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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.

EatingWell Magazine, May 2020


Recipe Summary

20 mins
20 mins

What Is Esquites?

Esquites is 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/or cilantro is sometimes added to the mix. Elotes, another Mexican street food, is similar to esquities 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 is easier (and a lot less messy) to eat.

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/or 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


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Preheat grill to medium-high.

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

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

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

Nutrition Facts

1/2 cup
154 calories; protein 5.4g; carbohydrates 13.9g; dietary fiber 1.5g; sugars 4.5g; fat 9.6g; saturated fat 3.8g; cholesterol 19.3mg; vitamin a iu 311.8IU; vitamin c 6mg; folate 32.4mcg; calcium 128.1mg; iron 0.4mg; magnesium 32mg; potassium 218.6mg; sodium 348mg.