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How to Grill

How to Grill Corn on the Cob So the Kernels Are Juicy, Tender, and Perfectly Charred

Fresh corn is officially in season!


Now that corn is in season, it will likely grace your grill during Memorial Day weekend. 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. 

What type of corn is best 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:

  • Earlivee: This early-season corn variety features yellow kernels.
  • Honey and Cream: This hybrid corn boasts yellow and white kernels.
  • Jubilee: This corn is a hybrid variety with large, yellow kernels.
  • 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.

Should corn on the cob be soaked before cooking?

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.

Can you parboil corn on cob before grilling?

Some recipes for grilled shucked corn call for partially boiling (or “parboiling”) the veggie beforehand. Corn is usually parboiled for three to five minutes until the kernels begin to soften. Then, the corn is cooled by submerging the ears into ice water or allowing them to cool at room temperature. 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.

What can I add to corn on the cob to give it flavor?

You can leave the corn plain before it’s grilled. But if you want to kick the flavor up a notch, you can use your favorite seasonings. Make this Cajun-Spiced Grilled Corn recipe if you love spicy and smoky flavors. Or prepare this simple yet tasty Grill Roasted Corn-On-The-Cob recipe as it relies on butter, salt, and pepper to enhance the corn’s sweetness. Tailoring grilled corn on the cob to your flavor preferences ensures you’ll produce a delicious batch every time. (This Mexican Street Corn Dip recipe turns grilled corn into a flavorful snack!)

How long does it take to cook corn on the cob on the grill?

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. The kernels should still be slightly firm with just a little give. Think al dente pasta,” he explains to When the ears of corn are fully grilled, transfer them to a platter using tongs. Allow the corn to cool for about three minutes and then serve. 

Using these helpful tips, you’ll enjoy mouthwatering corn on the cob for a Memorial Day weekend BBQ and the rest of grilling season!

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