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Mexican Street Corn in a Cup Recipe

This Mexican street corn in a cup recipe for Mexico’s esquites or elote en vaso (which means ‘corn in a cup’), makes a Mexican street food snack or antojitos (meaning ‘little cravings’) that we became addicted to on our first trip to Mexico. Consisting of warm corn kernels with Mexican crema (or mayonnaise/sour cream), cotija cheese (or crumbly feta cheese), lime juice, ancho chilli powder, and coriander, served in a cup, it’s absolutely delicious and super easy to make, especially if you have leftover corn.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Street Food Snack
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 4 Cups
Calories: 287kcal
Author: Lara Dunston


  • 4 corn cobs
  • 1 tbsp neutral oil
  • 1 tbsp coarse sea salt
  • 120 g Mexican crema or creamy egg mayonnaise and/or sour cream
  • 1 tbsp ancho chilli powder and/or dried chilli flakes
  • 120 g cup cotija cheese grated or crumbly feta cheese if you can’t get cotija
  • 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese finely grated (optional)
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander cilantro
  • 2 limes


  • 1 tsp cotija cheese grated or crumbly feta cheese if you can’t get cotija
  • 1 tsp Parmesan cheese finely grated, optional
  • 1 tsp dried ancho chilli powder and/or dried chilli flakes
  • 1-2 birds-eye chillies fresh, de-seeded, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 tsp coriander chopped
  • 1 lime quartered


  • 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.
  • Remove the silky threads from each cob by wiping them off with a damp kitchen paper towel.
  • Soak the corn cobs with the remaining husks in a pot of hot water for 15 minutes.
  • Heat up the barbecue, grill or griddle 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, grill or griddle or grill pan. Season the cobs generously with coarse sea salt.
  • Grill the corn cobs until they’re slightly charred, then turn all cobs to char-grill the next side, and so on, until each corn cob is char-grilled on all sides. This should take around 15 minutes.
  • As the corn cobs are grilling, prep the other ingredients and the garnish.
  • Once the corn cobs are char-grilled on all sides, take them off the stove, transfer them to a chopping board.
  • After the cobs have cooled, cut the kernels from the cobs onto the chopping board, slicing them off with a sharp knife from the top to the bottom of each cob, getting as close to the inner core as you can.
  • Slide the corn kernels into a big bowl, then add the rest of the ingredients – the Mexican crema or creamy egg mayonnaise or sour cream, ancho chilli powder (and dried chilli flakes if you like spice), the grated cotija cheese grated or crumbly feta cheese, the optional parmesan, fresh coriander, and the juice of the lime quarters – and gently combine.
  • Scoop loose spoons of the mixture into cups – don’t jam it down into the cups as you don’t want to break the corn and mush the ingredients together – and distribute amongst the cups. If you’re serving lunch, use large cups or glasses and this should feed four, but if it’s a snack or appetiser, use smaller cups or glasses and you should be able to distribute this amongst six or eight people.
  • Garnish each cup or glass with the remaining ingredients, sprinkling a little of each onto the top of each cup, but check with your guests first if they like birds-eye chillies. You may like to serve those in a separate dish with a spoon.


Calories: 287kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 45mg | Sodium: 2218mg | Potassium: 440mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1380IU | Vitamin C: 38mg | Calcium: 243mg | Iron: 2mg