The Secret Ingredient You Should Be Adding To Your Street Corn

Street corn, or elote, to call it by its proper Spanish name, is definitely having a moment now. This Mexican favorite, which can either be served on the cob or off (in a cup, or en vaso) was once a regional specialty, but can now be found at fairs, festivals, food trucks, and restaurants all throughout the U.S. The basic street corn recipe consists of grilled fresh sweet corn which is coated with mayonnaise and Mexican crema (a milder, thinner version of sour cream), then topped with cotija cheese, salt, chili powder, and a squeeze of lemon or lime (via Nibbles and Feasts).

While that sounds like pure perfection in and of itself, if you're a dedicated gilder of lilies, you know you're going to want to mess with the basic recipe and add a few signature tweaks to take it over the top. One addition suggested by the Glutto Digest food blog involves topping your street corn with crushed snack chips to add some extra crunch as well as an unexpected pop of flavor.

Street corn with Doritos

If you'd like to concoct this delicious variation on street corn at home, the Glutto Digest suggests using about a quarter cup of crushed Doritos for each ear of corn. If, however, you're fortunate enough to live in a part of the country where roadside elote stands or elote trucks are a thing, Elote con Doritos may already be on the menu. YouTuber Matt Zion reviewed the version sold at Swirl Fiesta and found it "really, really damn solid."

Another variant on Doritos-topped elote that got its start in Mexico but is steadily finding its way northward is something called Dorielotes, which is basically a small bag of Doritos slit open and topped with street corn (via DNA Info). It's kind of a riff on the walking taco, which seems like it would be the most inauthentic thing ever — but hey, it turns out we like Mexican/American hybrid junk food on both sides of the border.

Street corn with Takis

Takis are an actual Mexican snack chip, available in 4 flavors: Guacamole, Fajita, Nitro, and Fuego (this last-named being by far the hottest, according to Serious Eats). Of course, then, Takis and elote make for a natural pairing. 

While Matt Zion's YouTube mukbang rendered an only moderately enthusiastic verdict about Swirl Fiesta's Takis elote, Wendy of Wendy's Eating Show chowed down on her homemade version con mucho gusto and repeated exclamations of "mmm mmm mmm." Wendy did introduce one non-standard, but authentically Mexican, ingredient to her version — instead of using mayo or crema, she got her crushed Takis to adhere to the corn using the sweet-sour-salty-spicy-fruity sauce called chamoy (via Eater).

Street corn with Cheetos

Flamin' Hot Cheetos might not sound too Mexican, but they were actually invented by a Mexican-American janitor who took his flavor inspiration from the ingredients used to flavor street corn (via Newsweek). What could be better, then, than returning Flamin' Hot Cheetos to their roots and using them as an actual elote topping? The only thing that could be better would be to eat this self-referential snack while watching the Flamin' Hot Cheetos movie

If you're stuck in an elote food desert, The Sprinkle Factory has a step-by-step Flamin' Hot Cheeto Elote YouTube tutorial. In the words of Chef Sprinkle: "finger-lickin' time!"

Street corn with all the chips

If you can't decide what type of snack chip to use on your street corn, TheListTV has a recipe for something they call "Cautro Elote," which seems like it may be a misspelling of the Spanish word cuatro, meaning four, as it calls for using four different kinds of snack chips. After coating an ear of corn with mayonnaise and crumbled Cotija, you then toss it in crumbled Doritos, Takis, Cheetos, and Tostitos, although they say you can also substitute any other snack chips of your choice.

If you want a carnivore-friendly version of street corn, may we suggest elote con chicharrones? 4505 Meats has a recipe that makes use of their pork rinds, crumbled and used as a corn topping. For a truly meta version of street corn, however, you could always top it with these H.E. B.-branded tortilla chips that are actually street-corn flavored. 

When it comes to accessorizing your elote with snack chips, it seems you're only limited by your imagination. If you decide to create street corn topped with chips made from ground crickets, however, you might want to keep this secret ingredient to yourself.