The BEST Esquites Recipe | Mexican Corn in a Cup

Esquites or Mexican corn in cup or vaso elote, whichever name you know this delicious corn snack, you must try this recipe! This is one of Mexico’s top street food snack and you can make it vegetarian or vegan.

How to Make MExican Esquites

Esquites The Corn Snack You Gotta Try

I’m so excited to be sharing with you today one of my all-time favorite snacks, esquites!

In Mexico, esquites, are among the most popular snacks. You can buy them from the street vendors in any town of the Mexican republic.

Mexican Esquites Street Vendor
Public Domain Photo via Wikipedia

What are Esquites

Esquites is a very simple dish that is super easy to prepare. Think of esquites as an elote off the cob — still with all the delicious toppings and flavors, just easier to eat.

For esquites, fresh ears of corn are shucked and sautéed or simmered in a light broth with some seasonings and spices.

The recipes tend to differ a bit from each Mexican region. They can be quite simple or a bit more flavorful like my recipe. However ingredients such as corn kernels, water or broth, onion, garlic, fresh chilies, epazote, and salt are among the most common.

When you buy esquites from street vendors they’ll ask you if you want broth or would prefer it dry. Do make sure to ask if the broth is made with just the water, corn and ingredients (vegan) or does it have chicken broth.

Ingredients used to make esquites or Mexican corn in a cup

What Toppings to Use

The toppings too can range from regions, but more specifically from person to person.

There’s always the debate of crema or mayonnaise. (I prefer mayo because it adds more flavor, in my opinion.)

Queso cotija or fresco may be used. Freshly squeezed lime juice and ground chile powder or hot sauce may be used.

Which toppings and their quantities are entirely up to each individual’s taste.

Elote en Vaso

Among family and friends we call it both esquites and elote en vaso. The later literally translates to corn in a cup, and this is perhaps the English name most of you have heard.

Any name is fine, really.

The BEST Authentic Mexican Esquites Recipe

Esquites Are Not a Salad!

Among many of the non-Mexican food bloggers, for some reason, esquites are incorrectly referred to as “Mexican street corn salad”. This is incorrect. This is not a salad!

You can totally make a corn salad inspired by esquites, but it’s not the same thing so it shouldn’t have the same name. Maybe call it grilled corn salad….

Esquites can either be sautéed with oil or simmered in broth, both with any number of additional ingredients. Then are served with toppings in a small cup or a corn husk. The ingredients are never pre-mixed for you.

I’m trying to understand the misinterpretation, but I don’t get it. Do feel free to explain it to me in the comments, perhaps I’m missing something.

How to Make Esquites

How to Make Mexican Corn in a Cup

Fresh corn kernels are really the best, and if you can get white corn variety the dish will have the most authentic taste. but you could also use frozen or canned corn when fresh is not in season.

The rest of the ingredients are pretty straightforward with the only exception being the fresh epazote herb, but you can either use dried or substitute it with some fresh cilantro.

So it’s really a matter of chopping, sautéing, simmering, scooping into a cup, and finishing each cup with some delectable toppings.

To make this a dish 100% vegan, use vegan mayo and use a crumbly vegan cotija cheese.

How to top Mexican corn in a cup

The results are beyond delicious and full of tender savory and sweet corn kernels, touches of chile bits, creamy and tartness of mayonnaise, more creaminess from crumbly cheese, sweet and tart lime, and another touch of heat from chile powder.

Once you take a bite you’ll see why this snack is so beloved in Mexico and slowly become popular with people all over the world.

You really want to make them as soon as possible!

The BEST Authentic Mexican Esquites Recipe

Authentic Esquites Recipe

Amigos I really hope you give my esquites recipe a try. This is one of the more authentic traditionally recipes you’ll find — of course it does have a few special touches that I added myself. But I think you’re going to love it.

The Best Recipe for Esquites
The Best Recipe for Esquites

The BEST Recipe for Esquites | Mexican Corn in a Cup & Nancy Lopez-McHugh
Esquites, or elote en vaso, is a very popular street food in Mexico, and with this quick and easy recipe you can make it at home! You’re going to love the tender corn kernels simmered in a light broth and topped with tangy, creamy, spicy garnishes.
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Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 4 small servings
Calories 241 kcal


  • 4 whole ears of corn shucked
  • 3 Tablespoons of butter
  • 1/4 small white onion roughly chopped
  • 2 whole garlic cloves very thinly sliced (optional)
  • 2 whole Serrano peppers roughly chopped (seeds removed for milder option)
  • 1 whole sprig of epazote or sub with 1 teaspoon dried epazote
  • 2 cups vegetable broth I used half a vegetable bouillon cube with water
  • pinch sea salt fine texture
  • 4 Tablespoon mayonnaise to taste (use vegan or regular)
  • 4 Tablespoon cotija cheese use my vegan cotija or sub with queso fresco or in a pinch parmesan cheese may be used
  • 2 limes freshly squeezed
  • 4 teaspoons ground red chili pepper cayenne works great


  • Do watch the video guided visual instructions. Shuck the corn to remove all of the husks and the silk. Rinse to remove any extra silks, but if a few are left it won't hurt anything.
  • Melt the butter in a hot pot, then add the onion and garlic and sprinkle a small pinch of the salt over them, sauté until soft. Next add the serrano and cook for a couple of minutes before adding all of the corn kernels. Sauté until the kernels begin feeling just a bit crispy.
    How to Make Esquites
  • Now add the epazote, the broth and give the ingredients a good stir. This is completely optional, but I like to add a couple of the leftover corn cobs that have had their kernels sliced off, to the pot to give the broth extra flavor.
  • Next cover the pot and bring to a boil, once boiled uncover and continue simmering until the liquid has halved and the kernels are nice and tender. Taste and adjust salt if necessary — but remember you'll be adding cheese too which is a bit salty.
  • Once the esquites are cooked you can allow to cool slightly then serve in small cups. This recipe makes enough for four small servings. Remove the corn cobs, if used, ad the sprig of epazote.
    How to top Mexican corn in a cup
  • Ladle some corn and as much broth as desired (it tastes really good, so do add it) into each cup. Top with some mayo, cheese, lime juice and ground chile pepper — the amounts are to taste and not everyone likes everything, customize it to your taste.
    How to Make MExican Esquites



*This recipe makes 4 small appetizer and size servings. You can easily double or triple the recipe for larger portions.
**Fresh epazote may be purchased a your local Mexican food market or you can buy dried online.


Serving: 4servingsCalories: 241kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 3gFat: 23gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 7gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 44mgSodium: 858mgPotassium: 103mgFiber: 2gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 1210IUVitamin C: 11mgCalcium: 108mgIron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Leave me a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ review and tag me on social media @MexicanMadeMeatless or tag #mexicamademeatless!


Please make sure to leave a comment and a star rating if you make the recipe, it’s a huge help for my blog. Gracias!

How to Make Authentic Mexican Corn in a Cup


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    1. Thanks so much, John! I hope you get to try it sometime. If fresh corn isn’t available you can use frozen or canned. Enjoy 🙂

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