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All the Ways to Cook Corn on the Cob for the Perfect Side

Growing up in Indiana, I was raised with a strong appreciation for good corn on the cob. All summer long, my mom would buy Indiana sweet corn from the farmer's market and we would enjoy the sweet, delicious side dish with nearly every meal. In my book, corn on the cob represents warm summer evenings and a promise of pie for dessert.

Fresh corn on the cob is delectable when cooked right, along with being full of health benefits like vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and calcium. However, it can be intimidating if you've never made it before. The most popular way to cook corn on the cob is to boil it on the stove, but there are actually many ways to cook this summer veggie.

How to Choose the Best Corn

Ears of corn on the table partially unhusked

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Before cooking corn on the cob, it's important to figure out how to choose the best corn. Like all produce, the fresher the better. For ultimate freshness, the farmer's market is the best bet, since the corn you'll find there was likely picked recently.

Look for ears of corn with bright green husks that are wrapped tightly around the cob and for stems that are still moist. Feel the corn tassels and make sure that they're silky, moist and sticky. If you're able to, check the tip of the corn cob by slightly peeling back the tops of the corn husks. It's also best to check for worms and wormholes if possible.

Once you've chosen your corn, it's time to decide how to cook it. Boiling corn on the cob is the most common method, and is a fool-proof way to enjoy tasty corn on the cob, whether you're eating it on the cob or using it in corn salad. However, you can also steam it, microwave it, cook it in the instant pot, cook it in the oven, or grill it.

Boil Corn on the Cob

To boil corn on the cob, start by peeling it and removing the silks and husks. Then, fill a large pot about half-full with water. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Then, add in the shucked corn to the boiling water. Cover the pot and bring the hot water back to a boil. Cook for 5-8 minutes.

Your boiled corn on the cob is done when it's bright yellow and the kernels are plump and tender. If you're unsure, try pricking a kernel with a sharp knife to check how tender it is. Remove the corn on the cob and serve it with butter and salt. If you prefer more flavor, here's a corn recipe from New Idea Food that's flavored with garlic, parmesan cheese, and chili powder.

Microwave Corn on the Cob

If you don't feel like getting out a pot of water and boiling your corn, cooking it in the microwave is one of the easiest ways to cook it. Leave your husks on for this method, as they'll help to retain moisture as the corn cooks.

Place unshucked corn on a plate or bowl, and cook in the microwave for 4 minutes. Check that the kernels are tender, and if they need more time, continue cooking it at 1-minute intervals until it's done. Let the corn cool for 5 minutes, then remove the husk and silk.

Steam Corn on the Cob

Two sweetcorn corn on the cob cooked with butter

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Another option for cooking corn on the cob is to steam it. For this method, put water in a pot, making sure it doesn't rise above the steamer basket. Place a steaming basket into the pot, and put the corn in. Cover the pot and heat on high heat until the hot water begins steaming. Cook the corn until the kernels are tender and bright yellow, about 4 to 6 minutes. Serve with salt and butter and enjoy!

Instant Pot Corn on the Cob

The Instant Pot is one of the most magical kitchen appliances and can seemingly be used for anything. Corn on the cob is no exception, and the cook time of instant pot corn the cob is less than any other method.

To cook it, pour water into the pressure cooker and place a trivet on top. Put the corn in the pot, stacking two corn ears on top. Select high pressure, and cook for 2 minutes. Use the quick-release method, take the lid off carefully, and transfer the corn to a plate using tongs. Serve with your favorite corn seasonings.

Oven-Roasted Corn on the Cob

If you enjoy the flavor of oven-roasted veggies, corn on the cob can be cooked in the oven instead. The only caveat is that its total time will longer than with other cooking techniques. Start by preheating the oven to 375 degrees F. Shuck the corn, and place each ear of corn on a piece of aluminum foil.

Put butter in the aluminum foil and sprinkle salt and pepper on the corn. Wrap each ear tightly and roast on the oven rack, butter side up. Cook in the oven until the kernels are tender, which should take about 30 minutes. Let corn cool for 5 minutes, then serve as a main dish or side dish.

Grilled Corn on the Cob

Barbecued Grilled Corn

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Corn on the cob is perfect for a summer BBQ, the ideal side for hamburgers, hot dogs and grilled chicken. Preheat the grill to high heat, 400 to 450 degrees F. Shuck the corn, brush it with olive oil, and then sprinkle it with salt and pepper.

Put corn on the grill and cover, flipping every 2 to 3 minutes to grill each side evenly. Cook for 8 to 12 minutes, and then enjoy delicious grilled corn.

READ MORE: A Corny Guide to the 6 Types of Corn Grown in the U.S.