It is easy to understand that corn is part of many of America’s favorite snack foods. Popcorn, tortilla chips, and crunchy cheese puffs are all delicious snacks made from this American grain. But what about sweet corn on the cob? Turns out that Americans love to eat corn on the cob as well. Our list of the top seven best ways to cook corn might help eager home cooks discover some new tips and tricks.
Corn is among the most widely consumed grains on the planet. On a global scale, the average human will consume 70 pounds of corn each and every year! That’s a whole lot of corn that needs to be grown annually, and that’s not even accounting for corn being grown for animal consumption and biofuel. Just like many other popular foods, farmers are finding it difficult to keep up with all that demand.
After all, the most popular vegetable in America is corn! That’s according to a survey of 2,000 Americans who were asked which vegetables they liked and disliked the most. However, it turns out the most surprising result of the study may be that a staggering number of adults haven’t eaten any vegetables their entire lives.
Corn can often be relegated to the role of a humble side dish. Corn on the cob can also be a center-stage main event, just ask anyone that has been to a corn-boil or fall harvest festival. Our sources helped us consider the seven best ways to cook corn on the cob. Don’t forget to bring some dental floss and let us know your favorite methods in the comments below!
The List: Best Ways to Cook Corn, Per Culinary Experts
Start with a great big pot, add some salt, and perhaps a pat of butter and you are good to go! The most difficult part of this method is making sure you have a big enough pot, and in lieu of that be ready to cut the cobs into smaller segments. “This resulted in perfectly cooked, perfectly seasoned corn. The salt helped the corn shine and made it intensely flavorful without tasting salty. It was a total game-changer. The kernels were plump, juicy, and a beautiful bright yellow color. My takeaway: Boiling corn in salted water is an easy way to make delicious, perfectly seasoned corn without a ton of effort,” raves the kitchn.
Camille Styles exclaims, “When your water reaches a steady rolling boil, gently place the stalks into the pot and cook for about five minutes. Be careful not to overcook or you’ll be left with tough kernels! Pull them out when the kernels are plump, bright yellow, and juicy looking (again, about five minutes). Once they’re out of the pot, you’re ready to serve or use in a tasty recipe!”
Everyday Cheapskate praises a method that includes sugar and lemon juice in the water, “Nothing signals the arrival of summer like sweet corn when it’s fresh, hot, and slathered with butter and salt… 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.”
Oven roasted corn is a great low-effort way to make corn on the cob. All you need is a few minutes to get prepped, and you are ready to go. Favorite Family Recipes says, “First of all, peel and butter the corn and season as desired. Next, wrap the corn up in foil and roast … at 450 degrees F for 20 minutes. Then, remove from oven and allow to rest two to three minutes before unwrapping.”
Real Simple describes, “There are different ways to roast corn on the cob, but we think the easiest and best one is to shuck it and wrap it with foil, which allows the corn to steam in the oven. If you’d like, you can dab the corn with butter before wrapping it up.”
allrecipes elaborates, “If you plan to roast the corn in the husk, remove any dry leaves and any silks or tassels that stick out of the husk, as these may burn if you leave them on. Place the cobs in a single layer on the oven rack and bake for 30 minutes.”
Grilling can be accomplished with or without the husks and will produce a delicious flame-kissed flavor. This method is particularly popular for summertime cookouts. Taste of Home comments with a few neat tricks, “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.”
Robinette Farms adds, “You can grill sweet corn in the husk or with no husk! Both provide a wonderful smokey grilled flavor! IN THE HUSK: Remove silks before grilling. Just pull the husk back, remove the silks and then put the husk back up… NO HUSK: Pull back the husk but don’t remove it (it makes a great handle for turning it on the grill!).”
Better Homes & Gardens details, “Preparing grilled corn on the cob can be a little more involved, but the delicious result is worth the extra effort. The high heat caramelizes corn’s natural sugars, and the char adds a pleasant smoky element.”
Surprisingly, if you’ve got good corn, the microwave can produce great results. This method produces similar results to steaming, but we must urge caution as they will be rocket-hot so handle with care. The Typical Mom explains, “Keep cobs in the husk and put into the microwave on high for about four minutes. It is best to have a rotating lazy Susan inside the machine… or turn over halfway thru if you don’t. Peel back the husk to check tenderness with a fork.”
Camille Styles offers, “Cooking corn in the microwave is probably the fastest way to deliver juicy cobs. If you’re cooking more than about four stalks, however, you’ll probably want to choose a different method so the final result is more consistent. But, for just a few ears of corn, the microwave is a great option for quick and easy corn cooking.”
Favorite Family Recipes states, “Peel corn and wrap in a damp paper towel, then place on a plate and microwave for 5 minutes. Season and serve. (Not our favorite way as far as taste goes, but it is the FASTEST way and works great in a pinch.)”
Steaming is a gentle cooking method that preserves the natural flavor of corn on the cob. It is also one of the best methods for cooking for large batches. Taste of Home claims, “This method is quick, and healthy, too. That’s because steaming preserves the corn’s nutrients better than other methods (like boiling)… 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 cook for four to six minutes, or until tender.”
Robinette Farms relates, “If you have a large family, I think this is the easiest way to cook corn on the cob… Shuck the corn, trim the ends if necessary (or cut in half if they are big and can’t fit in your pot) and steam with the lid on for four to 10 minutes depending on how soft you like your corn. Just make sure you don’t run out of water in your pot while steaming!”
The Typical Mom reviews the steaming method, “Once I made it this way there was NO going back to boiling water again… It allows your vegetables to maintain all their nutrients vs. the loss when you boil them in water.”
6. Instant Pot
The Instant Pot and other pressure cookers can create a final result that is similar to steaming. The advantage of this method is that it takes less than five minutes of cooking time. Real Simple evaluates, “Use the Instant Pot for fast, reliably delicious corn on the cob. By pressure cooking on high, you can have perfect corn on the table in less than 10 minutes.”
“The corn came out similarly to boiled corn with plump kernels that were juicy and bright yellow… Adding the melted butter on top was a nice touch and melting it in the Instant Pot was an easy way to avoid having to dirty another dish. This yielded a delicious, basic version of corn. It was simple and unfussy,” according to the kitchn.
Favorite Family Recipes describes this method, “Place a trivet in the Instant Pot. Then, add 1 cup cold water. Brush melted butter on up to 6 pieces of corn (peeled) and place them on the trivet. Then, close and seal the Instant Pot then cook for 1 minute on high pressure and slow release for 1 minute before doing a quick release. Season and serve.”
7. Air Fryer
Air fryers are popular appliances in many American homes. They can produce surprisingly tasty results thanks to convection heat. The Typical Mom assures, “Air fryer corn on the cob is so easy and NO water is required for the kernels to get tender.”
Taste of Home compliments, “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!”
Favorite Family Recipes articulates on a slightly different time and temperature combo, “Cut corn into pieces so it will fit in the air fryer. However, don’t overcrowd. Then, brush corn with melted butter or spray with cooking spray. Air fry at 350-degrees for 15 minutes, turning half-way through. Season and serve.”
You might also be interested in:
- How To Make an Omelet
- Best Ways to Cook Asparagus
- Best Ways to Cook Salmon
- Best Seasoning for Chicken
- the kitchn
- Camille Styles
- Everyday Cheapskate
- Favorite Family Recipes
- Real Simple
- Taste of Home
- Robinette Farms
- Better Homes & Gardens
- The Typical Mom
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