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How to grill corn on the cob: The tips, tricks, and recipes you need

This classic barbecue dish just got a whole lot better

Corn on the cob
Wouter Supardi Salari / Unsplash

Fresh corn is an absolute summertime staple. We don’t care how progressive or trend-setting your barbecue menu is; if you’re not serving up grilled corn on the cob, you’re doing it wrong. Not only is that juicy, sweet taste beautifully accented by the smokey char of the grill, but it’s yet another dish that’s even better when cooked over the flames.

Forget about that pot of water on the stove, heating up the kitchen on an already sultry summer day. That’s a hard pass. If you ask us, that corn always belongs on the grill, and once you master how to grill corn on the cob, these are some of our favorite recipes.

Corn on the cob close-up
Phoenix Han / Unsplash

Soak unshucked corn before grilling

Before we get into the recipes, we wanted to share one tip so you can have the best grilled corn on the cob. As you will see below, some grilled corn on the cob recipes have you shuck or peel the hust off the corn before you cook it, and other recipes call for the corn to go on the grill unshucked. Both methods will lead to a delicious result, with the shucked corn getting nice and charred on the grill while the unshucked ears of corn will come out looking more like traditional boiled corn on the cob.

The key to grilling unshucked corn on the cob is to make sure you soak the husks in water before putting them on the grill. Not only will this prevent the husks from burning, but it will also add moisture, which will allow the corn to steam inside the husk as it is on the grill, which results in a more tender ear of corn. Now, on to the recipes.

Corn on the cob
Andre Ouellet / Unsplash

How to grill corn on the cob with husks

No one likes to shuck corn. The good news? You don’t have to! Skip the annoying prep and grill your corn husks and all. It makes for a much more charmingly rustic presentation, anyway. Choose corn that’s as fresh as possible, as the silk from the corn will release steam when on the grill, helping keep the corn moist and adding more flavor to your dish.

Grilled corn on the cob in husks

(Recipe from The Gunny Sack)

Ingredients:

  • 4 ears corn on the cob
  • 4 teaspoons butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Method:

  1. Warm the grill to medium heat. Place the corn on the cob with the husks directly on the grill grate.
  2. Close the cover and cook over medium heat.
  3. Grill the corn on the cob for 25 to 30 minutes, turning every five minutes, until hot and tender.
  4. Remove the corn from the grill and allow it to cool slightly before peeling it.
  5. Slather the grilled corn on the cob with butter and sprinkle with salt before eating it.
Mexican street corn
rickbella / Pixabay

Grilled Mexican street corn

Mexican street corn is tremendously popular for good reason. This deliciously salty snack is bursting with the summer flavor of lime and spice, cooling everything down with a smooth creamy sauce. If you’ve ever been lucky enough to try Mexican-style corn from a street vendor, you know this is something worth replicating at home.

It gets seasoned with a combination of mayonnaise and cheese, which makes the corn taste super creamy, but it’s the lime in this recipe that does the heavy lifting. The acidity addition of lime makes the corn taste even sweeter, adding a brightness you may not have expected.

Grilled Mexican street corn recipe

(Recipe from GrillSeeker)

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 ears of corn, husks on
  • 2 cups cotija cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped and divided
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh black pepper
  • 6 lime wedges
  • 3 tablespoons barbecue rub, divided

Method:

  1.  Set up your grill for two-zone cooking and establish the temperature at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2.  While the grill is preheating, soak the corn in water. Then, whisk together the mayonnaise, half of the cilantro, lime juice, 1 tablespoon of barbecue rub, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl.
    Place this mixture in the fridge, allowing the flavors to meld. Alternatively, prepare some of this flavor-packed compound butter, which is also excellent on grilled corn.
  3.  Once the grill has reached 350 degrees Fahrenheit, place corn on the grill in the indirect heat zone, leaving the husks on for 30 minutes.
  4.  Remove from the grill and peel the husks back. Be careful when doing so, the steam inside the husks is hot!  Return the corn to the grill over direct high heat and char the corn kernels. Turn often so as not to burn.
  5.  Remove from the grill and brush corn thoroughly with a thin layer of the mayo mixture.
  6.  Spoon the cotija cheese onto the corn, thoroughly coating the mayo mixture.
  7.  Then, season with barbecue rub, or a simple chili powder and Tajín mixture, and finish with more cilantro and fresh lime as desired.
Corn on the grill
Robert Krčmar / Unsplash

Spicy-sweet bacon street corn

Spice things up with this bacon-jalapeno corn recipe. If your dentist insists that you cut corn from the cob, you can rest assured there’s no cutting the flavor in this spicy-sweet bacon corn recipe. Cooking corn alongside bacon on a grill plate or griddle grill brings loads of flavor from the smoky bacon and just the right amount of heat from the jalapenos.

What’s great about this grilled corn recipe is it can be dressed up or dressed down based on the occasion. Plate it in a cup with a serving spoon, and it’s a wonderful hors d’oeuvre for a summer cocktail party, or serve it informally as a side dish at a cookout. It would even make a deliciously spicy corn relish topping for a gourmet hot dog.

Spicy-sweet bacon street corn recipe on the griddle

(Recipe from GrillingMontana)

Ingredients:

  • 4 ears of fresh corn
  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon
  • 1 medium sweet onion diced
  • 1/2 cup pickled jalapeno
  • Optional toppings:
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1/2 cup Cojtilla cheese
  • 1 tablespoon Tajín Clásico Seasoning

Method:

  1. Shuck corn. Take care to make sure all silk has been removed
  2. Use a sharp knife and the two-bowl method to remove the corn kernels from the cob
  3. Stack the bacon slices on top of each other
  4. Make a slice down the center of the bacon and then cut across the bacon to dice. The diced bacon should be about a half-inch in length and not much wider than the width of a pencil
  5. Dice your sweet onion
  6. Roughly chop the jalapeno rings to break them up slightly
  7. Preheat your griddle to medium-high and set it for two-zone cooking
  8. Render the bacon first, cooking it to about 80% done
  9. Slide the bacon to the cool side of the griddle
  10. Saute the onion in the bacon grease for three minutes
  11. Add the jalapenos to the onion and cook for an additional three minutes
  12. Slide the jalapeno and onion to the cool side of the griddle
  13. Add the corn to the warm side of the griddle and saute for two minutes, stirring constantly
  14. Add a tablespoon or two of water or oil if the corn seems to be sticking to the griddle
  15. Saute the corn for about 5 minutes, then combine it with the bacon, jalapenos, and onions.
  16. Cook for an additional two or three minutes to combine the flavors
  17. Serve in a bowl and optionally garnish with Cojtilla cheese, lime juice, and Tajín Clásico Seasoning
Grilled corn on the cob
Syed Ali / Unpslash

Simple grilled corn

Quick and delicious, this classic is never boring. No husk, no foil, no fuss. Made with just olive oil and seasoned salt, the smokey flavor of the grill gives this corn a truly authentic grilling taste.

Simple grilled corn recipe

(Recipe from Art from my table)

Ingredients:

  • 6 ears of corn on the cob with the husks removed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Seasoned salt to taste

Method:

  1. Lay the ears of corn in a 9 x 13 casserole dish and brush each ear with olive oil.
  2. Sprinkle seasoned salt on all sides of the corn.
  3. Heat the grill to 350-400 degrees. Using tongs, carefully place each ear of corn on the grill grates and close the cover.
  4. Cook the corn for 3 minutes, turn a quarter turn, then cook another 3 minutes. Do this two more times until all sides have been cooked.
  5. Remove from the grill and serve immediately.
Grilled corn on the cob
Tim Mossholder / Unsplash

Buffalo grilled corn with vegan blue cheese

This Buffalo-style grilled corn recipe is topped with a drizzle of homemade vegan blue cheese dressing. It’s a spicy, vegan, and gluten-free side dish. A terrific addition to your barbecue or cookout, this dish is a thoughtful offering if you have vegans or vegetarians over the next time you’re cooking.

Buffalo grilled corn recipe with vegan blue cheese

(Recipe from Cadry’s Kitchen)

Ingredients:

For vegan blue cheese dressing

  • 1/2 cup crumbled tofu or about 2.5 ounces super firm tofu
  • 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon non-dairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Pinch salt

For buffalo corn on the cob

  • 3 tablespoons vegan butter
  • 3 tablespoons Frank’s Red Hot Sauce or your preferred hot sauce
  • 4 ears of corn on the cob with the husks and silk removed
  • A handful of chopped chives – optional garnish

Method:

Vegan blue cheese dressing

  1. In a bowl, combine the crumbled tofu, vegan mayonnaise, non-dairy milk, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, dried parsley, dried oregano, dried basil, garlic powder, and a pinch of salt. Taste for seasonings and adjust if necessary. Move dressing to refrigerator until ready to use.

Buffalo corn on the cob

  1. Put vegan butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat for 15 to 30 seconds until it has melted. (If you’d rather not use the microwave, melt the butter in a small pot on the stove instead.) Stir in hot sauce until it has completely combined with the vegan butter. Set aside.
  2. Bring outdoor grill to a high heat – roughly 500 to 600 degrees. Grill the corn for about 10 minutes. Use tongs to move it occasionally, so that it can brown all over. However, don’t move the corn too much, so that you can get good, dark grill marks.
  3. Once the corn is done, remove it from the grill. One at a time, drizzle buffalo sauce on each ear of corn over a plate. Roll each ear through the sauce, until each one is evenly coated. Put the buffalo sauce-covered corn on a platter and add a dollop of vegan blue cheese dressing to each ear. Garnish with chopped chives (optional). Serve with additional vegan blue cheese dressing, so that people can add dressing to the corn as they eat.
Grilled corn on the cob
byrev / Unsplash

How long does corn need to cook on the grill?

Corn generally takes about 15 to 20 minutes to cook on the grill, depending on the temperature of your grill. The key to cooking whole ears of corn on the grill is to rotate it several times so the heat cooks all sides evenly.

The best way to grill corn is to allow it to roast inside the grill. You can do this by using placing corn on the grill’s elevated bun warming rack. Cooking on the bun rack is often overlooked and it works as well for cooking corn as it does for reheating it if you have any leftovers.

Corn on black plate
StockSnap / Unsplash

More grilled corn tips

Does corn need to be boiled before grilling?

Nope. One of the best things about grilling corn is that there’s no boiling required. You don’t even need to remove the husks from the corn before grilling.

Foil: To use or not to use?

The choice to grill corn with or without foil is a personal one. There are some benefits to grilling corn in foil. The foil will protect the corn somewhat from the grill’s heat. Wrapped tightly, it will allow the corn to steam while being grilled. You can also add ingredients to the foil, like butter, herbs, and even garlic, which can make the corn even more flavorful. Grilling corn without foil will give it a smokey, rustic, roasted flavor and bite. This texture is great when making elote-style corn or street corn, or in a corn side dish where the extra roasting brings additional flavors, you cannot get from steaming in foil.

Health benefits of corn

While corn can get a bad rap in the vegetable world, it’s certainly not without its health benefits. Sure, it may be heavy on carbohydrates, but it’s also rich in vitamin C, which can protect your cells from things like heart disease and cancer. Furthermore, it’s a good source of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which help to protect the eyes from cataracts.

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Lindsay Parrill
Lindsay is a graduate of California Culinary Academy, Le Cordon Bleu, San Francisco, from where she holds a degree in…
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