How to Make the Best Corn on the Cob: Sweet and Crunchy Recipe

4.86 from 7 votes
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This secret method for making the Perfect Corn on the Cob comes straight from our Mom’s kitchen. It comes out sweet and crunchy every time.

Be sure to check out ALL of our recipes using corn including our popular Corn Chowder, Fresh Corn Salsa, or our sweet and savory corn casserole (aka corn pudding). You can use fresh corn from the cob or use our favorite method for cooking frozen corn to use in any of our recipes!

Five ears of corn that have been shucked and are in a pot of water, milk, and butter waiting to be cooked.

Perfect Corn on the Cob

There’s something about the look and smell of a bright yellow cob of corn sitting on your plate that just feels like your’e about to enjoy a home cooked meal. Generally I think of summer time, with all its cookouts and barbecues and sweet, crunchy, fresh summer corn. But you want to know a secret? Not all corn on the cob is nice and sweet when you buy it. That’s where my mom’s Perfect Corn on the Cob recipe comes in.

Corn on the cob in a stock pot. One piece is being puled out with a pair of tongs.

What’s the Secret?

My mom always makes the perfect corn on the cob. It always turns out crunchy and sweet. Her secret? Sugar. Not all corn is nice and sweet when you buy it. This is a great way to cheat and your guests will never know!

Usually people throw salt in the water when cooking corn on the cob, but guess what — salt in the water actually toughens and dehydrates the corn. It’s better if you add salt after the corn is cooked. Instead, throw some sugar in the water before it comes to a boil.

Four pieces of peeled corn on the cob in a dish with melted butter

Butter Me Up

Butter and season several pieces of corn on the cob at one time by melting a stick of butter in a baking dish. Roll each one around while seasoning with salt and pepper. Keep in the baking dish to serve. Give it an extra roll before plating to make it extra buttery.

More Ways To Make Corn On The Cob

The recipe below is our favorite method because it is quick, easy, and foolproof. You get perfectly sweet, buttery, crunchy corn every time. In addition to this method are several other trusted ways to cook corn on the cob. If you are limited on stove-top space or just want to try something new, you can try any of these other methods:

In The Oven

First of all, peel and butter the corn and season as desired. Next, wrap the corn up in foil and roast at 450-degrees F for 20 minutes. Then, remove from oven and allow to rest 2-3 minutes before unwrapping.

In The Instant Pot

Place a trivet in the Instant Pot. Then, add 1 cup cold water. Brush melted butter on up to 6 pieces of corn (peeled) and place them on the trivet. Then, close and seal Instant Pot and cook for 1 minute on high pressure and slow release for 1 minute before doing a quick release. Season and serve.

In The Slow Cooker

Peel corn (up to 8 pieces) and brush with butter. Season as desired. Place ½ cup of water in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours.

In The Air Fryer

Cut corn into pieces so it will fit in the air fryer. However, don’t overcrowd. Then, brush corn with melted butter or spray with cooking spray. Air fry at 350-degrees for 15 minutes, turning half-way through. Season and serve.

In The Microwave

Peel corn and wrap in a damp paper towel. Place on a plate and microwave for 5 minutes. Season and serve. (Not our favorite way as far as taste goes, but it is the FASTEST way and works great in a pinch.)

On The Grill

Leave husks on the corn but trim off the silks. Grill over medium-high heat for 13-15 minutes, turning often to distribute heat. If you have peeled corn, wrap the corn in foil with some butter and then grill. Get our full instructions on how to grill corn on the cob, HERE. Try our mouth-watering Grilled Mexican Street Corn or grill your corn in our Cajun Grilled Foil Packets. Don’t forget to use your leftover grilled corn in our refreshing Grilled Corn Salad!

What To Do With Corn On The Cob

We love eating corn fresh off the cob but we also love adding fresh corn to many of our recipes. If you have some leftover corn, simply stand the corn up vertically on a plate or cutting board and use a sharp knife to run down the sides to get the kernels off. You can keep these kernels in the fridge for up to 5 days and/or use them in your favorite recipes, including:

Sweet corn in a white baking dish with butter

FAQs

How long to boil corn on the cob?

For this recipe, we simmer the corn on low heat for 8-10 minutes (this keeps the milk from curdling). If you are using only water, do a high boil for 5 minutes then remove from heat and allow to rest 2-3 minutes. Remove corn immediately, season, and serve.

Does raw corn on the cob need to be refrigerated?

Yes. To keep your corn fresh, you will want to refrigerate it as soon as you get it home from the store. The sooner you use corn, the better. It is best not to wait longer than 24 hours before cooking the corn after bringing it home from the market/store.

How long does cooked corn on the cob last?

After you have cooked your corn, it can last 3-5 days in the refrigerator covered or in an airtight container. You can store it as-is (on the cob), or just the cooked kernels.

What is the best way to freeze corn on the cob?

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Shuck corn and blanch in the water for 2 minutes. Remove immediately and dry with paper towels. You can freeze the corn on the cob whole or cut the kernels off (preferred method). Place whole corn or kernels on a baking sheet and freeze for 3-4 hours. After frozen, place in freezer-safe bags or airtight container and immediately return to the freezer.

How to cook corn after freezing?

Place directly in a skillet with butter and sauté until cooked through. Get the FULL recipe HERE.

How To Make Perfect Corn on the Cob

Six pieces of sweet corn in a pot with water, milk, and butter

Perfect Corn on the Cob

4.86 from 7 votes
This secret method for making the Perfect Corn on the Cob comes straight from Mom’s kitchen. It comes out sweet and crunchy every time.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 6

Video

Equipment

  • Large Stockpot

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Fill a large stockpot about halfway with cold water, add milk, butter (optional), and sugar and bring to a LOW simmer. Do not add salt.
    Sugar being poured into a pot with milk, water, and butter.
  • Once water is at a low simmer, add corn. Cover and simmer for about 8-10 minutes.
    Pieces of corn in a pot ready to be cooked
  • Remove corn with tongs and serve with butter, salt and pepper (see tips above).
    Corn on the cob in a stock pot. One piece is being puled out with a pair of tongs.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 130kcalCarbohydrates: 18gProtein: 3gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 63mgPotassium: 243mgFiber: 2gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 343IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 3mgIron: 1mg

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About the author

Erica Walker

Erica lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, Jared, an attorney, and her beautiful three girls. Beyond the world of recipes, she loves adventuring with everything from kayaking, to cruising, to snowboarding and taking the family along for the thrill ride.

More about Erica Walker

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Comments

  1. 4 stars
    It looks like there is a stick of butter in the water and milk in the photo. Was something left out of the recipe by chance?

    1. Sorry about that, we are updating the recipe. The butter in the water and milk mixture is optional!

  2. you know you spelled PREPARE wrong right? It’s not “prepear”…it is PREPARE? Just an observation Only trying to be helpful.

    1. I’m not sure what you are referring to in this post, but we do work with a company named Prepear. Prepear is a cooking app that provides menu planning and cookbooks.

  3. My mom uses sugar as well. I actually cook it with butter and it tastes about the same but then you don't have to use butter before you eat it.

  4. 5 stars
    LOVE corn on the cob but have always thought of it as a summer treat-this sounds fab!! So does the Inside out panini!! Yum-o:)

  5. 5 stars
    I would never have thought of that but it's a great idea! I love corn that is just a little sweet and it's always so disappointing when it doesn't turn out that way. Thanks for the tip!
    Oh, and I wanted to share that my family loves putting Seasoned Salt on our corn. It really adds a nice zing to it.