Mexican Street Corn Nachos

Mexican street corn, also known as "elote", is a common street food in Mexico made of grilled corn on the cob with a mixture of mayonnaise, cotija cheese (a hard cow's milk cheese), chili pepper and lime juice. This recipe takes that concept and makes it even more corn-centric by serving the mixture over corn chips for the perfect cheesy, spicy nachos.

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Three ears of corn, a red onion and some Jalapeño peppers on a wooden table.

WHAT IS MEXICAN STREET CORN?

If you have been to a street fair or food truck fair you may have seen people walking around with corn on the cob on a stick.  In Mexico they call it “elote” which literally means corn cob. It comes from Mexico City known widely for it’s street food vendors. The corn is charred on a grill, then slathered in a mixture of mayonnaise or sour cream, chili pepper and lime juice then rolled in cotija cheese and topped off with more chili powder and fresh cilantro. This recipe takes all the flavors of street corn and turns it into amazing cheesy and spicy nachos!

 

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Cotija cheese, mexican creme and canned green chilis in containers on a wooden table.

INGREDIENTS FOR MEXICAN STREET CORN NACHOS

One of the key ingredients in Mexican street corn is cotija cheese which is a hard cow’s milk cheese that is salty in flavor and crumbly in texture. For this recipe I like to use the aged version which is harder and can be easily grated. This cheese has become more popular and available in many stores, but a good substitute is feta cheese, Queso fresco, ricotta salata, or Parmesan cheese. Canned or jarred green chilis are added to the Queso Blanco for extra flavor and a little spicy kick. The nachos are finished off with some tangy Mexican crema. It is similar to sour cream but has a higher fat content, isn’t quite as sour and is also a little thinner. 

 

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Corn tortilla chips on a baking sheet with a striped blue towel.

THE BEST WAY TO MAKE NACHOS

I have been making nachos since I was a kid, but my nacho game has evolved since those early days! I have learned that you can make great nachos with so many different combinations of vegetables, beans and protein like in my Chicken Avocado and Monterey Jack Nachos. Whatever nachos you decide on, it’s all about the layering of the ingredients. Start with a large sheet pan and spread out the tortilla chips in a single layer so every last chip gets some of the toppings. Before adding any of the toppings, be sure to crisp up the tortilla chips first in the oven for about 5 minutes.

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Pouring quest blanco onto corn tortilla chips on a baking sheet.

QUESO BLANCO CHEESE SAUCE FOR NACHOS

The first layer starts with Queso Blanco, which is basically a white cheese sauce. It starts with a simple béchamel sauce, then stir in the green chilis, spices, white cheddar cheese and Monterey jack cheese to give it a little more kick in the spice department. It comes together quickly on the stovetop and then you pour it evenly over the warmed tortilla chips. If you really want to go crazy you can even make your own homemade air fryer tortilla chips! Next you combine the grilled corn with a little mayo, the cotija cheese and chili powder. Sprinkle that on top and then layer with more cheese, jalapeno peppers and diced red onions. Send it all back to the oven until warm and bubbly. 

 

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Mexican street corn nachos on a parchment lined sheet pan with two beers and red napkins near by.

SUBSTITUTION FOR MEXICAN CREMA

Finally, you finish off these nacho with a healthy drizzle of Mexican crema, a little more chili powder and fresh cilantro. You may not be able to find Mexican crema in your local store but don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Here is a simple recipe for Mexican Crema that you can whip together in no time to dress up your nachos:

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
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A hand lifting a tortilla chip from a sheet pan of Mexican street corn nachos.

WHAT TO SERVE WITH MEXICAN STREET CORN NACHOS

Well this one is easy….my choice would be an ice cold beer , a refreshing Margarita or a cool glass of Red Sangria or White Sangria. I know, it’s hard to decide on which one! This recipe is perfect for any party especially for a  Cinco de Mayo celebration. Add some shredded chicken and you can even call it dinner any night of the week. Enjoy!! 

 

MORE FUN NACHO TOPPINGS:

 

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Mexican Street Corn Nachos

  • Prep Time: 20 m
  • Cook Time: 15 m
  • Total Time: 35 m
  • Servings:
    8

Ingredients

Queso Blanco:
  • 1 tablespoons butter melted
  • 1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • cups milk
  • cups shredded white Cheddar cheese divided
  • cups shredded Monterey jack cheese divided
  • 3 tablespoons canned diced green chilies
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Nachos:
  • 4 ears corn
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • cup cotija cheese
  • ¾ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 bag white corn tortilla chips
  • cup diced red onion
  • 2 Jalapeño peppers sliced
  • Mexican crema**
  • Fresh chopped cilantro
**Substitution for Mexican crema
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

Instructions

  1. Make the queso blanco by melting the butter in a medium saucepan and adding the flour. Stir the two ingredients together into a paste. Whisk in the milk until smooth. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes, until the sauce starts to thicken and coats the back of a spoon. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add 1 cup of the white Cheddar cheese and 1 cup of the Monterey Jack cheese. Stir until both cheeses have melted. Add the green chilies, chili powder, cumin, salt and black pepper and set the queso blanco aside.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.
  3. If you have a grill at your disposal, grill the corn on the cob to char some of the kernels and then slice all the kernels off the cob. If you don't have access to a grill, slice the corn kernels off the cob and sauté them in a skillet over high heat. Transfer the corn to a bowl and add the mayonnaise, cotija cheese and chili powder.

  4. Spread the tortilla chips on a baking sheet and transfer the sheet to the oven for 5 minutes to crisp them up. Pour the queso blanco over the tortilla chips and sprinkle the remaining cheeses over the top. Sprinkle the corn mixture on the chips and top with the diced red onion and sliced Jalapeño peppers. Return the baking sheet to the oven.
  5. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes until warm and bubbly.
  6. Drizzle the Mexican crema on top of the nachos and sprinkle with a little chili powder. Top with fresh chopped cilantro and serve immediately.
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Comments (10)Post a Reply

  1. 5 stars
    Nachos are good but these set the bar. This recipe hits the mark with fresh flavors that change the concept of the dish. We enjoyed these so much we are making this a regular at our home during fresh corn season, we even took the ingredients minus chips and wrapped in lettuce leaves, it rocked.

  2. 5 stars
    I made these tonight for dinner and added some smoked pulled pork, HEAVEN!
    This recipe is quick and easy to follow. I didn’t have fresh corn available so I used frozen corn, drizzled a bit of olive oil on it, and placed it under my broiler while I made the queso to get the grilled flavor. SO GOOD! It was a perfect dinner to enjoy while watching the football game on the TV!

  3. Meredith,

    These look delicious and am excited to try them. However, I noticed in the ingredients that you have 2 asterisks next to the Mexican crema but I could not find what these asterisks mean . . . what do they mean?? Thanks!!

    1. Hi Sharon. For some reason, the **Note didn’t attach to the recipe, so I’ve gone ahead and fixed that now. The asterisks just referred to a substitution for Mexican crema if you couldn’t find it. You can substitute ½ cup sour cream, ¼ cup heavy cream, ¼ teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice.

  4. 5 stars
    If I wanted to make a smaller amount for just myself, what would you think about using the air-fryer or the Instant Pot Duo Crisp? Maybe do the corn in it first and then the nachos?
    Don’t want to miss out on this just because I don’t have a full party going on 🙂

    1. Hi Sally,
      Sure you could use an air fryer for the corn AND the nachos. If you’re using an air fryer oven, you could put the chips on the tray for the last little cheese melting time. If you have a basket style air fryer, I might suggest using a piece of parchment in the bottom of the basket which will help you remove the nachos from the air fryer and make clean up easy.

  5. Can we substitute the ear of corn for canned or frozen? Where do you find cotija cheese?

    Thanks
    Kamelia

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