Kitchen Confidence

The Best Way to Cook Corn on the Cob

By • June 26, 2012 • 43 Comments

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Finished corn

Nothing should have to be confusing about corn.

But your mom may have told you to boil it for ten minutes; your mother-in-law, for seven. Your dad may have let it roll on the stove until he remembered it. There’s been an age-old debate on the best way to cook corn on the cob – and, at the center, how long to boil it.

Shucking corn

Get this: we don’t boil it at all.

Instead, we boil water on it’s own, then toss in the corn. Once the water gets back up to a boil, we simply shut off the heat. You can let the corn hang out in the pot for a few minutes, or until dinner’s ready, or until you just can’t resist the promise of its perfection.

Corn in pot

So no need to worry about timing; no need to worry about wrinkly kernels; no need to worry about upsetting the family tradition. The best way to cook corn turns out to be the easiest.

Finished corn with butter

Best Ever Corn on the Cob

Serves 4

4 ears shucked fresh corn
Butter and salt, for serving

1. Bring large pot of water to a boil. Add the corn. Once the water gets back up to a boil, shut off the heat.

2. Let the corn sit the pot for a few minutes (or until dinner’s ready).

3. Serve with butter and salt.


Tags: corn, how-to, summer, how-to & diy

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Comments (43)


8 months ago rick maynard

I use a similar method for my corn with one exception........I add 2 tablespoons of sugar and a splash of lemon or lime juice to the water.
The sugar sweetens it,the lime juice makes it tender. TRY IT, you'll love it.


9 months ago Locavore42

Our favorite corn: Using organic corn, boil briefly then put in an oven on the lowest rack directly over the red hot elements to caramelize or roast. Turn as often as needed with tongs until golden all around. Drenched in butter and a bit of salt .... whoohoo.


9 months ago Locavore42

Anyone know where I can get organic corn that's NOT sweet, but starchy and packed with great taste?


9 months ago Locavore42

Got a tough one here. We don't want sweet corn. Organic corn is GMO free so we get that, but whatever happened in this country that now seems devoid of starchy corn that makes the best "creamed" corn and is loaded with corn taste that's NOT sweet? Diana Kennedy spoke of this in more than one of her cook books. If I want sweet, I'll get a cookie. Why oh why must everything be sweet to be good?


9 months ago John Nelles

Growing up in Iowa, corn country, we were told to add a bit of skim milk to the pot when boiling, and then cook like you recommend: once the water returns to a boil, shut off the heat and it's ready.
It also tastes good by just steaming it. Very versatile.
I, too, am concerned about GMO corn. Buy organic if you can find it. I don't want to eat Monsanto's surprises.


10 months ago sir_ken_g

Nuke it - no husking, no threads.


10 months ago Horto

nuke corn????


12 months ago Doug Barnhard

Best way ever to cook corn is in a fire with a really hot bed of coals made from apple wood. Get a really good fire going in a fire pit. While the wood is burning down to nice hot bed of coals place corn in bucket of water. If you have lots of corn I will use a picnic cooler. You want the corn to soak for about 1 hr. Take the corn right out of the water and carefully place in the coals. You must have a nice bed of coals or the water from the corn can cause the coals to be put out. Occasionally turn the corn on the coals with a long pair of tongs. The outside parts of the husk will actually start to burn off. Don't worry if some of the corn kernals get darkened because of the fire. They are just carmelizing and it is oh so good. They will be in the fire about ten minutes or so. Remember you put the corn in the fire with the husk on. The husk actually holds in the heat to make it cook. Soaking it keeps the ear of corn from just catching on fire. Enjoy


almost 2 years ago Malek Alahmar

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over 2 years ago Cinnamin

Sheesh! And to think it was that easy!


over 2 years ago jtrueblood

I love how we all have such strong opinions about how to cook corn. I usually nuke: 4 minutes for one ear in the husk. Tried a new method for grilling corn, though. I nuked it for 2 minutes, then shucked (heating up the corn makes the shucking so much easier). I sprayed it with olive oil spray and then grilled it for a few minutes, turning it as it browns a little. Either the corn I bought was exceptionally good, or the roasting brought out the sweetness. It was sooo sweet!


over 2 years ago jtrueblood

I love how we all have such strong opinions about how to cook corn. I usually nuke: 4 minutes for one ear in the husk. Tried a new method for grilling corn, though. I nuked it for 2 minutes, then shucked (heating up the corn makes the shucking so much easier). I sprayed it with olive oil spray and then grilled it for a few minutes, turning it as it browns a little. Either the corn I bought was exceptionally good, or the roasting brought out the sweetness. It was sooo sweet!


over 2 years ago Julie O

Deep into an early corn season here in New England. Steam for a few minutes ... eat - all by itself. If it's good corn it doesn't need butter and it certainly doesn't need salt. And if it does, it isn't good corn so find a better place to buy it! YUM.


almost 3 years ago jane.pilcher1

Wow! Just tried this the other day & it couldn't be any easier. Corn was cooked perfectly!


almost 3 years ago harleyjo

The best way to enjoy corn on the cob is right off the stalk...........raw! Its fabulous. No need for butter, salt, pepper, or whatever else you put on the corn. This is the simplest and best method. Of course, its best when you have organic, non-GMO corn.


almost 3 years ago Pat in SoCal

Isn't this amazing? So many great ways to accomplish delicious corn. I always put cleaned corn into cold water with a little sugar (never salt) cove and and bring just to a boil "until it smells like corn" and then turn it off. It can sit for a while if you need it to...yum!


almost 3 years ago Peggio

My new favorite way to get "roasted" corn flavor when you don't have fresh... you can use frozen kernels, add to a pan on high heat with canola or corn oil and just LEAVE it alone for a few minutes, then start shaking pan every minute or so to expose all kernels to get them brown. I then remove from heat, add some salt & freshly ground black pepper & a tablespoon or two of butter. So easy & YUM!


almost 3 years ago MicronCat

The best corn on the cob we ever had happened TOTALLY by accident. I put the corn on the stove to boil in salted water, then something or other happened around the house and we forgot about it. Came back to the pan boiled dry and the corn scorched black where it was touching the pot. Ate it anyway. Crispy, super sweet AND salty from the salted water - have tried unsuccessfully to duplicate.


almost 3 years ago Alexis Rhone

The best way to cook corn is to husk, de-silk, & slather with butter, salt & pepper, roll it up in wax paper, crimp the edges, then put it in the microwave for 8 minutes. Perfect, every time! No boiling, with all the vitamins leeching out into the water. Just perfect corn, every time! Try it!


almost 3 years ago Alice_

I totally agree! Although I don't wrap it, i leave it with the inner layer of husks and silks, which come off very easily I also don't cook it that long, maybe 4 minutes, and I find i don't need salt and butter this way, the flavor becomes very intense and concentrated. . Notice the "it"....this works for one cob, not for a lot! But if you're cooking for one, it's a great method.


almost 3 years ago Lilah

Just clean corn and wrap in a damp dish towel. Flour sack is best. Then microwave for 2 minutes per ear. Crunchy and delicious Use organic it is better.


almost 3 years ago Kt4

Super easy method when making fresh corn for a large crowd... while getting a huge pot of water boiling, clean a large cooler that was used to carry all the food to your destination and remove nature's corn packaging [aka husks & silk]. Put the corn into the cooler and pour in the boiling water then promptly close the cooler's lid. When all the rest of the food is set out, reveal the surprise in the cooler (maybe it should be called a hotter for this?) and watch eyes light up at the delicious surprise of sweet hot COTC [Corn-On-The-Cob]!

Thank you Mom for discovering this super easy method and texting it to me at the feast I was preparing high in the VA mountains, where I thankfully had some limited cell reception.


almost 3 years ago phyllis

I've been cooking corn this way forever. It's the best. Thanks for making it public!!


almost 3 years ago Pmudpies

Well, maybe it has to do with living in So California, looking out over an ocean, but we love corn, so I I husk fresh organic corn on the cob, lightly spray butter, salt and put on hot grill. Turn four times, and eat with melted butter and if you wish grated hard cheese. I always hope for extra to cut from cob, and then use in cold salad next day.


almost 3 years ago Alexis Rhone

The best way is to slather the shucked corn with butter, salt & pepper, then roll up in wax paper & microwave for 8 minutes. Perfectly cooked. Already seasoned. Delicious.


almost 3 years ago Funwithme

Funny, I really think the big question here is not how to cook the corn but where on earth to find corn worth eating!!! Organic non-GMO!!! Either the public is really ignoring the problem in this country or maybe they really don't care. Even China labels their GMO foods!! I for one have totally banded Corn from my diet unless it's organic.


almost 3 years ago Lindini

my fave way to cook corn......
clean the corn of all silk & husks
put cleaned corn cob(s) into an empty pot
cover the corn with water so all is covered by the water
add about 1 heaping TBL of white sugar and 1/3 c milk
turn heat on med high, uncovered
cook until fluid comes to a boil, turn heat off.
corn can be served immediately or stay in fluid for up to 1 hour before serving
enjoy the sweetest, tastiest corn on the cob EVER!!!!


almost 3 years ago bnirvana

The thought of taking nice fresh corn on the cob and wrapping it in plastic wrap to cook it gives me the shivers.......why do you want a bunch of chemicals leaching out of the plastic wrap into your fresh corn? It might be easy but I think there are much healthier ways to cook corn. If you are going to microwave try abstaining from the plastic wrap - I think it will cook just fine without it!


almost 3 years ago ramblinbob

I've used Judy's bbq corn technique. Tastes great, but the blackened husks are messy. The right way to boil corn is to bring the water to a boil, dump in the corn, submerge it and remove after 5 minutes. The only thing your hypothetical family was doing wrong was boiling it too long. And, BTW, "put corn in hot water and take it out when you feel like it" is _not_ a recipe.


almost 3 years ago pschissel

All wrong! Shuck fresh corn. Put it on a plate (6-8 at a time - you can even stack!) with a teaspoon of water. Cover with plastic wrap leaving a little opening at one side for air to escape or with a plastic plate cover. Microwave for ONE MINUTE per ear of fresh corn - no more! 4 ears = 4 minutes, 5 ears = 5 minutes, etc. "Fresh corn really needs nothing. No butter, salt, pepper, or fancy combos. It's sublime in late June, better in July and August! Totally terrific!


almost 3 years ago nancy dusenberry

How long to microwave in the husks???


almost 3 years ago pidgeon92

I, too, have found that microwaving is the easiest, best way to cook corn. 3-4 minutes per ear, depending on how many ears you put in. They steam in the husk, and come out perfect. I always chop off the top and the bottom so as soon as I take them out I can put corn holders on each end, and then they can be easily husked. I then use a corn silk brush to take the silk off the very hot corns.


almost 3 years ago landseergirl

I cut the silk off the top and peel back the darker green husks. If the corn is dense, I do 3 minutes /ear. If smaller, about 2 minutes per ear. Learned this as a kid in New Jersey...pick the corn out back and then microwave...nothing better


almost 3 years ago Kaphut

Make a compound butter with minced cilantro, fresh jalapeno, and lime zest. Slather liberally onto corn cooked by your preferred method and add a generous grinding of sea salt and black pepper. Eat and display your buttery smile!


almost 3 years ago Kate's Kitchen

Microwave it for about 4 minutes per ear. If you are cooking 2 together 8 minutes should work just great. It will hold it's heat for a while. I take the husks off at the store and make sure to microwave the same say.

After microwaving Put each ear in a little rounded corn dish with butter, sea salt and chopped fresh tarragon. Stick those little corn holders in, roll around I the butter herb mixture and dig in.


almost 3 years ago kvass2

I agree with carswell about the steaming method but for something to slather on the cob just
before tucking in I suggest freshly roasted garlic. We have tried others since but we always go


almost 3 years ago lalocook

I cooked an ear for myself the other night and wanted the taste of grilled corn without the trouble of grilling. So I started with an ear cooked fairly similar to above. Then I rubbed it with a few drops of olive oil and set it down over my open gas flame. Kept turning. The corn chars in some spots all over just like when you roast peppers on the range. I did it Mexican street style -- lots of grated parm, lime and some chili ( I only had Urfa, which was perfect). That was a delicious ear of corn.


almost 3 years ago smbpc

This is a great method, have used it for years A few minutes doesn't quite do it, but 10 minutes at sea level will. We live at 5,000 feet and water boils at 202 degrees instead of 212. To correct when water comes back to a boil I let it cook 3 minutes and then sit off and stand for at least 15 minutes, but more doesn't hurt. This also allows you to get the big corn pot off the stove while you finish up dinner.


almost 3 years ago carswell

I have a large vegetable steamer and have been doing my corn in that for years now. It doesn't require boiling massive amounts of water and it doesn't overcook the corn either. It's done in about 10 minutes start to finish and leaves me free to do other things while it's cooking - like deciding what condiments to apply to my corn.

Recently I've been hooked on mixed some smoked paprika with dijon mustard and butter. Mmmmmmmm.


almost 3 years ago RLStewart

Let me tell you about my Dad's method. First, grow the corn in your back yard. When it's ripe, put a big pot of water on the stove, turn on the burner, and go out to the corn patch. Pick as many ears as you need, throw the husks and silk in the rows between the corn stalks. Back in the house, the water's boiling furiously. Ease the ears into the water, and - as in this recipe, turn off the burner. Dad always put a lid on the pot, then got out a large platter, made sure there was plenty of butter on the table, then took out the ears with tongs, put them on the platter, and walked into the dining room with his beautiful pile of corn. Meanwhile, the rest of the feast had been distributed around the large table; the corn was the piece de resistance. And it always disappeared quickly.


almost 3 years ago sboulton

Grilling is great, or wrapping it in tin foil and throwing it on the fire when we went camping, but yes, this non-cook, cooking method is fantastic. It doesn't over cook the corn. I remember my mom, when I was a child, did something like this. We lived right near a farm and she'd put on the water and we'd run out to the farm stand nearby and get the corn and by the time we got home, the water was boiling and she'd throw it in, bring it back to a boil and in less than five minutes eat the best corn ever. Crunchy, and sweet, with lots of butter and salt. Hmmmmmmmm.


almost 3 years ago sir_ken_g

The best way - which i just learned recently is to microwave it with the husk on.
Then cut the base all the way through with a butcher knife. Then just shake from the top - hanging onto the huck. Husk and silk come off cleanly.


almost 3 years ago Judy at Two Broads Abroad

The best way to bbq corn is to soak the ears with the husks in water for about ten minutes then throw on the grill turning every 4 minutes. The water in the husks seams the corn to perfection while infusing smokiness. Peel and eat. Butter is an option because the corn is so sweet.