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Food & Recipes

How to Grill Corn on the Cob: Chef’s Trick for Perfectly Charred, Juicy Kernels

Nailing the grilling time creates the best texture and flavor for this in-season veg!

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Grilled corn on the cob is the perfect BBQ side — when it’s cooked right, it’s soft, juicy and sweet with a slightly smoky flavor. The only caveat? When it isn’t done correctly, grilled corn is dry and mushy. Ick. The good news, however, is that preparing corn on the grill is simple as long as you remember a few key tips throughout the cooking process. Keep reading to learn how to grill corn on the cob so it stays moist and tender. 

The best type of corn for grilling

Generally, any sweet corn variety is suitable for grilling as its natural sugars caramelize nicely when exposed to direct heat. There are several classes of sweet corn, but you’ll commonly see standard sugary varieties sold in stores and farmers markets. Here are four examples of standard sugary corn, each of which have their own distinct appearance.

  1. Earlivee: This early-season corn variety features yellow kernels.
  2. Honey and Cream: This hybrid corn boasts yellow and white kernels.
  3. Jubilee: This corn is a hybrid variety with large, yellow kernels.
  4. Silver Queen: This late-season corn variety features rows of white kernels.

Because they’re all sweet and delicious, any variety will work for your BBQ. You can pick whatever is most readily available to you. Next step? Prep.

Do you need to soak corn before grilling?

Soaking largely depends on whether you’ll leave the husks on or off. Keeping the husks on corn protects the kernels from heat and retains their moisture. But, the husks are likely to dry out and burn on the grill. In this case, the experts at Foster’s Market suggest soaking the corn in cold water for 10 to 15 minutes. Afterwards, you can dry off the corn and follow the next steps of the recipe you’re using. If you’re removing the corn’s husks — which is a process called shucking the corn — you don’t need to soak the vegetable.

Related: This Simple Hack Will Make Shucking Fresh Corn Super Easy and Mess-Free

When it’s best to parboil corn on cob

Some recipes for grilled shucked corn call for partially boiling (or “parboiling”) the veggie beforehand. Corn is usually parboiled for 3 to 5 minutes until the kernels begin to soften. Then, the corn is cooled by submerging the ears into ice water. Parboiling prevents the corn kernels from drying out during the cooking process. However, you can grill shucked corn without parboiling it first if you’re in a pinch.

Is it better to grill shucked corn with or without foil?

It’s up to you whether or not you want to cover shucked corn on the corn with foil. Both methods deliver slightly different results. Similar to a husk, foil seals in the corn’s juices so it stays tender. If you decide to cover the corn, individually wrap each cob in enough foil to enclose the surface. Once grilled, you can remove the foil and serve the ears of corn on a platter. If you don’t use foil, the corn is exposed to direct heat, which allows the kernels to char, get crispy and develop a smokier flavor.

How long it takes to grill corn on the cob

Despite the various ways of preparing grilled corn, most recipes call for grilling it at medium heat for about 10 to 20 minutes, until the outside has char marks and a golden brown color. Kevin Scharpf, chef and owner of Brazen Open Kitchen, shares his preferred method for testing the corn’s doneness. “To check the corn, you can pull an ear from the heat [using tongs] and carefully give the ear a gentle pinch with your fingers,” he explains. “The kernels should still be slightly firm with just a little give. Think al dente pasta.” When the ears of corn are fully grilled, transfer them to a platter using tongs. Allow the corn to cool for about 3 minutes and then serve. 

A mouthwatering grilled corn recipe

Using these helpful tips, you’ll enjoy mouthwatering corn on the cob for your next BBQ. Try our test kitchen’s Chipotle Grilled Corn on the Cob recipe as it dresses up the sweet veg with tangy and spicy ingredients.

Chipotle Grilled Corn on the Cob

Ears of grilled corn as part of a guide on how to grill it
Merc67/Getty

Our tangy lime-kissed drizzle gives this spin on the quintessential summertime side extra-irresistible flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 6 ears fresh corn in husks 
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbs. sour cream
  • 1 Tbs. lime juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp. grated lime zest
  • ¼ tsp. chipotle chili powder
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

  • Active: 15 mins
  • Total time: 50 mins + grill prep time
  • Yield: 6 servings
  1. Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking.
  2. Pull back husks from corn without detaching; remove silk. Replace husks over kernels; tie with string. Soak ears in water 15 minutes. Drain; pat dry. Grill, covered, rotating occasionally, until tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Peel back husks. In bowl, combine next 5 ingredients. Drizzle over corn. Sprinkle corn with chile powder. Top with cilantro. If desired, serve with lime wedges.

Continue reading for more ways to enjoy fresh corn!

Mexican Street Corn Dip Is a Party-Perfect Snack Full of Zesty Flavors — 5-Minute Recipe

Test-Kitchen Secrets to the Best Corn on the Cob — and a Must-Try Air-Fryer Version

How to Reheat Corn on the Cob So It Stays Juicy, Crunchy and Sweet

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