Food on a table, with Corn on the cob and Sweet corn

4 Absolutely Brilliant Ways to Cook Corn on the Cob

There’s just nothing that screams late summer like sweet corn when it’s fresh, hot, and slathered with butter and salt. Today, I want to share with you four brilliantly delicious ways to cook corn on the cob that are sure to thrill and delight you, your family, and guests, too.

Corn on the cob is a summer staple that should be part of every summer celebration and backyard cookout because not only is fresh corn cheap when it’s in season, it’s quick and easy to prepare, too! But first, let’s talk about how to start with the best ears of corn.

 

Food on a table, with Corn on the cob and Sweet corn

How to choose

There you are in front of a pile of freshly-picked, in-the-husks, sweet corn. You want to select ears with these characteristics:

  • Bright green husks that are tightly wrapped and mostly intact.
  • The stem area where it was cut from the stalk should be sticky and moist. If this is really dry, it’s old corn.
  • Check the tassels. They, too, should be slightly sticky, moist, and silky.
  • Peel back a small area of the husk to check for wormholes and brown spots. Avoid.

4 Ways to Prepare

There must be as many ways to prepare fresh corn on the cob as there are people who love to eat it. Here are my favorites:

1. Stovetop

You have to try this. Just let me warn you—it sounds insane, but once you prepare corn on the stovetop this way, you’ll never go back. It’s a family heritage recipe I got from a self-avowed corn snob who grew up on a farm in Iowa.

  • Remove husks and silk from 6 ears of fresh corn.
  • Fill a pot about 3/4 full with water and bring to a rolling boil.
  • Stir in 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
  • Carefully place corn in the water, cover the pot, and turn off the heat.
  • Check after 10 minutes to see that corn is tender. If not, return the lid and allow to sit for a few more minutes.

 

A pot of food on a metal pan on a stove, with Corn on the cob and Butter

2. Microwave

Some time ago, the following great reader tip showed up in my mail, complete with photos! I tried Dick’s method right then and there and wow, it is so slick!

I have demonstrated this to friends and family many times since, and always to rave reviews not only for the surprising finale but for the perfectly cooked corn, too!

“I wish to share a sweet corn trick with you and your readers that allows one to cook fresh corn in the husk, in the microwave. I am including a few photos to demonstrate.” Dick

  1. Cut through the husk right up to—not through—the cob at the stem end (where the ear was attached to the stalk), and all the way around.
  2. Microwave on high, 3 minutes per ear. Example, if you have two ears, microwave for 6 minutes.
  3. Remove from microwave carefully, then grasp and pull the corn right out of the husks.
  4. No muss, no hairy corn silk!

 

A group of people preparing food in a kitchen, with Corn on the cob and Butter

 

 

3. Roast

Consider this amazing method to roast corn on the cob—in the husks. No prep, no soaking required. Oh my, you must give this a try! Roasting in the husks gives the corn a mysteriously subtle, indescribably delicious flavor that is just fabulous.

Here’s the routine:

  • Fire up the grill to medium heat or 350° F.
  • Place corn with husks intat directly on the grill grate, leaving a bit of space between cobs for heat circulation.
  • Close cover.
  • Carefully turn corn after five minutes using tongs
  • Roast for 25-30 minutes, turning every 5 minutes until hot and tender, making sure to close the cover between turns.
  • Remove corn and allow to cool slightly before peeling away charred husks.

 

 

A stove top oven sitting next to a grill

Photo Credit: The Gunny Sack

 

4. Grill

Nagi at RecipeTinEats.com has a different way to prepare corn on an open grill. She insists, and I trust Nagi, “This is the most effortless BBQ side dish ever!”

  • Get the grill going and crank it up to very hot.
  • Peel husks and silk off of the corn.
  • Place corn on the open grill—no oil required.
  • Cook for 10 minutes, turning every couple of minutes until you see little charred bits, and the kernels are tender when pierced with a knife but still juicy. Overcooked corn, says Nagi, is shriveled, dry, and sad! Don’t do that.
  • During the last minute of cooking, brush with melted butter and roll the corn around.
  • Serve with softened butter, salt, and sprinkled with parsley if desired.

 

A row of food on a wire fence, with Corn on the cob and Sweet corn

 

Originally published  7-3-19; Updated and Republished: 7-28-21.

 

 

 

 

 

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12 replies
  1. Mo Ray says:

    What about Mexican Street Corn??? I first experienced this in California. I’ve made it multiple times since. It’s a little more work, but OMG delicious!

    Reply
  2. Kathy Barr says:

    Just want to share yet another super easy way to cook corn on the cob for a crowd. So easy. Put all the corn that has been shucked and cleaned in an ice chest, pour boiling water over all to cover, close the lid and let it sit for 2 hours, no peeking. AMAZINGLY EASY!

    Reply
  3. Lynn D. says:

    The absolute BEST way to cook corn on the stove is by steaming! It cuts down on the heat and the time and the corn turns out perfectly every time. Simply…get a kettle or pan big enough to hold your corn in 1 or 2 layers, husk and clean your corn of the silk, fill your pan with a few inches of water and add one of those collapsible steamer inserts to the bottom and place your corn on top and cover with a lid. Let the water come to a boil and then steam your corn for about 7 minutes, depending on how many ears you are doing. When it’s done, if you’re not ready to eat, you can move the pan off the heat and keep covered until ready. It will stay hot and (not get mushy) for quite some time. My sister-in-law taught me and my husband (both stubborn “cover-with-water-and-boil” believers) how to steam corn and we are now total converts!!! Try it, you will be amazed how fast it is and how good the corn will taste!

    Reply
  4. Barbara A. says:

    Mary – I was surprised that I did not see the Instant Pot method of preparing corn on the cob? Prepare the ears of corn just like the stovetop method. Put 1-1/2 cups of water (optional: I add 2 tsp sugar) in the bottom of the Instant Pot. Put the trivet in place, and place up to 6 ears of corn into the IP. The original instructions I have say to cook at high pressure for 2 minutes, but I prefer them a little more cooked – so I pressure cook on high for 5 minutes. If you use the “stay warm” feature, you don’t have to worry about the timing quite so much. This is the easiest way I have found to have corn on the cob for summer meals: no heating up the kitchen or competing with space on the grill!

    Reply
    • Mary Hunt says:

      That is a great prep method, but not everyone has an Instant Pot—-far fewer than have microwave ovens and outdoor grills! The 4 methods in the post are available to just about everyone.

      Reply
  5. Emily Francona says:

    Since air fryers are now a common kitchen appliance, including a recipe for that woud have been really useful. We cut the corn ears in half, spray them with a bit of olive oil and salt, stand them up in the air fryer and cook them for 10 minutes on high (400F).

    Reply
  6. Sue H says:

    I always cook my corn in the InstantPot. I cut off both ends without removing the husk (just go by feel for where the corn ends). The husk and silk easily slips off once cooked. I use a rack and put 1.5 cups of water in the pot, then cook on high for 4 or 5 minutes.

    Reply

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