At our house, sweet corn is a summer staple and after years of experimenting, I’ve found cooking corn right in their husks on a hot grill is the easiest and quickest way to cook the best corn on the cob.
One of the reasons I crave summer is ’tis the season for fresh, sweet corn and surprisingly, my husband’s obsession with the husked and cobbed sphere is even greater than my own.
We grill just about anything and everything we can get our hands on during the summertime, and fresh corn is one of our favorites. While I’ll eat it just about any way — stripped right off the cob and raw, tossed in potluck quinoa salads, or turned into slow cooker creamed corn perfect for every eating occasion, grilled sweet corn on the cob with creamy butter takes the cake.
Grilled corn a delicious way to spruce up fresh salads, tacos and salsas, macaroni and cheese, and it makes an irresistible and easy side to your backyard BBQ. I love the subtle smokiness and the beautiful char marks grilling imparts on the corn and it is SO MUCH EASIER than boiling corn on the cob, especially when you’re cooking for a crowd.
Some people may be a tad intimidated by grilling corn, but I’m here to tell you that it’s a breeze. We’ve found there’s no need to soak the corn before grilling and you can grill them right in their husks, creating built-in steam oven jackets.
Follow the easy steps below and you’ll soon discover grilled corn bliss.
How to Pick the Best Sweet Corn
The key to really fantastic grilled sweet corn…is really fantastic sweet corn. If you try to grill older pieces of sweet corn that have started to dry up a bit, your grilled corn won’t taste good.
The key to picking the best sweet corn is to look for ears of corn with golden silk — if the silk has spots of black in it, the corn’s on its way out. The corn should also smell fairly sweet and should be firm, not mushy, when pressed with your thumb.
Should I Grill Corn in the Husk?
Some recipes call for removing the husks entirely, but I suggest you resist the urge. To me, the best way to grill corn is in the husk. There’s no need to remove the silks before grilling, simply pull them back with the corn husks afterward. The husks act as a natural protective barrier between the corn and the grill, keeping the kernels tender and juicy.
Plus, the corn soaks up that wonderful smokiness from the charred husks, giving it more flavor. Not to mention there’s less prep work to deal with if you skip husking the corn right away. Win-win-win.
How to Grill Corn Perfectly Every Time
To grill the corn on a backyard BBQ, simply place the corn cob husks directly on hot grill grates—about 450°F to 500°F. Keep the corn in its husks to steam, close the grill cover, and turn the cobs with tongs every five minutes or so.
When the grilled sweet corn is finished cooking, the husks should have a good char but they shouldn’t be totally black.
After grilling, peel back the husks, remove the silk, and enjoy with basic butter and season with salt, or go a bit more gourmet with one of my favorite infused compound butters.
How Long to Grill Corn
Cooking corn on the grill takes about 15 to 20 minutes total. Remember to regularly turn the corn so it doesn’t become too dark on one side. In addition to your timer and the look of your grill marks, use your nose as your guide. When you can smell that delicious cooked corn aroma, it’s likely the corn is done cooking.
If you like a more charred flavor, toss the husked corn cobs back on the grill to add more color.
Tips for the Best Grilled Corn on the Cob
- Keep it fresh. Always start with the freshest corn you can find to have the sweetest, plumpest cooked cobs.
- No soak, no problem. Some people soak their corn husks in cold water, prior to grilling (the theory is that this will provide the corn with more moisture.) However, after trying it several times, I find this step to be unnecessary since I’ve never been able to tell a difference.
- Watch your cooking time. When corn is overcooked it can become chewy because the longer heat breaks down the corn’s cell walls and the sugars take over, leading the kernels to lose their crunch.
- No grill? No sweat. You can still achieve a nice charred flavor by using a cast iron grill pan or skillet. For this method, you will need to husk your corn. Put a little oil or butter in a skillet and get it hot. Place your corn in the skillet and turn every few minutes, getting a nice sear on all sides.
More Sweet Corn Recipes to Make
- BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad
- Southwest Quinoa And Grilled Corn Salad
- Grilled Corn Salad with Tomato and Avocado
- Chilled Corn and Crab Soup
- Charred Corn and Rosemary Pizza
- Slow Cooker Corn Chowder
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How to Make the Best Grilled Corn on the Cob
- 8 ears fresh sweet corn on the cob
- 4 tablespoons Flavored butter or plain butter
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- To grill corn, simply place it on a hot grill. I suggest keeping the corn in its husks to steam as it cooks. Close the grill, checking and turning with tongs, every five minutes or so, for around 15-20 minutes.
- Remove the husks and silk, then slather with your choice of flavored butters or plain, salted butter. If you prefer a smokier charred corn on the cob, simply add back to the grill after husking for just a little more char.
What to Serve With Grilled Corn
At our house, grilled corn goes with just about anything that comes off the grill. We’ll usually get the corn grilling first, then put our main on to cook too. Here are a few main meal ideas to serve along with your corny side.
- Cilantro Lime Grilled Chicken
- The Best Grilled Ribeye Steak (my husband’s FAVORITE!)
- Grilled Chicken Breasts with Chive Butter
- Grilled Vegetable Sandwich with Herbed Ricotta
- The Best Garlic Burgers Ever
- Grilled Salmon Filet with Cucumber Dill Sauce
- The Best Grilled Chicken Breast Recipe
- Grilled Swordfish with Smoked Paprika and Herb Fruit Salsa
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