Elote with Chili Rub and Cotija Cheese

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I used to hate grilled corn. When I was little, my family would go strawberry picking at a local farm during the summer and we’d always get lunch there afterward. My sister would order corn on the cob wrapped in tinfoil and I’d always go for frozen custard with strawberries on top. I didn’t understand how she preferred corn to ice cream until last night.

Elote, or Mexican grilled corn, is better than every other type of corn. I say that with 100 percent confidence. It’s smoky, spicy, sweet, tangy from the lime juice, and delicious with cotija cheese. It’s so good that I could have eaten four in a row. Unfortunately, I only had two cobs.

A word to the wise: Buy kitchen string for this recipe. I forgot so I ended up putting the husks directly on the grill. It worked for a while until parts of the husk started getting super charred and falling into the bottom of the grill. Then, one of the cobs caught on fire. I guess the experience taught me how I’d react in an emergency, because I stayed calm and actually patted the fire out with an oven glove.

It all ended up working out. The fire gave the cobs more smoky flavor and brought out the sweetness in the corn. Charred corn is the best corn.

Another key element to this dish is the chili rub. It might freak some people out to rub mayonnaise on corn, but let me tell you, it’s worth it. I mixed some ground chili into mayo and spread it on the cobs once they were done grilling.

The spicy mayo does a lot of things, including adding spice, making it easier for cotija cheese to stick to the outside of the cobs, and bringing out the smoky flavor in the corn. It also tastes really good with lime juice.

So yeah. The moral of this story is, any food that you hated as a child can be transformed into something you like. Well, maybe not ANY food, but most food. I used to think that corn was bland until I charred it on the grill. Now, I want to eat corn on the cob every night for dinner.

Here’s a song that I’ve been jamming out to lately. My sister told me about Jay Som last week and I’ve been listening to this song on repeat. The bridge gives me chills.

Elote with Chili Rub and Cotija Cheese 


2 cobs of corn, husks pulled down and tied with kitchen string
vegetable oil for brushing cobs
1/4 cup mayo
1 tsp chili powder
2 Tbsp cotija cheese
lime wedges for serving


Fire up the grill. Brush the cobs with vegetable oil until they’re evenly coated. Place them on the grill and allow them to cook for about 10 minutes. Check them every so often to make sure that they’re not burning and that the sides are grilling evenly. Turn them with kitchen tongs to make sure every side gets part of the flame.

In the meantime, make the chili rub. Combine the mayo and chili powder in a small bowl.

Once the corn is brown and slightly charred (or more charred if you like it that way), brush it with the chili rub, sprinkle cotija cheese on top, and squeeze lime juice on top. Enjoy!


About Emily Wasserman

Bonjour! My name is Emily and I'm a writer based in St. Louis. I'm also a home baker with a small business, Amélie Bakery. I'm a self-proclaimed francophile and love French pastries and baking.
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