Esquites is a tasty corn salad topped with chili and cotija cheese. It’s incredibly delicious and easy to whip up!
esquites = mexican Street Corn Cups
An elote is the Mexican name for grilled corn on the cob. It is served on a stick or with the husks pulled down to make a handle and topped with spices and cheese.
Esquites is essentially the same grilled or boiled corn, but removed from the cob and served in a cup and eaten with a spoon. In fact, esquites are sometimes called “elote en vaso” or “corn in a cup”. Making esquites is a great way to use up fully grilled leftover elotes.
This popular Mexican snack is made from corn mixed with creamy mayo, freshly crumbled cotija cheese or queso fresco, lime juice, and chili powder. The crema and mayo add a tasty creamy element that brings it all together.
This tasty snack is commonly sold by street vendors in Mexico and is served in a large cup with a spoon to mix all the delicious ingredients together!
How to Make Esquites
COMBINE. In a small bowl, combine mayo, crema, garlic salt and lime juice. Set aside.
BOIL. In a medium pot, bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the corn and cover.
SIMMER. Bring back to a simmer and cook for about 4-5 minutes or until corn is cooked through.
BROWN. Drain water and return the corn kernels to the skillet and cook until a few pieces are a little browned/charred.
ADD. Add butter and the mayo-crema mixture and cook until combined.
DIVIDE & SERVE. Divide into cups and top with cotijja, chili powder and fresh cilantro. Serve warm.
Esquites are often served warm, but they are also served chilled. It just depends on your preference.
Corn. We used frozen corn, but when corn is in season you can cut fresh corn right off the cob to make this delicious dish.
- If you really want to add an extra layer of flavor, grill the corn on the cob, then cut the kernels off the ears of corn. Yum!
- In a pinch you can use canned corn. Drain and cook according to the recipe.
- If you wish to use corn cobs to make this dish note that 2 medium ears of corn can yield about 2 cups of corn kernels which is about 5 oz.
Mayo. Substitute mayo for miracle whip or Greek yogurt, but it will alter the taste and consistency of the recipe slightly.
Cheese. Feta cheese is a suitable substitute for cotija. You can also use Mexican queso fresco.
Variations + Storing
Since this dish is served in a cup you can play around with the ingredients a little more than you can when you’re serving elotes.
- add lime wedges in each cup
- diced avocado
- green onions
- spice it up with jalapeños or serrano peppers
Really that is what makes cooking the best- taking a delicious recipe and making it your own.
Make ahead of time. Combine mayo, crema, garlic salt and lime juice and store it in a container in the fridge. Boil and simmer the corn as directed in step two. Drain the corn and store it in an airtight container in the fridge. When you are ready to make the esquites, proceed with step 3.
STORE. Place any esquites leftovers in an airtight container. It can last in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Reheat in the microwave or stovetop.
For More Mexican Sides, try:
- ¼ c mayonnaise
- 1/3 c Mexican Crema or sour cream
- garlic salt (with parsley flakes)
- 2 tsp lime juice
- 24 (two 12 oz bags) oz frozen corn
- 2 tbsp salted butter
- 1/2 c cotija cheese
- chili powder to taste
- cilantro for garnish
- 1 lime cut into wedges for garnish
- In a small bowl, combine mayo, crema, garlic salt and lime juice. Set aside.
- In a medium pot, bring 1 c. of water to a boil. Once boiling, add corn and cover. Bring back to a simmer and cook for about 4-5 minutes or until corn is cooked through.
- Drain water and return the corn to a pan and cook until a few pieces are a little browned/charred. Add butter and the mayo-crema mixture and cook until combined.
- Divide into cups and top with cotijja, chili powder and cilantro. Serve warm.
- serves 4-6