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Mexican Corn on the Cob (also called Mexican Street Corn and Elote Corn) is a favorite street food in Mexico that’s easy to make at home on your grill. Grill sweet corn on the cob is coated with butter and grilled until it gets a lovely char, then slathered with chili mayo and finished with fresh cilantro, crumbled cotija cheese, a sprinkle of smoked paprika and a squeeze of lime. Serve it in this classic way or mix things up: cut the corn kernels from the cob and serve it as a Mexican Street Corn Salad!

Mexican Corn on the Cob served on a white rectangular platter with lime wedges photographed from above.

When you mention the word ‘Spork‘ to people who live in Bend, Oregon, they swoon. “Oh, have you tried their Spicy Fried Chicken? **groan** It’s amazing!” “But, the Chilaquiles, they’re my favorite – so authentic, with crema and cotija.” And then there’s the Hoisin Pork Belly Sando, the Pork Carnitas Tacos, the Coconut Green Curry Bowl, the Lomo Saltado, the Grilled Mexican Street Corn (Mexican Corn on the Cob). All of these dishes fall into one category, street food – the delicious foods you’ll find from street vendors all around the world. Thus “global street food,” Spork’s tagline.

Mexican Corn on the Cob Ingredients

Corn on the Cob: with husks pulled back and silks removed
Butter: salted butter
Chili Powder: use hot or mild chili powder to manage the level of spice
Mayonnaise: ideally good quality, full fat mayonnaise
Fresh Cilantro: use fresh parsley for those who don’t care for cilantro
Cotija Cheese: or crumbled Queso Fresco or even crumbled feta cheese if that’s what you have on hand
Smoked Paprika: or chipotle chile powder (a smoky spice made with only smoked and dried chipotle peppers ground into a fine powder)
Lime Wedges: for serving, optional

FAQ

How do you cook Mexican corn on the cob?

Corn should be cooked over medium-high heat on a charcoal or gas grill until tender and lightly charred.

Why is it called Mexican Street Corn?

Mexican Street Corn (elote) is sold as street food from stationary and mobile street carts in several regions of Mexico.

What kind of cheese do you use to make Mexican corn?

Cotija cheese is the traditional cheese served on Mexican corn on the cob.

Is queso fresco the same as cotija?

No, Cotija and queso fresco are not the same, though both cheeses are typically crumbled not shredded for serving. Cotija is saltier, drier and more firm than Queso fresco which has a mild flavor and moist texture.

Mexican Corn on the Cob served on a white rectangular platter with lime wedges.

How I got this recipe from a NY Times reviewed restaurant

We first tried Spork’s food when we were looking for a house in Bend, Oregon. Back then, we were handed these mouthwatering morsels through the window of an Airstream trailer, often at some Summer event’s outdoor food court. It seemed like magic that they could conjure such magnificent flavors from such a tiny kitchen, but that was part of the charm.

Spork Logo

So when we first saw the Spork logo and a message “coming soon” on the glass door of a building on Newport Avenue, we were: #1, thrilled, and #2, scared. Could they transition to a full blown restaurant and maintain their mojo?

The answer: a resounding “Yes!”

A few weeks ago we had several ears of corn in our CSA share, so I decided to try making Mexican corn on the cob at home. My muse, Spork’s Grilled Sweet Corn of course. After 2 attempts, I wasn’t satisfied. Something was missing. What to do?

When all else fails, ask.

Hi there,
 
I’m a Bend local and love your food! My husband and I were so excited to see your name on the door of your new restaurant on Newport and then it seemed like it took forever before we could eat there. We were afraid that the magic of the Airstream environment might be lost, but NO! your food is still awesome and we love the vibe in the restaurant.
 
I have a food blog – https://pinchandswirl.com/ – and I’d love to do a post raving about Spork. But I need a recipe. Would you be willing to share your fabulous grilled Mexican street corn recipe with me (and my readers)? I’d so appreciate it!
 
Best regards,
Marissa
 

Reply:

Heya Marissa thanks for getting in touch …

There isn’t really a recipe for that dish … and it’s one of those dishes that you can make however you’d like, really. Grilled corn + butter + mayo + cotija + whatever else you feel like … is how it’s done in Mexico … spice the mayo with things … squeeze lime juice… salt … chili powder … fresh cilantro … you know? There’s a hundred variations … some people grill the corn with the husk on … some don’t …

For us … grill corn lightly (husk off), butter, lime, chili mayo, sea salt, cotija cheese, smoked paprika and cilantro … EAT! 🙂

cheers … let us know if you have other questions … 🙂
Chris

Just when I thought I couldn’t love this restaurant any more.

Chili mayo – that was it!

So make this at home to wow your friends and family, but don’t miss a meal at Spork should you find yourself in Bend, Oregon.

Recipe Pairings and Suggestions

You can also make this into a meal by turning it into Mexican Street Corn Salad (make delicious Corn Stock with the bare cobs) and topping with Grilled Shrimp – start with chips and Mango Avocado Salsa! It’s also perfect paired with Carne Asada or Carne Asada Tacos and Creamy Cucumber Salad or Calabacitas. Make Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas (with homemade Green Enchilada Sauce) and/or White Chicken Chili for a large group. Or use just the grilling method to riff on this delicious Corn Salad!

Recipe Video

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Mexican Corn on the Cob

5 from 4 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Calories: 267
Servings: 4 people
Mexican Corn on the Cob (or Mexican Street Corn) is a favorite street food in Mexico that's easy to make at home on your bbq. Fresh corn on the cob is coated with butter and grilled until it gets a lovely char, then slathered with chili mayo and finished with fresh cilantro, crumbled cotija cheese, a sprinkle of smoked paprika and a squeeze of lime.

Ingredients  

  • 4 ears fresh corn on the cob husks pulled back and silks removed
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 ounces crumbled cotija cheese
  • smoked paprika to taste
  • 1 lime cut into wedges

Instructions 

  • Preheat grill to medium-high.
  • Rub ears of corn with cold butter (easier to coat the raw ears of corn evenly)
  • Grill corn for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender, turning a couple of times to char evenly.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk chili powder into mayonnaise and set aside.
  • Transfer corn to a serving platter and slather each cob evenly with chili mayonnaise. Sprinkle cotija, cilantro, and smoked paprika over cobs. Serve with lime wedges.

Notes

  1. Use parmesan cheese, queso fresco, or feta if you can’t find cotija cheese at your local grocery store.
  2. If you’d rather skip the mayonnaise, use Mexican crema or sour cream instead.

Nutrition

Calories: 267kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 34mg | Sodium: 320mg | Potassium: 280mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 686IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 75mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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33 Comments

  1. Valentina says:

    Not sure what I love more, this corn on the cob or the salad version (with shrimp!!). Both look amazing. SO awesome you got in touch with the restaurant and even more awesome that they wrote you back with (rough) details. Can’t wait to try it. 🙂 ~Valentina

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Thank you, Valentina! I think you’ll love it.

  2. Chef Mimi says:

    That was very nice of them. Sounds like a wonderful restaurant in so many ways. Elote is great but it’s hard to eat!!!

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      haha…it is a bit of a challenge to eat in public, all the more reason to make it at home! 😉

  3. Paula says:

    5 stars
    Love the story and the non-recipe recipe! It reminded me of the section in old Bon Appetit magazines where you asked for restaurant recipes and they tried to get them. Beautiful and easy side dish Marissa, thanks for sharing!

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Thanks so much, Paula! I remember those no-recipe recipes in BA Mag – that’s where I came up with our favorite Mediterranean Egg Salad.