Side/ Vegetarian

The 3 Best Ways to Cook Corn on the Cob

July 22, 2019
hand holding ear of grilled corn with husk pulled back

Is there anything better than summer sweet corn, fresh from the farmer’s market? I love corn on the cob dripping in butter and sprinkled with salt, but I also love to use corn kernels in all sorts of summer salads, like my Orzo Pasta Salad and my Black Bean Corn Salad. So I often cook up more ears than I need for a dinner, and cut the kernels off the leftover ears to use in a salad the next day. 

How do I choose the best corn?

The best ears of corn will have tightly wrapped husks that will look green and not dry. You can peel back the top of the husk to look for juicy corn kernels, or be more polite and feel for large firm corn kernels through the husk. Peeling back the husk also will begin to dry out the corn kernels inside, so refrain from doing so if you don’t plan to use your corn right away. 

12 ears of fresh corn on the cob

How long does fresh corn last?

As soon as corn is picked, its corn sugars begin to convert to starch. This will take your corn from sweet to chalky very quickly. The reason that farmer’s market corn can be so much more delicious than grocery store corn is because it’s often been picked that morning or the day before. Regardless of where you buy your corn, it’s best to eat it within 1-2 days for the sweetest taste. If you buy a bunch of ears, and can’t use them right away, you can store the unshucked corn in the refrigerator—cold temperatures will slow down the sugar conversion process. 

Can you freeze corn on the cob?

Yes! I would recommend cooking your ears of corn first, or at least blanching them for a minute in boiling water, then putting them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. You can store cooked or blanched ears of corn in a large ziploc freezer bag. Or, if you have fully cooked your corn, you can cut the kernels off and freeze the kernels in ziploc freezer bags instead. Removing as much of the air as possible when you close your freezer bags will help prevent freezer burn. Use within 3-6 months for the best taste. 

What is the best way to cook corn on the cob? 

I have three favorite methods of cooking fresh corn. You might choose one over the other depending on how many ears of corn you want to cook, and whether you have access to a grill. Pros and cons for each are listed below.

Best Way to Cook Corn in Microwave:

  • Trim off the silk and leaves at the top of each ear of corn and pull off any loose pieces of husk. Then put the corn (still in their husks) on a plate in the microwave. In general, an ear of corn will take around 4 minutes, with 2-3 minutes for each additional ear of corn. And time may vary based on how large your ears of corn are. Remove plate from microwave when done, and let corn rest for 5 minutes to cool down. When corn is cool enough to handle, peel back husk and remove corn silk. I’d recommend cooking only 2-3 ears at the same time—pilling more ears than that into the microwave is awkward and may result in the ears not evenly cooking. 
  • Advantages: Speed and ease of cleanup (no pans to wash!). Also, you’ll find the corn silk will just peel right off. Best for cooking small numbers of ears of corn. 
  • Disadvantages: Takes longer the more ears of corn you have. Difficult to cook more than 2-3 ears at the same time. 

Best Way to Cook Corn on Grill: 

  • Here are my instructions for the best way to cook corn on the grill. First, trim off the silk and leaves at the top of each ear of corn with a pair of kitchen scissors and pull off a couple of layers of husk. Corn will cook faster if there are fewer layers of husk between the corncob and the grill. Also, you don’t want loose silk or leaves that could catch on fire. Leaving some of the husk on is helpful so that the corn stays juicy and doesn’t burn. Grill for 20-25 minutes over medium-high heat, turning frequently. You want grill marks on all sides of the corn. A little blackening of some of the husk is perfectly fine. 
  • Advantages: If you have grill space, you can do a bunch of ears of corn at once. And, your corn will have a slight smoky flavor that is really delicious. Finally, barely any cleanup necessary.
  • Disadvantages: You need a fairly large grill, especially if you are also cooking hot dogs, burgers, or other items at the same time. Also, this method takes the longest amount of time. 
4 ears of grilled corn on the cob

Best Way to Boil Corn:

  • Husk each ear of corn. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When water is boiling, add corn. Boil for 5 minutes, moving corn around occasionally so they cook evenly. Use tongs to remove corn when done. 
  • Expert move: When corn is done and you have removed it from the pan, drain water and put pan back on the stove. Add a few tablespoons of butter (1/2 T. per ear) and heat over medium until it melts. Then put the corn back in the pan and use tongs to turn them around in the melted butter. Sprinkle with salt and enjoy! 
  • Advantages: Boiling corn is easy and you can cook several ears of corn at once. Using the pan for butter application after cooking is ????.  
  • Disadvantages: Must wash the pan afterwards. 
large pot of boiled corn on the cob

What’s the best way to cut kernels off the cob?

After you have cooked your corn in any of these three methods, you may want to cut the corn off the cob to use in salads (or if you or your child has braces!). Here’s how you do it. When corn is cool enough to handle, stand corn upright in a large bowl, holding it tightly at the top, and then slice off corn kernels using a sharp chef’s knife. Note: if you have microwaved or grilled your corn, you can use the husk you have peeled back for a better grip

cutting corn kernels off cob with chef's knife
Grilled Corn on the Cob

Grilled Corn on the Cob

Yield: Serves 6
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Grilling corn is one of the best ways to cook corn. Easy and super delicious!

Ingredients

  • 6 ears of corn

Instructions

    1. Trim off the silk and leaves at the top of each ear of corn with a pair of kitchen scissors and pull off a couple of layers of husk. Corn will cook faster if there are fewer layers of husk between the corncob and the grill. Also, you don’t want loose silk or leaves that could catch on fire.
    2. Grill for 20-25 minutes over medium-high heat, turning frequently. You want grill marks on all sides of the corn. A little blackening of some of the husk is perfectly fine.

Notes

Leaving some of the husk on is helpful so that the corn stays juicy and doesn’t burn.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 76 Total Fat: 1g Saturated Fat: 0g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 1g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 1mg Carbohydrates: 17g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 4g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 3g
Nutrition information is provided as a general reference for users courtesy of the online nutrition calculator Nutritionix.

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