How To Make Mexican Corn (In A Cup!)

Mexican corn in a dish

Mexican corn in a cup makes a great side dish, but it also  makes a great appetizer. This street food is totally amazing!

Mexican Corn in a Cup

This Mexican corn or corn in the cup, with lemon and chile is totally addicting. Combining the sweetness of corn, the heat of chile, the zestiness of lemon, and some salty cheese, puts this over the top.

Don’t let the simplicity of this recipe fool you. This corn is killer!

Ages ago we used to take the kids over to North Federal on hot Saturday afternoons and order New Mexican food at Jack n’ Grill, a restaurant that is sadly, no more.

It was easy to believe we were in Mexico as we watched the hot rod cruisers speeding and dodging down the street while the aroma of gas fumes mixed with the aroma of corn tortillas.

Mexican corn

The patio with its wobbly chairs wasn’t fancy, and nor was the food, but what incredible food it was. Spicy, fresh roasted green chili, massive homemade burgers, and corn in a cup, were just a few our our faves.

Besides the kids growing up and leaving the nest, Jack I think, flew the coop, too! But our fond memories of Jack n’ Grill still linger.

However one thing we did take away from Jack was his famous corn in a cup.

I’ve been making it for  years now and this Mexican corn is the perfect side dish when there aren’t any fresh veggies in the house.

Well, actually it is always the perfect side dish, even if the fridge is full!

Corn in a cup

I know what you are thinking. Well, I think I do.

It isn’t often that I open cans in my kitchen. Besides tomato sauce, tomatoes and maybe some beans, I don’t keep much canned food around around.

However as a parent who had kids in the house, it is hard to escape canned corn. I love corn any which way and I have no qualms about the form it comes in.

Corn is comfort food to me. So it is I have been making my version of Jack’s corn for a lot of years. I don’t know how he does it, but I can sure share what I do.

Corn in a Cup

Jack n’Grill’s corn came in a big styrofoam cup with a lot of spoons. If you worry about germs I suppose you could spoon it onto your plate, but we just passed the cup around.

It was a great way to stave off hunger until the enchiladas or burgers surfaced.

At our house I make this corn in a big bowl. I’ve brought it to potlucks and served it at bridal showers and generally make it to go with burgers or dogs.

It is as easy as opening a can and though it could be made with fresh corn, cut from the cob, why bother when this is so easy.

The other corn option is frozen corn and now they make roasted corn that would also taste great in this dish.

Mexican Corn

So how do you make Mexican corn in a cup?

Corn in a cup is quickly made by combining the corn with lemon juice, chile powder, hot sauce, cheese and butter. 

Feel free to use canned corn, frozen or fresh corn, however you may have to adjust the cooking time. 

I see many recipes that call for lime juice but Jack swore it was lemon and so I’ve stuck with it. We know what we like!

Use a good salty cheese to offset the spice and the sour. Parmesan is great but Cotija is more traditional.

Many Mexican corn recipes also use mayonnaise or sour cream, but this is similar to Jack’s recipe and he did not. Maybe it’s because Jack featured New Mexican recipes…who knows?

Mexican corn in a cup

Truth is this simple corn dish always receives accolades, which I guess is why I’ve been making it for easily 20 years or so.

Well that and the fact that it’s easy to open a can when one is rushed and hungry and the kids are screaming.

I may miss Jack-n-Grill, but I must admit, I miss those screaming kids more.

Mexican corn. Corn in a cup. I don’t care what you call it. We just call it good.

More to Try:
Elote Corn in a Bowl

Elote corn in a bowl

Corn and Green Chile Grits Pudding

         Corn and Grits Puddin' with green chilies and cheese    

I’d Love it if You’d Follow Me on Pinterest and Pin and Share!

Mexican corn in a cup pin

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How To Make Mexican Corn (In A Cup!)

  • Author: Abbe Odenwalder
  • Prep Time: 5 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 Minutes
  • Total Time: 10 Minutes
  • Yield: 2 - 4 Servings 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Microwave
  • Cuisine: Mexican


Mexican corn in a cup is street food so you can bet it’s good. Loaded with chile and cheese and lemon, this corn is killer!



1 15 oz can of sweet corn, drained

1/2 of a lemon squeezed

1 t ancho chile

1/2 T sriracha or Cholula

2 T Parmesan fresh or even from the can

1 T butter

More ancho chile and Parmesan for garnishing

Cilantro (optional)


In a microwaveable bowl large enough to hold a can of corn, combine corn, lemon juice, chile, cholula or sriracha, parmesan and butter. Stir well.

Cover and microwave for 2-3 minutes or until hot.

Carefully remove lid and sprinkle with more parmesan and chile powder.

Garnish with cilantro.

Don’t forget to pass the spoons!


Please note that all ingredients can be adjusted to your own tastes.

Keywords: corn in a cup, cup of corn, Mexican corn in a cup, How to make Mexican corn




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  • mjskitchen
    April 21, 2021 at 7:47 pm

    Love this easy and tasty Mexican corn recipe. Lots of flavor in a cup. Lime or lemon? I would probably choose lime, but I’m sure the lemon is still great and like you said – you know what you like. 🙂

  • sherry
    April 11, 2021 at 10:56 pm

    what an interesting idea! i’ve never heard of corn in a cup. i like to use frozen corn rather than tinned for dishes. seems to be fresher somehow.

  • Jeff the Chef
    April 8, 2021 at 7:32 am

    This corn looks fantastic! There is a street vendor who sells Mexican corn not terribly far from where I live, and I love the stuff!

  • Chef Mimi
    April 7, 2021 at 6:05 am

    Fabulous! I have no problem opening cans of corn, especially when it’s not summer. I just don’t like Libby’s brand. It has an odd taste. Great recipe!

  • John / Kitchen Riffs
    April 6, 2021 at 7:38 pm

    Sigh, so good. Haven’t had his dish in ages — time to again. Yours looks terrific — thanks.

  • mjskit
    May 4, 2017 at 3:17 am

    I love corn and I don't eat it near enough! What a very Yummy dish!!!

  • Ritu Ahuja
    May 3, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    It looks delicious. Healthy and yummy. Love the flavors in it.

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
    May 3, 2017 at 6:24 am

    That looks lovely! I had corn in a cup while in Texas. It was delicious and served outside a gas station! 😀

  • SavoringTime in the Kitchen
    May 2, 2017 at 10:26 pm

    Another great recipe for warm weather dinners, Abbe! Love your spicy recipes 🙂

  • Juliana
    May 2, 2017 at 8:08 pm

    I love corn Abbe, and this Mexican corn sounds and looks so tasty…loaded with flavors…thanks for the recipe!
    Have a great week 🙂

  • Tricia Buice
    May 2, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    I love your stories Abbe – such rich memories 🙂 And I love this dish – and will serve it at one of our family dinners. Sometimes simple is the best all around!

  • Liz Berg
    May 1, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    Simple, full of flavor and so yummy! Perfect for our Cinco de Mayo menu!!

  • Julie
    May 1, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    I love everything about this recipe! It's sad that some of those favorite places don't stay the same.

  • Cheri Savory Spoon
    May 1, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    It's funny how some foods evoke certain memories and it sounds like you have wonderful memories of this corn. I miss my kids too, even though they now have families of their own. Love how you spiced this up Abbe, looks delicious. Have a great week.

  • Kelsie | the itsy-bitsy kitchen
    May 1, 2017 at 2:55 pm

    Jack must be a genius because this corn sounds SO GOOD! I love corn in basically any form, too, so this is right up my alley. Have a great week, Abbe!

  • Kitchen Riffs
    May 1, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    This is a killer dish! My favorite kind. I've had something similar, although with a different cheese. Like the Parm in this, though — definitely worth a try. Fun memories, too. Restaurants change (we change too, of course) but food memories are a constant. This is a good one — thanks.

  • HWC Magazine
    May 1, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    What a fun and easy recipe and I have everything on hand to make that right now as a side for dinner. Thank you for the inspiration! Sharing!

  • Lea Ann (Cooking on the Ranch)
    May 1, 2017 at 11:30 am

    Hi Abbe, I've never been to their location on Federal. Only to the one this side of town. And didn't know about this corn dish they serve. I'm with you, love corn in any form – this is a must try. Thanks for sharing this one. Pinned.

  • Angie Schneider
    May 1, 2017 at 6:14 am

    Canned sweet corn is something I have no problem either. This looks filling and delicious.