How to cook corn on the cob

How to cook corn on the cob - our expert tips for boiling, roasting and cooking on the BBQ

How to cook corn on the cob
(Image credit: Alamy Stock Photo)

Corn on the cob is really easy to prepare and cook. We've put together a guide on the best ways to cook it and flavour it to make it even tastier.

Learn how to cook corn on the cob with our simple methods. Corn on the cob is the freshest way to eat sweetcorn. It's a much more hands-on way of enjoying sweetcorn as opposed to eating tinned sweetcorn or frozen. Corn on the cob is sweet, tasty, and perfect simply paired with butter.

In America, corn on the cob is in season from May to September. In the UK, it is usually harvested from September to November. If you’re looking for a vegetable that’s in season now, have a look at our seasonal food calendar for more information. 

The great thing about corn on the cob is that it’s incredibly versatile. It can be served at a BBQ, a party, or as a side to a weekday dinner. The easiest way to eat it is with your hands (or with corn on the cob skewers) so it is usually a little messy. Don’t let that put you off though - below is our guide on how best to cook corn on the cob...

*How to prepare corn on the cob
*How to cook corn on the cob: boil
*How to cook corn on the cob: in the oven
*How to cook corn on the cob: BBQ
*Top tips for cooking corn on the cob
*How to store leftover corn on the cob *How to flavour corn on the cob

How to prepare corn on the cob

When you buy corn on the cob it can sometimes come in its outer leaves (also known as the husk). If this is the case, peel these away by hand until you unearth the raw cob of corn (known as an ear of corn) inside. Once you’ve done this, give it a little wash with some cold water.

If you’ve bought the corn on the cob from the supermarket, it is likely to have the outer leaves removed. You can just remove all the packaging - recycle it where possible - and then rinse before cooking.

Whole corn on the cob is usually a good size for an adult. However, if it’s part of a larger meal or you’re serving to children, you might want to cut each cob into smaller pieces. To do this, place the cob lengthways on a chopping board and cut them into pieces with a sharp knife. Each cob should be able to be cut into two or three pieces.

How to cook corn on the cob: boil

Corn on the cob is a versatile vegetable so there are lots of different ways you can cook it. The easiest and quickest is to simply boil it. 


  • 4 corn on the cob
  • 2tbsp butter
  • Salt and pepper

How to cook corn on the cob: Step 1

Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add a good pinch of salt. You will need enough water to cover all of the corn. Food Director, Elisa Roche says it’s important to salt the water well to add as much flavour as possible during cooking. 

How to cook corn on the cob: Step 2

Carefully place the corn into the boiling water. It’s safest to do this with tongs. You can cover the pan with the lid at this point to help the water come back to the boil more quickly. If you do this, keep an eye on the pan so it doesn’t boil over.

How to cook corn on the cob: Step 3

Cook the corn for around 5 mins. You don’t want to overcook them or they can become a little chewy. They should become a slightly brighter yellow when cooked. Once they’re done, drain them well, place on a serving plate and cover with the butter whilst still hot so it melts and covers them well. Season and serve.

How to cook corn on the cob: in the oven

Roasting corn on the cob can be a really good way of cooking the corn with other ingredients which can add flavour to it. It’s also a really easy way to cook it. The method below is for four corn on the cobs:

  1. Heat the oven to 200C/Gas 6. Cut out four squares of foil. These need to be large enough to wrap each corn in individually. Place each corn on the cob on a square.
  2. Brush each corn cob with melted butter or oil and sprinkle over 1/4tsp chilli flakes and season well with salt and pepper. You could also try using a crushed garlic clove, herbs such as oregano, or grated parmesan. Lime juice, miso paste, and honey also work well. 
  3. Wrap up the corn in the foil sheets and roast in the oven for 30mins until the corn is tender. Carefully unwrap the foil and serve. These make a great side dish.

How to cook corn on the cob: BBQ

Corn on the cob is certainly one of those foods you didn’t know you could cook on the BBQ. But you’ll be really pleased with the flavour of the corn when cooked on the BBQ. It’s also a really simple way to cook corn and a great side dish to quickly put together for a BBQ. 

For 4 corn on the cob

  1. Mix together 75g soft or melted butter with flavourings of your choice. We like to use 2tsp chilli flakes or smoked paprika. They are also lovely without flavourings but keep the butter to help to cook them.
  2. Wrap each corn on the cob in a double layer of foil and cook on the BBQ for 20-30 mins, turning a few times, until just cooked. Unwrap the foil carefully and finish the corn directly on the BBQ for 5mins, turning twice to char all over. 
  3. Remove from the BBQ and brush with the flavoured butter. Serve immediately.

Top tips for cooking corn on the cob

Here are some of our top tips for cooking corn on the cob:

  • Remove all of the husks of the corn and pull off any stringy bits
  • If you want smaller serving pieces cut them before cooking as it will be much easier to do
  • Don’t be afraid of using strong flavours with it - it will hold up well to powerful ingredients
  • If you’re serving corn on the cob plain then make sure you add lots of salt to the water before boiling it. A good-sized teaspoon should do for four corn on the cobs.
  • Make sure the butter is soft, or even melted before you apply it so that you can cover each corn on the cob evenly and easily. You can brush to melted butter on to make it easier.
  • Try using corn on the cob skewers to make them easier to handle.

How to store leftover corn on the cob

When cooking corn on the cob, it’s best if you cook the amount that you need. However, you can keep it after cooking and reheat it (or eat it cold). If the corn on the cob is uncooked and you have some remaining then leave it, covered, in the fridge until you’re ready to cook it. Check the use-by date if there is one and, if not, it will most likely keep for three days or longer after purchase.

If you’ve cooked the corn on the cob and you have some leftover then allow it to cool, cover it or place in a sandwich bag or container and then place it in the fridge for up to three days. You can eat it cold but you might want to give it 30mins to bring it to room temperature so it’s not too cold on the teeth. 

Where you must be careful when keeping leftover cooked corn on the cob is if you have cooked it in an ingredient or coated it in something that cannot be kept as a leftover or has a short shelf life. For example, if you have cooked it with seafood or meat then you will need to be extra careful. You can eat leftover meat and seafood, too, but it may not last as long as the corn and must be refrigerated quicker than a vegetable such as corn. 

How to flavour corn on the cob

The great thing about corn is that it’s delicious as it is but also holds up well to strong flavours. The one ingredient that goes extremely well with corn is butter. Melted and generously applied. You can also flavour the butter with chilli, salt and pepper, herbs or crushed garlic. Sweet chilli sauce is also a great pairing like in our sweet chilli corn recipe.

If you’re serving vegans then you can use a little oil or even juices such as lime and lemon to give it a bit of a kick. Maple syrup will add a little sweetness like in our sticky maple corn recipe.

Mexican corn salad is a delicious way to serve corn on the cob as it has a zingy dressing and also looks really tasty served up at the table on a beautiful platter. It can be made on the BBQ as well as in a frying pan which makes it a really versatile recipe.

Samuel Goldsmith
Freelance food writer

Former Assistant Headteacher, Samuel has a BSc in Food from the University of Birmingham and is also Co-Vice Chair of the Guild of Food Writers and a Trustee of 91 Ways CIC. His work has featured in national and international publications including Waitrose Food, Australian Delicious, and the LAD Bible Group. Samuel has also consulted on a number of best-selling food and drink books, and was a nutritional consultant for BBC’s Eat Well for Less.