How to Make Elote: Mexican-style Grilled Corn With Mayonnaise, Spices, and Cilantro

Chef Nathan Lyon's elote recipe is a delicious take on the Mexican classic.
 Nathan Lyon

There are only so many classic corns on the cob you can chomp on until you hit your limit. Not so with this Mexican riff on the grilled, buttery classic. Known as elote, this simple dish is a popular street food throughout Mexico and served at Mexican restaurants throughout America, typically as a side dish.

“Normally, the spice used is chili powder, but I [use a different spice] blend to give an extra kick of flavor. I also use a special grilling technique…which allows the corn to get that smoky, char flavor without dehydrating the kernels,” offers Chef Nathan Lyon. Addictive as hell, chipotle powder, cumin, and ancho chile powder balances out corn’s mellow, sweet flavor with heat and depth. Make a double batch, serve family-style by cutting each cob into thirds, and thank us later. Plop lime into a Michelada and chomp away.

Chef Nathan Lyon’s Mexican-style Grilled Corn With Mayonnaise, Spices and Cilantro

Prep time

20 min.

Cook time

60 min.

  • 12 ears of corn, whole and unshucked
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • Spice Mix (recipe below)
  • ¾ cup crumbled cotija cheese or ¼ cup nutritional yeast flakes (for cheese alternative)
  • 1 cup packed roughly chopped cilantro
  • For the Spice Mix: 1 tablespoon kosher salt; ½ teaspoon chipotle powder; 1¼ teaspoon ground cumin; 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
Mix spices together in a small bowl. Preheat your grill to medium-high.
Shuck the corn, leaving one layer of husk covering each cob. Cut off the silk at top of corn.
Place the corn on the grill, close the lid, and grill for a total of 15 minutes, rotating the corn ⅓ turn every 5 minutes, until the corn is cooked and the husks are slightly charred.
Remove the corn from the grill and carefully shuck the corn (hot!). Brush each cob with mayonnaise, sprinkle some of the spice mix and cheese (or nutritional yeast) on the corn and top with cilantro.
Note: To make it vegan, swap nutritional yeast for cotija cheese and use a vegan mayo of your choice.