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Jun 19, 2022

Air Fryer Mexican Street Corn (Esquites)

This air fryer Mexican street corn is an easy short cut for making the delicious and popular treat sold at food stands and food carts on Mexican streets corners. 

Air Fryer Mexican Street Corn (Esquites) in a bowl.


Mexican street corn, known as esquites (or ezquites, meaning toasted corn), is usually served in individual plastic or paper cups as a snack (antojitos) to hold you over before dinner or for a late night treat. 

The ingredients are pretty much the same as elotes (grilled corn on the cob with the same seasonings), but in a less messy form. In fact, esquites are also known as elote en vaso

Once you've tried esquites, you probably won't want to have corn any other way. It's so simple yet so delicious. It's seriously the best tasting fresh corn dish ever. 

Corn cobs with husks.

Authentic Mexican street corn is made with grilled corn, but using the air fryer is a great shortcut when you don't want to fire up the grill or when it's not grilling weather. Just brush the corn with olive oil and air fry it until it is tender, about seven to ten minutes. 

Once you've air fried the corn, strip it off of the cobs and toss it with the mixture of the ingedients that you usually slather on the corn cobs and serve it hot. It's so good. 

My favorite tool for stripping the corn is the Oxo Corn Stripper. It makes fast work of removing the kernels from the cobs. No kernels flying everywhere! 

Air Fryer Mexican Street Corn (Esquites) stripped from the cobs in the bowl.

Ingredients in Esquites:

Fresh corn on the cob: I used white corn, but use whatever fresh corn on the cob is available. 

Olive oil: You can also use a neutral oil. 

Mayonnaise: Yes, I know, it seems weird. Trust me, it works. 

Fresh lime juice

Garlic: One minced clove should be enough. 

Cotija cheese: Cotija is a hard yet crumbly and salty cheese. I like the Cacique brand. It's pretty available in most well-stocked grocery stores but might be hidden in a corner of the cheese aisle. In my store (Ralph's), it's near the Italian cheeses. If you can't find it, you can substitute queso fresco or feta cheese. 

Salt, pepper, and cayenne powder

Ancho chile powder: If you can't find it, chipotle chile or, in a pinch, just chile power will work too.

Fresh cilantro: If you don't care for cilantro, while the flavor profile will be different, you can substitute scallions. 

Air Fryer Mexican Street Corn (Esquites) in a spoon over a bowl.

More Summer Corn Recipes:

Mexican Street Corn Salad

Roasted Corn and Zucchini Salad

Corn Maque Choux

Breakfast Strata with Corn and Chiles

Spicy Tomato and Corn Salad

More Street Food Recipes:

Kaak (Beirut Street Bread)

Matar Kulcha (from India)

Chocolate Covered Bananas

Simit - Turkish Sesame Bagels

Liège Style Waffles

L.A. Danger Dogs

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Air Fryer Mexican Street Corn (Esquites) in a bowl with cilantro on top.

You can make this corn in a standard air fryer in stages, or you can use the air fryer function in a toaster oven. 

I used my Breville air fryer toaster oven so that I could have all of the corn ready at the same time.  The oven is pretty spectacular. It might be pricey, but I highly recommend it, especially if you don't have double ovens. I've even baked bread in mine. 

You can also roast the corn in your oven using the convection function if you have it. 

If you'd like to add some char to your corn to make it look grilled, you can broil it just after baking or air frying it. Just watch it very closely. 

Air Fryer Mexican Street Corn Recipe

Air Fryer Mexican Street Corn Recipe
Yield: 4 servings
Author: Karen's Kitchen Stories
Prep time: 15 MinCook time: 15 MinTotal time: 30 Min
This air fryer Mexican street corn is an easy short cut for making the delicious and popular treat sold at food stands and food carts on Mexican streets corners.


  • 4 ears of corn, shucked
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 1 pinch cayenne powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 ounces crumbled Cotija cheese
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Brush the ears of corn with the olive oil.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise, garlic, lime juice, chile powder, cayenne powder, salt, and pepper.
  3. Air fry the corn at 375 degrees F in an air fryer or air fryer toaster oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the corn kernels are tender.
  4. Strip the kernels from the cobs into a bowl and toss in the mayonnaise mixture. (I used a paper towel to hold the end of the hot corn ear while stripping it).
  5. Add the mayonnaise mixture and toss everything together. Top with the cotija cheese and cilantro and serve right away.
  6. Leftovers can be refrigerated and reheated in the microwave.

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Would you like to comment?

  1. Love Mexican street corn! Who knew you could make it in the air fryer.

  2. Mexican street corn is good no matter how you fix it!

  3. There is a food truck in my area that makes elote corn bowls and it is one of my favorites!

  4. Thank you!!! I couldn't get enough of it!


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