Esquites (Mexican Corn)


This street corn dish, known as esquites, is served in cups instead of on the cob for all the flavor of elote without the mess.

Active Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
20 mins
3 cups

What Are Esquites?

Esquites are a corn-based Mexican street food typically served in a cup. Corn kernels are taken off the husk and combined with mayonnaise, lime juice and tangy cotija cheese then sprinkled with chili powder. Scallions, chopped jalapeño and cilantro is sometimes added to the mix. Elotes, another Mexican street food, is similar to esquites except that the corn is served on the cob and the flavorings are slathered on the outside. Because it's served in a cup, esquites are easier (and a lot less messy) to eat.

Why Is It Called Mexican Street Corn?

Esquites are called Mexican street corn because they're typically sold by vendors from food carts on the street. The food carts are either mobile or stationary and found in the public squares of Mexican cities or towns. You can also find esquites at outdoor food markets and festivals.

Is Mexican Street Corn Healthy?

Corn is a starchy vegetable that provides lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that are essential for healthy vision. Despite the myths about sweet corn, it's a nutritious food when incorporated into a varied diet.

How to Jazz Up Esquites

Esquites celebrates the flavor of sweet, in-season corn at its best so there is little you have to do to make this dish special. We chose to grill the corn to give the kernels a slightly smoky flavor, but you can skip that step by cooking it only briefly in boiling water before removing the kernels or you can remove the kernels and saute them with a little chopped garlic, shallot and scallion. Tangy cotija cheese is typical in esquites, but queso fresco, another Mexican crumbling cheese, offers a lighter flavor and a creamier texture if that is your preference. And finally, if you like the heat, try adding a chopped jalapeño or serrano to the dish in place of (or in addition to) the scallion in this version. Chipotle pepper adds another smoky element, but ancho chili powder or hot to mild chili powder with a mix of spices can take the flavor in another (delicious) direction.

Additional reporting by Hilary Meyer and Jan Valdez


  • 4 large ears corn, husked

  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise

  • 2 tablespoons sour cream

  • 1 scallion, sliced

  • ¾ cup crumbled cotija cheese or queso fresco, plus more for garnish

  • ¼ teaspoon lime zest

  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • Pinch of chipotle chile powder


  1. Preheat grill to medium-high.

  2. Grill corn, turning occasionally, until lightly charred and tender, 8 to 12 minutes total.

  3. Meanwhile, whisk mayonnaise, sour cream, scallion, cheese, lime zest, lime juice, salt and chile powder in a medium bowl.

  4. Cut the kernels from the cobs. Add to the bowl and toss to combine.



Nutrition Facts (per serving)

154 Calories
10g Fat
14g Carbs
5g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 6
Serving Size 1/2 cup
Calories 154
% Daily Value *
Total Carbohydrate 14g 5%
Dietary Fiber 2g 5%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 5g 11%
Total Fat 10g 12%
Saturated Fat 4g 19%
Cholesterol 19mg 6%
Vitamin A 312IU 6%
Vitamin C 6mg 7%
Folate 32mcg 8%
Sodium 348mg 15%
Calcium 128mg 10%
Iron 0mg 2%
Magnesium 32mg 8%
Potassium 219mg 5%

Nutrition information is calculated by a registered dietitian using an ingredient database but should be considered an estimate.

* Daily Values (DVs) are the recommended amounts of nutrients to consume each day. Percent Daily Value (%DV) found on nutrition labels tells you how much a serving of a particular food or recipe contributes to each of those total recommended amounts. Per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily value is based on a standard 2,000 calorie diet. Depending on your calorie needs or if you have a health condition, you may need more or less of particular nutrients. (For example, it’s recommended that people following a heart-healthy diet eat less sodium on a daily basis compared to those following a standard diet.)

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a special diet for medical reasons, be sure to consult with your primary care provider or a registered dietitian to better understand your personal nutrition needs.

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