How to Cook Corn on the Cob (6 Ways!)

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Learn how to cook corn on the cob 6 different ways! Microwaving, boiling, steaming, pressure cooking, oven roasting, and grilling are different methods to transform the kernels into sweet and tender bites.

How to Cook Corn on the Cob

Fresh ears of sweet corn is a staple vegetable enjoyed all year long, but it peaks during the warm summer months. It’s no wonder they always make an appearance during cookouts and barbecues. It’s also not a surprise that it’s a favorite handheld side dish. You get the benefits of a vegetable, with the taste of a dessert!

Corn on the cob can be prepared in the microwave, on the stove, in the Instant Pot, roasted in the oven, and on the grill. The biggest question is when do you peel the husk and silk, before or after cooking? You’ll soon find out!

How to cook corn on the cob

Cooking corn transforms the raw starches and pectin in the plants’ cell walls into juicy, sweet, and crispy bites. According to Cook’s Illustrated, the ideal internal temperature doneness range is 150 to 170ºF (66 to 77ºC). This can be achieved using various cooking techniques.

The method you choose for cooking is based on what’s most convenient, how many people are being served, and what taste profile is desired. Grilling and oven roasting is the most practical methods for feeding a crowd and adds the most flavor. Microwaving, steaming, boiling, and pressure cooking provides similar textures, giving plump and juicy kernels. No matter how you like it, I’ve got a technique for you to master.

Microwaved Corn on the Cob

Microwaved Corn on the Cob

  • Place unshucked corn on a microwave-safe dish.
  • Cook 4 minutes, add more time if needed until kernels are tender.
  • Cool corn for 5 minutes before removing the husk and silk.

Boiled Corn on the Cob

Boiled Corn on the Cob

  • Fill a large pot with enough water to cover the corn.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Shuck the corn.
  • Drop the corn into the boiling water, cover and reduce heat to medium.
  • Cook corn until the kernels are tender, 6 to 8 minutes.

Steamed Corn on the Cob

Steamed Corn on the Cob

  • Add water to a pot so that it does not rise above the steamer basket.
  • Place steaming basket and then corn into the pot.
  • Cover the pot and heat on high until the hot water starts to steam.
  • Cook the corn until the kernels are tender, about 4 to 6 minutes.

Instant Pot Corn on the Cob

Instant Pot Corn on the Cob

  • Shuck the corn.
  • Pour the water into the pressure cooker and place a trivet on top.
  • Place the corn in the pot, stacking two on top.
  • Cook at high pressure for 2 minutes.
  • Quick-release the pressure.
  • Carefully remove the lid and serve immediately.

Oven Roasted Corn on the Cob

Oven Roasted Corn on the Cob

  • Preheat oven to 375ºF (191ºC).
  • Shuck the corn.
  • Place each ear of corn on a piece of aluminum foil.
  • Place butter in the center, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Tightly wrap and roast directly on the oven rack, butter side up.
  • Cook until kernels are tender, about 30 minutes.
  • Allow corn to cool for at least 5 minutes before opening.

Grilled Corn on the Cob

Grilled Corn on the Cob

  • Preheat grill over high heat (400 to 450ºF / 204 to 232ºC).
  • Shuck the corn, or if preferred, remove the silk and leave one layer of husk.
  • Brush olive oil corn with olive oil, and then sprinkle with salt.
  • Grill and cover, cook for 8 to 12 minutes, flipping the corn every 2 to 3 minutes to char each side.

Buying corn

Fresh corn tastes the sweetest right after harvesting, so buy local or from farmer’s market if possible. Look for corn with a tight outer green husk that is not dried out, and plenty of silk. Take a little peek at the tip of the ear for the firm and plump kernels.

The silk should also have moisture locked in. If you see any tiny holes in the husk, avoid them, those are from worms! But don’t peel back all of the husks. As the corn dries out, the natural sugars start to convert to starch and don’t taste as good.

How do you store corn on the cob?

Store corn in the refrigerator in its husk. Make sure to wrap it tightly in a plastic bag, the dry air is the enemy. If the kernels dry out, it will taste starchy. Taking it a step further, you can wrap the cobs in damp paper towels, and then place inside a plastic bag to keep them moist. Eat corn on the cob within 3 days.

How do you prepare corn on the cob?

Depending on how you cook the corn, simply peel back the husk and remove the silk. Wash and then dry if you are oven roasting or grilling. The corn husk can be left on for methods like microwaving and on the barbecue. Some people like to peel back the husk and remove the silk, and some leave it intact, cooks choice.

Corn on the cob nutrition

According to the USDA Food Composition Database, 1 medium ear of corn (102g) contains the following nutrients:

  • 90 calories
  • 3 grams of protein
  • 1 gram of fat
  • 19 grams of carbohydrates
  • 5 grams of sugar
  • 1 gram of fiber
  • 180 milligrams of potassium
  • 3.6 milligram vitamin C

Health benefits of corn

Corn or Zea mays kernels are low fat, fibrous, and a starchy complex carbohydrate. When eaten straight from the cob, it provides a source of sustained energy and nutritional benefits. One serving is notable in the levels of potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C.

The yellow pigmentation provides antioxidants called lutein, good for eye health and zeaxanthin for skin health. It has a higher amount of insoluble to soluble fiber, providing digestive benefits. Try to purchase organic corn if available for the most nourishing crop.

What are the ways to use corn?

Does salted water make the corn more flavorful?

Some cooks add salt to the cooking water when boiling corn on the cob. The salted water may lightly season the surface, but does not make a significant impact in seasoning the inside of the kernel. The large sodium ions take a few hours to fully diffuse into the kernels. However, only 6 to 8 minutes is needed to soften the kernels and cook the raw starches for a juicy and sweet ear. A little butter and salt right before eating make a tastier impact!

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How to Cook Corn on the Cob (6 Ways!)

Learn how to cook corn on the cob 6 different ways! Microwaving, boiling, steaming, pressure cooking, oven roasting, and the grilling method.
Pin Print Review
3.63 from 43 votes
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Servings 4 servings
Course Side
Cuisine American

Ingredients

  • 4 ears corn

Instructions 

Microwave

  • Place unshucked corn on a microwave safe dish.
  • Microwave corn for 4 minutes. Check and add more time as needed until kernels are tender, in 1 minute intervals. About 4 to 6 minutes total cook time.
  • Allow corn to cool for at least 5 minutes before shucking. Remove the husk and silk, and serve immediately.

Boil

  • Add enough water to a large pot to cover the corn.
  • Bring water to a boil.
  • Remove the husk and the silk from each ear of corn. 
  • Once the water is boiling, carefully add the corn to a pot. Cover and reduce heat to medium.
  • Cook until the kernels are tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Immediately serve corn. 

Steam

  • Add enough water to the bottom of a pot so that it does not rise above the steamer basket. Place steaming basket into the pot and then the corn. 
  • Cover and heat on high, water should be steaming.
  • Once the steam builds, cook the corn until the kernels are tender, about 4 to 6 minutes.

Instant Pot (Electric Pressure Cooker)

  • Remove the husk and the silk from each ear of corn. 
  • Add 1 cup (240ml) of water to the Instant Pot. 
  • Place the metal trivet in the pot, and then add in the ears or corn. Stack two ears on the bottom, and two on top. 
  • Make sure that the release valve is in the "Sealing" position.
  • Place the lid on the Instant Pot, turn and lock the lid.
  • Press "Manual" button on the Instant Pot on high pressure, and then set the timer to 2 minutes using the "+" or "-" buttons.
  • It will take about 10 to 15 minutes for the pot to heat and build up pressure. You will see some steam release from the lid, and then the time will start on the display.
  • Once cook time is complete, quick release the pressure. Use an oven mitt or towel to slowly and carefully twist the steam release handle on the lid to "Venting" position. The initial release will spray some moisture around the pot so be careful.
  • Remove the lid, opening the top away from you as steam will be released from the pot. Remove the corn and serve immediately.

Oven Roasted

  • Set the oven rack to the center position. Preheat to 375ºF (191ºC).
  • Remove the husk and the silk from each ear of corn.
  • Place the shucked corn in the center of aluminum foil, large enough to completely cover the corn.
  • If desired, place butter in the center, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Tightly wrap and roast directly on the oven rack, butter side up, until kernels are tender, about 30 minutes. Allow corn to cool for at least 5 minutes before opening.  

Grill

  • Preheat grill over high heat at about 400 to 450ºF (204 to 232ºC).
  • Carefully grease the cooking grates with the oil, paper towel and tongs.
  • Pull back the husk and remove the silk. Tie the husk back or remove completely. Shuck the corn, or if preferred, remove the silk and leave one layer of husk.
  • Brush olive oil over each piece of corn, and then sprinkle with salt.
  • Add the corn to the grill and cover, cook for 8 to 12 minutes, flipping every 2 to 3 minutes to char each side. Transfer grilled corn to a plate.

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Nutrition Facts
How to Cook Corn on the Cob (6 Ways!)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 90 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Sodium 1mg0%
Carbohydrates 19g6%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin C 4mg5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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15 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Judy Caywood says

    My fav way to eat corn is roasted and sliced off the cob and in a chicken lime salad. It doesn’t take much added in to make it feel special.

  2. John whiteside says

    If you microwave in the husk, cut off the stem end and then squeeze the corn from the narrow end to remove. There. will be no silk on the corn.

  3. Dawn Caro says

    if you want the EASIEST and FASTEST way to take the husks off do this. Chop about an inch away from the stem of the cob. That is the end that was attached to the stock. Make sure you cut all the way through the cop. Do not remove any of the husk. Microwave like you said. Then you can easily slip off husk and silk in one fast stroke

  4. Mortimer Cobb says

    Sounds fab Jessica, I love all corn (especially on the cob!!) and I never thought of grilling before or stroking the cob to remove the husk (genius!!). Have you tried a cajun rub perhaps? Would be delicious.

  5. Mandy says

    Wow! Microwaving 2 ears of corn for just my hubby and me was sooooo easy! The silks came right out. I always hated getting the silks out when boiling corn! Never again!!!

  6. Andrew says

    When boiling corn add a couple spoonfuls of sugar once water boils right before putting completely shucked corn into pot for 6 to 8 minutes makes alot sweeter better corn am always told by guests i make the best most sweet corn.

  7. Iris Kocik says

    Don’t bother shucking the corn or soaking it. Just toss FRESH corn on the grill grates over hot flame until you smell corn..about 20 min. It’s okay if husks catch on fire. Just blow them out. It will steam corn inside and make silks fall off easily .

  8. Joanne Gruskin says

    I husk the corn and microwave it, 4 ears at a time in a Ziploc bag, left unzipped, 2 minutes per ear. Be careful when opening the bag…STEAM BURNS! My corn is always sweet as sugar and perfect. When we lived on Long Island, we eagerly awaited the beginning of corn season. Now that we live in SW Florida, the season stretches all the way through June…and we can even buy it at Walmart if we check it out. Just refrigerate it until you’re ready to husk it and pop it in the microwave.

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