This grilled corn on the cob with chipotle butter, inspired by elote or street corn in Mexico, tempers spicy chipotle with the tang of lime and the sweetness of butter. Best grilled corn we’ve had in a very, very long time.
This grilled corn on the cob with chipotle butter is slightly spicy and can be simply tossed on the grill and forgotten about while you tend to the rest of supper.
It’s inspired by street fare in Mexico, and although it’s minus the cheese found sprinkled on traditional elote, we quite like the slightly more streamlined approach that emphasizes the smoky heat of chipotle. Simply toss it on the grill alongside whatever else you’ve got cooking over the coals.–David Leite
Grilled Corn on the Cob FAQs
What is chipotle in adobo?
Chipotle chile in adobo sauce comes in a can and consists of plumped smoky flavored chipotle chile (which is smoked and dried jalapeño) in a rich sauce made with dried ancho chile peppers, garlic, and vinegar.
In the U.S., you’ll find it in cans in most grocery stores and Latin American markets. In Europe, it’s slightly harder to happen upon. As a substitute, the authors suggest a few crushed chili flakes combined with a little smoked paprika.
How do I choose the best sweet corn?
If your local market has fresh corn still in the husks, go to those first. The husks should still be green – not dried out. Give the corn a little squeeze – you’ll want to ensure that you can feel plump, firm kernels all the way from the stem to the top of the ear. Squishy kernels mean that they’re starting to dry out and are past their prime.
If all else fails, pull back a bit of the husk and look at the corn. If they’re plump, juicy, fresh smelling, and brightly colored. If husk-on corn isn’t available, just make sure your kernels are firm and plump, not squishy or discolored.
Grilled Corn on the Cob with Chipotle Butter
- 4 tablespoons (2 oz) salted butter
- Grated zest of 1 lime (about 1 teaspoon) preferably organic
- 1 chipotle chile in adobo (see note above) minced, or more to taste
- 6 to 8 corn cobs husks removed
- Sea salt
- Lime wedges for serving (optional)
- Preheat your grill on medium or place a grill pan over medium heat.
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan or a microwave, add the grated lime zest and chipotle chile in adobo, and mix together.
- Using long-handled tongs, place the corn on your grill or grill pan. Brush the corn with half the chipotle butter and cook, turning every few minutes, until nicely colored on all sides.
- Remove the corn from the heat, generously brush each ear with the remaining butter, and season with salt. Pile the corn onto a platter and serve with lime wedges for squeezing, if desired.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Grilled corn on the cob is one of my go-to favorites for summer meals and despite loving it done simply and unadorned, this recipe did not disappoint. The chipotle butter sauce imparted a whisper of heat and acid that nicely balanced the corn’s natural sweetness.
I would have liked the sauce to cling better to get more of the chipotle bits and zest, but the flavor still came through. I used a grill pan. My 6 ears of corn served 3 people and there was enough sauce to coat 2 more.
I love grilled corn and this recipe just amped up the flavor for my favorite summertime grilled vegetable. I just threw the whole naked husked corn cobs directly on on the grill over a medium-low flame and they cooked up within 20 minutes. Within the last 5 minutes of grilling, I started to baste the corn with the melted butter and lime and chile mixture.
I only had dried ground chipotle on hand so that’s what I used—about 1/2 teaspoon per 3 tablespoons of butter. I could have taken more heat so next time I will double the amount of chipotle. Loved the flavor and final result! My hands-on time was 5 minutes and my total time was 25 minutes.
This is an all-around winner for a great summer barbecue!
This grilled corn on the cob with chipotle butter recipe was really great! A really nice, smoky flavor that’s not too spicy. I didn’t manage to find a can of whole chiles but did find chopped chipotle in adobo paste and I added 2 heaping teaspoons.
I have to confess that I did not make it to the full 1 hour and 40 minutes of cooking time. I cooked mine for an hour on a medium-low grill pan and they still had an almost fresh flavor. Even though it sounds crazy, I actually think if you’ve got the corn on low heat and you’re at the grill anyway because of some slow-cooking meat, the cooking time is not unreasonable.
Also, my memory of delicious grilled street corn in Mexico is that it was almost completely dry with a leathery texture. I would suggest a squeeze of lime juice just before serving.
The lime zest really came through in this Mexican corn on the cob—more than I expected it would—and was nice with the chipotle and the salt. All in all, this grilled corn on the cob came out pretty well and is a good way to showcase fresh summer corn. I think it could have used some more chipotle.
I grilled 6 ears of corn and we ate 3 straight away with grilled chicken and the other 3 we ate the next night. I reheated the leftover ears on a baking sheet in the oven with some ground chipotle sprinkled on top. The extra chipotle really, uh, kicked this this up a notch, as someone might say.
Originally published August 26, 2017