Are you a corn lover who looks for new ways to enjoy this popular vegetable? If you haven't tried Mexican corn in a cup yet, you'll be in for a pleasant surprise. Our version uses roasted fresh corn so it has the taste of summer. It's sweet, crunchy, creamy, and a tiny bit spicy.
What is esquites?
It is a popular Mexican snack that is sold by street vendors. This snack is very similar to Elote, which is corn on the cob (grilled or boiled) served with savory toppings. This version is its cousin, because the corn is cut off the cob and is served in a cup. Esquites are easier and less messy to eat than elote, which makes it great for entertaining.
How do you pronounce esquites and elote?
Esquites is pronounced as a-SKEET-ays and means "toasted corn" in Spanish. Elote is pronounced as eh-LO-tay.
- Corn: white or yellow (preferably fresh)
- Sticky base: sour cream, mayo, Mexican crema, or butter
- Cheese: fresh cotija, queso fresco, or feta
- Spices: Chili powder, Chipotle lime seasoning, or Tajin seasoning
- Limes: freshly squeezed lime juice, lime zest, and lime wheels for garnish
- Aromatics: white onion, garlic
- Vegetables: jalapenos
- Optional add-ons: chopped cilantro, hot sauce, hot Cheetos (ground to a powder in a blender), tortilla chips for dipping
What corn is best for esquites?
Traditionally, this Mexican dish is made with white corn, but in the U.S. it is made with sweet yellow corn. This recipe tastes the best when you use fresh corn, but in a pinch you can use frozen.
How do you cook the corn for esquites?
- Roast fresh corn kernels, tossed with oil and spices, in a 400 F oven for 30 to 40 minutes.
- Grill the corn on the cob, allow to cool, then cut off the kernels.
- Boil fresh or frozen kernels in salted water, drain, than saute in butter, onions, jalapenos, and garlic.
How do you make Mexican crema?
If you have the time, Mexican creama is easy to make. It is very similar to crème fraîche, but is thinner. To make, mix heavy cream with buttermilk and let it sit for 12 to 24 hours. This process will culture the mixture, making it sour and thicker.
Mexican crema and crème fraîche are both higher in butterfat than sour cream, which makes them better to use in warm sauces because they won't curdle like sour cream.
What are good substitutes for cotija?
If you live in an area that doesn't sell fresh or aged cotija, feel free to substitute the fresh cotija with quesco fresco or feta. If you prefer to use the aged cotija for this recipe, than the best substitute would be Parmesan cheese that you finely grate yourself.
How do you make chipotle lime seasoning?
If you can't find it at the grocery store, it's easy to make your own. Mix up the dried spices and store in an airtight container. This recipe makes 2 tablespoons. In a small bowl combine, 1 ½ tsp. chipotle chili powder, 1 tsp. lime zest, ½ tsp. garlic powder, ½ tsp. onion powder, ¼ tsp. cumin, ¼ tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. coriander, ⅛ tsp. sugar, and ⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper.
What are the calories for this recipe?
For a serving size of ½ cup, there are 479 calories with 30g of carbs. This recipe is also high in vitamin C. For more nutritional information, scroll to the end of the recipe card.
Can I make this ahead?
Yes and no. You can roast the corn and prep the rest of the ingredients ahead of time, but it's best to assemble it just before serving. That way everything tastes fresh.
Is this served hot or cold?
It can be served hot, cold, or at room temperature. If you are serving this at a party, don't leave this dish out for more than two hours, because it contains dairy.
How do you serve this recipe?
The most popular way to serve this recipe is in a clear plastic cup or styrofoam cup (when served hot) and eaten with a spoon. Another way to serve this is as a dip with tortilla chips.
How do you store leftovers?
If you happen to have any leftovers, cover the bowl tightly than place in the fridge. It will keep for up to 3 days. This recipe doesn't freeze well due to the sour cream and mayo.
How can I make the hot Cheetos version?
This version of esquites layers the ingredients in a large plastic cup. Layer the hot sauce, aged Cotija cheese, hot Cheetos (pulsed in blender to a powder), roasted or boiled corn, melted butter or the mayo/sour cream mixture, and lime juice. Repeat the layers until the plastic cup is full.
How to Make
Gather the 9 ingredients: roasted corn kernels, mayo, sour cream, jalapeno, white onion, garlic, lime juice and zest, and chipotle lime seasoning.
Mix the mayo with the sour cream together in a large bowl.
Add the 4 cups of roasted fresh corn kernels. If you prefer, you can grill the fresh corn.
Mix together so the roasted corn is well coated.
Add the chopped white onion and the seeded, minced jalapeno, then stir. If you would like more heat, add the seeds.
Add the freshly squeezed lime juice.
Add the lime zest.
Add the crumbled queso fresco cheese and the minced garlic, then stir until well mixed.
Sprinkle on the chipotle lime seasoning to add color and to give more spiciness to the dish.
Stir in the seasoning.
Place the Mexican street corn kernels (esquitos) in plastic cups. Garnish with a sprinkle of chipotle lime seasoning, lime zest, crumbled cheese, and a lime wheel. Serve immediately and enjoy with a spoon.
- Want to use Hot Cheetos? Blitz them in a blender or food processor and layer it along with hot sauce into a cup with the rest of the ingredients.
- Want to fancy rims? Dip the rims of the glasses in lime juice then a mixture of salt and chili powder or lime zest before filling with the street corn.
- Vegan Version: Use melted vegan butter instead of the mayo and sour cream and omit the cheese.
- Use grilled or roasted fresh corn for the best taste.
- Assemble the salad and cups just before serving.
Other Mexican Recipes
- Vegan Taco Salad
- Vegan Burrito Bowl
- Avocado Cilantro Lime Dressing
- Vegan Refried Beans
- Cowboy Caviar
- Cactus Salad (Ensalada de Nopales)
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Learn how to make Mexican corn in a cup (esquites) with our easy DIY recipe. This popular street food is perfect for summer parties. Our homemade version uses authentic ingredients along with some American twists to make the best esquites you have ever tasted.
- ⅔ cup mayo
- ½ cup full-fat sour cream
- 4 cups roasted corn kernels
- ½ cup white onion, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
- 4 tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed
- 2 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon fresh jalapeno, minced
- ½ cup queso fresco, crumbled (67g)
- 1 teaspoon lime zest
- Garnishes: chipotle lime seasoning, lime zest, cheese, and lime wheel
- Optional: tortilla chips for dipping
- Mix together the mayo and the sour cream in a bowl.
- Add the roasted corn kernels, white onion, garlic, lime juice, and cheese to the mayo and sour cream mixture. Stir until well mixed.
- Place the mixture in small, clear plastic cups. Top with a sprinkle of chipotle lime seasoning, lime zest, and crumbled cheese, then add a lime wheel.
- Serve hot or cold. Eat with a spoon or with tortilla chips.
- Chipotle lime seasoning: In a small bowl combine, 1 ½ tsp. Chipotle chili powder, 1 tsp. lime zest, ½ tsp. garlic powder, ½ tsp. onion powder, ¼ tsp. cumin, ¼ tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. coriander, ⅛ tsp. sugar, and ⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper. Makes 2 tablespoons.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Category: Appetizer
- Method: Mixed
- Cuisine: Mexican
Keywords: elote in a cup, mexican corn snack