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Mexican Corn in a Cup Recipe

One of my favorite foods in the summer is corn on the cob! I love when it’s been roasted on the grill like you get at the fair.

Mexican-style is even better with the variety of toppings you can add yourself—butter, cheese and all types of chile.

There’s only one drawback—I hate eating corn on the cob! Ever since I was a little girl I would request my parents to cut off the kernels. Just one of those weird food quirks I can’t explain.

Lucky for me there is what’s known as Mexican corn in a cup or elote en vaso (also called esquites). With the corn in a cup, I can eat it by the spoonful instead of nibbling typewriter style on a cob. That’s a win in my book!

Mexican Corn in a Cup Photo

This is the perfect side dish when you’re grilling authentic carne asada this summer. It’s sweet, salty, creamy and bursting with fresh flavor.

This is party food to me, so it would also be cute in individual Styrofoam cups as an appetizer along with chips, fiesta bean dip and cut fruit with salt and chile.

This past spring I was in San Antonio, Texas during Fiesta week (so much fun!) and of course I got some corn in a cup from one of the street vendors. To my surprise it was served piping hot.

Mexican Corn in a Cup Picture

Growing up I’ve always eaten it cold, which is refreshing on a hot summer’s day, but both ways are delicious!

Whether it’s hot or cold, there are a few ingredients you need to make corn in a cup. The first is obvious: corn. Sweet summer corn that’s been cut from the cob is best, but you could also make this with canned or frozen corn kernels.

Now, I may get some controversy with this next ingredient, but I’ll say it anyways: margarine. That’s right, margarine or vegetable oil spread instead of butter. If that ingredient makes you shiver, go ahead and use the real deal and we’ll say no more about it.

Mexican Corn in a Cup Image

However, I know a lot of people who call margarine or other butter substitutes “butter” and do not realize the difference. My husband was one of those people.

That’s fine if it floats your boat, but I couldn’t figure out why my corn tasted different until I saw what they were actually mixing in…and it was not real butter.

One of my favorite Mexican corn in a cup stands even uses the squeeze bottle “butter”! What a shock to my foodie pride. But it’s insanely, out-of-this-world, mouthwateringly delicious corn.

Mexican Corn in a Cup Pic

You’ll also need mayonnaise to make it creamy. Some people use sour cream, Mexican crema or a combination.

As for the cheese, cotija is traditional, but you can also use parmesan or queso fresco. I love how soft and velvety these cheeses are. The saltiness is perfect for the sweet corn.

Other toppings include lime, cilantro, chili powder (I like ancho chile) and your favorite hot sauce. Mix everything together and serve in cups for an authentic experience!

Mexican Corn in a Cup Photo

Mexican Corn in a Cup Recipe

Rebekah Garcia Kalinowski
Mexican Corn in a Cup is pretty ubiquitous at Texas fairs, from Fiesta to Oysterbake. Make it at home – it’s perfect next to authentic carne asada!
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Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 334 kcal


  • 4 Corn shucked
  • 4 Mayonnaise or sour cream
  • 4 Margarine or butter, melted
  • 8 Cotija Cheese crumbled, or Parmesan
  • 1 Lime juiced
  • Chili Powder and hot sauce, for serving


  • Place corn in a large pot of boiling water. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until tender. Remove corn and drain.
  • Cut off kernels and place in a large bowl.
  • Mix the corn with mayonnaise, margarine, cheese and lime juice until well combined.
  • Serve with chili powder and hot sauce for toppings.


Calories: 334kcalCarbohydrates: 21.75gProtein: 9gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 7gSodium: 637.25mgFiber: 0.25gSugar: 0.25g
Keyword Appetizers, Cheese, Corn, Easy, Family Meals and Snacks, Party Food, Side Dishes, Snacks, Vegetables, Vegetarian
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