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How to Cook Corn on the Cob: 4 Easy Methods, Plus Everything You Need to Know About Corn

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Corn on the cob is one of those quintessential summer foods and there are few things more satisfying than sinking your teeth into that first, perfectly cooked, ear of corn of the season. There’s something magical about the burst of flavor and juice that erupts in your mouth as you bite into the kernels. But, let’s be honest, there are also few things more disappointing than biting into an ear of corn and it being dry or tasteless. So, in an effort to help you to make the most of fresh summer corn, I pulled together all my best tips on how to cook corn on the cob, as well as things you should know about picking the best ears of corn possible, storage, and more!

how to cook corn on the cob

Corn Vocabulary

Before I launch into how to pick and cook corn, I think it’s important to review some corn-related vocabulary to make sure we are all on the same page.

Cob: The cylindrical, woody core that corn kernels are attached to.

Kernel: The individual, edible pieces of the corn.

Husk: The husk is the leafy outer layers that protect kernels and cob inside.

Ear of Corn: The whole thing together: cob, kernels, and husk.

Silk: The silk is the hair-like fibers that surround the corn underneath the husk.

Shuck: To pull the silk and husk off of the ear of corn.

Tassel: This is the collection of the corn silk that sticks out at the top of the ear of corn, above the husk leaves.

corn in the husk

How to Pick Great Ears of Corn

If you want to cook really good corn on the cob, then the first step is making sure that you pick the best ears of corn that you can find.

Fresh is Best

While corn can last for days in the fridge, the truth is that it is most definitely best if it is eaten as soon after harvesting as possible. This is because it dries out surprisingly quickly. So, to ensure that you are getting the freshest corn possible, follow these tips:

  • Whenever possible, buy your corn at a farm stand or farmer’s market to prepare that day/night. This will ensure that you are getting corn that has been harvested very recently and will be at peak flavor.
  • If you have to buy the corn at the grocery store, buy corn that is still in its husk. Already peeled corn on the cob has likely been sitting on the shelf for days and will very likely be dried out and less flavorful.

Picking Your Corn Without Pulling Back the Husk

As tempting as it can be to pull back the husk to peek at the corn, this is bad etiquette as it will cause the corn to dry out and makes the ear unappealing for others should you choose a different ear for yourself. So instead, here is what you should do:

  • Notice the color and quality of the husk. If it’s bright green and tightly wrapped around the cob (sometimes it is even kind of damp), then you’ve got a fresh ear of corn.
  • Check the tassels at the top. The tassels are the bits of silk that come out at the top of the ear. These should be brown and sticky to the touch.
  • Feel the weight. If the ear of corn feels firm and sort of heavy for its size, then you’re in good shape.
  • Gently feel the kernels. Through the husk of the corn, gently feel along the entire ear of corn. If the kernels feel plump and you don’t notice any holes where kernels should be, you’ve got a good contender.
  • Look for tiny brown holes in the husk. These are usually found towards the top of the ear of corn. If you see holes, move on to another ear as that one likely has worms.

How to Store Corn

As I mentioned, ideally you want to eat corn on the day you buy it, but if you can’t do that, then the best way to store your corn is in its husk, loose in the fridge (i.e., don’t bunch the corn together in a bag). And make sure to use it within two days.

how to shuck corn
Photo by Kelsey Todd on Unsplash

When and How to Shuck Your Corn

There are two times when you can shuck corn, right before you cook it or right after. Personally, I prefer to shuck my after I cook it as I find it is much easier to do and the corn comes out tastier, but I will review both methods since some cooking methods require that you shuck it beforehand.

How to Shuck Raw Corn

First, when shucking raw corn, I highly recommend that you do it outside because, no matter how hard you try, corn silk will get away from you and will end up all over the kitchen floor. Second, this is a GREAT job to get your kids to do. I always loved doing it when I was little.

Here’s how to shuck raw corn:

  1. Peel off the outer leaves until you only have one thin layer of inner leaves remaining around the ear.
  2. Peel back the leaves at the tip of the cob so that you can see the top few rows of kernels.
  3. Grasp the tops of the remaining leaves and the tassel in one hand and hold the bottom of the ear with your other hand.
  4. Pull the leaves and tassels straight down in one firm pull.
  5. Pull all the leaves and tassels all the way to the bottom and then flip the husk and the cob so it’s upside down.
  6. Gather the leaves and silks in one hand and snap them off at the base of the ear of corn.
  7. Run your fingers over the cob and pick away any remaining silks. You likely won’t get every single one, but you can get most of them.

How to Shuck Cooked Corn

Corn that has been cooked in its husk is much, much easier to husk. But first, a note: shucking this way the husk will retain heat, so shuck with caution.

Here’s how:

  1. Remove corn from the heat and allow it to cool for 15 minutes (or until you feel confident handling it).
  2. Hold the base of the corn with a dish towel (just in case it’s still hot), and pull the husk and silk off all at once. It will practically fall off.
  3. Gather the leaves and silks in one hand and snap them off at the base of the ear of corn.
  4. Check for any remaining silk (there likely won’t be any).
how to cook corn on the cob
Image by deluxtrade from Pixabay

How to Cook Corn on the Cob

OK, so now that we have reviewed corn terminology, how to pick your corn, and how to shuck it, let’s talk about all of the different ways that you can cook it. The ones I will review include: roasting, microwaving, boiling, and grilling.

How to Roast Corn on the Cob

This is the easiest (and I would argue tastiest) way to cook your corn on the cob. The one drawback is that it will heat your house up, but for ease of prep and flavor, I still choose this method almost every time.

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Pull off any loose or dangling husk leaves, but leave the husk intact (i.e., do not shuck).
  • Place corn (with husks still on) directly onto the oven rack, spaced roughly 1-inch apart (so heat can circulate).
  • Roast for 30 minutes. Check to see if the corn is done by peeling the husk slightly back on one ear to see if the kernels look swollen and shiny.
  • Remove ears of corn from the oven, allow to cool, and then follow the directions above for shucking cooked corn.
  • Serve with butter (or margarine), salt and pepper, or any of your favorite corn toppings.

How to Microwave Corn on the Cob

This is another super easy way to prepare corn on the cob. For this method, I like to do one ear at a time, but you can do up to three at a time, just increase the cooking time by about 2-3 minutes per ear.

  • Rinse the ear of corn (still in its husk) under water and then wrap it in paper towel.
  • Place wrapped ear of corn in the microwave and cook for 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Using an oven mitt or dish towel, check to see if the corn is done by peeling the husk slightly back on one ear to see if the kernels look swollen and shiny.
  • Remove ear of corn from the microwave, allow to cool, and then follow the directions above for shucking cooked corn.
  • Serve with butter (or margarine), salt and pepper, or any of your favorite corn toppings.
How to cook corn on the cob: boiling
Photo by MOHD HAFIZ YAHYA on Unsplash

How to Boil Corn on the Cob

This is one of the ways that I grew up eating corn on the cob. It will keep your corn super moist.

  • Use the largest pot you have (a stock pot works well here), fill it with water and salt it very well (you want the water to taste salty – it won’t make the corn salty, but will bring out its sweetness). Bring the pot of water to a boil.
  • Meanwhile, shuck your corn according to the directions above for shucking raw corn.
  • When the water is boiling, use tongs to ease your corn into the boiling water, and then bring the water back to a boil.
  • Cook for 5 minutes and then check your corn, you want it to be bright yellow with plump kernels that are slightly soft and juicy. (Note: fresh corn will cook faster than corn that has been sitting around for a few days.)
  • Serve with butter (or margarine), salt and pepper, or any of your favorite corn toppings.

How to Grill Corn on the Cob

And, finally, you can grill corn on the cob.

Grilled Corn on the Cob

Grilled Corn on the Cob

Jessica Braider
Is there any dish that celebrates summer more than grilled corn on the cob?
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 6 servings


  • 4 – 6 ears corn husked and cleaned
  • 1 Tbsp. butter or margarine melted, or use butter-flavored cooking spray
  • 1/4 tsp. salt optional
  • 1/4 lime juice only, about 1 tsp. (optional)


  • Brush the corn with the butter or margarine (or spray the corn evenly with butter-flavored spray).
  • Over a medium-high heat, grill the corn for 10 – 15 minutes directly on the grates, turning occasionally until it is browned or blackened in spots.
  • Serve it immediately seasoned with a little salt and/or lime juice, if desired.
Keyword 30 Minutes (or less) Meals, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Grilling, Kid-Friendly, Kosher, Low Fat, Low Sodium, No Added Sugar, Nut-Free, Picnic, Potluck/Buffet, Side Dish, Summer, Vegan, Vegetarian
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