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A quick and easy camping appetizer, Elote – grilled Mexican street corn – is a great way to make the most out of your campfire.

Elotes - grilled Mexican street corn - are a great appetizer to cook over the campfire!

It’s pretty obvious what you should do with a campfire after dinner (make s’mores or banana boats!), however, it’s not quite as clear what – if anything – can be done with the campfire before you start cooking dinner. Stare at it? Poke it with a stick? Comment on the quality of the wood? All excellent suggestions. We do love ourselves a good fire poking session. But after we’ve gotten that out of our system, another good idea is to make campfire appetizers. There a lot of great pre-dinner snacks that can be made over the flames of a new fire. And one of our favorites is Mexican street corn, or traditionally known as Elote.

Making grilled elotes on the campfire Making grilled elotes on the campfire

“Grilled corn? That sounds like a side to me,” you might be saying to yourself. That’s true, if you just plan on spreading butter on it, this would be a pretty boring appetizer. But elote is so much more. Elote is all about the toppings. Which is why it’s such a great pre-dinner campfire activity.

Traditionally served as street food in Mexico, typical elote toppings include: mayonnaise, crema, crumbled Cojita cheese, salt, chili powder, lime juice. But really you can add anything you like. For the elote featured here, we mixed chili powder, salt, and mayo into a spicy spread. We then topped our corn with crumbled Cojita cheese and chopped cilantro.

Making elote - grilled corn served with spicy mayo and Cojita cheese - a perfect camping appetizer.

It’s a simple appetizer to make and a great pre-dinner activity. Maybe you want a late afternoon snack? Maybe you want to give your kids something to do so they stop throwing rocks at the fire? Either way, elote is a great option.

Four Elotes - grilled Mexican street corn - on a blue camping plate. A hand is reaching in to pick one up.

Grilled Mexican Street Corn (Elote)

Author: Fresh Off The Grid
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
4 elotes


  • 4 ears corn
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup Cojita, crumbled
  • handful of cilantro, chopped


  • Prep the corn by peeling the husks back (without detaching them from the bottom) and remove all of the silk. Replace the husks.
  • Place the corn on a grate over your campfire. Grill, turning frequently until the corn is charred in places and cooked through, 10-15 minutes. Remove from the grill and allow to cool a bit so they are safe to handle. Remove and discard the husks.
  • Combine the mayo, lime juice, chili powder, and salt in a small bowl. Slather evenly all over the corn. Sprinkle the Cojita and cilantro over the top.
  • Serve & enjoy!

Nutrition (Per Serving)

Calories: 385kcal
*Nutrition is an estimate based on information provided by a third-party nutrition calculator
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Elotes - grilled Mexican street corn - are a great appetizer to cook over the campfire!

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  1. So simple and soooo tasty! After our last camping adventure I did this recipe at my next cookout. Good thing I got three ears per person because there was only one ear left!
    The only issue I had while camping was that the husk burned up on the grill before the corn was done, leaving an ashy taste on the few ears I cooked that way. The rest I cooked with the husks removed straight on the grill, which is what I did when I grilled it at home.
    Next time, I’m going to try soaking the husked corn for a few minutes in water before putting it on the grill. It will steam the corn more than cook it, but the corn can always be blackened after its cooked, if that’s what you want.5 stars

    1. Great idea, Eleutheros. Campfire cooking can be a bit unpredictable so steaming the corn in soaked husks and then finishing it up right over the fire seems like a pretty safe way to ensure it’s cooked to perfection! Thanks for sharing 🙂