Mexican Street Corn Cups {Esquites}

Esquites. Mexican Street Corn in a Cup! This corn is buttery, warm and creamy. Top with some crumbled cotija, lime juice, hot sauce, chili powder, or kick it up a notch with some crushed Hot Cheetos!

These cups of Mexican street cereal are possibly the best snack, appetizer or side dish. Sweet, juicy fresh corn fried and cooked in a small amount of butter and mixed with some mayonnaise and crema.

This hot, creamy, Mexican corn salad is then topped with crumbled cheese, lime juice, hot sauce and even some hot cheetos! This dish is perfect to serve with some classic ground beef tacos, with a classic margarita or with some classic Tex Mex cheeses Enchiladas.

What are esquites?

Esquites are Mexican street corn in a cup. Also known as elotes en vaso. And possibly one of my favorite dishes to get from small Mexican food stores. Esquites are made with corn cut into the slice, then it is roasted or cooked. I've seen it happen both ways.

How to make Esquites:

  1. Remove shells and silk from corn. Then cut the grain off the slice.
  2. Melt butter in a large frying pan, add corn and salt, cook for approx. 6-8 minutes until corn is softened. Oil can be replaced with the butter if desired. Can also be added garlic at this time if desired.
  3. Remove corn in a large bowl and add mayonnaise and crema.
  4. Serve in cups or from the bowl as a large portion. This dish is best served hot right after it is cooked.
  5. Top with your favorite toppings!

How to make street cereal in a cup, cook the cereal grains in butter, add crema and mayonnaise, stir Cotija cheese, a sauce made from chili powder and lime juice, the finished cups topped with hot cheetos or chili sauce and diced coriander.

What do you top Esquites with?

Some traditional toppings are crumbled cotija cheese, hot sauce, crema, a squeeze of lime juice and a sprinkle of chili powder. Some of my favorites I prefer to use queso fresco. It's a crumbly cheese that looks like cotija, it's just not that salty, it's a little more soft.

But my new favorite topping thanks to a local restaurant, crushed hot cheetos!

What is the red sauce on street corn?

The red sauce, often seen on top of grilled street cereal or topping street cereal in a cup, is a simple blend of chili powder and lime juice. Simply squeeze half a lime into a small bowl and add the chili powder until it is a nice, pourable red sauce.

On close view of street cereal in a cup topped with a drizzle of homemade chili sauce.

Other recipes you might like:

  • 4 ears of corn
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ tbsp mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons crema


  • freshly squeezed lime juice, 1 kg per cup
  • cotija or queso fresco, crumbled
  • hot cheetos, crushed
  • Remove shells and silk from corn. Then cut the grain off the slice.

  • Melt butter in a large frying pan, add corn, salt, stir and cook for approx. 6-8 minutes until corn is softened.

  • Remove corn in a large bowl, and add mayonnaise and crema. You can add more if you want a creamy texture.

  • Serve warm in a large bowl or in individual cups. Top with the desired filling! Enjoy.

Red Chile sauce

  • Squeeze the lime juice into a small bowl.

  • Add chili powder, and stir, adjust with more juice or chili powder as desired, should be a pourable texture.

Serving: 1 g, Calories: 276 kcal, Carbohydrates: 33 g, Protein: 5 g, Fat: 16 g, Cholesterol: 24 mg, Sodium: 346 mg, Fiber: 4g

Recipe first published May 20, 2019. Updated May 6, 2020 with new photos and additional information for chili sauce.

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