When something at Trader Joe’s goes viral, you know you’ve gotta try it, and then you’ve gotta make your own version, especially when homemade seasonings are quickly becoming your thing.
And in my oh-so-humble opinion, I much prefer this DIY version. It’s got more spice, a little smokiness, and is less sweet than the TJ’s variety. Making it in bulk and having it in the cupboard for a moment’s notice not only makes it super easy to assemble our 5-star Elote Dip, but it’s also an excellent substitute for taco seasoning!
What’s in Elote Seasoning?
Elote means “corn” in Spanish. Elotes are known as the popular Mexican street food that is corn on the cob that has been grilled so it’s nice and charred, then slathered with a creamy mixture of chili, mayo, cotija cheese, garlic, and cilantro. And of course a juicy lime wedge.
Elote seasoning, then, has the flavors you’d taste when biting into that juicy ear of corn, without the actual corn. It’s chili-forward with spice, and a savory, salty blend.
The ingredients in this blend include:
- Chili Powder – the base of this spice mix for a spicy kick.
- Cumin – a little for earthiness and depth of flavor.
- Smoked Paprika – brings a little smokiness into play! If you have chipotle powder, you could use it, too.
- Sugar – just a little rounds out the flavors; you’ll notice we use much less than store-bought varieties – it’s definitely not our main ingredient!
- Garlic and Onion Powder – love a little garlic and onion to balance it all out with a little extra savoriness.
Unlike the Trader Joe’s version, there is no dehydrated cheese in this version. Mostly because it’s hard to DIY. To add the cheesy, creamy component of elote, stir in cotija crumbles or grated parmesan cheese immediately before using.
The other optional ingredient to the seasoning, that’s essential to elote, is lime. Similar to making lemon pepper seasoning, you can buy dehydrated lime zest, or make your own, to add to the seasoning blend. You can also use lemon for the citrusy flavor if you have it.
Let’s Make It!
This is so easy… are you ready for it?
Get yourself a bowl if you’ll be using the seasoning immediately. If you’ll be storing it or making a bulk batch to have on hand, use a jar or another airtight container. I recommend using glass so the flavors do not soak into your container.
Then, it’s as simple as mixing the seasonings together until combined!
Ways to Use Homemade Elote Seasoning
As I mentioned above, when getting ready to use it, you may want to add in grated parmesan cheese depending on what you’re making. That’s also an ingredient that’s easily a garnish for the added salty, cheesy flavor.
Similarly, consider fresh cilantro and lime juice, too! They’re essential to the flavor that comes from street corn, and using dried cilantro is just…sad in flavor.
Ok, now that we’ve got those flavor caveats covered, try this seasoning so many ways – it’s so versatile!
- Skip the individual spices when making elote corn dip and use this seasoning blend to make it extra quick!
- Go ahead and make a traditional-inspired version of Mexican street corn! Grab your corn on the cob, slather it in mayo sauce, and top with the seasoning, some cotija cheese, and a squeeze of lime. Save time by making the corn on the cob in the air fryer, too!
- Out of taco seasoning? Substitute in this spice mix; it’s similar in flavor and will season your taco filling just right! Psst, this works for vegetarian fajitas, too!
- Heck, just sprinkle it over tortilla chips before you enjoy homemade queso to take it to the next level!
- Sprinkle it on scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, or avocado toast.
- Add it to season air fryer frozen shrimp or grilled proteins. Measure with your heart!
- It’s also delicious when added to homemade popcorn – definitely don’t forget the cheese and squeeze of lime here for extra flavor! Follow the tips in our favorite garlic parmesan popcorn for how to best add grated cheese.
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!
Get the Recipe DIY 5-Minute Elote Seasoning
- In a bowl, add all of the ingredients and whisk or stir until completely incorporated together. Or, shake them together in a jar. Store in an airtight container in a dark cupboard for up to six months.
- When using the seasoning, stir in cotija cheese crumbles or grated parmesan cheese for the creamy, cheesy factor. You can also add buttermilk powder, which can be stored in the seasoning blend, but in the fridge.
- I also recommend adding fresh lime juice to the dish, or adding fresh lemon zest to the seasoning when using (you will need to dehydrate it to store the blend with zest).
- This mix yields approximately 4 1/2-5 tablespoons.