How to Boil Corn

Learn how to boil corn in a just a few easy steps! Plus, once you've mastered how to make corn on the cob, use our six homemade herb butter recipes to make it special.

Growing up in Southern Maryland, late summer meant family dinner was served outdoors—and more often than not, that meant my plate was absolutely loaded with the fresh corn that my mother brought home from the local Amish farmers market. I’d eat cob after cob with reckless abandon. (Yes, there was a lot of flossing done later that evening.)  The corn was so flavorful and sweet that no butter was needed. Since then, I’ve moved on from my country roots and learned how to pick the best fresh corn at my local market here in the Midwest. Though, I admit, no grocery store variety can compare to that golden Amish goodness!

To recreate those sunny summertime memories at home, I’ll whip up a side of corn on the cob when the weather is just right. Though there are many methods for cooking corn, I find that boiling corn is the easiest. Follow along to see how it’s done:

How to Boil Corn on the Cob

Step 1: Prep the corn and place in water

To boil fresh corn on the cob, first, remove the husks and silk. Then place the cobs in a kettle of unsalted boiling water. Cover the pan and return it to a boil.

Step 2: Boil for 3-5 minutes

Cook the corn for 3-5 minutes or until tender. The exact cooking time will depend on the type of corn you buy and its maturity. Very fresh corn or super-sweet varieties may require a shorter cooking time while older corn may require a longer one.

What to Put On Corn on the Cob

Piping hot sweet corn begs for a pat of herb butter! Each variation makes about half a cup. If you have an abundance of herbs, make a few batches and freeze for up to six months.

  • Classic Herb Butter: Combine 1/2 cup softened butter, 1 Tbsp. minced fresh tarragon, 1 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley, 1 tsp. minced fresh chives, 1 minced garlic clove and 1/4 tsp. coarsely ground pepper.
  • Rosemary Hazelnut & Lemon: Combine 1/2 cup softened butter, 1/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts, 2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary, 2 tsp. grated lemon peel and 1/2 tsp. coarsely ground pepper.
  • Backyard Basil: Combine 1/2 cup softened butter, 3/4 cup minced fresh basil, 1 tsp. lemon juice, 1 tsp. coarsely ground pepper and 1/4 tsp. garlic salt.
  • Blue Cheese, Walnuts & Sage: Combine 1/2 cup softened butter, 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese, 1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts, 1-2 Tbsp. minced fresh sage, 2 minced garlic cloves and 1/2 tsp. coarsely ground pepper.
  • Cilantro-Chili: Combine 1/2 cup softened butter, 3 Tbsp. minced fresh cilantro, 2 tsp. chili powder, 1 tsp. coarsely ground pepper and 1/4 tsp. salt.
  • Cajun Butter: Combine 1/2 cup softened butter, 1 tsp. minced fresh thyme, 1 tsp. brown sugar, 1 tsp. chili powder, 1 minced garlic clove, 1/2 tsp. cayenne and 1/4 tsp. coarsely ground pepper.
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Nicole Doster
Nicole is a writer, editor and lover of Italian food. In her spare time, you’ll find her thumbing through vintage cookbooks or testing out recipes in her tiny kitchen.