There is nothing better than street food, and one of my favorites is vegan elote, AKA Mexican street corn. The amazing combination of a creamy Mexican crema, chili powder, fresh lime juice, and vegan cheese is like a fiesta in your mouth!
Authentic street food is one of the best things ever, right? Well, this vegan elote recipe lets you bring it right into your very own kitchen!
Elote, sometimes known as “Mexican street corn,” is a delicious snack. It is essentially grilled corn with a variety of tasty seasonings added like chili powder, salt, and cilantro.
If you're addicted to Mexican food like I am, then you definitely should also try my recipes for Chipotle burrito bowls and Instant Pot Mexican rice. Because I am just THAT extra, I even have an entire guide for how to order vegan at Taco Bell too!
What is Elote?
Elote is a popular snack that consists of grilled corn with seasoning that generally involves mayonnaise, lime, salt, and chili.
The word “elote” comes from the Nahuatl word for corn on the cob, which is “elotitul.” Corn has long been a staple in Latin America. Specifically, elote is a highly portable and tasty snack that is commonly sold as street food.
Elote balances both sweet and savory as the corn provides some sweetness while the seasoning adds plenty of delicious spicy and savory flavors.
This is a great summertime snack as it’s fun to crunch on outdoors when the weather is nice. Plus, corn is in season, making it the best time for buying elote—or making your own!
Vegan Elote Ingredients
- Corn on the cob – Did you know corn is rich in vitamin C? It also has powerful antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which may help protect eye health. This nutritious vegetable helps make this recipe filling and somewhat healthy.
- Vegan mayonnaise – Vegan mayonnaise is thankfully easy to find nowadays. My go-to brand is Follow Your Heart’s Vegenaise, but you can use any you prefer.
- Vegan sour cream – You can use any vegan sour cream you prefer. One that I like is the brand Forager, which uses cashews as a base.
- Chili powder – Chili powder is an essential part of an authentic elote, just like lime, salt, and mayonnaise. A nice benefit of consuming spicy foods like chilis is that you get a nice dose of antioxidants as well as nutrients such as vitamin A and iron.
- Salt – If you try to be health-conscious like me, it can be tempting to skip or reduce the salt, but don’t! Adding even a little salt really helps bring out the other flavors and is an essential part of the authentic Mexican street corn experience.
- Lime zest – Limes and their juice/zest are high in both vitamin C and antioxidants, making them not only delicious but also highly nutritious to include in your meals and favorite beverages!
- Cilantro – Cilantro is a staple herb in Mexican cuisine and features a range of benefits. They are packed with nutrients such as vitamins C, A, and K, plus a variety of antioxidants.
- Vegan cheese – You can use vegan feta cheese or vegan parmesan, whatever you prefer! Brands that I like are Violife and Follow Your Heart.
- Optional: Cayenne and/or jalapeno – If you want to add some extra punch to your elote, I recommend adding cayenne and/or jalapenos too.
How to Cook Corn on the Cob
So, there are many ways to cook corn on the cob. You can simply boil it, which is a pretty foolproof method. To get more flavor, however, you might consider grilling it. This is especially convenient if you’re already grilling for a BBQ or summer party.
Boiling corn on the cob is super simple. Just shuck the corn (if it isn’t already), and boil a pot of salted water. Then, add the corn and cover for 5-8 minutes until tender. You’ll know the corn is done when the kernels are rich in color and have a tender consistency.
To grill, put a charcoal or gas grill on high heat. You can either grill the shucked corn directly on the grill for about 10 minutes, rotating frequently. Otherwise, you can grill them with the husk on. Just soak the corn with the husks in water first for 5 minutes so they don't burn on the grill. They should grill up in about ten minutes (rotate them after five).
You can also roast your corn in the oven. Just put them in there with the husks on at 350°F for about a half-hour.
Another way to get a more grilled flavor without a grill is to boil them for about five minutes and then finish them in a pan on medium-high heat for another three to five minutes.
To grill corn: Preheat the grill or a grill pan to medium-high. Grill the corn without the husks, turning regularly until the corn is slightly charred on all sides (about 10 minutes). To boil corn: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the corn and boil for about 5-8 minutes or until the corn is tender.
While the corn is grilling, prepare the Mexican crema by whisking together the mayo, sour cream, chili powder, salt, lime zest, cayenne if using, half of the cilantro, and half of the cheese. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.
With a brush or the back of a spoon, spread the crema over each corn on the cob, turning the corn as necessary. Then, sprinkle the remaining cilantro and cheese over each corn on the cob.
Serve immediately with lime wedges for squeezing on top!
There are lots of possibilities with this elote recipe! You can of course have it all on its own as a delicious snack, but it also makes a wonderful side. Here are some serving possibilities to consider:
- Instant Pot Mexican Rice
- Chipotle Burrito Bowl
- Enchiladas / Flautas
- Make it a dip – simply cut the corn off the cob, mix it with the crema and serve it as a dip with chips (this is known as “esquites” or “elote en vaso”)
This is a pretty straightforward recipe, but here are a couple of tips to keep in mind!
- To make the recipe healthier, you can swap the mayonnaise and sour cream for two or three mashed avocados instead.
- To make this ahead of time, cook the corn and whisk together the crema and store it separately until you’re ready to serve. Then, simply brush the corn with the crema, sprinkle with feta and cilantro and you’re in business!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
This vegan elote is a perfect recipe for an easy side or snack because it's...
- Easy – This elote recipe comes together in no time. Grilling the corn is really the only somewhat time-consuming part, but even that doesn’t keep this from being an under thirty-minute recipe.
- Perfect for summer – When the weather gets nicer, people love to get outside. Elote is a popular street food (even being known as “Mexican street corn”) precisely because it’s a fun, portable, delicious snack for when the weather heats up.
- Fancier than it is – The grilled corn and depth of the seasonings make this corn seem like something that would be difficult, but it’s really not! Just about anyone can whip this up no problem.
Let me know if you try out this vegan elote recipe, and if you do, I would love it if you left a rating and review below! Make sure you are also following along on Instagram and Pinterest for more food inspiration.
Other Vegan Snacks and Sides to Try:
- Stuffed Fried Olives
- Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
- Protein Cookie Dough Bites
- Pigs in a Blanket
- Funfetti Protein Bites
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