How to Cook Sweet Corn: 5 Simple Ways

Preparing sweet corn doesn't have to be a challenge. We'll show you five different ways to make this summer staple.

Few things symbolize the peak of summer more than a crop of fresh sweet corn. Whether you buy it at the farmers market, grocery store or at a stand on the side of the road, the real challenge arises once you get your bounty home. What’s the best way to cook corn?

We put five different methods for how to cook sweet corn to the test: grilling, boiling, steaming, slow-cooking and oven-roasting.

Psst! Here’s how to pick the freshest ears of corn.

How We Tested and Scored Each Method

In testing, we prepared two ears of corn using each method outlined below. While some methods allow you to either leave the husks on or remove them, we opted to remove all the husks for consistency.

Scores are based on a scale of 1-5 and were awarded based on a few factors: the time required, ease of method, clean-up required, nutrition and overall flavor.

Grilled Corn

This method will transport you to a day at the county fair!

grilled sweet cornLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Cooking Time: 20-25 minutes

Score: 5/5

How to Grill Corn

Begin by preheating your gas or charcoal grill. Place each ear of shucked corn on a 12-inch square piece of heavy-duty foil. Top with a tablespoon of butter and a standard-size ice cube. Then, wrap each ear tightly and grill over high heat for roughly 20 minutes.

Pros: We love how corn on the grill gets infused with smoky grill flavor! The kernels get some char while still remaining sweet and juicy.

Cons: You’ll have to add additional prep/cook time if using a charcoal grill, since you’ll have to wait for the coals to heat up.

Testing Notes: You can also grill corn with the husk on to protect the corn from the heat of the grill and infuse the corn with moisture. However, when the husk is removed, the corn needs added moisture on the grill. Use an ice cube! As the corn cooks, the ice melts and turns to steam inside the foil packet, which prevents it from drying out.

Learn more about how to grill corn.

Boiled Corn

For fast and easy corn on the cob, consider boiling it.

boiled sweet cornLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Cooking Time: 3-5 minutes

Score: 3/5

How to Boil Corn

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Then carefully place ears of shucked corn into the hot water (here’s how to shuck corn). Cover the pot with a lid and let cook until the corn is tender; about 3-5 minutes. Younger, sweet corn will require less cooking time with this method. Meanwhile, older ears of corn may need more time to become tender.

Pros: We love how you can literally have sweet corn from farm to table in minutes. You can also cut the ears of corn into smaller pieces, which makes it easier for kids to enjoy this tasty treat. (Mickey Mouse corn holders are a must, too.)

Cons: It’s easy to overcook corn when boiled. You only need to boil the corn until it’s tender. When overcooked, sweet corn can become tough and lose some of its sweetness.

Testing Notes: Never add salt to corn when boiling. The trace amounts of calcium in salt can cause corn to toughen while it boils. You can add a bit of sugar to enhance its sweetness, though.

Learn more about how to boil corn.

Steamed Corn

When you’re short on time, consider steaming corn.

steamed sweet cornLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Cooking Time: 4-6 minutes

Score: 5/5

How to Steam Corn

You can steam corn in the microwave or on the stovetop. In testing, we opted for the stovetop route. To steam corn on the stovetop, place a steamer basket into a pot filled with a few inches of water. Bring the water to a boil and then add shucked ears of corn to the steamer basket. Cover. Let cook for 4-6 minutes, or until tender. Remove and season with salt, pepper and melted butter.

Pros: This method is quick—and healthy, too. It’s because steaming preserves the corn’s nutrients better than other methods (like boiling).

Cons: We can’t think of any cons with stovetop steaming. It’s hard to mess up corn when using this method. On the other hand, microwaving corn may take a bit of finesse since cooking times will vary depending on the power of your microwave. If microwaving, start with less time rather than risk completely nuking your corn, which will make it dry and tough.

Find step-by-step instructions for steaming corn.

Slow Cooker Corn

Cooking corn on the cob for a crowd? Toss it in your slow cooker! Then, use this method to butter the corn.

slow cooker sweet cornLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Cooking Time: 2-3 hours

Score: 4/5

How to Slow Cook Corn

To prepare corn in a slow cooker, remove the husks from the corn and place in a 6- to 8-quart slow cooker. Add 1 cup of water plus butter, herbs or spices. Then cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours, or until tender.

Pros: We love this method for large gatherings and for times when you want to make corn a no-fuss side dish. We also love that the slow cooker method enables you to infuse the corn with different herbs.

Cons: Time is obviously a factor. Be sure to plan ahead and start your corn early enough to steam in the slow cooker completely. The good news is, if you forget to start your corn in time, you can always fall back on other methods mentioned in this article!

This is our most popular slow-cooked corn recipe.

Oven Roasted Corn

When the weather isn’t quite right for grilling, oven-roasted corn is about as close as you can get!

oven-roasted sweet cornLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Cooking Time: 30-45 minutes

Score: 4/5

How to Roast Corn in the Oven

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place each ear of shucked corn on a 12-inch square piece of heavy-duty foil. Place 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter on top of each ear and then wrap the corn tightly in foil. Place corn on a baking sheet and transfer to the preheated oven. Roast on your oven’s center rack for 30-45 minutes, or until the corn is tender.

Pros: This is one of our favorite methods! It steams the corn perfectly in its foil wrapping, leaving each kernel juicy, sweet and tender.

Cons: Depending on the rest of your menu, oven-roasted corn does take up oven space and time. If you’re a single-oven household, then this method may throw off your cooking schedule. However, corn prepared in the oven stays piping hot while wrapped in foil for up to 20 minutes, so it’s easy to keep warm while you finish other dinner items.

Testing Notes: Dress up your oven-roasted corn by making a tasty compound butter loaded with fresh herbs and spices.

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Lauren Habermehl
Lauren Habermehl is a recipe developer, food photographer and creator of the blog, Frydae. She is a prolific quoter of FRIENDS, lover of weekend DIY projects and procrastinating fitness enthusiast who enjoys exploring the Milwaukee-area with her husband, daughter and ugly mutt named Tyson Doodles.