PERFECTLY grilled corn on the cob!

Soft, juicy and bursting with flavor, this must-have technique is the absolute best way to grill corn on the cob!

Grilled corn on the cob stacked on a plate

Nothing says summer like grilled corn! Sweet juicy kernels, a subtle smoke note and a lot of butter – we just can not get enough of it. Whether we are camping or hosting a barbecue in the backyard, grilled corn on the cob is one of our favorite, foolproof sides. So simple, but so good.

In this article we will share our tried and true remember-on grilling technique that will help you get absolutely perfect grilled corn on the cob every time! So let’s get into it!

Corn cobs on a table

How to choose the best corn for grilling

You can not get great tasting grilled corn without using really good corn. Specifically, we are talking about sweet corn cobs, which are in high season from mid-May to September.

During the summer, corn can be easily found at almost all local farmers markets, food associations and large grocery chains. The US is a mega producer of corn, so when it’s in season, there’s a super abundance of things. But to find the good corn can take a bit of skill. Here are some tips on how to choose the best corn to grill.

  • Remember, for sure. If you are planning to grill your corn, shellfish are the only way to go. Avoid the molded plastic wrapped items that are probably already dried out. The shell is the key to keeping all the precious moisture inside the corn.
  • ears of corn that has been refrigerated tend to be better than those who have stood outside at room temperature.
  • Look for light green, tightly packed shells which feels slightly damp to the touch. Avoid anything that looks tanned or sun-bleached.
  • Check silky brown and white tassels coming out of the top. They should feel moist and slightly sticky, not dry and crispy.
  • Feel the kernels through the shell. You want them to feel tough, full-bodied and without pockets. If you can feel holes where kernels should be (especially around the top), choose another axis. If all the corn seems to have holes, go ahead, this is not the corn you are looking for.
Corn cobs on a cutting board

How to prepare your corn for the grill

The great part about this “must-have” method is that there is actually very little you need to do to prepare the corn for the grill.

We recommend that you remove any floppy leaves that come off your corn and cut off the silky soft tassels that protrude from the top, but that’s it. We only do this to reduce the risk of the shell burning, which, if you set up your grill or fire properly, is very unlikely anyway.

But for the most part, leave the corn alone and do not remove any layers of shells.

Camping Tip: How to prepare your campfire for grilled corn

If you make this grilled corn on the cob while camping, you can use a portable grill, or grill it right over the fire! Like a bridge cooking by the fire, you will actually cook over hot embers or charcoal – not open fire. This is especially important for grilled corn, as open flames can jump up and catch your corn shell on fire.

To develop a warm bed of embers, set in motion a strong warm fire that is capable of burning full-size firewood. Start a few tree trunks and let them burn until they start to fall apart. This process can take up to 45-60 minutes. If you want to speed things up, start a strong warm fire and add charcoal to the fire. The charcoal will ignite and be ready to boil in about 20 minutes. Move the active firewood sticks over to one side of the fire ring and tear the hot coals of charcoal under your grill grate. You are now ready to grill your corn!

A hand turning corn on the grill using metal tongs

How to make perfectly grilled corn

Place your corn over the fire in line with the direction of the grill grate. This will prevent the corn from rolling around and potentially falling into the fire.

Aim for medium-high heat, without open flame directly under the corn. The outside is starting to turn brown and black, which is just fine. There are many layers of shells and on the inside of the corn does not get charred. In fact, all the trapped moisture steams them to full-bodied, juicy perfection.

The corn must be rotated frequently to ensure that all sides are heated evenly. Use the browning on the outside of the shell as your indicator of which side should have a little more time for the heat. Finally, the corn husk should be evenly browned and black all the way around, which will tell you that all sides of the corn have been cooked.

At medium heat, the corn must have at least 20 minutes to be cooked. You can push this a little longer up to 30 minutes if you wait for other dishes to finish, but then the corn starts to give up some of its moisture and starts to dry out.

Remove the corn from the heat and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes before attempting to remove the corn. The inside gets very hot!

Corn without the shell on the grill with grill marks on the kernels

Put a little char on your corn

Corn that has been grilled with the shell on will be moist, juicy, with just a touch of smoky flavor. If you are looking for a little the ocean smoky taste and color, here’s how to achieve it!

Once you have grilled your corn husks on and removed the husk and silk, you can return it to the grill grate to get some browning on the corn kernels themselves. Since the corn is already perfectly cooked, you can add as little or as much browning as you want, without worrying about actually having to cook the chef.

If you have tried grilling your corn without the peel from the start, the outside of the kernels will turn black before they are done. The corn will also lose a lot of moisture by evaporation, so the corn tastes dry and floury.

Suggestions for spices and serving

The classic topping for grilled corn is butter, salt and maybe a little black pepper. But there are LOTS of ways you can creatively polish up your grilled corn.

  • Finely chopped herbs such as chives, coriander, basil, etc.
  • Garlic powder
  • smoked paprika
  • Cajun spice
  • Old Bay Spice
  • Everything except the Elote spices from Trader Joe’s
  • Mexican street cornstyle with mayo, Cotija cheese, Tajin spice mix
  • Harissa spice mixture
Grilled corn on the cob stacked on a plate
Grilled corn on the cob stacked on a plate
  • 4 ears corn on the cob,, still in shells
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ teaspoonful sea ​​salt
  • freshly ground black pepper,, optional

Avoid getting your screen dark

  • Preheat a medium-high grill (~ 400F) or start a campfire so you have embers to work with.

  • Cut the silk ends of the corn and remove any floppy pieces of the peel.

  • Place the corn, still in the shells, directly on the grill grate.

  • Cook for 20-25 minutes, turning regularly so the corn cooks evenly.

  • Remove from the heat and set aside for a few minutes to cool. Remove the shells and silk. If you want to add a little color, place the corn directly on the grill for 15-30 seconds on each side.

  • Serve with butter, salt and freshly ground pepper. Enjoy!

Serving: 1piece | Calories: 175kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 8g

* Nutrition is an estimate based on information from a third party nutrition calculator

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