This char grilled Mexican street corn always reminds me of summer. Elotes is slathered with a creamy tangy topping and then sprinkled with cotija cheese, fresh cilantro, and hot sauce.
I’ve always called elotes “Border Corn”
In my high school days, I lived in San Diego. Summers always meant the beach. Sometimes we would drive down to Baja, Mexico for the day, get tacos and hang out on the beach. Long days of sun and salt water are such a fond memory. It was on one of these trips where I first experienced “border corn”.
The street vendors in Tijuana sell all sorts of things while you are waiting in line to cross the border back into California. There are a wide variety of goods available; from snacks and blankets to things like handcrafted necklaces. But, what I really remember was this grilled Mexican corn on the cobb sold from little carts.
The sweet charred flavor of the corn, the salty cheese, and hot sauce with just a squeeze of lime was always so good after a day at the beach. It would come wrapped in paper. The cheese would be slightly melty, and the hot sauce spicy and vinegary. I was feeling a little homesick for my So Cal roots this year and thought that this 4th of July would be the perfect time to get nostalgic with my old favorite – border corn.
How to make authentic elotes.
- Buy fresh corn on the cobb with the full husks on.
- Grill the corn with the husks intact until the husks are dark and charred.
- Remove the corn from the grill and peel back the husks.
- Slather the charred corn with the Mexican crema and mayo mixture.
- Sprinkle with cotija cheese.
- Top the corn with fresh cilantro, hot sauce or tajin, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
How to make elote corn on a gas grill?
- Heat the grill on medium-high.
- Pull back the husks on each cob and remove the corn silk.
- Pull the husks back up so that the corn is covered.
- Soak the corn in cold salted water for about 10 munites while you are waiting for the grill to heat up.
- Remove the corn from the water and shake off the excess water.
- Place the corn on the grill, close the lid and cook for about 20 minutes.
- Turn the corn every 5 minutes.
PRO TIP: You can also slather the corn with a compound butter instead of soaking in the water. This is a great alternative to make a variety of different flavors of grilled corn. There are so many options. Check out this post on compound butter and go crazy!
Another way that to use this grilled corn on the cobb is in my corn salsa recipe.
The corn salsa is amazing with grilled meat. I especially love it with grilled seafood. Of course, you can east corn salsa on tacos. When I make vegan tacos for my daughter with roasted sweet potatoes and black beans the crunchy corn salsa adds great flavor and texture. Make sure you grill some extra corn and make this salsa too!
What is the difference between Mexican crema and sour cream?
Crema is a Mexican version of creme fraiché. It has a slightly sour flavor and is thinner than American sour cream. The creamy topping for traditional elotes is made by mixing crema and mayonnaise, approximately in equal parts. Some people add fresh cilantro and lime into the creamy mixture and some people leave it to sprinkle on top. I leave it up to you.
What is a good substitute for Mexican Crema?
If you can’t find crema easily you can substitute a mixture of sour cream plus a little lime juice and salt. I typically use about one-third of a cup to a half of a cup of sour cream plus the juice of one lime. I add in a little bit of Himalayan salt.
What is a good replacement for cotija cheese in a recipe?
Cotija cheese can also be difficult to find depending on where you live. There are a few kinds of cheese that you can use as a cotija cheese substitute. One choice is a pecorino or a parmesan Reggiano.
Mexican Street Corn
- Preheat the grill to medium-high.
- Soak the corn in salted water (without removing the husks) for about 30 minutes.
- Place the corn on grill in the husks. Close the grill.
- Rotate the corn every 5 minutes to ensure even charring. The husks should be well blackened.
- Remove and let cool for about 10 minutes. Cover with a towel to keep in steam.
- Peel husks from the corn.
- Mix the crema and mayonnaise together. (You can also add extra cotija cheese and fresh cilantro to this mixture.
- Slather with the crema mixture.
- Sprinkle with cheese, salt and pepper, hot sauce and cilantro. Add a squeeze of lime.