Summer is officially winding down, which means packing in the season’s staples has become a top priority: lazy lake days, beach getaways, backyard BBQs, and the satisfying crunch of biting into a cob of corn. As much as we love all of these ‘last licks,’ today we’re here to tap into that last part.
After all, there are so many ways to cook corn on the cob. But while grilling is pretty straightforward (since you go based on grill marks), boiling can be a bit trickier. For instance, how long do you have to boil fresh corn on the cob? It’s a more commonly Googled question than you might think. To find out the answer—and to learn the best ways to cook corn during summer—we chatted with McCormick executive chef Hadar Cohen Aviram. Keep reading to uncover her top tips for preparing corn on the cob.
The best ways to cook corn
Corn can be grilled, steamed, boiled, and roasted. From there, it can be creamed, baked, canned, and more. The point is, there are many ways to prepare corn, and to say that one way is better than the other just isn’t accurate.
Instead, the best way to cook corn is subjective—it all comes down to your favorite way to eat the veggie. If you prefer smoky flavor, you may prefer grilled corn. If you like soft, easy-to-scrape-off corn, steaming or boiling will likely be your method of choice. Meanwhile, if your goal is to achieve a crunchy exterior, try roasting your corn.
How to cook corn: boiling vs. grilling
While Aviram loves corn on the cob in any form, she admits that boiling and grilling the veggies make for different flavor profiles. Where boiling corn allows for a cleaner corn flavor free of outside seasoning, she says that grilling at high temperatures allows you to smoke and caramelize the corn, which can make for an intriguing flavor profile. “Coating the corn with oil or butter and extra fat will help the corn brown, and make it taste even sweeter,” she adds.
How long should you boil fresh corn on the cob?
The number-one question surrounding corn on the cob is how to boil it. Namely, do you put corn on the cob in the water before it boils; when is corn on the cob done boiling; is 30 minutes too long to boil corn; how do I know when boiled corn is done? These are all questions that folks all over the world regularly punch into Google, hoping to learn how to make their starchy veg taste as delicious as possible.
Fortunately for us, Aviram has the answer(s).
“It’s possible to over-boil corn. Until a certain temperature, we cook the starch in the kernel, but cooked too long, the exterior part starts to break down which alters the texture and makes it taste mushy,” she says. To avoid such a result, she follows a simple corn-boiling process. “I like to boil water, add the corn, and let it sit for at least 10 minutes and up to 30 minutes,” she says, noting that the longer you boil, the more tender the kernels will become. “The corn doesn’t overcook and you gotta love the grace period it gives you while you finish cooking your entrée!”
TL;DR: Corn can be over-boiled, but if you stick to 30 minutes or less, you should be in the clear. If you’re looking for more specific guidance, though, know this: Corn gets gradually darker as it’s cooked. If your corn begins to look dark yellow in the water, you’ve boiled it for too long. (Of course, an easier, more fool-proof option is to simply set a timer. Personally, I have an Echo Show, $250, in my kitchen and I love how easy it is to verbally set multiple timers while I’m cooking. It saves me from over-boiling and burning items as I work through other steps of the meal. What’s more, I can even use it to display the recipe at hand.)
Corn can be over-boiled, but if you stick to 30 minutes or less, you should be in the clear. If you’re looking for more specific guidance, though, know this: Corn gets gradually darker as it’s cooked. If your corn begins to look dark yellow in the water, you’ve boiled it for too long.
12 corn on the cob recipes for summer 2023
Beyond boiling, steaming, grilling, and roasting corn, there are so many ways to prepare your kernels and cobs. Ahead, find 12 corn-on-the-cob recipes to test out this summer. You might just find a new fave.
Fresh corn salad
Salad might be most associated with greens, but you can absolutely toss together a tasty concoction with corn as the base. This fresh corn salad recipe features sweet corn (which you can boil or grill), cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and seasoning for a refreshing mix that’s perfect on its own or as a cold summer side dish.
Get the recipe: Fresh corn salad
A classic appetizer recipe beloved by hundreds of foodies, cowboy caviar combines corn with tomatoes, red onions, black beans, bell peppers, and jalapeños, all tossed in a garlicky oil and vinegar dressing. While it can be eaten on its own, it’s best served with tortilla chips.
Get the recipe: Cowboy caviar
Grilled corn and avocado salad with feta dressing
Grilled corn, avocado, and romaine serve as the base of this salad that’s adored by thousands of NYT Cooking readers. It’s tossed in a zesty lemon, buttermilk, and feta dressing that takes the flavor profile to new heights.
Get the recipe: Grilled corn and avocado salad with feta dressing
Cream corn like no other
For a decadent corn recipe, you can’t go wrong with creamed corn. This particular recipe has amassed nearly 2,000 rave reviews, so you know it’s delish.
Get the recipe: Cream corn like no other
Edna Lewis’ corn pudding
Slightly sweet, corn pudding is a versatile recipe that can be showcased as a side or a dessert.
Get the recipe: Edna Lewis’ corn pudding
Corn soup recipes are aplenty, but few are as tasty as corn chowder. While many iterations of the recipe exist, this one from Food & Wine has more than 3,000 5-star reviews, which makes it hard (if not impossible) to beat.
Get the recipe: Corn chowder
Caramelized corn and asparagus pasta with ricotta
Just because you’re focused on your veggies doesn’t mean you can’t also enjoy some pasta. This caramelized corn and asparagus pasta with ricotta gets 5-star reviews across the board.
Get the recipe: Caramelized corn and asparagus pasta with ricotta
Awesome and easy creamy corn casserole
When nearly 4,000 people rate a recipe with four or more stars, it’s safe to say you can’t go wrong with it. That’s the case with this awesome and easy creamy corn casserole. Made with canned corn and cornbread mix, it’s a cake-like side dish that’s semi-sweet and delicious.
Get the recipe: Awesome and easy creamy corn casserole
Craving a fancier corn recipe? This top-rated corn risotto recipe is easy to make and is bound to make an impression on whoever you cook it for. With butter, leeks, white wine, heavy cream, and cheese among the additional ingredients, you know it’s rich and savory.
Get the recipe: Corn risotto
Zucchini corn fritters
Here we have a corn-centric appetizer option. Zucchini corn fitters are light and fluffy, and best served with a side of ranch. (Fun fact: You can add cheese for even more savory flavor.)
Get the recipe: Zucchini corn fritters
Just like Chipotle’s corn salsa
Forever craving Chipotle’s corn salsa? You’ll fall head over heels for this recipe dupe. It’s made with corn, jalapenos, red onion, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper.
Get the recipe: Just like Chipotle’s corn salsa
Grilled corn with smokehouse maple chipotle butter
For a decadent grilled corn experience, consider McCormick’s Grilled Corn With Smokehouse Maple Chipotle Butter. It has a kick with a sweet finish that will leave you reaching for seconds.
Get the recipe: Grilled corn with smokehouse maple chipotle butter
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