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How to Boil Corn on the Cob

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Corn on the cob is a summertime favorite and boiling it on the stovetop is one of the best ways to make it. This ultimate guide to how to boil corn on the cob walks you through how to get perfectly tender, sweet corn kernels every time.

fresh corn on the cob.

Why You’ll Love Boiled Corn on the Cob

There’s nothing like a simple, sweet, crisp yet tender bite of corn on the cob. This is one of my favorite methods of making it. Here’s why:

  • Reliable results. This is a foolproof method for making perfect, tender, sweet corn on the cob. So long as you pick quality corn and follow the instructions in the section below titled “How To Boil Corn on the Cob“, you really will get perfect results every time.
  • Tender and juicy. Boiling corn on the cob turns out the most tender, juicy corn kernels with the perfect little crunch on the outside. You’re going to love it.
  • Quick and easy. All you have to do is shuck some corn and pop it in a pot of boiling water for a bit. The whole process will take you less than 20 minutes and is perfect for any culinary skill level.
how best to cook corn on the cob from store.

Choosing Corn on the Cob at the Store

The corn is the star of the show, here. In fact, it’s the only actor (aside from a little salt and butter if you decide to use them). So, you want to make sure you choose high-quality corn for the best results. Here’s what to look for:

  • Fresh husks. The husks should be fresh, green, and tightly wrapped around the ear of corn. You also want to make sure the husks are free of blemishes and discoloration.
  • Check the tassels. The tassels (or silks) should be brown and slightly sticky to the touch. Avoid dry or black tassels.
  • Plump kernels. Peel back a small section of the husk and look at the kernels. They should be plump and tightly packed in neat rows.
  • Check for moisture. Gently squeeze the corn to check for moisture. Fresh corn on the cob should be slightly moist to the touch.
  • Smell. Fresh corn on the cob should have a subtly sweet, earthy smell to it.
  • No dents or bruises. Dents and/or bruised ears of corn won’t make for good eating. So leave those behind.
removing husks from corn on the cob.

Best Ways To Remove the Husk From Corn

You’ll need to remove the husks from the ears of corn before boiling them. There are many ways to go about doing this. Pick your favorite of the following:

  • Microwave method. Microwave the ears of corn in their husks on high for 4-5 minutes. The husks and silks will be much easier to remove after microwaving.
  • Boiling method. Place the corn in their husks in boiling water for 3-4 minutes. Remove them from the water, let them cool a bit, and then remove the husks.
  • Oven method. Arrange the corn in their husks in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F for 30-40 minutes. Remove them from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes before removing the husks.
  • Manual method. Use a sharp knife to cut off the end of the cob where the husk attaches. Then, grab the top of the husk and pull it down towards the end, removing it from the cob. Finally, use a stiff brush or paper towel to remove any remaining silk.
fresh corn kernels.

How To Boil Corn on the Cob

Here comes a quick overview of how to boil corn on the cob. I’ll let you in on a little secret. It’s super easy! Scroll to the recipe card below for more thorough instructions.

  • Shuck the corn. Remove the husks and silks. See the section above titled “Best Ways To Remove The Husk From Corn” to learn how. Discard the husks.
  • Boil the water. Fill a large pot with enough water to fully cover the corn. If desired, add salt to the water to enhance the flavor of the corn. Bring the water to a boil over high heat.
  • Boil the corn. Carefully add the corn to the boiling water. Break the ears in half if they are too large to fit in the pot. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook for 8-10 minutes or until the kernels are tender.
  • Cool. Use tongs to remove the ears of corn from the pot. Place the corn on a plate and allow it to cool a bit before serving.
  • Serve. Serve warm with butter and salt if desired.

Boiling corn on the cob is one of the easiest, most reliable ways to achieve excellent, tender, juicy corn every time. If you’re in the market for other methods, however, try this Pressure Cooker Corn on the Cob or my Microwave Corn on the Cob. Feeling fancy? Try my grilled Mexican Street Corn or scroll through all of our corn recipes.

How Long Do You Boil Corn On The Cob?

As a general rule, corn needs about 8-10 minutes in boiling water to cook through. That being said, if you are working with larger ears of corn, they will need a bit longer (up to 15 minutes). If you are using smaller ears of corn (or very fresh corn), they should only need 5-7 minutes.

Check out the FAQ section below to learn how to tell when your corn is done.

A hand holding an ear of corn on the cob by the husk. The corn has a bite taken out of it.

FAQs

Here are some of the more common questions I get when the subject of boiling corn on the cob comes up. If you have additional questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

Should you add salt to the water when boiling corn on the cob?

It’s up to you. Some people believe that adding salt to the boiling water enhances the flavor of the corn. Others think it toughens the kernels. Try it both ways and see what you think. If you do add salt, use about 1-2 teaspoons per quart of water.

How do you know when the corn is done?

Insert a fork into the thickest part of the cob. If it slides in easily, the corn is done. The kernels should be tender and juicy but not mushy.

Can you boil frozen corn on the cob?

You can. You’ll need to thaw it first. Let the corn sit in the fridge overnight or place it in a bowl of cold water 30 minutes or so before boiling. Once thawed, follow the same cooking method. Just tack on a few extra minutes to the cooking time.

Should you add milk when boiling corn on the cob?

Some say that adding milk to the water you boil your corn in makes the corn sweeter and more tender and also brings a creamy flavor and texture to the kernels. There’s no science to back any of this up, however. That being said, if it works for you, do it!

I will say that the milk can leave behind a residue, which some find unappealing. Again, add milk if you want to, but you don’t need to.

Corn on the cob with mayo and parmesan.

Serving Suggestions

Boiled corn on the cob is one of those classic side dishes that pairs well with pretty much anything. Enjoy it as a side with your favorite entree. I have been loving it with Marinaded Skirt Steak, Honey Buttered Fried Chicken, and/or these Big Mac Sliders. Corn on the cob also loves the company of another side dish or two. It goes great with these Slow Cooker Baked Beans and/or this Ham Pasta Salad.

You can also remove the corn from the cob (with a corn stripping tool if you have one) and toss the kernels into your favorite salad, mix them into your favorite salsa or guacamole, or use them in this Frito Chicken Casserole.

Top corn on (or off) the cob with butter, salt, and pepper or get a little fancy by adding a bit of lime, chili powder, and/or fresh herbs as well. You could even try a herby compound butter or garlic butter if you’re in the mood.

remove corn kernels.

How To Store & Reheat Leftovers

  • Refrigerator. Wrap each cob individually in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and store it in the fridge for up to 5 days. Alternatively, remove the kernels from the cob (use a corn stripping tool if you have one), seal them in an airtight container, and store them in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  • Freezer. Wrap each cob individually in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, seal them in an airtight container, and store them in the freezer for up to 8 months. You can also remove the kernels from the cob, seal them in an airtight container, and store them in the freezer for up to 6 months.
  • To reheat corn on the cob. Wrap an individual cob (cold or frozen) in a damp paper towel and microwave on high in 30-second intervals until heated through. You can also throw leftover cobs on the grill for a few minutes or in a hot oven until heated through.
  • To reheat corn kernels. Allow the corn kernels to thaw, if frozen. Place them in a microwave-safe bowl microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until heated through.

More Corn Recipes

Here are some of my other favorite corn-centric recipes for summer. I’d love to hear what you think!

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How to Boil Corn on the Cob


Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Here is a foolproof recipe for how to boil corn on the cob. It is so quick and easy and produces tender, sweet corn kernels every time.

Ingredients
 

  • 5 ears corn
  • water enough to cover the corn
  • 1 teaspoon salt optional
  • 5 tablespoons butter optional

Instructions

  • Shuck the corn. Remove the husks and silk from the corn. You can do this manually or you can soften the husks up a bit first in the microwave or in boiling water. See the section in the post above titled "Best Ways To Remove The Husk From Corn" for more. Discard the husks.
  • Boil the water. Fill a large pot with enough water to fully cover the corn. If desired, add salt to the water to enhance the flavor of the corn. Bring the water to a boil over high heat.
  • Boil the corn. Carefully add the corn to the boiling water. Break the ears in half if they are too large to fit in the pot. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook for 8-10 minutes or until the kernels are tender.
  • Cool. Use tongs to remove the ears of corn from the pot. Place the corn on a plate and allow it to cool a bit before serving.
  • Serve. Serve corn on the cob warm with butter and salt if desired.

Nutrition

Serving: 1ear of corn (buttered) | Calories: 101kcal | Carbohydrates: 0.2g | Protein: 0.2g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 30mg | Sodium: 555mg | Potassium: 6mg | Fiber: 0.02g | Sugar: 0.1g | Vitamin A: 352IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 0.01mg

Nutritional Disclaimer: The nutritional data provided here is auto-calculated and intended for your convenience only. As it’s generated via automation, its accuracy may be compromised. For precise nutritional insight, please compute the values utilizing the actual ingredients in your recipe through your chosen nutrition calculator or application.

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