How to Grill Corn on the Cob Perfectly—Plus Tips on How to Buy and Shuck It

Say buh-bye to canned corn.

grilled corn
Photo: Claudia Totir/Getty Images

There's nothing quite as exciting as enjoying deliciously ripe summer produce, and freshly picked corn is always a fan favorite. In fact, some may argue that you're not really at a backyard barbecue unless there's an overflowing platter of grilled corn on the cob. The real beauty of corn on the cob is that it's affordable, easy to make, and can be prepared in countless ways. And while you can boil or bake corn on the cob, there's nothing more flavorful than when it's perfectly grilled. With the summer months approaching, we'd be remiss not to share some helpful tips to keep in mind when picking out, shucking, and grilling corn on the cob.

How to Buy Corn

Throughout the summer months, every market has a tall display of freshly picked corn, still in its husks. Many markets provide a bucket so you can shuck the corn right then and there before you purchase it, but if you're planning on shucking your corn at home, there are a few things to look out for:

  1. Feel for plump kernels: If you feel firm, plump kernels through the corn husk, it's an indication that the corn is fresh and will have a delicious, sweet flavor.
  2. Look for brown, sticky tassels: You might think that the brown silky tassels at the top mean the corn is no longer good, but that's actually a sign that it's perfectly fresh. You'll want to avoid any corn that has dry or black tassels.
  3. Choose bright, green husks: Corn with tight, bright green husks are the freshest. You may even notice the husk is slightly damp and heavy—that's a good indication that the corn was freshly picked.

How to Shuck Corn

While there are many ways to properly shuck corn, some methods take a bit longer than others. The most efficient way to shuck corn is to separate the silky tassels at the top in half, and start peeling. Once you've torn the husks all the way down, simply rip them off the cob and dispose of them. Lastly, gently pull the remaining silky strings off the ear of corn and then you're ready to start cooking it!

How to Grill Corn

Grilling corn is incredibly simple and takes virtually no time, depending on how you prepare it. Some people love their corn char-broiled or slathered in butter. Others might choose to just grill it in foil and enjoy the natural sweetness without any additional ingredients. Here are a few ways to enjoy grilled corn all summer long.

Grill corn in foil

Place a long piece of aluminum foil on a baking sheet and lay the ears of corn on top. Make a mixture of melted butter, garlic powder, sea salt, and black pepper, and liberally coat the corn using a silicone spatula. Fold the aluminum foil around the corn and securely wrap it so nothing drips out. Fire up the grill to medium-low heat and place the corn on for about 30 minutes. After pulling the corn off the grill, be very careful to let the steam out of the foil before serving.

Char-broiled corn

Pre-heat grill to 400°F and place ears of corn directly on grates. Turn the corn every two minutes, until it's completely charred—this should take about eight minutes. Pull corn from the grill and slather in butter and sea salt, or enjoy on its own.

Grill corn in the husks

Pre-heat grill to 400°F and place corn in husks directly on grates. Leave corn on grill for three minutes per side, until the husks begin to turn light brown. Pull corn from the grill and let it cool before peeling the husks and serving.

How to Season Grilled Corn

There's no wrong way to season grilled corn, especially when it's fresh and sweet in the summer months. Of course, smothering butter and salt is probably the most popular way to enjoy corn on the cob, but it's fun to get creative with different recipes too.

If you're looking for something clean and simple, this corn on the cob with tarragon is a great option. Another recipe worth trying is elote, which is grilled Mexican street corn—it consists of a spicy, delicious mixture of mayo, cotija cheese, cilantro, lime, and chili powder. If elote is a bit too much for your tastebuds, simple Mexican corn with cilantro is just as tasty and really brings out the natural sweetness of a good ear of corn.

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