A spicy taste of Mexican street corn, ready in 15 minutes

This easy weeknight dinner tastes like you're on vacation

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Senior Writer

Published April 17, 2022 5:15PM (EDT)

Elote (Mary Elizabeth Williams)
Elote (Mary Elizabeth Williams)

You don’t need an expensive new piece of equipment, or an obscure ingredient you have to hunt for. You just need a fresh way of preparing an old favorite. In "One Way," we’ll revisit classic ingredients and dishes, giving them a new twist with an easy technique you haven’t tried before.

Among the many wonders of Sedona are the spectacular red rocks and vortexes. There's also the Elote Cafe, an award-winning local restaurant that draws devoted fans from around the world for its fresh and modern takes on traditional Mexican cuisine.

I didn't actually get to savor the joy of Elote Cafe and its namesake street corn when I was recently in Sedona. In fact, I couldn't get near it, because reservations were booked a solid six weeks out.

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I did, however, spend my evenings downstairs at my own hotel drinking spicy margaritas as I ate their kitchen's zippy version of elote. It was perfection, as only a meal made of corn, scooped up by more corn can be. 

At home, I can pull together a weeknight knockoff version of this dish, thanks to Elote chef Jeff Smedstad's own recipe and Food52's brilliant tip of roasting a bag of ordinary supermarket frozen corn. It's not the same as a night under the Arizona stars, but it absolutely livens up a dreary spring evening. While it's technically an appetizer, I serve this elote with a big, simple salad and call it dinner. A shot of tequila in some grapefruit soda makes a zero effort prelude.


Recipe: Weeknight Elote
Inspired by Elote Cafe and Food52

4-6 servings
Prep Time
 10 minutes
Cook Time
 15 minutes


  • 1 12-ounce bag frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon (or more!) hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth 
  • 1⁄4 cup Cotija cheese 
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish
  • Corn chips


  1. Preheat the broiler. Spread the corn out on a sheet pan. Broil, stirring once or twice, for 8 to 10 minutes. The corn should be just browned.
  2. Meanwhile, warm the broth in a skillet over medium heat. Add the mayonnaise, lime juice, sugar and hot sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  3. Add the corn, stirring until evenly combined and warmed. 
  4. Serve topped with the Cotija and cilantro, plus loads of chips for scooping.


Cook's Notes

No Cotija? Try crumbled feta or ricotta salata.

If you don't have any limes on hand, fresh lemon juice works just fine.

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By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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Corn Elote Food Mexican Food One Way Recipe