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

4.80 from 93 votes
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Learn how to cook corn on the cob in 6 different ways! Microwaving, boiling, steaming, pressure cooking, oven roasting, and grilling are different methods to transform kernels into sweet and tender bites.

How to cook corn on the cob six different ways.

Fresh 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 surprising 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 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 adding flavor. Microwaving, steaming, boiling, and pressure cooking provide 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

Corn on the cob in the microwave.
  • Place unshucked cob in the microwave.
  • Cook for 4 minutes, and 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

Using tongs to lift boiled corn on the cob out of the pot.
  • Fill a large pot with enough water to cover the corn.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Shuck the corn.
  • Add the corn to the boiling water, cover it, and reduce the heat to medium.
  • Cook corn until the kernels are tender, 6 to 8 minutes.

Steamed Corn on the Cob

Steamed corn on the cob in a saucepan.
  • Add water to a pot, so it does not rise above the steamer basket.
  • Place the steaming basket and then the 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 elevated on a trivet.
  • 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 wrapped in foil.
  • Preheat oven to 375ºF (191ºC).
  • Shuck the corn.
  • Place each ear of corn on a piece of aluminum foil.
  • Place butter in the center, and 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 with black char marks.
  • Preheat the grill over high heat (400 to 450ºF / 204 to 232ºC).
  • Shuck the corn, or 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 locally or from a 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, 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 on the barbecue. Some people like to peel back the husk and remove the silk, while others leave it intact. Cooks choice.

Health benefits of corn

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

Yellow pigmentation provides antioxidants called lutein, which is good for eye health, and zeaxanthin for skin health. It has a higher amount of insoluble to soluble fiber, providing digestive benefits. If available, try to purchase organic corn for the most nourishing crop.

Corn recipes to try

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 seasoning 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 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!

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

Ingredients  

  • 4 ears corn

Instructions 

Microwave

  • Place unshucked corn on a microwave-safe dish. Microwave 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 the 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 the 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 it does not rise above the steamer basket. Place the 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, then add 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, 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.
  • 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

  • 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 cover the corn completely. If desired, place butter in the center, and 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 cooling for at least 5 minutes before opening.

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. Pull back the husk and remove the silk. Tie the husk back or remove it completely. Shuck the corn or remove the silk and leave one layer of husk.
    Brush olive oil over each piece of corn, and then 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. Transfer to a plate to serve.

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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  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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