How to Cook Corn On the Cob (Plus Delicious Flavor Combos You Need to Try)

Photo: Rimma Bondarenko/Shutterstock

Corn on the cob is like the healthy hero of summer BBQs. Because you can toss it on the grill and eat it with your hands, it goes perfectly alongside hot dogs, hamburgers, and ice cream sandwiches—but it adds some much-needed nutrition to the menu. That doesn’t mean you need to eat it plain, though. Here, see the best ways to cook, top, and eat corn on the cob.

Why Corn On the Cob Is Healthy AF

One large ear of corn on the cob only has about 75 calories and about 4 grams of protein—plus, a ton of fiber per serving. “Corn is a whole grain and offers up 4.6 grams of fiber per cup,” says dietitian Christy Brissette, M.S., R.D. “Fiber keeps you regular, helps control blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and could help you manage your weight,”

And, thanks to its yellow hue, you know it’s packed with nutrition powerhouse antioxidants. “Corn is also loaded with antioxidants called carotenoids, specifically lutein and zeaxanthin,” says Brissette. “These antioxidants may help prevent and manage arthritis and boost your eye health, preventing cataracts and vision loss later in life.”

Bonus: It’s right in season. “Summer is prime time for fresh corn, as June and July are the peak times for fresh corn harvest, resulting in sweeter, more delicious corn,” adds dietitian Dana Angelo White, M.S., R.D.

How to Cook Corn On the Cob

When it comes to cooking corn, there are a few different ways to go.

Boil: “The most common way to cook corn is to boil it,” says Ashley Iovinelli, certified integrative nutrition coach and food blogger at Wheatgrass Warrior. Husk the corn, then toss them in a large pot of boiling, salted water on the stove top for roughly five minutes.

Microwave: If you’re feeling a little lazy (no shame here!), you can also microwave corn in the husk for four to five minutes, says Iovinelli.

Grill: Grilling is the most time-intensive, but totally worth it. (P.S. did you know you can grill avocados?!) There’s a very specific method to grilling the perfect ear of corn: You want to cook it on the grill in its husk (to keep it moist) for about 20 minutes total. First, pull back the outer husks (without completely detaching them), and remove all the silks. Then pull the husks back up to cover the ear, and place the entire eat on the grill. After 15 minutes, pull the husks down and let the corn sit directly on the grill for the last five minutes to add a little smokiness as a finishing touch, says chef Mareya Ibrahim, holistic nutritionist and founder of Eat Cleaner. Finish with an optional touch of melted butter or ghee and a sprinkle of sea salt. Pro tip: If you like a little char on your corn, place it back on the grill for an extra 1 to 2 minutes, says White.)

Tasty Corn On the Cob Flavors and Toppings

Now that your corn is cooked, it’s time for the fixings.

First up, use a bit of fat to coat your corn before putting on your desired toppings. “Carotenoids are also fat-soluble, which means your body absorbs them better when you eat your corn with some fat. So go ahead and add some butter, olive oil, or avocado oil to your corn on the cob,” says Brissette. (For real: fat is not evil, you guys.)

Try these recipes and flavor combinations:

  • Bacon-Wrapped Corn On the Cob: This recipe by Mareya is great for meat-lovers. Remove husks from corn and boil the cobs until fork-tender. Wrap each one in a slice of nitrate-free bacon and sprinkle with oregano, granulated garlic, and pepper. Wrap the bacon-wrapped cobs in heavy-duty aluminum foil and grill until the bacon is crispy; about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain excess oil and pat with a paper towel before enjoying.
  • Fiery Feta Corn On the Cob: Mix 2 tablespoons of feta cheese, 1 tablespoon EVOO, a dash of dried oregano, and red pepper flakes (per 1-2 cobs), says Mareya. Sprinkle on top of cooked, greased corn.
  • Mexicali Corn On the Cob: Mix 2 tablespoons cotija cheese, 2 tablespoons ghee, one-half teaspoon smoked paprika, a sprinkle of sea salt and cracked pepper. Smear onto boiled or grilled corn, says Mareya.
  • Citrus and Herb Corn On the Cob: Fresh herbs such as basil, parsley, and cilantro will pair well with corn on the cob, says Iovinelli. “One of my favorite ways to garnish corn is by painting on melted butter and adding some fresh-squeezed lime juice, cilantro leaves, chili powder, paprika, and uncured bacon bits,” she says.
  • Cheesy and Breadcrumb Corn On the Cob: Melt some butter in a bowl and brush that onto the corn. On a separate plate, mix breadcrumbs, garlic powder, and herbed goat cheese. “The cheese easily spreads and melts on the hot corn and the breadcrumbs add that extra crispy finish,” says Iovinelli.
  • Pumpkin Seed Pesto Corn On the Cob: Whip up some homemade pumpkin seed pesto with this recipe, courtesy of Mareya: First, pan toast 1 cup shelled pumpkin seeds over medium-low heat until fragrant, shaking from time to time; about 5-6 minutes. Combine 1/2 cup cilantro (packed), 3 tablespoons EVOO (or a mix of pumpkin seed oil and EVOO), 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast, 2 cloves fresh garlic, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon white pepper, and pulse in a food processor until it forms a paste. Add toasted pumpkin seeds and pulse again, then spread on cooked corn. (Makes about 1 and 1/2 cups pesto.)

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