese.
Lastly, as you can see from the image above, I’ve sprinkled slices of birds-eye chillies on the corn – something that would not be done in Mexico – and that’s obviously a Southeast Asian influence and reflects our love of chillies and the additional bite that the fresh chillies add.
I also recommend – especially if you’re entertaining – that you serve all the garnishes in additional dishes, and offer bowls of ancho chilli powder/chilli flakes, quartered limes, creamy mayonnaise, fresh coriander (cilantro), and so on, on the side so guests can sprinkle and squeeze as they wish.
Perhaps that’s the influence of our years living in Southeast Asia, where everything from soups to noodles are served with the assumption that people will use condiments to season dishes and adjust them to their own tastes.
If you’re serving these grilled corn cobs as part of a Mexican feast, also see our recipes for authentic guacamole, an easy red tomato salsa, tortilla soup, tacos al pastor, grilled corn salad, chili con carne, nachos, quesadillas, and classic margaritas and micheladas.
However you serve this Mexican grilled corn recipe, we hope you enjoy it and please let us know how it turns out for you. If you tweak this Mexican street food corn snack according to the ingredients you have available or local tastes we’d love to know how it turns out for you.
Notes on this Mexican Grilled Corn Recipe for Mexico’s Elotes
We have very few tips for this Mexican grilled corn recipe as it’s super easy and the recipe below is self-explanatory. If you can, grill the corn cobs for this Mexican grilled corn recipe over an open flame. Here in Cambodia, Terence typically grills on a traditional clay brazier as most Cambodians do, both at home and cooking on the streets.
Terence likes these coconut charcoal BBQ briquettes and now that we finally have an extraction fan over our stove at the apartment we moved to in March, Terence has been using this stovetop Korean BBQ grill pan. And that’s it, this is so easy. Enjoy!
Mexican Grilled Corn Recipe for Mexico’s Street Food Corn Called Elotes
- 4 pieces corn cobs
- 1 tbsp neutral oil - such as vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp coarse salt
- 120 g butter
- 120 g creamy egg mayonnaise
- 1 lime - quartered
- 1 tbsp ancho chilli powder and/or 1 tbsp dried chilli flakes
- 120 g cup cotija cheese - grated (or crumbly feta cheese if you can’t get cotija)
- 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese - optional
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander - cilantro
- 2 limes - quartered
- 2 birds-eye chillies - fresh, de-seeded, finely chopped (optional)
- Remove the outer husks of each corn cob, leaving just 3-4 inner husks on the cob, then carefully peel the remaining husks right back, taking care not to pull them entirely off the cob. (We like to leave some husks on because as they burn they give the corn added smoky flavours.)
- Remove any silky threads from each cob by wiping them off with a damp paper towel.
- Soak the corn cobs with remaining husks in a pot of water for 15 minutes.
- Heat up your barbecue, griddle or grill pan and add a tablespoon of oil, just enough to cover the surface.
- Dry the corn cobs completely with a dry paper towel, then place the corn cobs beside each other on the barbecue, griddle or grill pan. Season the cobs generously with coarse salt.
- Grill the corn until its slightly charred, then turn all cobs to char-grill the next side, then once they’re a little charred turn the cobs again until each corn cob is completely char-grilled. It should take around 15 minutes depending on your heat.
- Once your corn is char-grilled on all sides, pull the husks right back and arrange them on a serving plate or tray. (For 4 people, keep whole; for more people, chop in half.)
- Generously slather butter on each corn cob, then generous spreads of mayonnaise, and squeeze juice of one lime onto all cobs.
- Sprinkle ancho chilli powder, (optional) dried chilli flakes, crumbled cotija cheese, (optional) Parmesan cheese, and fresh coriander onto the corn cobs.
- If you’re entertaining, garnish the tray of corn cobs with additional lime quarters or slices, and if your guests like spice, optional birds-eye chillies.
- Serve additional dishes of ancho chilli powder/chilli flakes and limes on the side so guests can sprinkle and squeeze as they like.
Please do let us know if you make this Mexican grilled corn recipe as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.