Fresh, zesty, and delicious, this easy Vegan Elote is the perfect food to serve at a BBQ, potluck or side on your dinner table. You don’t need a grill or much time at all to make this delicious side dish that will have your guests or family members raving and begging for more.
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Hey Internet, I’ve been wanting to make elote for months now, and I’m so glad I finally did it! Sweet corn is nice and cheap at the store, and it’s a great thing to serve during grilling season.
Which, for me, is a sore point because I don’t have a grill. I also don’t have anywhere to put a grill as I live in an apartment. Wah.
However, I have learned to “grill” on my gas range, and it’s a pretty awesome thing. Those who don’t have gas ranges or grills can also use a grill pan, a counter top griller -- I’m partial to my Cuisinart 5-in-1 Griddler, or just boil the corn and dress it up with the elote stuff I’ll talk about it in a little bit. ANYONE can make this delicious side / appetizer dish.
Oh, and though I call it a side / appetizer, all the times we tested this we basically ate two ears each and called it dinner. So dang good.
I love love LOVE cilantro, but my husband really dislikes it -- I picked his off after the photo LOL.
He tells me the dish is still fantastic without, so if you have some cilantro haters in your household, you could leave it out and put a bowl of chopped cilantro on the side to let folks add their own.
Alright, now that we’ve got that figured out, let’s jump into that recipe.
What You’ll Need
- Corn on the cob: Kind of a necessity for elote. You can get the cut ones that are already husked, but I kinda prefer the ones with the husk on because then you can have a little handle to help you make and eat the corn. Of course, you could also just use corn holders. Some folks will soak the husked corn in water and then grill it on their actual grill if they don’t want the corn itself charred, but I LOVE the char actually on the corn for this dish so I peel it all off.
- Vegan mayo: I use my homemade vegan mayo recipe to make this a lighter dish, but you’re welcome to use a store bought vegan mayo like Vegenaise.
- Lime juice: Kind of self explanatory! I recommend fresh limes. We’ll put a little bit in the mayo to make up for not having Mexican crema, and also squeeze a little fresh lime on the whole thing when we’re about to serve it.
- Vegan cotija cheese: A dry, aged cheese, cotija is a traditional topping on elote. I couldn’t find a vegan one anywhere in my area so I made my own vegan cotija out of sunflower seeds and a couple spices. You’re welcome to do that, sub vegan Parmesan cheese (fine crumbles), use nutritional yeast instead, or just skip it. I do have an easy vegan Parmesan topping if you’d like.
- Tajin or chili powder: I believe traditionally chili powder is the authentic topping, though I know from research that many vendors of elote will actually use Tajin instead. Tajin is a delicious condiment spice made of chile peppers, lime, and salt. This spice is actually produced in Mexico by Empresas Tajin. There are varieties of this product based on how much spice you prefer. I used Tajin because I always have it on hand anyway -- it’s fantastic on tacos and fruit. No really, it’s delicious on mango, peaches, pineapple, apples--so good! I’m not the only one, really!
- Cilantro: A very common herb used in Mexican cuisine, cilantro is the perfect garnish/topping on these vegan elote. But, if you’re not a cilantro lover, feel free to not use it. I suggested above actually, if serving it to anyone who DOES like cilantro, just placing the chopped herb in a bowl and letting folks serve themselves.
How to Make Vegan Elote
- Start by husking and cleaning your corn of any stray corn silk. (Side note, I was today years old when I found out what the hair on corn was called lol.)
- Grill your corn however you like, or boil in a pot of salted water for 4-5 minutes. If you don’t have a grill, you could try cooking them on the flame of your gas range (that’s what we did, just turn with grill tongs), in a grill pan, or in a countertop griller like the Cuisinart 5-in-1 griddler (we have this and love it, we just thought there would be more char with the stovetop method).
- While the corn is grilling, squeeze half a lime into the vegan mayo. Mix, taste, and add more if you wish, but don’t water it down too much or it won’t be thick enough to stick to the elote.
- If you’re making my vegan cotija cheese recipe, make it now. Otherwise just get all your toppings ready.
- When the corn is done, place it on a plate. Let it cool for a moment so it’s not super hot, but not totally cool either.
- Using a basting brush or just a spatula or spoon, spread the mayo mixture all around the corn, getting all sides thoroughly and placing back on the plate.
- Sprinkle a generous amount of the vegan cotija (or vegan Parmesan, nutritional yeast, or skip) on top of the vegan elote. Then add as much Tajin or chili powder as your heart tells you to, and finish with a bit of cilantro if you’d like. Enjoy immediately.
- Refrigerate leftovers for up to 4 days in the fridge, though I recommend storing each component separately for best results.
More Vegan BBQ Food
Looking for more vegan options to take to a BBQ? Or maybe you just want some fun summer food. Here’s a bunch of my favorites:
- Vegan Ceviche
- Vegan Sausage
- Roasted Vegetable Pasta Salad
- Vegan Lobster Roll
- Vegan Chicken Salad
- BBQ Tofu
- Vegan Pigs in a Blanket
- Vegan Drumsticks
- Watermelon Salad with Homemade Vegan Feta
- Vegan Meatballs in a sweet and sour sauce (or use BBQ sauce)
- Seitan Chicken Nuggets
- Vegan Philly Cheesesteak
I hope you love this recipe as much as I do. Mr. Zardyplants loves it too.
These vegan elote are:
- And perfect for a quick and easy side for dinner, but impressive enough to serve guests or bring to a BBQ or potluck!
Let me know in the comments below if you make this recipe or tag me @Zardyplants on Instagram so I can see your beautiful recreations! If you tag me on IG, I will share your post in my stories :)
Also, one quick request: if you love how this recipe looks or tastes, please leave me a 5-star rating and a nice comment–ratings help more people find my recipes which helps me keep providing them! Thank you!