How to Cook Corn on the Cob

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

How to cook corn on the cob six different ways.

Recipe Science

  • For the sweetest taste, buy fresh local corn. Soon after picking, the sugars start converting to starch, reducing the natural sweetness.
  • Do not peel the husk when storing. Exposure to air accelerates the conversion of sugars to starch, resulting in less flavorful kernels.
  • Cooking corn breaks down raw starches and pectin, creating juicy, sweet, and crispy kernels between 150 to 170ºF (66 to 77ºC).

Fresh sweet corn is a staple enjoyed all year long, but its popularity peaks during the warm summer months. It’s no wonder it always appears during cookouts and barbecues. Cooking corn transforms the raw starches and pectin in the plants’ cell walls into juicy, sweet, and crispy bites. 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 is based on what’s most convenient, how many people are being served, and what taste profile is desired. Grilling and oven roasting are the most practical methods for feeding a crowd and adding flavor. Microwaving, steaming, boiling, and pressure cooking provide similar textures with plump and juicy kernels.

How to Microwave Corn on the Cob

Corn on the cob in the microwave.

Method #1) Start by placing the unshucked cob in the microwave and cooking it for about 4 minutes. If the kernels aren’t tender yet, you can add more time as needed.

After microwaving, let the corn cool for about 5 minutes before removing the husk and silk. This simple method ensures that your corn is cooked just right, with tender kernels and easy husk removal.

How to Boil Corn on the Cob

Using tongs to lift boiled corn on the cob out of the pot.

Method #2) Begin by filling a large pot with enough water to cover the corn and bring it to a boil. While waiting for the water to heat up, remove the silk and husk from the corn. Once the water is boiling, add the corn to the pot, cover it, and reduce the heat to medium. Let the corn cook for 6 to 8 minutes until the kernels are tender.

How to Steam Corn on the Cob

Steamed corn on the cob in a saucepan.

Method #3) Start by adding water to a pot, ensuring it doesn’t rise above the steamer basket once it’s placed inside. Next, remove the corn’s husk and silk. Then, position the steaming basket in the pot and add the prepared corn.

Cover the pot and heat it on high until the water begins to steam. Allow the corn to steam until the kernels are tender, which usually takes about 4 to 6 minutes. This method preserves the corn’s natural flavors.

How to Instant Pot Corn on the Cob

Instant Pot corn on the cob elevated on a trivet.

Method #4) To prepare corn in a pressure cooker, start by shucking the corn. Pour 1 cup of water into the pressure cooker and place a trivet inside to elevate the corn. Then, carefully stack the prepared corn in the pot, placing two on top if needed.

Cook at high pressure for just 2 minutes to achieve perfectly tender kernels. Once cooked, quick-release the pressure and carefully remove the lid. Serve the corn immediately to maintain its freshness and flavor.

How to Oven Roast Corn on the Cob

Oven roasted corn on the cob wrapped in foil.

Method #5) For roasted corn on the cob, preheat your oven to 375ºF (191ºC). Begin by shucking the corn and preparing individual pieces of aluminum foil. Place each ear of corn on a piece of foil and generously spread butter in the center, then sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Wrap each ear tightly in the foil, ensuring the buttered side is facing up.

Roast the wrapped corn on a sheet pan or directly on the oven rack until the kernels are tender, which typically takes about 30 minutes. After roasting, allow the corn to cool for at least 5 minutes before unwrapping and serving.

How to Grill Corn on the Cob

Grilled corn on the cob with black char marks.

Method #6) To achieve perfect grilled corn on the cob, start by preheating your grill over high heat, aiming for temperatures between 400 to 450ºF (204 to 232ºC). Shuck the corn entirely or remove the silk while leaving one layer of husk intact for added flavor. Brush each ear of corn with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, ensuring even coverage.

Place the prepared corn on the grill and cover it. Cook for 8 to 12 minutes, flipping the corn every 2 to 3 minutes to achieve a beautifully charred exterior on each side.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you select the sweetest corn?

Fresh corn tastes the sweetest right after harvesting. If possible, buy locally or from a farmer’s market. Choose corn with tight, green husks and abundant silk, and avoid any husks with holes, which indicate potential worm damage. To ensure freshness, check for firm, plump kernels at the tip of the ear, and ensure the silk is moist. Avoid fully peeling back husks, as this can accelerate moisture loss and the conversion of natural sugars to starch, diminishing flavor.

How do you store fresh corn?

Store corn in the refrigerator in its husk. Make sure to wrap it tightly in a plastic bag, as dry air is the enemy. If the kernels dry out, they will taste starchy. Taking it a step further, you can wrap the cobs in damp paper towels and then place them 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 barbecue. Some people like to peel back the husk and remove the silk, while others leave it intact. It’s a cook’s choice.

Does salted water make the corn more flavorful?

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

How long do you boil corn on the cob?

Cooking corn in boiling water takes about 6 to 8 minutes. For yellow varieties, the pigment will turn bright yellow. When bitten, the kernels should look plump and juicy.

What toppings can you add to corn on the cob?

Butter, salt, and pepper are simple classic seasonings. Add smoked paprika, garlic, or onion powder. Add fresh herbs like dill, chives, parsley, cilantro, or basil. Make it spicy with chili powder, cayenne, or chipotle. If grilling for a summer side, make it elotes style with a creamy lime juice sauce, cotija cheese, and tajin.

What are the health benefits of corn?

Corn kernels, scientifically known as Zea mays, are a low-fat, fibrous, complex carbohydrate that offers sustained energy and various nutrients when consumed directly from the cob. A single serving is rich in potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C. The yellow hue indicates the presence of antioxidants like lutein for eye health and zeaxanthin for skin health. Corn contains more insoluble fiber than soluble fiber, promoting digestive health. Opting for organic corn when possible ensures the most nourishing choice.

More Corn Recipes

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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.
4.80 from 93 votes
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Side
Cuisine American


  • 4 ears corn


Microwaved Corn on the Cob

  • Microwave the Corn – Place unshucked corn on a microwave-safe dish. Microwave for 4 minutes. Add more time as needed until kernels are tender, in 1-minute intervals. The total cooking time is about 4 to 6 minutes, larger ears will need more time.
  • Cool then Shuck – Allow the corn to cool for at least 5 minutes before shucking. Remove the husk and silk before serving.

Boiled Corn on the Cob

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

Steamed Corn on the Cob

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

Instant Pot Corn on the Cob

  • Prepare the Corn – Remove the husk and silk from each ear of corn. Add 1 cup of water to the Instant Pot. Place the metal trivet in the pot, then add the ears or corn. Stack two ears on the bottom and two on top.
  • Pressure Cook the Corn – Make sure that the release valve is in the "Sealing" position. Place the lid on the Instant Pot, and turn and lock the lid. Press the "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.
  • Quick Release the Pressure – Once the cooking 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 the "Venting" position. The initial release will spray moisture around the pot, so be careful. Remove the lid, opening the top away from you. Remove the corn and serve immediately.

Oven Roasted Corn on the Cob

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

Grilled Corn on the Cob

  • Heat the Grill – Preheat the grill over high heat at about 400 to 450ºF (204 to 232ºC). Carefully grease the cooking grates with oil, a paper towel, and tongs.
  • Prepare the Corn – Pull back the husk and remove the silk. Tie the husk back or remove it completely for a more charred flavor. Alternatively, leave one layer of husk.
  • Grill the Corn – Brush olive oil over each piece of corn and sprinkle with salt. Add them to the grill and cover. Cook for 8 to 12 minutes, flipping every 2 to 3 minutes to char each side.

Recipe Video

YouTube video


  • Storing: Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Freeze for up to 6 months. 

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 90kcal (5%)Carbohydrates 19g (6%)Protein 3g (6%)Fat 1g (2%)Sodium 1mgFiber 1g (4%)Sugar 5g (6%)Vitamin C 4mg (5%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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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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24 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Paul Mousseau says

    I don’t know where I picked this up, but on boiling ears of corn add some sugar and lemon juice to the boiling water before putting in the ears of corn. I think you can do it to taste, but I like about 1/2 cup sugar and slightly less lemon juice.

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