Elotes (Mexican Corn Cup)

by Kris on May 2, 2012

I had never tried, or even heard of, elotes until I moved to Texas. When I say elotes, I don’t mean the literal translation of corn on the cob (Thanks for that Greg). What I’m speaking of is this particular street dish that many taco stands sell here in Texas.

The first time I had it was at a gas station oddly enough. In most states, gas stations are where you fill up your car and grab some form of processed food for the road. It’s not much different here in Texas, except many of these gas stations also have incredible tacos and elote stands.


Traditionally elotes are comprised of roasted corn cut fresh from the cob smothered in cream, crumbly cheese, cayenne pepper and hot sauce. I decided to make my own version two ways. A traditional version using dairy, and a vegan alternative using cashew cream.

So many of my vegan friends have complained recently about the difficulties in eating Mexican cuisine. If a dish isn’t covered in cheese or meat, there’s a good chance there’s still animal products involved. Tortilla’s for example are usually made with lard, not so vegan friendly. With Cinco de Mayo quickly approaching, I wanted to share this Mexican dish in a way everyone can enjoy.

Traditionally the corn is roasted on a grill. I don’t have a grill at the moment, so I roasted the corn in my oven. If you do have a barbecue, try roasting the corn on an open flame. It will add a great smoky flavor to the dish. What I love the most about elotes is how easy it is. It makes a great side dish for a Cinco de Mayo barbecue or any summer gathering for that matter.

I was able to pick up the ingredients at my local Mexican grocer. If you live in an area where these ingredients are difficult to find (Canadians, I’m looking at you) there are some substitutes you can make. Cotija cheese is a hard, salty and crumbly cheese that is very similar to feta. Crema Mexicana varies by location. In some cases it is simply the Mexican version of heavy cream or creme fraiche. I have also seen versions that are a combination of heavy cream and sour cream. Feel free to try the recipe using these substitutions, just don’t leave out the hot sauce!

Have you ever had elotes before? Where did you first try it?

Authentic Street Style Elotes

  • 4 cobs of corn
  • ½ cup cotija cheese, crumbled
  • ¾ cup crema Mexicana
  • juice from one lime
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • hot sauce to taste

Preheat oven to 350.

Place the cobs of corn (still in husks) in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes. Remove husks and cut the corn off the cob. Drizzle with lime juice.

Place the corn in a medium bowl and add the crema Mexicana. Toss to well combine.

Divide the corn between four cups. Top each cup with crumbled cotija cheese, a ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper and a dash of hot sauce. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Vegan Elotes
4 cobs of corn
½ cup firm tofu, crumbled
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. lime juice
1 tsp. nutritional yeast
½ tsp. vinegar
½ cup cashew cream
¼ cup vegan mayonnaise
juice from one lime
1 tsp cayenne pepper
hot sauce to taste

Preheat oven to 350.

Place the cobs of corn (still in husks) in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes. Remove husks and cut the corn off the cob. Drizzle with the juice of one lime.

In a small bowl, combine crumbled tofu, salt, one tablespoon of lime juice, and vinegar. Stir well to coat the tofu. Let rest 10 minutes. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast.

Place the corn in a medium bowl and add the cashew cream and vegan mayonnaise. Toss to well combine.

Divide the corn between four cups. Top each cup with crumbled tofu mixture, a ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper and a dash of hot sauce. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Stephanie May 3, 2012 at 1:56 pm

This sounds insanely good. I love corn so so much and look forward all gloomy, snowy spring for it to come. And I even know where a little latin market is so I can score a few of those hard-to-find-in-Canada ingredients!

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Kris May 3, 2012 at 10:01 pm

Oh awesome! Latin markets are hard to come by in Canada. Or at least in the Ottawa area.

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amanda May 3, 2012 at 9:03 pm

oh man, i love elotes, though i think they make them a little different in chicago. . . and now i want to take a road trip.

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Kris May 3, 2012 at 9:53 pm

How do they make it in Chicago? I love how each city has it’s own variation!

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Dina May 9, 2012 at 12:12 pm

sounds good!

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Kris May 10, 2012 at 9:57 am

Thanks Dina!

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Jen May 21, 2012 at 10:13 pm

Weclome to Texas! Have you been to Fuel City Tacos on Industrial in Dallas? Fantastic Elotes! Also, when you get your grill, you can make a modified on-the-cob version by slathering the grilled corn cob with a mixture of mayo (or crema, or both), chile powder, paprika, and lime juice and then roll in the cotija or queso fresco… SOOOOO good!

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Kris May 21, 2012 at 11:50 pm

Thanks! Love Fuel City. I really like the elotes at El Si Hay in Oak Cliff too! When I finally get a grill I’ll give your method a try. Thanks for sharing Jen!

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Lasso the Moon December 6, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Yes! The Fuel City version is my biggest craving with this pregnancy! Thanks for sharing your recipe ideas. Can’s wait to try. I need to stop by that place in Oak Cliff, too!
Anna

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Sean Claes September 4, 2012 at 9:02 am

That’s close to the Corn in a Cup I grew up with in Laredo, Texas… but the one I know is assembled in layers… it goes Corn/butter/cheese/corn mayo/cheese/corn/butter/cheese/corn/mayo/cheese/Valentina Hot Sauce

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jade September 9, 2012 at 4:01 pm

and this basically explians why I dont like mexican food -_-

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Kathleen Ballanfant September 30, 2012 at 9:36 pm

Believe it or not, elotes are sold at the White Sox stadium in Chicago, and that’s the first time I tasted elotes although I live in Houston and grew up in San Antonio! Now I make it all the time, so a couple of suggestions: substitute chiplotle powder for the cayenne – won’t be quite the bite but all the flavor. And try Salvadorean cream, which is harder to find but decadent on the corn!

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Merce October 3, 2012 at 12:29 pm

Thanks for posting the recipe! When I was a little girl (back in the 70′s), my mom and dad would take us to Mexico every summer to visit family and friends (via car, starting in Chicago). It was always such a thrill to get that cob on the stick during a stroll around San Luis Potosi.

I was in Dallas for my brother’s surprise 40th this past April and we ended up at your typical Mexican market. I thought I was just going to get your standard elote on a stick, but it was in a cup! It was such a treat to have it this way as it was ‘plated’ piping hot with the fixings you want (I got mine loaded). As I strolled through the market, it stayed hot and just about burned my mouth out with the spice too, but I couldn’t stop eating it. I live in south FL now, so no chance of getting it here unless I make it.

I have to say, your food photography is beautiful!

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elaine October 20, 2012 at 7:32 pm

I am also in the Chicago area and first tried elotes when I moved into my apartment complex. There are vendors who push their carts around the complex ringing bells. Sometimes, they are selling ice cream and sometimes they have elotes, mangoes, or crushed ice with a sno-cone syrup. I love the mango with lime and red chili powder. But, I love elotes so much more!
They don’t come around in the winter so I found a quick and easy substitute. I use canned corn, drained and heated, then add mayo, parmesan (the kind in the green shaker can), and red chili powder. The vendors usually add margarine but I already feel indulgent enough with the mayo.
Thank you for posting these recipes, I am glad to know the original ingredients but even more excited to have the vegan recipe. I think I will play around to find a mix that I think is still as tasty s the original but a lot healthier.

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