sweet corn cake

This delicious Mexican sweet corn cake is a copycat of my favorite yummy side that used to be served at Chi-Chi’s! Also known as pan de elote, this scoopable buttery corn cake straddles the line between a warm corn pudding and cornbread perfectly…

mexican sweet corn cake in an orange and white bowl with a ceramic baking dish in the background

chi-chi’s mexican sweet corn cake

I’m probably dating myself here, but one of the saddest days of my life was the day Chi-Chi’s shut down their restaurants. I have SO many fun memories of celebrating birthdays, graduations, and even no special occasion at all while wearing one of their big sparkly and colorful sombreros and digging into a Mexican fried ice cream smothered in hot fudge sauce…

Before we had kids, it was our Friday night hotspot on the regular. My favorite meal consisted of a small dish of cheese con queso as an appetizer, followed by a beef chimichanga with extra Mexican sweet corn cake on the side (please and thank you!), all washed down with one of their amazing frozen wild berry margaritas. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

I have yet to recreate Chi-Chi’s delicious wild berry margarita, and honestly the chimichangas just seem like WAY too much effort to try at home… But I did happen on a copycat Chi-Chi’s corn cake recipe a couple of years ago.

Overall, it’s a pretty simple and easy recipe — although it does take about an hour to bake, which makes it more of a special occasion side dish in my book. (Note: If you’re looking for a somewhat faster method, pick up this Chi-Chi’s Sweet Corn Cake Mix, which gets mixed with water, butter, and cream-style corn!)

But since today is Cinco de Mayo and we’re all stuck at home, this seems like a special-enough occasion… Who’s with me?!


  • 1/2 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup masa harina
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups frozen corn, thawed
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Whip the butter with a hand mixer until creamy. Add masa harina and water and blend well until thoroughly combined.
  3. Place the thawed corn in a blender or food processor and pulse a few times. Personally, I prefer a blender for this, but either way, do not overprocess it. You still want to have some whole chunks of corn left. Add the chopped corn and cornmeal to the masa harina mixture and mix together well.
  4. In a separate bowl combine sugar, cream, salt and baking powder. Pour this mixture into the corn mixture and blend thoroughly.
  5. Spread the mixture evenly in an 8×8″ baking dish. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and place this dish inside a 9×13″ baking dish. Pour about 3 cups of water into the larger baking dish to form a water bath.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for 50-55 minutes, until the corn cake is cooked through. Remove from the oven and remove the smaller dish from the larger one. Let the corn cake stand for 10 minutes before serving.


Adapted from Top Secret Restaurant Recipes.

Note: If you’re looking for a somewhat faster method, try this Chi-Chi’s Sweet Corn Cake Mix, which gets mixed with water, butter, and cream-style corn.

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