Grilled Corn on the Cob with Cheese ~ Elote

Grilled corn on the cob with cheese is a more Italian-style take on other versions of this perfect summer side dish. Fresh corn, meet blazing fire. And then cheese. 

Three cobs of grilled corn with husks attached, lying on a metal sheet pan with parchment paper.

Adapted from Steven Raichlen | How to Grill Vegetables | Workman Publishing, 2021

When I was growing up, grilled corn was not on my radar. It wasn’t until I started researching The Barbecue! Bible that I encountered charcoal-grilled corn basted with chandon beni butter (flavored with a cilantro-like herb called culentro) in Trinidad; corn grilled with coconut milk and fish sauce in Cambodia; and, of course, Mexico’s now-ubiquitous elote (grilled corn slathered with mayonnaise and dusted with piquant Cotija cheese and chili powder).  I’ve written about grilled corn a lot over the years, and I keep coming up with new ways of preparing it. — Steven Raichlen


Steven Raichlen, the author of this recipe has a few more tips for you. He recommends buying the freshest corn possible, not just for taste but also because it will have developed less starch. Older, starchier cobs will burn much more easily while tender, fresh cobs will give you a little more time. As well, as much as you’d like to slather butter all over those kernels while they’re on the grill, resist the urge. Do baste them—but go easy. Too much butter or oil, and it will start to drip and burn, causing lots of sooty residue on your corn and lots of smoke.

Grilled Corn on the Cob with Cheese ~ Elote

Three cobs of grilled corn with husks attached, lying on a metal sheet pan with parchment paper.
Today, just about everyone grills corn—and with good reason, because there’s nothing like the blast furnace heat of the live fire to intensify its natural sweetness while imparting an irresistible smoky caramel flavor. Not to mention the leopard skin dappling of yellow and black that makes grilled corn so handsome to look at. And the popcorn-like snap, crackle, pop you hear as the corn grills.

Prep 20 mins
Cook 15 mins
Total 35 mins
4 servings
258 kcal
5 from 1 vote
Print RecipeBuy the How to Grill Vegetables cookbook

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  • Butcher’s string (optional)
  • A sheet of aluminum foil, folded into thirds


  • Mild vegetable oil for oiling the grill grate
  • 4 ears of sweet corn preferably in the husk
  • 4 tablespoons (2 oz) unsalted butter
  • 1 clove garlic peeled and minced
  • 4 fresh basil leaves cut into thin slivers
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese


  • Set up your grill for direct grilling and heat to high. Brush or scrape the grill grate clean and oil it well.
  • If using corn in the husk, strip back the husk as though you were peeling a banana. Strip them all the way back so you expose the entire ear, including the last inch at the bottom. Tie the husks back with butcher’s string—the idea is to make a handle for eating the corn. Alternatively, use one or two strips of husk to tie off the handle. Pull off and discard any silk (the fine filaments between the husk and the ear).
    If using husked corn, proceed to step 3.
  • In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Stir in the garlic and basil, and cook until fragrant, but not brown, about 2 minutes.
  • Lightly brush the corn on all sides with the garlic-basil butter and season with salt and pepper.
  • Arrange the ears on the grate, sliding the foil grill shield under the tied-back husks to keep them from burning. Grill the corn until the kernels are darkly browned, rotating the ears every minute or so and basting with the garlic-basil butter, 10 to 15 minutes. You may hear some popcorn-like crackling!
  • Place the grated cheese in a shallow wide bowl or on a plate.
  • Brush one final time with the garlic-basil butter, then roll each cob in the cheese. Devour.
Print RecipeBuy the How to Grill Vegetables cookbook

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Show Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 258kcal (13%)Carbohydrates: 18g (6%)Protein: 10g (20%)Fat: 18g (28%)Saturated Fat: 11g (69%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 45mg (15%)Sodium: 316mg (14%)Potassium: 268mg (8%)Fiber: 2g (8%)Sugar: 6g (7%)Vitamin A: 705IU (14%)Vitamin C: 6mg (7%)Calcium: 229mg (23%)Iron: 1mg (6%)

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

Nothing says summer like grilled corn. This recipe for grilled corn on the cob with cheese doesn’t disappoint. The corn is sweet and salty from the cheese. Nutty from the grill with the right amount of fresh herb and garlic butter to balance it out.

Elote garnished with grated cheese on a cutting board with slices of rare steak.

It is certainly a no fuss side dish, perfect to serve alongside steak or whatever protein you’ve got sizzling on the grill.

If you want your side dish to stand out at your next barbecue, grilled corn on the cob with cheese is the dish to serve. A spin on Mexican elote corn, this Italian version is the essence of summer packed with garlic, basil, and (in our case) loaded with parmigiana. After getting the hang of tying the husks back to form the handle, we appreciated the technique and it made for a unique presentation of an otherwise mundane summer side dish.

Don’t be afraid to leave the corn on the grill, just keep rotating them. The dark kernels were the best part. As we took the ears of corn off of the grill, we immediately rolled them in a pile of freshly grated cheese which held on easily with a thick layer that began to melt on contact. I served my grilled corn with a freekeh salad with grilled zucchini, basil, and sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh sourdough bread.

Originally published July 15, 2021


#leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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