My easy Elote: Mexican Street Corn with Jalapeno-Cilantro Crema is a perfect summer side dish for cookouts, potlucks, and more!
One of my favorite things about summer is sweet corn. We buy armloads of it from the local farm stand just down the road. We’ve just about reached the end of our street corn supply this year—sadness!
I only learned of Mexican Street Corn—also known as elote—a couple of years ago. Boy, was I missing out! You can think of elote as “pimp my corn.” Traditional elote (there are a ton of variations) is grilled or steamed, then smeared with mayonnaise and sprinkled with chile powder and cotija cheese.
I decided to take my Mexican street corn recipe in a slightly different direction: rather than mayo, I used unsalted butter. Then, instead of pure chile powder, I used my 5-ingredient Homemade Taco Seasoning. Finally, I blitzed some Mexican crema with a seeded jalapeno, a fistful of cilantro leaves, and a squeeze of lime. I drizzled the resulting sauce over my buttered and seasoned corn cob, then sprinkled with crumbled cotija cheese and chopped cilantro. The result was pure bliss. And by bliss, I mean ear-to-ear corn goodness smeared all over your face. (If you like to keep your face clean, you might consider cutting the corn kernels off the cob before you dress with the crema.)
How to make Mexican Street Corn
Prepping the corn
For the purposes of this post, we grilled the corn right in the husks. To do this, simply peel back the husks (without ripping them off!) and remove the silk from the corn as best as you can. Then, wrap the husks back around the corn and dunk it in a water bath to soak for at least 30 minutes before grilling. Then, grill directly over the heat, turning every 5 minutes, until tender (about 25–30 minutes total). Here’s Phil prepping an ear of corn for the grill:
However, for simplicity, I suggest steaming the corn instead. The results will still be delicious, and you don’t have to fuss with a pre-soak or prepping a grill. In this case, simply remove and discard the husks, silk, and any stem. Place a steamer basket into a lidded pot (set over high heat) with 2 inches of water. When you can see steam in the pot, add your corn cobs to the steamer basket. Steam 7–10 minutes, until the corn reaches the softness you prefer. Meanwhile, make the crema…
How to make Jalapeno-Cilantro Crema
If you can’t find Mexican crema at your grocery, you can also use creme fraiche—or even heavy cream, in a pinch. (Rick Bayless has a great method for making your own Mexican crema here.) Add 1 cup of crema to the blending cup of an immersion blender.
Use caution with the jalapeno: if you’re sensitive to spicy foods, try adding a quarter of a seeded jalapeno. You can always add more, but you can’t take it out. Add a fistful of cilantro leaves and squeeze in 2 tbsp of lime juice. Blitz with the immersion blender until smooth.
NOTE: I’m aware that some people genetically despise cilantro: if you’re a cilantro hater, leave it out and instead use 2 tbsp of parsley and 1/4 cup of chopped scallions.
Dressing your Mexican street corn
I use unsalted butter rather than mayo. The easiest way to butter the corn is to simply hold the corn cob lengthwise over the stick of butter and rub lightly back and forth while spinning the corn cob in your fingers. But this spoils the stick of butter for any other use (in my mind, at least). So, I like to melt the butter and use a basting brush to apply a light coating. (Or go heavy, if that’s your preference!)
Next, I sprinkle each corn cob with about 1/2 tsp of the taco seasoning mix (or to taste), followed by about 1 tbsp of cotija cheese, a drizzle with 1 tbsp of the jalapeno-cilantro crema, and a sprinkling of chopped cilantro.
And there you have it! I hope you enjoy this Mexican Street Corn recipe. Enjoy what’s left of the summer!
Elote: Mexican Street Corn with Jalapeno-Cilantro Crema
- immersion blender
FOR THE CORN
- 8 ears fresh sweet corn
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter - melted
- 1/4 cup taco seasoning - (see Recipe Note #1)
- 1/2 cup cotija cheese - grated (you can also use Parmesan or Romano)
- 1/4 cup cilantro (coriander) - chopped, for serving
FOR THE JALAPENO-CILANTRO CREMA
- 1 cup Mexican crema - (you can also use creme fraiche, or see Recipe Note #2)
- 1 jalapeno - seeded and coarsely chopped (see Recipe Note #3)
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves and stems - coarsely chopped
- 2 tsp fresh lime juice
- Husk and clean silk from the corn cobs. Break off stems and discard. Bring 2 inches of water to boil in a large stock pot with a steamer basket. Add the corn to the basket and lid the pot; steam 7–10 minutes, or until corn is tender.
- Meanwhile, add all ingredients for the crema to the blender cup of an immersion blender. Blend until smooth and set aside.
- For each corn cob, use a basting brush to apply a light coating of melted butter (approximately 1 1/2 tsp). Sprinkle all sides with taco seasoning (approximately 1/2 tsp, or to taste) and cotija cheese (approximately 1 tbsp; see Recipe Note #4). Drizzle with the crema, sprinkle with cilantro, and serve.
- You can use my 5-Ingredient Homemade Taco Seasoning, or your favorite taco seasoning mix.
- You can make your own Mexican crema by following this recipe from Rick Bayless.
- If you are sensitive to spicy foods, I'd suggest adding a quarter of the jalapeno at a time to the mixture. Add more to taste until the spice level is right for you.
- The flavor of cotija cheese can be quite strong, so proceed with caution.