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Smoked elote, or smoked Mexican street corn, is corn on the cob served south of the border style. It makes a perfect side dish with any grilled protein and the smoke flavor really brings out that sweet corn on the cob taste. If you love the sweet appeal of juicy corn, you’re going to love this Mexican style side dish or snack. Pair it with anything you want – a bowl of chili, a few other appetizers or even a margarita (or two!)

Smoked Mexican street corn (elote) on a table.

Mexican street-style corn is made with lime juice, chilli lime powder, herbs, and cheese, for a flavour everyone is sure to love. It’s a simple recipe and ideal for an outdoor cookout.

A bowl of hearty chili and all the best chili toppings makes such a tasty meal, especially with smoked Mexican corn on the side. For dessert, consider a crowd-pleasing batch of creamy Mexican rice pudding.

Overhead view of smoked elote corn cobs with cotija cheese and Tajin chili lime powder.

Why You’ll Like This

  • Incredibly tasty:  You really can’t beat the flavour of an elote recipe if you are a fan of Mexican food. The sweetness of the corn is showcased with the crumbled cheese, lime, chile powder, and herbs.
  • Ideal for summer:  Whether you’re celebrating Cinco de Mayo or firing up your Traeger grill or pellet smoker to smoke some steaks, this classic Mexican street food is a worthy side dish to grill too.
  • Easy:  This corn recipe served by street vendors in Mexico is simple to prepare. Once the corn is seasoned, smoked and charred on the grill, you just need to roll it in crumbled Cotija cheese.
A smoked street corn with a bite out of it.

Ingredients for Smoked Elote Mexican Street Corn

The most important part of this corn on the cob recipe is of course the ears of corn. If you can get fresh-from-the-farm corn, that’s always delicious. Check the kernels without damaging the husks – they should be firm and smell sweet. You also need fresh limes, chilli lime powder (the best by far is Tajin), butter, salt, oregano, garlic powder, mayo, Cotija cheese, and chopped cilantro.

The ingredients to make smoke elote street corn.

How to Make Elote, or Smoked Mexican Street Corn

For more detailed instructions, with weights and measurements, jump to the printable recipe card.

Soak the corn:  Soak the ears of fresh corn in water with lime juice, and also soak your skewers if they’re wooden.
Prep the corn:  Remove and discard the silks but leave the husks on the corn.
Make the creamy, spicy seasoning:  Mix butter, lime juice, garlic, salt, oregano, and chilli-lime seasoning.
Apply the seasoning to the corn:  Brush the butter mixture over the corn kernels, then close the husks back up again, wrapping with twine or kitchen string to seal.
Smoke the corn:  Grill corn for about an hour in the smoker and then remove and discard the husks.
Finish the dish:  Brush butter over the corn, add a layer of mayo, and finally, roll in cheese, chilli-lime seasoning (Tajin) and cilantro and serve the easy street corn recipe hot. Garnish with fresh lime wedges if desired.

Brushing butter on an ear of corn.
Adding the toppings to the smoked corn.

Substitutions and Variations

I find this BBQ side dish with creamy, spicy seasoning really well balanced as it is. You have the spice of the chilli, the tang of the lime juice, the softness of the cheese, and the creamy mayo. But if you want, you can swap the Cotija for feta cheese.

Smoked elote corn cobs with cotija cheese and Tajin chili lime powder.

You can also omit the fresh cilantro if you aren’t a fan. Try Mexican crema rather than the mayo or add some liquid smoke to the seasoning mixture if you’re going to use a gas grill, so you still get that wonderful smoked corn flavour. Smoked paprika or chili powder could be used in place of the chili lime seasoning.

Close up view of smoked elote corn cobs with cotija cheese, lime and herbs.

What to Serve with Smoky Elote

This summertime side dish pairs wonderfully with pretty much anything else you want to put on the grill or add to the smoker. Try the hot, fresh grilled corn with smoked beer can chicken, smoked fish tacos or with brats in beer.

Elote corn on skewers.

Smoked turkey breast would also be great with this Mexican corn dish. It really does go with anything!

An ear of elote corn with a bite out of it.

Storage Instructions

  • Store:  Best served right away, but leftovers will keep for 3 days, and you can slice the kernels off to use in another recipe.
  • Freeze:  Corn freezes well, but if you want to freeze some, don’t add the mayo and cheese mixture.
  • Reheat:  You can warm corn back up in the microwave or oven.
Smoked Mexican street corn (elote) on a table.

Mexican Corn Elotes FAQs

What can I use instead of mayo?

Mayonnaise is great when making elotes because it helps the cheese and cilantro to stick. You could also use “crema Mexicana” (which is basically a thick mixture of buttermilk and heavy cream) or sour cream if you have some on hand.

Is there another cooking method for elote?

If you don’t want to fire up the grill or the weather isn’t on your side, you can make these using another method. About 35 minutes in the oven at 400 degrees F would cook the corn, or you can give it 10 minutes in simmering water instead.

Mexican street corn that someone has started to eat.

Smoked Street Corn Recipe

5 from 86 votes

Smoked Elote – Mexican Street Corn

By: Bella Bucchiotti
Take your taste buds on a journey south of the border with this smoked elote recipe. This Mexican street corn pairs with any grilled protein.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients 

  • 6 Ears corn, in husks
  • 5 Cups water
  • 2 limes
  • 2 tbsp chili lime powder, Tajin, divided
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 cup mayonaisse
  • 2 cups cotija cheese, grated
  • 1 tbsp cilantro, chopped

Other

  • wood skewers

Instructions 

  • Juice 1 lime into a large bowl of water. Soak corn in husk for 1 hour. Soak skewers in a separate glass of water. (If using wooden skewers).
  • Preheat smoker to 225 degrees F for 15 minutes.
  • Peel husk to expose the corn and remove the silk- keep the husks attached.
  • Slice 1” off the top off the corn and insert the skewer.
  • Melt the butter and combine with juice from 1 lime, garlic powder, salt, oregano, and chili lime seasoning.
  • Brush corn with the butter and close the husk over the corn. Secure the husks with kitchen twine
  • Pour remaining melted butter into a baking tin and add to the smoker.
  • Place corn directly on smoker grates. Smoke corn and butter for 1 hour.
  • After 1 hour remove the corn and butter from the smoker. Remove and discard the husks.
  • Allow the butter and corn to slightly cool for about 5 to 8 minutes.
  • Mix together the cotija cheese, 1 tablespoon chili lime seasoning, and chopped cilantro, then spread onto a cookie sheet or plate.
  • Brush the corn with the butter. Next, spread a thick layer of the mayo over the entire surface of the corn.
  • Roll each in the cheese. Lightly press the cheese into the corn to adhere.

Nutrition

Calories: 532kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 54g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 18g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 101mg | Sodium: 1207mg | Potassium: 79mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 732IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 273mg | Iron: 1mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

Smoked elote is becoming increasingly popular north of the border, served at Mexican restaurants, festivals and fairs. Follow this elote recipe to make your own authentic Mexican street corn.

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Bella Bucchiotti

Bella Bucchiotti is a Canadian-based syndicated food, travel, and lifestyle writer, photographer, and creator at xoxoBella. She founded xoxoBella in 2015, where she shares her love for food, dogs, sustainability, fitness, crafts, outdoor adventures, travel, and philanthropy to encourage others to run the extra mile, try new recipes, visit unfamiliar places, and stand for a cause. Bella creates stress-free and family-friendly recipes for weeknight dinners and festive feasts.

 

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7 Comments

  1. This is literally one of my favorite dishes ever. Every time my sister in law comes over, she makes them. YUM!

  2. I always thought that Mexican street-style corn had mayo on it (which I can’t stand) so I’m excited to give your unique recipe a try instaed!

  3. Corn is one of my favourite food but I’ve never tried it like this, I’ll have to give it a go