Mexican-Style Grilled Corn-On-The-Cob {Recipe}

Step-by-step on how to make Mexican grilled corn. Brining brings out corns natural sweetness while the post grilling addition of queso cotija and Tapatîo gives it a Mexican spin.

Brining brings out corns natural sweetness while the post grilling addition of queso cotija and Tapatîo gives it a Mexican spin.

Growing up in Southern California with a dad who loved to fish, summer weekends meant we had a lot of beach family barbecues. The first thing he’d do, even before he broke out the fishing poles? Grab a bucket, walk down to the water, and fill it with seawater to get the corn soaking right away. Four hours later, when it was time to start preparing our meal, that corn was the first thing to hit the grill. A little butter + a little cheese + a little Tapatîo = sweet, cheesy corn with a bite. Ah… summer! Hello, there!

This isn't so much a recipe as much as a guide to the steps involved. It's for four ears of corn and is easily adaptable for more or less. With our family being huge, we'd throw them into a cooler to soak in the saltwater bath. The brining accentuates the natural sweetness of the corn and is the trick to great street-style Mexican grilled corn.


Clean & Trim four ears of corn: Use a pair of kitchen sheers to “clean up” the corn. If your ears of corn look like the first one, trim away so they look like the last three. This ensures no stray leaves or silk catch fire when placed on the grill. (Alternately, in addition to trimming the long thin tops of the leaves, you can gently pull back the husks, remove the silk and carefully pull the husks back up to cover the corn. Our family prefers to allow the silk to steam with the corn and remove it before eating,)

Salt Water: Next add ⅓ cup salt to a gallon pitcher and fill it a third of the way with water. Whisk. Whisk. Whisk. Water will be cloudy. We’re making our own “seawater” here.

Soak: Place the corn trimmed side down into the pitcher. Fill with water. Allow to soak in the salt water for at least 4 hours. If I know I’m making them for dinner, I’ll put them to soak in the morning before I even make my first cuppa joe. Seriously.

Grill, baby, grill: After they’ve soaked for a few hours, heat a gas grill to 400 degrees Fahrenheit or get a charcoal grill going. Once the charcoal turns gray, place the corn directly on the grill. As the corn cooks, the saturated husks will steam the corn for the first part of the cooking process.

Turn: After 10 minutes, make a quarter turn on all the corn. Continue doing quarter turns every 10 minutes. Total cooking time for corn that is sweet and tender but still retains a bit of crunch, 40 minutes at a consistent 400 degrees Fahrenheit (Check charcoal on a standard grill halfway through cooking process to make sure that the heat isn’t dropping. Add more coals if needed.)

Strip: Remove corn from grill. Holding the stalk side and starting at the top, carefully peel the husk down towards the stalk end and pull it straight down and over the end, essentially creating a "husk handle." Now you can more easily hold the ear while removing the silk from corn as the “handle” will be much cooler to the touch. Once all the silk is gone, you could completely remove the husks but personally…

… I prefer to leave them on as I think it makes for a dramatic presentation. Take a stick of butter, rub it all over the corn. Liberally sprinkle with queso cotija or some grated parmesan and drizzle with Tapatîo or your favorite hot sauce.

That’s it. Enjoy!

Until next time…

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  1. Looks delicious. We soak the corn in water before grilling but I never thought of a brine. Gorgeous photos, as always.


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