Grilled corn on the cob is a summer staple and after years of experimenting, I’ve found cooking corn right in their husks on a hot grill is the easiest and quickest way to cook the best corn on the cob.
We grill just about anything and everything we can get our hands on during the summertime, and fresh corn on the cob is one of our favorite side dishes. While I’ll eat it just about any way — stripped right off the cob and raw, grilled and slathered in a zesty Mexican crema for elote (Mexican street corn), tossed in potluck quinoa salads, or turned into slow cooker creamed corn perfect for every eating occasion, grilled sweet corn on the cob with creamy butter takes the cake. Grilled corn is SO MUCH EASIER to make than boiling corn on the cob, especially when you’re cooking for a crowd. We’ve found there’s no need to soak the corn before grilling and you can grill them right in their husks, creating built-in steam oven jackets. Follow the easy steps below and you’ll soon discover grilled corn bliss.
My Grilled Corn Method: Keep the Husks
From soaking corn before grilling to wrapping in foil to removing the husks and grilling them naked, I’ve made grilled corn every which way you can. But I think the absolute easiest, tastiest way to cook grilled corn on the cob is to toss them straight onto the grill and cook them right in their husks. Here’s why:
- The husks act as a natural protective barrier between the corn and the grill, keeping the kernels tender and juicy.
- Plus, the corn soaks up that wonderful smokiness from the charred husks, giving it more flavor.
- Not to mention there’s less prep work to deal with if you skip husking the corn right away.
- Just snip the silk from the top and you can simply pull the rest of the silk back with the corn husks afterward.
How to Grill Corn Perfectly Every Time
Place the corn cob husks directly on hot grill grates—about 450°F to 500°F. Keep the corn in its husks to steam, close the grill cover, and turn the cobs with tongs every 3-4 minutes or so.
Grill for about 10-12 minutes. When the grilled sweet corn is finished cooking, the husks should have a good char but they shouldn’t be totally black. If you want the corn to get grill marks right on the kernels, remove the husks then toss back on the grates and cook for just 1-2 minutes more.
Remove the husks, season, and slather. After grilling, peel back the husks, remove the silk, and enjoy with basic butter and season with salt, or go a bit more gourmet with one of my favorite infused compound butters.
How Long Does it Take to Grill Whole Corn on the Cob
Grilling corn on the cob only takes about 10-12 minutes. Grilling corn too long will make the corn gummy and starchy instead of sweet and crisp. Remember to regularly turn the corn so it doesn’t become too dark on one side. In addition to your timer and the look of your grill marks, use your nose as your guide. When you can smell that delicious cooked corn aroma, it’s likely the corn is done cooking.
Do You Have to Soak Corn Before Grilling?
After years of experimenting, I’ve found absolutely no reason to soak corn before grilling. Some people soak their corn husks in cold water prior to grilling. Their theory is that this will provide the corn with more moisture. However, I find this step to be unnecessary since I’ve never been able to tell a difference.
Is it Better to Grill Corn With or Without Foil?
Some people like to wrap their corn on the cob in aluminum foil as it’s said to help lock in moisture. However, I’ve tried this and can’t tell a difference, so I honestly don’t bother with foil.
3 Tips for the Best Grilled Corn on the Cob
- Keep it fresh. Always start with the freshest corn you can find (preferably in season, from the farmer’s market). The key to picking the best sweet corn is to look for ears of corn with golden silk — if the silk has spots of black in it, the corn’s on its way out. The corn should also smell fairly sweet and should be firm, not mushy when pressed with your thumb
- Watch your cooking time. When corn is overcooked it can become chewy because the longer heat breaks down the corn’s cell walls and the sugars take over, leading the kernels to lose their crunch.
- No grill? No sweat. You can still achieve a nice charred flavor by using a cast iron grill pan or skillet. For this method, you will need to husk your corn. Put a little oil or butter in a skillet and get it hot. Place your corn in the skillet and turn every few minutes, getting a nice sear on all sides.
Seasoning Ideas for Grilled Corn on the Cob
- Add some heat. After slathering with butter, sprinkle chili powder, red pepper flakes, or freshly ground black pepper, or drizzle with your favorite hot sauce.
- Make it elote-style (Mexican street corn). Swap the butter for mayo, then season with chili powder and sprinkle with cotija cheese and fresh lime zest and a squeeze of lime juice.
- Add fresh herbs. Basil, cilantro, thyme, and tarragon are favorites.
What to Serve With Grilled Corn
- Cilantro Lime Grilled Chicken
- The Best Grilled Ribeye Steak
- Grilled Chicken Breasts with Chive Butter
- The Best Garlic Burgers Ever
- Grilled Salmon Filet with Cucumber Dill Sauce
- Grilled Swordfish with Smoked Paprika and Herb Fruit Salsa
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How to Make THE BEST Grilled Corn on the Cob
- 8 ears fresh sweet corn on the cob
- 4 tablespoons flavored butter or plain butter
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- To grill corn, preheat the grill to high heat, about 450-500°F. Keep the corn in its husk but strip the outermost layer of husk from the corn. Snip the top end of the corn silk so it doesn't catch fire during grilling. Place the corn on the grates and close the grill to cook for about 5 minutes. Rotate the cobs every few minutes for 10-12 minutes total or until the husks are charred and the corn begins to smell fragrant.
- Remove the corn from the grill and use a towel to remove the husks and silk. Slather with butter and salt and pepper or your choice of flavored butters. If you prefer a smokier charred corn on the cob, simply add the shucked corn back to the grill for 1-2 minutes after husking for just a little more char.
More Sweet Corn Recipes to Make
- Grilled Corn Salad With Tomato and Avocado
- Mexican Corn Pasta Salad
- BLT Corn Salad
- Southwest Quinoa and Grilled Corn Salad
- Charred Corn and Rosemary Pizza
- Slow Cooker Corn Chowder
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