How to Make Elotes Corn in a Cup Recipe

How to Make Elotes Corn in a Cup Recipe_1

The first time I had elotes aka corn in a cup, it was with my good friend Nyia. We were at the downtown Dallas Farmers Market. Fall was in fill swing with all it’s pumpkin paraphernalia. We came a across a little old school food stand with a huge sign that said ELOTES!

Nyia’s eyes almost popped out of her head and pulled me in the direction of said food stand. What the (insert expletive) is elotes, I asked? She squealed (she’s gonna love that I said that she squealed when she reads this – it’s my memory and that’s how I remember it.) it’s corn in a cup! Basically, the best damn thing you will ever put in your mouth.

There were two Mexican ladies systematically cutting corn from the cob and then adding it to a styrofoam cup. Then they add butter, sour cream, cheese and hot sauce between the corn layers. They were super fast and I couldn’t really decipher everything they were using. We placed our order and the lady asked if we wanted everything. OF COURSE, I said. I prayed for the best.

The corn in a cup finally made it to our hands and I was instructed to mix it all up. You gotta get all the flavors on the corn! (that’s what she said – Nyia that is). I scooped a big spoonful into my mouth and basically gobbled it down like a big fat hungry pig. No jokes – I am for real. It was some of the best dang stuff I had ever eaten.

Flash forward about 10 years and a nickel…

A few friends of mine (Angelina and Steph) had just gotten back from a road trip. We were doing a little get together as we often do – they informed me that they were bringing fresh Iowa corn. The best corn ever grown and that I should cook it and we could eat it. Sounded like a good idea to me!

I was like.. hmm, what should I make. After a little processing I hatched a plan to make elotes!! Only this time I was going to make an elotes bar so everyone could put whatever they wanted in their corn in a cup concoction.

I grilled some shrimp and chicken and served it alongside the elotes aka corn in a cup. In addition, I added a delicious cucumber, radish & onion vinegar salad as a side. It was sooo good! This will definitely become a tradition at McBoxHage Manor!

Of course I had to up the game and make an Avacado Poblano Mexican Sour Cream Sauce to go between the yummy corn layers.

How to Make Elotes Corn in a Cup Recipe_1

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How to Make Elotes Corn in a Cup Recipe


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Serves: 6-8 people

Ever had elotes? Well let me school you on one of the best things you may ever put in your mouth. It's layers of corn, sour cream, butter, hot sauce and cheese all in a cup.
  • 8 ears of Corn in the Husk
  • 10 oz of Queso Fresco (Mexican Cheese)
  • 16 oz Mexican Crema (Mexican Sour Cream)
  • Tapatio Hot Sauce - Or your favorite hot sauce
  • Salsa
  • 1 Stick of Butter
  • 1 Bunch of Cilantro
  • Mexican Chile Powder Seasoning
  • 1 - 2 Avocado's & 1 Polblano (if you are making the Avocado Poblano Mexican Sour Cream Sauce
  • Salt to taste
  1. Make the Avocado Poblano Mexican Sour Cream Sauce first. You can use the "Mexican Crema" by itself, however this sauce will make it even better! Click link for recipe.
  2. I have a super fast way to cook corn that will blow your mind. Check the video out or the full details. I cooked 4 ears of corn at a time in the microwave for 10 minutes. I let it sit for a couple minutes to cool just a little. Then I cut off the bottom part of the corn and basically squeezed it out of the husk. Careful - it's super hot. You have to do the squeezing part within a couple minutes. Don't let it cool off. Cook the other 4 ears and repeat. This will blow your mind!
  3. The corn will be almost cooked - you will finish the rest on the grill or a grilling pan on the stove. Lightly oil the pan if you are inside. If you are going out then oil up the corn on the cob. You can use butter or olive oil. Add some salt and pepper and cook until you get some nice color on the corn.
  4. Slice the corn from the cob. I placed mine in a big bowl so my friends could just scoop out what they wanted.
  5. Crumble your Mexican Queso Fresco "fresh cheese". It crumbles very easily.
  6. Put your butter into a measuring cup and melt. I left my butter in the measuring cup so we could just pour it over the corn.
  7. All you have to do is start layering the ingredients as you wish. There is no wrong or right way. Just make it how you like. I am a control freak so I did pretty layers and was consistent with my ingredients. My friend G pointed out that it didn't matter because you mix it all up and the end to eat it! She's right, I just liked how pretty it looked.
  8. Remember to add some salt and chile powder in between your corn layers for flavor.
  9. You can serve in a bowl or a cup.
  10. I served a few things on my elotes bar that aren't pictured. I chopped up an avocado and had grilled shrimp and chicken to toss into the mix.
Most grocery stores have an ethnic aisle that will have most of the Mexican ingredients. I live in Texas so these are super easy to find at most grocery stores. The Mexican cheese and sour cream (look for Mexican Crema) are in the cheese and dairy area.



  1. Joe says

    Actually, Christopher, (and I understand these were Mexican ladies selling the corn this way) this is NOT elotes. Elotes is always on the cob and usually has a skewer or the husk pulled back for a handle. The cup version is esquites- exactly the same just the corn off the cob. I am guessing they called it elotes as more Americans seem to be familiar with that name.

  2. Jim says

    Many time mayonnaise is used in elotes, not sour cream. In Mexico the US version of sour creamis hard to come by, they use crema, a slightly differing taste and thinner texture then our version of sour cream. Try it with the mayo, I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Leftovers are awesome cold too!!

  3. Mo says

    I’m sorry, but this is really not elote. It’s not even “esquite” (elote in a cup). I saw in an earlier comment something you said about adding Tex to your Mex. If you thought this was great, I would love for you to try an authentic version of elote that uses mayo instead of sour cream, and chili powder (NOT Tajin!!) instead of hot sauce, and probably MOST importantly, cotija cheese instead of queso fresco. I’m really not trying to be negative, but I do believe that since you liked this so much that you would actually drop dead if you tasted authentic elote. It really is that good.

  4. says

    Hello Christopher
    I love the idea of this recipe. We are hosting a rehearsal dinner at our house on Cinco de Mayo and I thought these would be faulous – but I was hoping for something I could make in advance – is there any way to make this early, then scoop into glasses to serve?
    Thank you!

    • Christopher Box says

      Hey Monica! I love love love this idea. My mind kind of goes to doing an elotes bar? Just make everything in advance. Maybe display a couple already made to an idea of how to make them? Your guests are going to love this.

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