Esquites (Mexican Corn in a Cup) Recipe

Esquites (Mexican Corn in a Cup)

Serves 6

This quintessential street food from Mexico can be found in plazas, outside churches, and at every single fair. It may be its simplicity—just cooked corn kernels served with a variety of toppings—that makes it so special. Serve as a snack or as a side dish.


  • 4 ears white or yellow corn
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar, optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 sprigs fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 white onion, diced
  • 1 lime, cut into 6 wedges
  • 6 ounces cotija cheese, crumbled (1 1/4 cups)
  • 3/4 cup Mexican crema or mayonnaise
  • Chile powder or Tajín Clásico Seasoning, to taste


  1. Remove husks and silk from corn. Discard silk, reserve husks, and set husks aside. Cut kernels from cobs. (See Cook's Tip) Reserve kernels and 2 of the stripped cobs.
  2. Place 6 cups water in a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Add sugar, salt, and 2 stripped cobs. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, 5 minutes.
  3. Add corn kernels, cilantro, and onion. Cover with a few of the corn husks. Return to a simmer and cook 3 minutes or until corn is crisp-tender. Turn off heat, cover pot with lid, and let rest 5 minutes.
  4. With tongs, remove and discard husks, cobs, and cilantro.
  5. To serve, divide corn into 6 small cups, along with a little of the broth. Top with a squeeze of lime juice, a dollop of crema, a spoonful of cheese, and a sprinkling of chile powder. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  6. Cook's Tip:
  7. To remove corn kernels: Lay out a clean dish towel. Stand corn up and hold by stem, resting tip on towel. Run knife down sides of ears to cut kernels off without cutting into cobs. The towel will help keep kernels from rolling away and can be lifted to easily gather corn and transfer to pot.


Amount Per Serving (based on 6 servings)
Calories: 350
Fat: 29 g
Saturated Fat: 8 g
Cholesterol: 35 mg
Sodium: 1330 mg
Carbohydrates: 16 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sugar: 3 g
Protein: 9 g
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