My personal opinion on street corn is this: Nine out of ten times, the corn tastes better off the cob. When you have a nice big bowl of perfectly balanced street corn, there is nothing getting in the way of shoveling it into your face.

That’s why these street corn nachos, inspired by Mexican elote—the famous grilled corn topped with a mayo mixture, spices, and cheese—are great. Every bite has tons of corn and the perfect ratio of crema, cheese, corn, chips, and cilantro. If you make this in the summer, you can cut the corn off fresh in-season cobs. The rest of the year, frozen works just as well.

Makes 4 servings for dinner, or 8 as an appetizer

Takes about 20 minutes


  • 3 cups (24 ounces) fresh or frozen corn kernels

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 cup Power Crema (see below)

  • 1 bag (12 ounces) tortilla chips (about 90 chips)

    Nachos for Dinner Book Cover Nachos For Dinner Dan Whalen
  • 2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled Cotija cheese

  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika

  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

  • Lime wedges, for serving


1   Preheat the broiler to low with a rack about 4 inches from the heat.

2   Place the corn on a sheet pan, drizzle with the olive oil, and toss to coat. Broil until the corn is slightly charred, 3 to 5 minutes. (Watch carefully to make sure it doesn’t burn.) Remove from the oven and let cool for 2 minutes.

3   Stir 1/4 cup of the crema into the corn.

4   Arrange the tortilla chips evenly on a sheet pan, overlapping them as little as possible.

5   Top with half of the cheddar cheese, followed by half of the Cotija cheese.

6   Add the corn mixture, distributing it evenly, then the remaining cheddar cheese and Cotija cheese.

7   Broil on low until the cheddar cheese has melted (the Cotija won’t melt) and the chips are starting to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. (Watch carefully to make sure they don’t burn.) Remove from the oven.

8   Top the nachos with the remaining crema, followed by the paprika and cilantro. Serve hot, with lime wedges on the side.

Note: If you’re using fresh corn, you’ll need 5 or 6 shucked ears for this. To cut the kernels off a cob, place a small bowl upside-down inside a large bowl, and set the base of an ear of corn on top of the small bowl. Holding the ear upright with one hand, use a sharp knife to cut down toward the small bowl, slicing off the kernels and collecting them in the large bowl. Repeat with the remaining ears.

Power Crema

This is my favorite crema version—the mayo adds depth and you don’t need to break out the blender. You could add a pinch of garlic powder if you want.

  • 1 cup sour cream

  • 1/4 cup mayo

  • Juice of 1 lime

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • Pinch of kosher salt

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine. Use a funnel to pour the mixture into a squeeze bottle. The crema will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days. 

“Excerpted from Nachos for Dinner: Surprising Sheet Pan Meals the Whole Family Will Love! by Dan Whalen (Workman Publishing). Copyright © 2021. Photographs by Penny De Los Santos."

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