Every summer, we would get together with close friends and enjoy a good BBQ. Every time, corn on the cob turns out as one of the hot favorites or cheese, but we will leave that for another time. After dozens of time grilling corns and trying to get an ear of perfect corn on the cob, this is what I found out.
Best Tips When Grilling Corn On The Cob
#1. Pick The Right Corn
Before any talk on getting that perfect grilled corn and toppings, the corn needs to be bought. There are a chosen one or ones.
When you go corn shopping in the supermarket, look out for plump, bright yellow kernels beneath the husk. But this is not possible, perhaps impossible to do without peeling back the husk itself. By doing so, you would be breaking about a dozen rules of the unspoken code of conduct between shoppers.
You would probably be subjected to embarrassment by astonished stares and head-shakes of perpetual disbelief. So, let’s not go there and there must be a better way, right?
Visually Check Out The Color Of The Husk.
If the husk is bright green and felt tightly wrapped to the corn and feels slightly damp to the touch. This corn is fresh. Otherwise, move on to the next corn.
Use Your Hands To Feel The Kernels.
Be light with your touch. You want to make sure the kernels feel supple, plump and plentiful. If you can feel pits or holes on the body of the corn. Move on the next one.
Look For Very Small Brown Holes At Top Of The Husk.
These are holes made by worms. And you do not want to share food with worms, especially when they got the first bite.
You may have heard that there is a myth that worms will only tunnel into the sweetest apple. And it applies to vegetables – and corn. This statement is full of holes, like that rotten fruit. Worms do not choose their food for taste, they chose it out of convenience and survival.
Look Out For Tassels That Are Blackish and Dry.
Tassels are those fur-like or straw-like things that stick out. If those tassels are black and dry, it is an old ear of corn and you should move on. Yellow to Brownish color and sticky is what you are shooting for.
#2 Soak The Corn Before Grilling
By soaking the corn in cold water. This will allow the moisture to seep into the corn, softening the husks and makes it easier to peel and brush. There is also the saying that the moisture will make the corn juicier after grilling. Cooking corn over a flame will cause the corn to lose water, and by soaking it, you can compensate for it.
Personally, I believe that a soak for 20 minutes is enough. Any longer than that, there is no significant difference to taste or otherwise. You can experiment with it as our palates are probably very different.
#3. Should You Remove The Husk?
There are two camps to this. One side advocate keeping the husk. Keeping it will allow it to act as a natural protective barrier between the corn and the flame. This will ensure that the kernels juicy and tender, not dry.
The other camp proposes to remove the husk and silk. Otherwise, you will get charred and blackened silks in between your teeth.
Personally, I use a substitute husk to achieve the protective barrier effect for grilling – a tin foil. Using this method, you will keep the moisture within the foil and you would get blackened silks fraying from the corn. More about this later.
#4. Indirect Heat, Not Over The Coals Or Flame
Grilling corn over a direct flame is a really bad idea. No matter if you keep the husk or use a tin foil, it will burn through it and cause a big, black patch of burnt kernels in one spot. To make it worse, the kernels further away from the onslaught of fire is still raw.
This means there is uneven-ness in heat and there will be kernels more cooked than others. To compensate, you would have to keep it on the grates longer and running the risk of dry corn. Imagine that mess!
#5. Watch Your Grill Time
Too short and you will get an un-cooked corn. Too long – a dry and tasteless one. In my experience, a grilling time of about 15 – 20 minutes in a temperature of 400F would be enough to achieve that delicate balance.
#6. Pre-Heat Your Grill.
You want to keep your grill time as short as possible. One thing you do not wish to do is firing up the grill and throw the corn on it straight. You would want the grill to be ready at the optimal temperature before cooking it. Resting your corn on the grate while waiting for the grill to heat up will end you up with dry, tasteless corn too.
#7. Glaze Or Coat Only At The End.
Any coating such as butter or olive oil has a smoke point. And the smoke point does matter. Smoke point refers to the temperature where the condiment will start to burn and smoke. This will cause the beneficial nutrients to break down and be destroyed.
Apply it too early will cause a lot, and I mean a lot, of smoke. Keep it at the end for maximum taste and effect.
3 Methods of Grilling Corn On The Cob
Now, I am going to introduce the 3 popular methods to grill your corn. Choose freely based on your preference. There are no hard and fast rules, only good corn.
#1. Grill Naked On The Grate
To do this, you would have to shuck the corn clean. There will be stubborn strands of silk, refusing to leave. Don’t get too hung up on them, they will burn in the grill anyway. Impact to taste is very minimal. Then, place them on the preheated grill and cook them for about 10 minutes.
This method is convenient and fast if you that is what you are looking for. But, being in the heat without any kind of protection will not lock in the moisture as effectively. The outcome will be a slightly drier corn.
#2. Grill With The Husk
To do this, wash the corn clean and place it over the heat. Grill it for about 15 minutes and occasionally turn it. After grilling, peel back the husk and serve.
The good thing about this method is this take little to no preparation work. It has the fastest bag to grill time out of the 3 methods introduced. With the husk, the moisture is mostly locked in, ensuring tasty, juicy corn.
The disadvantage of this method is taking care of the silk. Peeling back the husk, you will find strands of charred silk fraying around. The taste of the corn will have a little bitterness in it due to this.
Some advocates to remove the silk but leaving the husk intact before grilling. You determine if this is worth the time and effort.
#3. Grill Wrapped In Tin Foil
This is my preferred method. It takes more effort, but not that much. The idea is to substitute the husk with the foil.
To do this, shuck the corn clean. Next, wrapped the corn tightly in foil. Get it on the grates. Cooked for 15 minutes, turning it occasionally with a tong. Serve.
I like this method because it combines the advantages of the other two. It retains moisture similar to the grill in the husk method. There is no messy, charred silk to take care of afterward, unlike the naked corn method.
Moreover, with tin foil, I can open it up easily during the cooking process and glaze it with whatever condiments that piqued my interest that day.
How Long Is Corn On The Cab Good For?
Grilled corn is best for consumption immediately, of course. But, if you need to store it, you can refrigerate it and it will last for 3 to 5 days. To further extend the shelf life, you can consider freezing it.
You Have Made Extra. How Can You Re-Heat Them?
I have seen many ideas on how to deal with this. I gave a clear preference for how I would do it. But also provided others to give you a more complete picture.
#1. Re-Grill On The Cob.
The best method is to simply re-grill them. An additional step is to wrap the cooked corn in a clean, damp towel first, then wrapped it with a tin foil. This step restores some moisture into the corn. After, grill the corn for about 2 – 3 minutes in high heat. The idea is to warm it up, not cook it.
#2. Boil It In Water For A Minute
Boil a pot of water, place the cooked corn into it. Wait for a minute or two and you can serve. This method works in getting it edible. But really, it kinds of defeats the purpose of grilling it in the first place. Not forgetting to mention that the “grill” taste will not be there anymore.
#3. Blasting it in the microwave.
This is not my preferred choice. Don’t get me wrong. Microwaving corn is an exceptionally convenient way to re-heat it. But, it tends to give drier corn than I would have preferred.
#4. Cook Just Enough
If prevention is better than cure. The best way is to cook what you need. Then, you wouldn’t face the headache of excess food, such as, storing them or selecting a good way to re-heat it.
The Classic Corn On The Cob Recipe
Now that you are aware of all the pitfalls on cooking that tasty corn on the cob. This is one recipe that you can try. It is very simple to make. There is nothing fanciful about it, only good corn.
- Preparation Time: 21 mins
- Cooking Time: 15 mins
- Total Time: 36 mins
- Good corn x 4
- 2 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
- 1/2 Stick Of Butter
- 2 Tablespoon Black Pepper
- Soak Corn With Husk In Water For 20mins.
- Remove husk and brush silk.
- Wrapped in Tin Foil.
- Place corn with tin foil at the side of the grate over indirect heat.
- Turn corn every 3 mins or so for 15 mins.
- Cut or pull open the tin foil.
- Brush lightly with butter
- Sprinkle salt and pepper
- Grill for another half minute
- Serve and Enjoy
You can download a PDF copy of the recipe here.
Corn In The Belly
Grilled corn on the cob is a staple at any BBQ party. It is easy to make and usually a crowd pleaser. I have introduced several methods that you can choose from and a simple recipe that you can use – for free! Tell me how if it suits you!