easy, sides, street foods, vegetarian

Simple Mess-Free Elote

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Also known as Mexican street corn, elote is one of the most famous and beloved street foods in the world. With a short and simple list of ingredients and a quick cook time, this recipe is a great one to keep in mind for spontaneous summer potlucks.

Keep it Contained

A large and tall bowl is a great instrument for elote making. With the right moves you can mix the sauce, dress the cobs, and set aside finished elotes all in one unit. The bowl should be wide enough to contain the whole length of corn to prevent sauce drippage. The walls should be tall enough to rest the finished elotes vertically so all the fixins stay on the corn (where they belong).

Cooking the Corn

The corn can be grilled, boiled, or steamed. Grilling corn gives you a lovely smoky flavor that’s absolutely divine, but not everyone has a charcoal grill or the extra time it takes to cook and clean up. Steaming corn is the ultimate convenience option. It doesn’t take very long and you can cook a lot more corn at the same time compared to boiling. This is my preferred method. But regardless, just choose the method that works for you. The world is your corn husk.


Corn– Regardless of how you cook your corn, be sure to let it cool enough to touch before coating. Any dressings and cheese will melt right off if applied to any corn that’s fresh off the heat.

Sour Cream– Tangy bacteria-fermented cream that is middle of the pack in terms of fat content. Substitute with Mexican crema for a richer flavor and higher fat content. Substitute with plain greek yogurt for a lower fat and lower calorie option

Mayo– Adds a rich unctuousness that plays very well with the tangy lime and sour cream

Cotija Cheese – Crumbly aged Mexican cheese. Can be forgivably substituted with feta cheese if needed. If you are especially desperate you could substitute with parmesan, but I would be disappointed in you.

Lime – A small squirt of lime goes a long way in making elotes the electrifying flavor bomb that it is. Lime is crucial. No substitutions allowed. 

Toppings – My topping lineup includes extra chili powder, cilantro, and tajin. Personally I think this topping combo is elite. Other toppings I’ve seen are tapatio hot sauce, which is valid, as well as crushed hot cheetos, which I think is a little less valid.




Prep time


Cooking time




  • 3 ears corn

  • ¼ cup mayo

  • ¼ cup sour cream

  • ½ cup finely crumbled cotija cheese

  • ½ tsp chili powder

  • ¼ tsp garlic powder

  • ½ lime

  • Garnish
  • tajin

  • cilantro

  • chili powder


  • Remove corn from husk. Wash briefly to remove any small fibers. Steam over boiling water for seven minutes. Remove and let cool until able to handle, but still warm to the touch. About 3 minutes. Optionally skewer with wooden chopsticks or skewers.
  • In a large bowl, mix together mayo, sour cream, chili powder, and garlic powder. Working inside the bowl to prevent mess, brush on the mayo mixture. Coat thoroughly with cotija cheese. Cut lime into wedges and squeeze fresh juice onto corn.
  • To garnish, sprinkle on a light dusting of extra chili powder, tajin and cilantro to taste.

Recipe Video

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