how to cook corn on the cob

As the warm weather begins to take over those blistering cool days, you’re probably starting to dream about summertime vegetables. The green bounty of peas and zucchini and asparagus certainly screams May, June, and July, but come late summer, everyone is itching to chow down on one or two (or several) ears of corn, warm and slick with butter and flecks of salt.

While the process leading up to cooking corn can seem awfully arduous (especially if you’re used to just defrosting frozen corn kernels in the microwave), once you’re through with the grunt work, cooking corn is actually surprisingly straightforward, and you’ll definitely start doing it every night for dinner.

Once you’ve gotten your paper bag weighed down with fresh, sweet corn, the first thing you’ll want to do is husk it, aka pull the green and white corn husks from the ear, along with any of the shiny, silky threads that get stuck in the kernels. If there are any bruises or discolorations, just cut them away with a knife. Pro tip: you can (usually) avoid buying discolored and under-ripe corn if you peel back a bit of the husk to see the tip of the corn—here you can see if the top is rotten or if the kernels haven’t fully expanded (they’ll look shriveled up, but you want them to be shiny).

Now that you’ve husked all your corn, place each ear into a very large pot of boiling, salted water—the bigger the pot, the more corn you’ll be able to cook at a time. Place a lid on the pot, reduce the heat to medium, then cook for four minutes (or two to three minutes longer if you like softer kernels).

And that’s it! Super simple and delightfully sweet. Don’t forget to top with a pat of butter and flaky sea salt, and if you’re worried about burning yourself, stick each end with a corn holder—the perfect way to hold corn, without losing the feeling in your finger pads.

Looking for more corn inspiration? Check out the recipes below for ways to upgrade your corn.

Grilled Mexican Street Corn

grilled Mexican street corn (elotes)

The Garlic Diaries

Although some people swear by the simplicity of melted butter on corn, other people are obsessed with grilled corn, and, in particular, the Mexican street corn variety. Here, raw corn ears coated with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper, are grilled over a high flame until blistered, then coated with mayo, Greek yogurt, lime, garlic, chili powder, and crumbles of cojita cheese. Get the recipe.

Grilled Corn with Basil Butter

grilled corn with basil butter

Let’s Dish Recipes

Once you’ve grilled the corn for about 10 minutes, slather the finished product with a butter mixture packed with torn basil, salt, pepper, and garlic. Get the recipe.

Charred Corn and Rosemary Grilled Pizza

charred corn and rosemary grilled pizza

Foodie Crush

Here, ears of corn are grilled, then removed from the cob, to be plopped atop a grilled pizza dough crust, mozzarella, gorgonzola, and threads of rosemary. Get the recipe.

Corn, Avocado, and Tomato Salad

summer corn avocado tomato salad

The Girl Who Ate Everything

Need something to do with all that leftover corn? Toss it with hunks of avocado, halved cherry tomatoes, diced red onions, and a zesty dressing of lime, cilantro, and olive oil for a perfect summer side dish. Get the recipe.

Creamy Confetti Corn with Bacon

creamy confetti corn salad with bacon

Cooking Classy

This bacon-studded dish is almost like mac ‘n’ cheese—without the pasta. Just cook corn, peppers, onions, cheese, and milk until the vegetables are tender, then top with green onions, parsley, and bacon. Get the recipe.

Southwest Roasted Potato Salad

Southwest roasted corn and potato salad

Aberdeen’s Kitchen

What better way to level up potato salad than with hunks of freshly cooked slivers of corn? This version leans toward roasting the baby potatoes and corn together until crispy, then mixing them with dill and green onion. Get the recipe.

Header image courtesy of Africa Studio/Shutterstock.

Amy Schulman is a New York City based food writer who is quite fervently pro-chocolate. Follow her on Instagram.
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