Esquites (Mexican street corn)



There are as many styles of flavored corn (esquites) in Mexico as there are regions of Mexico. Corn may be served on or off the cobb and grilled, boiled, or steamed. One common mode for street vendors is to serve the loose kernels in a cup topped with mayo, chile powder, and hot sauce. This basic recipe is common on the streets of Mexico City – simple, satisfying and delicious.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
Course: Small Bites
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 4 cups


  • 4 ears of corn (3 cups of kernels)
  • 1 medium white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbl unsalted butter
  • 1/3 Cup water
  • salt


  • 1/2 Cup Mexican crema or mayonnaise casera (Substitute sour cream or mayo if you are unable to buy the Mexican versions.)
  • 4 Tbl finely chopped epazote, if available
  • 1 serrano pepper, finely minced
  • 1/2 Cup cotija cheese crumbled (Substitute grated pecorino or parmesan, if you cannot buy cotija.)
  • 1 lime, sliced in wedges
  • Dried piquin chile powder
  • Salt


Mise en place

  • Husk corn and cut corn kernels off the cobs.
  • Finely chop the onion.
  • Finely mince the serrano pepper.
  • Finely chop the epazote.


  • Melt the butter over medium heat in a skillet.
  • Add the onion and saute until it is transparent.
  • Add the corn, epazote, serrano pepper and water to the pan, stir and cover. Cook 6 or 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. The corn kernels should be a little firm but cooked through.
  • Season with salt to taste.


  • Serve in glasses and top with the crema/mayo and cheese. Sprinkle some chili powder and add a squeeze of lime.
  • Also consider pairing esquites with fish and seafood for incredible flavor and presentation. (Dish and photo by Chef Carlos Gaytan.)


Jamie Kelly is an American marketing professional turned gastronaut. She is eating her way through a full-spectrum exploration of food culture in Spanish-speaking lands and staging ambitious re-enactments of her finds in her own kitchen. To join the expedition, follow at FB: gastro-curious, IG: jamie_gastrocurious and