Make these easy Mexican Street Corn Rice Bowls today! Crispy corn and fluffy rice are coated in a creamy elotes-inspired sauce and topped with delicious Cotija cheese for added flavor. The best Mexican corn rice recipe, gluten-free and vegetarian!
Mexican Street Corn, or ‘Elotes‘, is a popular Mexican street food made with seasoned corn on the cob, creamy sauce, cilantro, and cheese, served from street carts throughout Mexico like hot dogs sold in New York City. Our recipe today is a rice-bowl version of this tasty treat called Esquites, and it’s absolutely delicious!
I enjoy giving precise details in my recipe posts to lead my readers through any questions. If you’re just here for the printable recipe, you can Jump to Recipe to head straight there!
Why You Will Love Mexican Corn Rice Recipe
- 30-Minute Meal – 10 minutes of prep and 20 minutes to cook– EASY.
- Vegetarian & Gluten-Free – When made with water or vegetable broth! So good!
- Meal in a Bowl – Mexican street corn rice bowls can be a great side dish for shredded chicken or pork, or it can be a meal by adding some protein.
Key Ingredients for Elote Bowl
- Tajin is a Mexican seasoning blend that contains chili powder, salt, and lime. If you can’t find it, you can substitute with chili powder and add a squeeze of lime juice separately. Find it in your produce section near the jarred garlic, or in the spice aisle.
- Mexican Crema and Cotija cheese are often found in the refrigerated dairy section near the cheese, usually with other Mexican ingredients.
How to cut corn off the cob without making a mess
Use a bundt pan to cut corn off the cob without making a mess. Place the corn cob upright in the bundt pan‘s center hole and hold the cob’s top end with one hand. With a sharp knife in your other hand, carefully slice down the cob to remove the kernels.
The bundt pan will catch the kernels as they fall, keeping them contained in the pan and reducing the mess. Rotate the cob and repeat until all the kernels are removed.
How to Make Esquites – Mexican Corn Rice Recipe
Step 1 | Make the Mexican Rice
Start by making your Mexican white rice. Add the broth (or water) to a saucepan, bring it to a boil, and add half the salt and the cooked rice. Cover the ingredients with a tight-fitting lid and let them simmer for around 25 minutes until the rice absorbs the liquid.
Then, remove the pan from the stovetop and let it sit, covered, for 10 minutes, fluffing with a fork afterward.
- When you swap out water for broth when making rice, you give the rice a HUGE flavor boost! Try it today, like in my Spanish Rice!
Step 2 | Mix Elotes Mixture
As the rice rests, move onto the elotes mixture. Mix the Mexican crema, mayonnaise, the remaining kosher salt, chipotle powder, and Tajin in a small bowl and set it aside for later.
Step 3 | Make Roasted Corn
Add olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the corn when it shimmers. Next, toast the corn in the skillet for five to eight minutes until it’s browned, stirring frequently. Add minced garlic during the last minute of cooking.
Step 4 | Finish Mexican Rice Bowl
Then, combine the roasted corn with the freshly made elote sauce in a large mixing bowl. Also, add in the cooked rice, chopped green onions, cilantro, bell peppers (if used), and zesty lime juice, and gently fold the ingredients to mix them.
And last, sprinkle in the Cotija cheese and season the dish with a bit of salt and black pepper to taste.
- Keep in mind that the corn may pop while roasting.
- Garnish with more cheese, some chopped cilantro, and a lime wedge, if desired.
Like corn? You will love my Easy Corn Casserole without Jiffy, aka corn pudding, which is excellent for serving a crowd! Or make these tasty Zucchini Corn Fritters that are just as excellent as an appetizer as a side and a great vegetarian option.
Variations & Substitutions
Tips for Two
This Mexican street corn rice bowl recipe makes around four to six meal-sized bowls. Using the convenient slider button under the servings on the recipe card, change to desired servings, or even better, prepare the whole dish and enjoy it all week!
Refrigerate – Store cooled leftovers in an airtight container for up to five days in the refrigerator.
How to Freeze – To freeze elotes bowls, let the dish cool completely, then store it in an airtight container for up to three months.
Reheating – To reheat the rice, add a splash of water or broth to the rice to moisten it and prevent it from drying out. Cover the container with a lid or damp paper towel and microwave for 1-2 minutes or until heated through. Alternatively, you can reheat the rice on the stovetop in a covered saucepan with a splash of water or broth.
- Note that the texture of the rice may change slightly after refrigeration or freezing. You can refresh the rice by stirring in a bit of fresh lime juice or chopped cilantro before reheating.
- If you plan to freeze the rice, divide it into individual portions before freezing to make it easier to thaw and reheat. You can also freeze the rice in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag. When ready to use, thaw the rice in the refrigerator overnight and then reheat as directed above.
Frequently Asked Questions
Elotes are grilled corn on the cob, while esquites are a type of corn salad made with kernels removed from the cob and typically served in a bowl.
Cotija is a Mexican cheese that can be replaced with queso fresco, feta, parmesan, or shredded Monterey Jack, but the taste may differ than intended.
Sure! Just make the recipe as directed, let it cool completely, then store it in the refrigerator for up to five days or freeze it for longer storage. Then, reheat the dish in the microwave or stovetop when ready to serve it again.
Make the rice with water or your favorite veggie broth, and YES, entirely vegetarian.
What to serve with an Elote Bowl with Corn and Rice
Best Main Dish for Mexican Corn Rice
Serve this Mexican rice bowl as a versatile side dish for these Cheesy Enchiladas! Elotes bowls are also tasty with Crockpot Ranch Chicken made with just four simple ingredients and tons of delicious flavor. Or try these Chicken Quesadillas with caramelized peppers & onions– DELISH!
Easy Instant Pot Carnitas (Crockpot & Oven too)
These crispy, flavorful Instant Pot Carnitas are almost too easy! This traditional Mexican pulled pork dish is loaded with spicy seasonings and soaked in a zesty, citrus and savory broth for amazing flavor.
Easy Authentic Mexican Chicken Fajitas (Fajitas de Pollo)
An Authentic Mexican Chicken Fajita Recipe that’s bursting with flavor! Our Fajitas de Pollo, with perfectly marinated and sautéed chicken, bell peppers, and onions.
Best Desserts to Serve with Elotes-Inspired Rice Bowls
Finish the meal on a sweeter note with this sensational and chocolatey Mud Pie Ice Cream Cake with creamy coffee, chocolate, vanilla, cookie, and fudge layers.
Air Fryer Fried Ice Cream Recipe
A healthier and easy air fryer fried ice cream! No deep frying in hot oil! Crunchy and crispy on the outside, smooth creamy vanilla ice cream on the inside, the best fried ice cream recipe.
The Best Key Lime Pie
This is the BEST Key Lime Pie, so easy too! A traditional Key Lime pie recipe that is, citrusy, sweet-tart — the perfect sweet to-pucker ratio; light and bright with a crisp not-to-sweet graham cracker crust! Award winning!
Best Drinks Served with Elote Bowls
4 Ingredient Margaritas (Regular or Frozen)
The best, most simple and flavorful margarita, with a secret ingredient. This 4 ingredient recipe is so easy to throw together and always brings rave reviews, serve them over the rocks or freeze them for slushies.
Hibiscus Dark and Stormy Drink Recipe
This Hibiscus Dark and Stormy recipe is just the vibrant burst of tropical sunshine we need! Dark rum, spicy, floral hibiscus ginger beer and fresh lime juice is all it takes!
If you love Mexican food, try these popular recipes
- Hatch Green Chile Relleno Casserole
- Queso Cheese Dip Recipe
- Tamale Pie
- Copycat Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowl Recipe
- Spanish Rice
When roasting the corn, keep some distance. It will likely pop occasionally, and you don’t want to get burned by the hot kernels, juice, or oil.
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Mexican Corn Rice Bowls Recipe
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- 1 ½ cups long-grain rice such as basmati or jasmine, white or brown rice may be used
- 2 ¾ cups broth veggie or chicken, or use water if preferred
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt divided
- 2 cups corn fresh cut off the cobb, frozen (do not thaw) or canned, drained
- 1-2 cloves garlic minced or pressed
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil I love Avocado oil
- 3-4 green onions sliced thin, whites and greens
- ⅓ cup cilantro chopped
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons Mexican Crema or Sour Cream or Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon Tajin or replace with chili powder
- ½ teaspoon ground chipotle powder sub with pinch or ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- ⅓ cup Cotija cheese crumbled, see notes to repace
- Rinse rice, then bring broth or water to a boil in a saucepan, add half the salt, add rice, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and simmer for 20-25 minutes until rice has absorbed the liquid. Set aside for 10 minutes while still covered, then fluff with a fork. If using brown rice, cook according to package instructions.
Make Elotes Cream
- Combine, Mexican crema, mayo, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, chipotle powder, and Tajin in a small bowl. Set aside.
- While the rice is cooking, prepare the roasted corn. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; once shimmering carefully add corn. Toast in skillet for 5-8 minutes until corn is browned and roasted slightly; stir occasionally. Add garlic last minute of cooking. Careful the corn may pop while you are roasting it. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine roasted corn with elote sauce. Add cooked rice, green onions, cilantro, and lime juice. Gently fold to combine. Stir in Cotija cheese and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve immediately.
- Refrigerate – Store cooled leftovers in an airtight container for up to five days in the refrigerator.
- How to Freeze – Let the dish cool completely, then store it in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
- Reheating – Add a splash of water or broth to the rice to moisten it and prevent it from drying out. Cover the container with a lid or damp paper towel and microwave for 1-2 minutes or until heated. Alternatively, you can reheat the rice on the stovetop in a covered saucepan with a splash of water or broth.