Cuban/Mexican Grilled Corn

cuban/mexican grilled corn

One of our favorite restauraunts while I was training in NYC was a tiny cafe in SOHO called Cafe Habana. Based on the original restaurant in Mexico City, this cafe specializes in home-style Latin food with unique Cuban and Central Mexican accents.

They had great dishes and Cuban sandwiches, but were renown for their Cuban/Mexican grilled corn. Perfectly grilled and slathered with mayonnaise then sprinkled with cayenne chili powder, grated cotijo cheese, and finished with fresh squeezed lime. It was like heaven biting into this corn for the first time…a wonderful mix of smoky sweet, rich, spicy, and tangy flavors exploding in your mouth.

Now on the west coast, we can’t wait till corn season to make our recreation of this dish. Traditionally Vietnamese style grilled corn is topped with sweet scallion oil which is also delicious, but when we saw sweet white corn on sale for 3 for 99 cents, we had to get it for the mothers day barbecue and make this NYC favorite. Personally, we love the original, but fearing some weight issues, we offer a mayonnaise substitute with simple garlic butter (who knows if this is an improvement?!) You can also use light mayonnaise if you like.


cuban/mexican grilled corn

Cuban/Mexican Grilled Corn
Printable Recipe

  • Grated cotija cheese (can be found easily here in Southern California. If you can’t find it, substitute with grated Queso Fresco or Italian parmesan or Greek feta)
  • Mayonnaise
  • Ground Cayenne chili powder
  • Lime wedges

There are many methods of grilling corn and you may already have favorite technique. I like to peel of the entire husk and place it on the grill. By keeping the husks on, you’re essentially steaming them. However, if I’m strapped for time, I wrap each corn in saran wrap and microwave about 2-3 minutes then place it on the grill. I like to skewer my corns with chopsticks 🙂

Start by brushing on the mayonnaise. Sprinkle desired amounts of cotija cheese and cayenne chili powder. Finish with squeeze of lime.

For a slightly different variation or substitution for the mayonaise, try Garlic/Jalapeno butter:

Garlic/Jalapeno Butter

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 2 of cloves peeled garlic
  • 1 jalapeno deseeded

Let butter sit out of the fridge about an 1 hr. to soften. Put ingredients in food processor and mix garlic until finely minced and well distributed.


cuban/mexican grilled corn


You may never want to eat corn with just plain butter ever again! 

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34 Responses to “Cuban/Mexican Grilled Corn”

  1. 1 — May 14, 2009 @ 6:49 pm

    Seeing the MX grilled corn on the street for the first time when we moved to Los Angeles was crazy! We had no idea what the ‘white stuff’ was on the corn cobs. We’ve yet to try it, but it combines so many of our faves, that it has to be good. Nice pics too!

  2. 2

    s. stockwell — May 14, 2009 @ 7:37 pm

    Oh my, this looks insane!! we will do this one for sure. Thanks, s

  3. 3

    Lori Lynn — May 14, 2009 @ 9:53 pm

    I am about to post tonight some photos from a restaurant in San Francisco area, and this type of corn is one of them! Please stop by my blog tomorrow and take a peek.
    Your idea of using the chopsticks is great! Like your photos too!
    Lori Lynn

  4. 4

    Laura — May 15, 2009 @ 1:36 am

    This is SO GOOD!! Had it for the first time out here in LA at a farmers market – never knew what tasty goodness I was missing before! Can’t wait to make it myself.

  5. 5

    tricky — May 15, 2009 @ 2:04 am

    OMG – I wish I could pick those babies right off the page and devour them.

  6. 6

    Cookin' Canuck — May 15, 2009 @ 5:01 am

    These look so flavorful! Fantastic photos!

  7. 7

    Ravenous Couple — May 15, 2009 @ 11:24 pm

    duodishes–we’ve seen them around the streets of LA too, but most of them are boiled, not grilled. it just doesn’t tastes the same. maybe we’ll see you guys around 🙂

    s.stockwell–please let us know how you like it when you do!

    lori–we’ll definitely check out your site. we’re interested to see what you think about it.

    laura–it’s definitely easy to do and such a crowd pleaser at bbq’s. let us know how it turns out!

    tricky–haha! We would share if we could!

    cookin’canuck–thanks! they really do look and taste flavorful.

  8. 8

    heidileon — May 16, 2009 @ 3:09 pm

    I’m smilling, just of remembering the wonderful flavor of elotes asados back home. Grilled (or Steamed) Corn is an staple of ferias and fiestas de pueblo (fares and bbq).

    This recipe looks quite loyal to the original one, the only difference is we do not eat it with butter at all.

    btw, amazing picture.


  9. 9

    John — May 16, 2009 @ 8:34 pm

    This sounds delicious and we are making it from your recipe tonight (parm cheese and garlic butter)

    Will link to this through FaceBook ’cause I know I am going to get mobbed for your recipe!

    John in Atlanta

  10. 10

    Ravenous Couple — May 17, 2009 @ 1:30 am

    heidileon–thank you for kind comments and the language lesson!! Glad to make you think of home and hope to have you as a frequent reader and commenter!

    John–Please let us know how it turns out!!! We’ll love to know and hope to have you as a frequent reader and commenter!

  11. 11

    Brittany — May 17, 2009 @ 5:40 pm

    Cafe Habana is one of my favorites too, and I always try to recreate their incredible corn at home. I’m in Missouri and we have cojita cheese here, but queso fresco is also available. It’s very similar and a little cheaper.

  12. 12

    Joy the Baker — May 17, 2009 @ 6:56 pm

    You just put corn on a stick and topped it with gorgeous flavors. Seriously seriously awesome!

  13. 13

    Ann — May 20, 2009 @ 1:47 am

    What a creative and delish idea, I love the spice in it. This is one of the famous Indian street food too 🙂 Yumm.

  14. 14

    Annie — May 20, 2009 @ 2:38 am

    Mmmm… It’s like summer on a stick! I can’t wait for grilling season to arrive up here.

  15. 15

    Ravenous Couple — May 21, 2009 @ 4:32 am

    Brittany–Great idea with the queso fresca. Thanks for reading our blog!

    joy the baker–thanks for reading our blog. It’s definitely easy to do and tastes as good as it looks!

    Ann–Go Michigan! We both went to school at UM so we love our michigan readers. Would love to see the Indian version of grilled corn.

    Annie–You should copyright that phrase! Summer on a stick…we love it!!!

  16. 16

    Carla — October 3, 2009 @ 5:08 pm

    Thanks so much for this recipe. We also love Cafe Habana (and actually went on one of our first dates there!) so it was fun to re-create this at home

  17. 17

    Ravenous Couple — October 5, 2009 @ 4:13 am

    carla: thanks so much for your note! we're so glad you liked it…it's always great when a food reminds us of fond memories!

  18. 18

    Kung Food Panda — February 6, 2010 @ 6:18 pm

    Oh god, this looks SO good!

  19. 19

    Sue — May 26, 2011 @ 6:24 pm

    Had the pleasure of dining at Cafe Habana this week. The grilled corn was a taste sensation! I hope to replicate it this summer on the grill. There is nothing like it, honest!

  20. 20

    Cafe Habana Fan! — July 2, 2011 @ 2:21 pm

    My first experience with Cuban Corn was at Cafe Habana in 2006. I talk about it regularly and am just now attempting to make it for friends. Fingers crossed that my corn with taste at least half as good as yours looks!!

    Beware, if you go to Cafe Habana or make the corn at home, be prepared not to want the rest of your meal :-). Thanks for posting the recipe!

  21. 21

    Cuban/Mexican Grilled Corn | threetwentyeight — August 19, 2011 @ 12:31 pm

    […] meeting spot of both myself and Megan was a local joint on Thompson street called Cubana Café. It was a little bit hidden making it the perfect place to chat, do a little work and eat a great meal. The savory grilled corn was my preferred side dish and of course the sangria my go to cocktail. I came across a recipe for Cuban/Mexican grilled corn on this fab food blog called The Ravenous Couple. Their NYC spot was Cafe Habana, so it no doubt has to be good! With only 4 ingredients (5 including the corn) to make this yummy side dish it seems crazy not to try it before summer’s end. For the full recipe head on over here. […]

  22. 22

    Luisa — January 19, 2012 @ 11:35 am

    what mayo brand did you use please? Kewpie or Best Foods? Thanks!

  23. 23

    The Ravenous Couple — January 19, 2012 @ 11:46 am

    use whatever brand you perfer according to your likes, kewpie is great

  24. 24

    Seth @HomeSkillet — February 16, 2012 @ 8:30 am

    Hi Hong & Kim! Just wanted to let you know I made this dish as part of a Valentine’s Day grill for the wife and I; corn chopped in half, mounted on chopsticks, the whole thing. I also used the Jalapeno/Garlic butter instead of mayo, just cause it seemed like more fun. It worked out super well, and the corn was really the star of the meal! Thanks, guys!

    She made fun of me when she saw me tapping the chopsticks into the corn with a mallet, but she ate her words when it came time to eat and enjoy it.

  25. 25

    Danielle — March 25, 2012 @ 9:46 am

    For a more authentic version of this corn, mix a ratio of 50/50 sour cream and mayo. It is more like the Crema used in Mexico. Also, topping it with chopped cilantro gives it a more complex taste.

  26. 26

    Rachel — March 25, 2012 @ 1:54 pm

    Thank you sooooooo much for posting this. I found a link to your blog via pinterest. My husband and I went to NYC for a friends wedding about 3 years ago. They took us to Cafe Habana & we had this grilled corn. We have been trying to recreate it ever since to no avail. I’m SO EXCITED to make this! Thanks so much for posting!

  27. 27

    Thuy — April 7, 2012 @ 7:32 am

    In Viet Nam, we have a similar way of Grilled Corn. However, we use a mix of string onion, liquid lard and fish source to pour in the drilled corn…An easier way to cook right??? ^^

  28. 28

    C Parker — April 16, 2012 @ 12:06 pm

    This looks amazing….can’t wait to try it this summer. I live in the midwest and have never seen all white corn…..we have yellow/white mix here and it is the sweetest corn ever!

  29. 29

    tasty summer bites : Beloved Indeed | Custom Invitations + Greetings — June 4, 2012 @ 2:37 pm

    […] watermelon cups with mint + feta, kale chips, clambake, cilantro chicken skewers with mango salsa, cuban/mexican grilled corn, blackberry fennel and goat cheese pizza} Category: eats and […]

  30. 30

    Andrea — June 8, 2012 @ 2:07 pm

    You wrap your corn in Saran wrap before putting in the microwave? That sounds….toxic. A good old ceramic dish with a lid is probably safer.

  31. 31

    maria — June 25, 2012 @ 9:26 pm

    This a 100% Mexican thing so clear the Cuban first hmmm 😛

  32. 32

    Laeloni — March 21, 2013 @ 1:52 pm

    Yay thats awesome that you guys post this!! Totally gonna make it next time we grill. I’m from San Jose Ca but am currently living in Marysville (like 40 min from Seattle) until I’m done with school and I get soooo homesick because I can never find the foods I’m used to eating. I’ve been making the recipes off of your site lately to get my Vietnamese food fix and it makes me feel a little more at home. Thanks 🙂 Happy Cooking!!

  33. 33

    Independence Day Recipe Collection - Daily Dish with Foodie Friends Friday~Daily Dish with Foodie Friends Friday — July 2, 2013 @ 9:01 am

    […] Cuban/Mexican Grilled Corn from The Ravenous Couple.  I recently made this corn for a barbecue with some friends, and it […]

  34. 34

    Danielle — June 18, 2016 @ 5:04 pm

    I tried this corn on the cob recipe this evening and it was decilious.

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