Esquites is a tasty, inexpensive Mexican street food dish made from grilled corn on the cob and traditional seasonings. Even if you are far from the streets of Mexico, you can recreate this authentic Esquite recipe right at home in the comfort of your kitchen!
In México, a great amount of our street food is made up of vegetables, fruits, and grains. We love to have:
- Baked sweet potatoes
- Baked plantains
- Fruit salads with cream (like this recipe for bionico)
- Fruit with lime, salt, and dry pepper
- Drinks made with fruits (like agua frescas)
- And of course, corn!
Corn can be prepared in many ways, like fire-roasted, boiled, steamed, made into a cake, or with just the kernels served in a cup, like in this recipe.
Is there anything more delicious than kernels of sweet juicy corn?
Well, yes. Take that same corn and saute it until the kernels are golden brown and smoky. Then, add in some mayonnaise, cheese, and plenty of seasoning...you've just made one of my favorite dishes of all time: esquite!
I'm not the only one who loves this side. Esquites is one of Mexico's most popular street foods. It's characteristically Mexican in flavor and is a tasty treat that can be found for sale at many fiestas, along the beach, or in city squares.
Photo Courtesy of León Felipe Guevara Chávez
These pictures were taken at the beach in my hometown. The cart vendor sells corn on the cob and Esquites (also known as Trotelotes or Troles).
What's the difference between elote and esquite?
So what makes Esquite different from Mexican corn on the cob (commonly called Elote)?
Elote is made when you take a husk of corn, peel back the husks, and grill it. Then, you spread on cream or mayo, add a bit of lime juice, sprinkle on cotija, and some seasoning. An Elote is also cooked steamed or boiled without removing the husks and served with cream, mayo, lime juice and a mix of salt and ground hot dried pepper.
Esquite is essentially the same thing, except the kernels are in a cup rather than on the cob. In this particular esquite recipe, I cook the kernels alongside serrano pepper and epazote for an even more smoky flavor. But, you can skip the serrano and the Epazote, and only use the ground hot dried pepper instead.
Corn Esquite With Serrano Peppers
Every cook might make their esquite a bit differently, but this is my version perfected over years of cooking. If you make yours differently, I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!
Here is a list of ingredients you will need to make this dish...
- Fresh cut corn kernels
- Mexican sour cream (or mayonaise)
- Unsalted butter
- White onion
- Fresh epazote (chopped)
- Cotija (or farmer's cheese)
- Serrano pepper
- Ground chili (or cayene pepper)
- Lime wedges
Please note: For exact measurements of the ingredients listed above, scroll down to the recipe card located at the bottom of this post!
- To enjoy the best experience of this treat. Freshly cut right off the cob will always be the best option to make this esquites recipe
- If you wan to cook this recipe during a time of the year when fresh corn is not available, you can use canned corn or even frozen kernels. The results in flavor and texture will not compare to using the fresh corn. But if there is not other option, use only 2-½ cups of kernels since fresh corn kernels are bigger.
- Crema (aka Mexican sour cream) works very well in this dish. If you aren't able to find it, I suggest using a 50-50 mix of regular sour cream and mayo for tang.
- Chopped fresh epazote and serrano pepper are both optional, but I highly recommend them as they will boost the flavor profile of this dish.
How To Make Esquites Recipe: Step By Step Tutorial
This corn recipe is super easy to make. Here is how you make it:
- In medium-high heat, melt the butter in a skillet. Once melted, add the chopped onion and cook until transparent.
- Add the corn and epazote (if using), serrano pepper, and water.
- Stir and cover to cook, stirring occasionally. It will take between 6-8 minutes to cook.
Tip: Check for doneness and do not overcook. Corn kernels should be firm.
- Season with salt and serve in cups.
- Top with cream and/or mayonnaise and cheese. If you don’t want to use the serrano peppers and use cayenne or chili powder instead, then add it at this point.
- Serve warm with some lime wedges and salt to taste.
What To Serve With Esquites
Esquites are delicious on their own, but if you want to serve it as a side, I recommend serving alongside a steak such as this carne asada recipe. Esquites also taste very good with tacos, such as tacos al pastor.
More Authentic Mexican Recipes To Enjoy
If you enjoyed this recipe for homemade esquites, take a look at some of these other authentic Mexican recipes:
- Mexican Cream Of Corn Soup
- Fried Corn Empanadas With Cheese
- Sweet Corn Tamales With Pork Filling
- Easy 4-Ingredient Corn Bread
- Avocado, Tomato, and Corn Salad
I hope you make this recipe for Mexican corn esquites! If this recipe was of any help to you, come back to let me know your experience. Please leave us a comment done below and tell us all about it!
- 3 cups of fresh cut corn kernels about 4 corn ears
- ½ cup Mexican sour cream or mayonnaise*
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ⅓ cup finely chopped white onion
- ⅓ cup water
- 4 tablespoon of chopped fresh epazote if available or dried epazote (SEE NOTES)
- 1 serrano pepper OPTIONAL
- 6 tablespoons crumbled queso fresco cotija or farmers cheese**
- Ground chili powder or cayenne pepper for topping
- Lime wedges optional
- Salt to taste
- In a medium-high heat, melt the butter in a skillet. Once melted, add the chopped onion and cook until transparent.
- Add the corn and epazote (if using), serrano pepper, and ⅓ water. Stir and cover to cook, stirring occasionally. It will take between 6-8 minutes to cook. Check for doneness and do not overcook, corn kernels should be firm.
- Season with salt and serve in 4 cups. Top with cream and/or mayonnaise and cheese. If you don’t want to use the serrano peppers and use cayenne or chili powder instead, then add it at this point with some lime juice.
Serve warm and enjoy!!
- If Epazote is not found, use cilantro.