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A delicious recipe for Mexican Corn (Esquites) made with onion, garlic, jalapeno chilies, cilantro, lime and cotija cheese. Serve it as an appetizer with tortilla chips or a delicious side dish. See recipe notes for” extra creamy”.
You have tried the hard way. Now try the heart’s way, the effortless way.
~Vaster Than Sky, Greater Than Space~
Here’s a delicious recipe for Mexican Street Corn we often have in Mexico highlighting fresh summer corn.
What is Mexican Corn (Esquites)?
In the small town of Sayulita, there’s a little street cart, in the main square lined up with locals serving up cups and cups of Esquites (pronounced es-ski-tess) or Vasito de Elotes, which means “little corn cups”. Creamy corn enhanced with chilies, cilantro and lime, served in a paper cup with a spoon. Sometimes there are tortilla chips.
Such a delicious late-night snack! Street food vendors often line the avenues at night with their flavorful antojitos, which translates to “little cravings” – some of the best food I’ve had there. Since then, I’ve been chomping at the bit to make this at home, waiting for sweet summer corn to come into season.
Mexican Street Corn (Esquites) typically includes mayo and butter to give the corn a delicious creaminess. This is particularly nice if serving as a dip.
Esquites can be served warm (my favorite) as a dip for tortilla chips, or at room temperature as a side dish with other Mexican dishes.
Ingredients in Mexican Corn
- Corn- fresh summer corn, or frozen corn.
- Jalapeno- Fresh jalapeno adds a delicious kick of flavor and heat! Moderate it to your heat tolerance.
- Onion– we use red onion or shallot.
- Garlic- A few cloves of fresh garlic adds a nice bite.
- Cilantro- a must! But if you must substitute, I would use green onion and Italian parsley.
- Spices- Cumin, coriander, chipotle powder really add depth of flavor here.
- Lime Zest- Lime zest brightens this up.
- Mayo– is traditional here along with a little butter. Sometimes I add sour cream for extra richness, and I skip the butter, but butter truly does add incredible richness.
- Cheese- cotija is traditional or sub ground parmesan, pecorino, insalata ricotta- or any “dry” salty cheese.
How to make Mexican Corn
Tip. If using fresh corn, there is a tendency to hold the corn cobs straight up and vertically while slicing downward…. which inevitably gets corn kernels everywhere. Lay the ear of corn down on the counter and slice it downward for a more controlled approach. 🙂 Save the cobs and add to your next batch of veggie stock for delicious flavor.
You can also grill the corn first, especially if you are grilling anyways, and the charred bits of corn add delicious flavor! See recipe notes.
Saute the onion, garlic and chilies until fragrant.
Add the corn, spices, and a splash of water and cover for a few minutes. Stir in the lime zest and herbs, and the mayo.
Taste and adjust salt, heat and lime to taste. Feel free to add a little butter or sour cream if you are in the mood for extra richness.
TIP: Whenever I make a dip, I always try to taste it with the chips I am serving, to gauge the salt.
Sprinkle with the cotija and more cilantro and scallions.
How to serve with Esquites
- Serve in mini cups with a spoon.
- With Tortilla chips
- In lettuce wraps or jicama wraps
- Stuff an avocado
- Serve on a tostada with avocado. and microgreens 🙂
Enjoy the Mexican Street Corn. If you find yourself down in Sayulita, seek out the little street cart in the lively center square after dark. 🙂
Mexican Corn (Esquites)
- Prep Time: 10
- Cook Time: 20
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 8 1x
- Category: appetizer
- Method: saute or gill
- Cuisine: mexican
- Diet: Vegetarian
Mexican Street Corn (Esquites) made with fresh corn, jalapenos, cilantro, lime, and optional cotija cheese. Make it creamy serve as a warm side or dip.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup red onions, diced
- 1–2 tablespoons jalapeno, finely diced
- 2–4 garlic cloves- roughly chopped
- 3 1/2– 4 cups corn kernels (16 ounces, frozen or 4 fresh ears of corn)
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/8– 1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder (or sub-smoked paprika or chili powder for milder flavor) Note: 1/4 teaspoon is quite spicy.
- 1/2 teaspoon salt,
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 3–4 tablespoons water or veggie stock
- 1 small lime- zest, and juice if needed.
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/2 cup scallions
- 1/4 cup Mayo or vegan mayo (see notes), more to taste.
- 1/4–1/2 cup cotija, crumbled (optional, sub-grated insalata ricotta, parmesan or pecorino)
- Heat oil in an extra-large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add onion and saute until golden about 3 minutes, stirring often. Lower heat to medium-low, add garlic and jalapeno, cook until fragrant, 4-5 minutes.
- Add fresh corn, spices, salt and pepper. Saute for a few minutes, stirring frequently. Add a splash of water stir, cover and steam for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the lime zest. Fold in 2/3rds of the cilantro and scallions. Stir in the mayo. Taste. Adjust the salt, and lime to taste (feel free to squeeze lime if needed; I find the zest to be enough).
- Serve in a bowl, sprinkle with remaining cilantro, scallions and optional cotija serve with tortilla chips. Serve at warm or at room temp.
- Creamy DIP: If you want it extra creamy, stir in a couple tablespoons of sour cream/ and or butter. Butter is traditional. It’s ridiculously good with a bit of butter. Best eaten warm!
- Grill! You can also grill fresh corn whole (shucked) directly on the grate, letting it a little charred in places. Let it cool, then slice the grilled kernels off the cob and add to the sautéed shallot-garlic-chili mixture in the skillet. Proceed with the recipe form there.
- To make this vegan, use vegan mayo, vegan sour cream or vegan butter. 🙂
- Serving Size: ½ cup
- Calories: 114
- Sugar: 2.7 g
- Sodium: 125.4 mg
- Fat: 9.1 g
- Saturated Fat: 1.4 g
- Carbohydrates: 8.2 g
- Fiber: 1.1 g
- Protein: 1.5 g
- Cholesterol: 2.9 mg
Keywords: Mexican Corn, corn dip, mexican corn dip, creamy corn dip, Mexican corn recipe, Mexican corn salad recipe, Mexican street corn salad, Esquites, Esquites recipe
Such a great recipe. I was looking for a vegetable dish to serve with Cajun meatballs & this worked really well. Will definitely be making this again very soon.
Oh great to hear! Cajun Meatballs sound yummy!
I love this recipe – definitely one of my favorites. I found a new tool that helps getting the kernels off the cob – it’s called the Kernel Razor and here’s the link:
Oh cool Steven! I’ll have to try this- the link won’t show up here, but people can google if interested. Thanks for the tip! 🙂
I’ve been making this for over a year now. It’s fantastic. Rarely cook corn any other way!
I made this to go along with a salmon and couscous salad for guests. The corn was the highlight of dinner! It was incredibly delicious. I added just a tablespoon of light mayo. This recipe will be on my Summer rotation.
Glad you enjoyed it Catherine!
This corn was delicious! And so easy to make l! We usually grill our corn in the air fryer so we did the same this time and then fried it as the recipe instructs. It was a hit with all the family . Thanks for another amazing recipe!
Thanks Maureen- glad you enjoyed this!
I like this recipe because Im not a mayo fan. Grilled the corn and it was tasty and simple!
Made this and added a couple tablespoons of vegan mayo as you said and left the cheese out. So good!
There is nothing tastier than fresh corn off the cob! This recipe looks delicious. thanks