Elote, Thyme Butter, & Maple Spread on Sweetcorn: A CornFest GrillTacular

corn ready for the grill Last weekend, we had our first annual CornFest GrillTacular.

Basically, we invited a bunch of friends over, and they could accept our invitation only upon agreeing to eat at least two ears of corn because, well, I’d had some corn topping ideas rolling around in my butter-filled brain for a while. And  we’d ordered 4 dozen, straight from the farm.

grilled corn

And I couldn’t see myself making like a tablespoon of each topping for just Eric and I to try…so instead, I went through over a pound of butter and made three different options for our friends to slather on their corn cobs.

Last year, at the corn roast we helped out at, I had been walking around the festival with an ear of corn when I came upon a stand selling local maple syrup products. The man behind the table wisely suggested I put a sample of his maple butter on my sweet corn, and upon trying it, I basically reached corn nirvana.

maple butter corn topping

So, one our options was maple butter with sea salt. (Also, I may or may not have eaten spoonfuls of straight maple butter while making it. Unconfirmed.)

maple butter corn topping

Our next topping came from one of my favorite cookbooks: The Northern Heartland Kitchen. Author Beth Dooley claims that thyme and corn have a natural affinity for one another, and I have to agree. Although this was the most subdued of our three options, it is definitely something I’ll try again, and I can only imagine how good this flavored butter would be on a savory bread like focaccia as well.

thyme butter corn topping Our third topping was hands-down voted “Best of the Fest” by all of our guests: the illustrious elote. Eric and I had first tried this at his parents’ house, and had really loved it. I’m a little ashamed to admit that I hadn’t ever heard of or tried this Mexican street-food favorite before this summer, but now I’m officially hooked. Completely skeptical of the presence of the world’s worst food – mayonaisse – in this recipe, I was surprised to see myself asking for more. The richness of the sour cream / mayo combo is totally cut by a large splash of lime, and friends, if you haven’t tried this, do. Tonight. And revel in its messiness.

elote corn topping

We had such a great time with our good friends (and their/our growing number of offspring)…the weather was amazing, and the corn grilled to perfection, thanks to Eric’s hard work. Can’t wait to see what CornFest GrillTacular 2013 holds for us.

sarah elote corn topping atticus grilled corn toppings

Peel back the outer leaves of your husk, and twist off the tuft of hair at the top. “Re-close” the cob by twisting together the inner leaves. Soak in cold water for 20 minutes. Cook over a medium-heat grill for about 15 minutes, turning frequently. You’ll know they’re ready when the husks start to peel back or fall off, and when you can see the outline of the kernels through the husk.

grilling corn

Peel and de-hair husks completely. Place cobs in a large pot and cover with cool water. Cover the pot, and turn your burner to high. Bring water to a boil. As soon as it’s boiling, turn the burner off, and let the corn sit (still covered) for 5 minutes. You will get perfectly tender corn…every time. Thanks, Mom!

corn party

grilled sweet corn

Maple Butter Spread for Sweet Corn

Maple Butter Spread for Sweet Corn

(recipe from One Perfect Bite

(yields 1 1/2 cups)

This maple butter is super sweet spread with just a little touch of salt. It goes GREAT on sweetcorn, but I can see myself using it on toast, muffins, and more.


1 c. pure maple syrup (please don't use the fake stuff this time!)

3/4 c. salted butter (just melted)


You can make this recipe with or without a candy thermometer, as the source website listed above describes. I did it with the candy thermometer...

In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, heat maple syrup over LOW heat until it reaches 240* on your candy thermometer. This should take about 15 minutes.

Stir in the (melted) butter.

Beat with the paddle attachment on your stand mixer for 8-10 minutes until thick and creamy.*

Pour into glass containers and refrigerate until needed.


*I do not have a stand mixer. Gasp! I just simply used my normal mixer. I'm guessing it would be thicker with a paddle attachment, but it still worked for me!

Thyme Butter (for Sweetcorn)

Thyme Butter (for Sweetcorn)

(recipe from The Northern Heartland Kitchen (for 4 ears of corn)

This savory butter packs a lot of flavor, and the thyme complements the corn perfectly!


4 tbsp. butter, softened

2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, finely minced

2 tsp. lemon juice

lemon zest to taste (I used app. a 1/2 tsp.)

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped


Mash together the softened butter, thyme, lemon juice, and zest in a small bowl. *


When your corn is ready, slather the butter on the cobs, adding as much salt and pepper as desired.

Sprinkled on the basil.


*Can be made ahead of time and kept refrigerated. If making ahead of time, do not cut or mix in the thyme. Add that and cut the basil just before serving!

Elote: Mexican Sweet Corn

(recipe adapted from We Are Not Martha) (yields enough for 4 ears of corn)

This Mexican street food favorite is full of flavor. It is rich and sweet, but also refreshing from the lime. I changed this recipe by adding cumin, and keeping the chili powder and cayenne out of the spread and instead shaking it on to the cobs. Completely delicious!


3 tbsp. mayo

2 tbsp. sour cream

1/2 tsp. lime zest

1/2 tsp. fresh lime juice

1/2 tsp. cumin

pinch of salt

1 c. crumbled or grated Cotija cheese (you can use Parmesan if you are unable to find Cotija)

1/8 c. chili powder

pinch of cayenne pepper


In a small bowl, mix together the mayo, sour cream, lime zest, lime juice, cumin, and salt, stirring until totally combined. *

In a smaller bowl, mix together the chili powder and cayenne.


When corn is ready, slather the mixture onto the cob.


Roll the cob in the cotija cheese.


Sprinkle with the chili powder/cayenne mixture.

*Can be made ahead of time if kept refrigerated.

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7 thoughts on “Elote, Thyme Butter, & Maple Spread on Sweetcorn: A CornFest GrillTacular

  1. I want some corn. Hopefully we’ll get to sample these flavors from the “Lake Country Sweet Corn” Bergets on our way home. I’m especially interested in the Maple Butter and the Elote variety!

  2. Liz — Thank you! for inviting us to the Cornfest! And I completely agree about the elote — totally skeptical because it had mayo AND because the sprinkle-stuff had the chili powder but it all the blending together was perfect. I couldn’t even bring myself to try the other ones because that one was such a surprise goodness. Hooray for new tastes! (p.s. Thank you for you sweet comments about the picture, Liz and Leah (-: — I am blushing.)

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