Elote, or Mexican grilled street corn, is one of my favorite summer foods. You start with fresh corn on the cob, grill it then top it with mayonnaise, peppers and fresh cotija cheese. It is an amazing blend of sweet, savory and spicy flavors that I will serve up any chance I can get. After baking a batch of cornbread to pair with some homemade ribs, I found myself wondering if I could bring the flavors of street corn into cornbread. The next day, I picked up a few ears of corn and began to work on a recipe.
Mexican Street Corn Cornbread starts off with grilled corn on the cob, just like the elote that inspired it. The corn is grilled until it is tender and lightly charred, then cooled and cut off the cob. The corn is added to a savory cornbread batter that is made using mayonnaise in place of oil and eggs. While this may sound unusual, mayonnaise is made with oil and eggs, so this is a substitution that works surprisingly well even other baked goods, such as in biscuit recipes.
The Mexican Street Corn Cornbread is also seasoned with chili powder and has a generous bit of cotija cheese added to it. I recommend using Tajin – a popular Mexican seasoning – in this recipe. It is available at all Mexican markets and most of my local grocery stores, as well.
The finished bread is savory and packed with corn flavor. It is moist and very tender, with a hearty feel to it that makes it a good match for chili or baked beans. There is plenty of fresh corn in every bite, and you can taste the heat of the chilis and the tang from the lime. I recommend serving this cornbread slightly warm, topped with a sprinkle of cotija cheese and a dash of chili powder or Tajin. Adding that extra topping will not only highlight those flavors, but it will make it look and feel just a bit more like the street corn that inspired it.
Mexican Street Corn Cornbread
1 large ears of corn, grilled and cooled
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp chili powder or 2 tsp Tajin
1 tsp fresh lime zest
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup mayonnaise*
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup cotija cheese
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×9-inch square baking pan.
Cut the corn off of the cobs and set aside. It is ok if the corn is in large chunks. You should have approximately 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cups of corn.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, chili powder, lime zest, baking soda, salt and sugar.
In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and buttermilk. Add to cornmeal mixture and stir until batter is thick and well-combined, with no streaks of dry ingredients. Fold in corn and cotija cheese.
Transfer batter to prepared baking dish and spread evenly into the corners of the pan.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. Allow cornbread to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
Serve as-is, or sprinkled with cotija cheese and Tajin or chili powder.
* I recommend using full-fat mayonnaise in this recipe for the best results. If you are using a low fat mayonnaise, consider mixing in 1 tbsp vegetable oil, as well.