DIY Food

You're Just 3 Ingredients Away From the Best Corn on the Cob

Nothing should have to be confusing about cooking corn.

April 21, 2021
Photo by James Ransom

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

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Get this: We don’t boil it at all.

Instead, we boil water on its 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.

Best Ever Corn on the Cob

Finished corn with butter

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.


Craving More Corn?

Corn, Bacon, & Clam Stew

A one-pot meal doesn’t have to be reserved for wintry nights to be deeply comforting. This corn, bacon, and clam stew, with bursts of sweet juiciness thanks to sungold tomatoes, actually screams “summer!”—this winning “Your Best Corn Recipe” is best served on one of those breezy, yet warm evenings, preferably.

Creamed Corn 

Shockingly, our best creamed corn recipe does not include cream (don’t worry: it does include corn!) “Fatty, grassy cream can be a bit overpowering, and corn is, in fact, plenty creamy on its own,” explains recipe developer Anna Billingskog. “The starchy, sweetly corn-y juices that usually get tossed out with the cob thicken, somewhat magically, into a luxurious ‘cream’ when heated.” How cool is that?!

Sweet Corn Butter From Whitney Wright

It’s another corn-taking-dairy’s-place recipe! “Renaissance woman Whitney Wright may have learned the sorcery of one-ingredient corn butter on the line at Per Se restaurant in New York City, but it's all the delicious ways she uses it that are really genius,” writes Genius Recipes columnist Kristin Miglore. “Spread it on toast and biscuits as you would butter (without needing to wait for it to soften!), fold it into vegetables in place of cream, blend it into ice creams and milkshakes, and the list goes on.” Yes, please!

Corn Ice Cream 

I scream, you scream, we all scream for...corn ice cream? Oh yes. Food editor Emma Laperruque knows that corn and cream go together like bread and butter, so she decided to literally blend them together into a sweet and starchy ice cream base. With a hint of tang from buttermilk, corn ice cream is particularly perfect when scooped over a slice of blueberry pie.

Grilled Corn & Ranch Pizza

When grilled, recipe developer Eric Kim notes that corn “gets chewy and inexplicably sweeter,” which already sounds like the start of a dreamy summer dinner. Then comes the pizza part. As Kim notes, “the real clincher is the masochistic drizzle of ranch dressing,” which becomes the sauce for this pizza. Paired with fresh basil and plenty of mozzarella, it’s a dinner worth repeating.

Sourdough Corn Fritters


You’ll need a sourdough starter to make these corn-packed fritters (if you don’t already have one bubbling away on the counter, check out this guide—all you really need is flour, water, and time.) Paired with eggs and fresh corn kernels, Emma Laperruque notes that these “just as happy alongside a summery lunch of lettuces dressed with oil and vinegar, as they are a puddle of warm maple syrup or honey.”

What's your favorite way to eat corn? On the cob? In something else? Sound off in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • amy pala
    amy pala
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    rick maynard
  • Locavore42
  • John Nelles
    John Nelles
  • sir_ken_g
Brette Warshaw

Written by: Brette Warshaw

I'm a reader, eater, culinary thrill-seeker, and food nerd.


amy P. July 12, 2015
I do the same thing, except I put the butter in the water, which lessens the mess of putting butter on the corn.
rick M. August 14, 2014
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.
Locavore42 July 27, 2014
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.
Locavore42 July 27, 2014
Anyone know where I can get organic corn that's NOT sweet, but starchy and packed with great taste?
Locavore42 July 27, 2014
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?
John N. July 27, 2014
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.
sir_ken_g June 24, 2014

Nuke it - no husking, no threads.
Horto June 24, 2014
nuke corn????
Jack G. August 8, 2019
I nuke mine. 4minutes. In the husk then rinse it under warm/cool water while shucking. Very easy and I’ve found to be the beat way
John August 8, 2019
We always nuke two ears a few inches apart for 7 minutes. Take them out with oven mitts and rest for a minute. Pull the shucks down with the silks. They come away from the corn very easy. Way easier than trying to remove prior to cooking.
Sharon July 14, 2021
Yep, it's fast and comes out perfect every time. We leave it in the husk. Read about it a decade or so ago and been doing it ever since. Next best thing to grilling it.
Doug B. May 4, 2014
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
Malek A. June 21, 2013 check out my new site for new steps how to boil corn
Cinnamin September 13, 2012
Sheesh! And to think it was that easy!
jtrueblood September 13, 2012
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!
Jack G. August 8, 2019
I learned about nuking from a woman last year which I was picking out corn at Wegmans. Probably about 80+ years old and knew what she was talking about!
jtrueblood September 13, 2012
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!
Julie O. July 26, 2012
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.
jane.pilcher1 July 4, 2012
Wow! Just tried this the other day & it couldn't be any easier. Corn was cooked perfectly!
harleyjo July 4, 2012
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.
Pat E. July 3, 2012
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!
Peggio July 3, 2012
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!
MicronCat July 2, 2012
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.
Alexis R. July 2, 2012
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!
Alice_ July 2, 2012
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.