How to Cook Corn on the Cob, 7 Ways
Preparing this summer staple doesn't have to be a challenge. We share everything you need to know about how to cook corn on the cob. Pick your favorite of seven different methods!
Few things symbolize the peak of American summer more than a crop of fresh sweet corn. Whether you grow it yourself or buy it at a farmers market, grocery store or roadside stand, the real challenge arises once you get your bounty home. (Psst: Here’s how to pick corn that’s perfectly fresh.)
So, how many ways can you cook corn? We put seven corn-cooking methods to the test: grilling, boiling, steaming, slow-cooking, oven-roasting, air-frying and microwaving.
How We Tested Each Method
In testing, we prepared two ears of corn using each technique outlined below. While some call for cooking the corn with or without husks, we opted to remove them all for consistency. (Learn how to shuck corn.) We included our cooking tips and opinions on when each method will be most useful, so you’ll have all the info you need to choose the one that’s right for you.
Lauren Habermehl for Taste of Home
We love how corn on the grill gets infused with smoky flavor! The kernels get some char while still remaining sweet and juicy.
How to Grill Corn
Begin by preheating your gas or charcoal grill. Place each ear of shucked corn on a 12-inch square piece of heavy-duty foil. Top with a tablespoon of butter and a standard-size ice cube. Then, wrap each ear tightly and grill over high heat for roughly 20 minutes.
Tips for Grilling Corn
- Add additional prep/cook time if using a charcoal grill, since you’ll have to wait for the coals to heat up. (But don’t worry—this county fair-style corn is worth the wait.)
- When the husk is removed, the corn needs added moisture to grill properly. That’s where the ice cube comes in! As the corn cooks, the ice melts and turns to steam inside the foil packet, which prevents the kernels from drying out.
- You can also grill corn with the husk on. This protects corn from the grill’s heat and infuses the corn with moisture.
Find our full tutorial on how to grill corn.
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You can literally take sweet corn from farm to table in minutes with this method.
How to Boil Corn
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Carefully add the corn and cover the pot with a lid. Let it cook until the corn is tender, 3-5 minutes. Younger sweet corn will require less cooking time with this method, while older ears of corn may need more time.
Tips for Boiling Corn
- It’s easy to overcook corn when boiling it. When overcooked, sweet corn can become tough and lose some of its sweetness. Here’s more about how long to boil corn.
- Never salt the water when boiling corn. The trace amounts of calcium in salt can cause corn to toughen while it boils. You can add a bit of sugar to enhance its sweetness, though.
- If you’re cooking corn for little kids, cut the cobs into smaller pieces before boiling.
Learn more about how to boil corn.
Lauren Habermehl for Taste of Home
This method is quick, and healthy, too. That’s because steaming preserves the corn’s nutrients better than other methods (like boiling). These healthy corn recipes would be a good way to put your steamed corn to use.
How to Steam Corn
To steam corn on the stovetop, place a steamer basket into a pot filled with a few inches of water. Bring the water to a boil, then add shucked ears of corn to the steamer basket. Cover and let cook for 4-6 minutes, or until tender. Remove and season with salt, pepper and melted butter.
Tips for Steaming Corn
The stovetop steaming method is so straightforward, we don’t have any tips to help you out. Trust us, you can do it!
Find step-by-step instructions for steaming corn.
Lauren Habermehl for Taste of Home
Cooking corn on the cob for a crowd? Toss it in your slow cooker! Then use our favorite method to butter the corn. This method is also great for times when you need a no-fuss side dish.
How to Slow-Cook Corn
To prepare corn in a slow cooker, remove the husks from the corn and place in a 6- to 8-quart slow cooker. Add 1 cup of water plus butter, herbs or spices. Then cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours, or until tender.
Tips for Slow-Cooking Corn
- Plan ahead and start your corn early enough to steam in the slow cooker completely. The good news is, if you forget to start your corn in time, you can always fall back on other methods mentioned here.
- Add whatever herbs and spices you like to the crock before cooking.
This is our most popular slow-cooked corn recipe.
Elena Vafina/Getty Images
When the weather isn’t quite right for grilling, oven-roasted corn is about as close as you can get! The oven steams the corn perfectly in its foil wrapping, leaving each kernel juicy, sweet and tender.
How to Oven-Roast Corn
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place each ear of shucked corn on a 12-inch square piece of heavy-duty foil. Place 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter on each ear and then wrap the corn tightly in foil. Place corn on a baking sheet and transfer to the preheated oven. Roast on your oven’s center rack for 30-45 minutes, or until the corn is tender.
Tips for Oven-Roasting Corn
- Depending on the rest of your menu, oven-roasted corn does take up oven space and time—although, less time than the slow cooker. If you’re a single-oven household, then this method may throw off your cooking schedule.
- When wrapped in foil, corn prepared in the oven stays piping hot for up to 20 minutes, so it’s easy to keep warm while you finish other dinner items.
- Dress up your oven-roasted corn by making a tasty compound butter loaded with fresh herbs and spices.
Get our tried-and-true recipe for oven-roasted corn on the cob.
Jenna Urben for Taste of Home
If you love your air fryer just as much as we do, you’ll want to try air-fryer corn on the cob. Bonus: It doesn’t heat up the kitchen on hot days!
How to Air-Fry Corn
Preheat the air fryer to 400° at least 5 minutes before you plan to add the sweet corn. Spray each shucked ear of corn with cooking spray, then season with salt and pepper. Put the ears in your air-fryer basket and air fry for 10 minutes, making sure to flip them halfway through. You’ll know they’re done when the kernels are tender and lightly charred. Butter, season and serve!
Tips for Air-Frying Corn
- You can even air-fry sweet corn straight from the freezer. When frozen, it should take just an extra 2 minutes to cook through.
- Use your air fryer to reheat cooked corn on the cob.
- If your air-fryer basket isn’t quite big enough to fit the ears of corn, feel free to cut them into smaller pieces.
Read our whole article about making air-fryer corn on the cob.
This is the ideal way to make corn on the cob for one or two people.
How to Microwave Corn
Wrap each shucked ear of corn in a damp paper towel. Microwave on high for 3 minutes.
Tips for Microwaving Corn
- Microwave cooking times vary depending on the power of your microwave. If microwaving, start with less time rather than risk completely nuking your corn, which will make it dry and tough.
- You can microwave up to four ears at a time, but you may need to increase the cook time to about 6 minutes.
- If you’re cooking for more than four, you’ll need to microwave in batches. Because of this, you may want to opt for another method of cooking corn to avoid babysitting your timer.
Get the details on making corn on the cob in the microwave.