How to Grill Corn on the Cob: Easy Techniques for Perfectly Cooked Ears

Learn the most effective techniques for grilling corn on the cob to achieve perfect char and sweetness every time.

Key takeaways:

  • Select ears with bright green husks and plump kernels.
  • Husk and clean corn before grilling to avoid steaming.
  • Grill corn at moderate heat for 15-20 minutes, rotating regularly.
  • Season corn with butter, herbs, spices, cheese, salt, and pepper.
  • Serve hot off the grill with additional toppings if desired.

Selecting the Best Corn

selecting the best corn

Opt for ears with bright green husks, a sign of freshness. Feel the kernels through the husk; they should be plump and abundant, with no noticeable gaps. Silks should be golden and moist, not dry or brown, indicating the corn is not past its prime. If possible, check the stem end—it should be moist and not discolored or dried out. Remember, fresher corn will retain more moisture during grilling, resulting in a juicier bite.

Preparation Before Grilling

To ensure maximum flavor and perfectly cooked kernels, husking the corn is essential. Peel back the husks and remove the silk strands; they can burn and affect the taste. However, keep the husks attached at the base if opting for a traditional presentation where the husks serve as handles when eating. For those who prefer husk-on grilling for a steamed effect inside, pull the husks back without detaching them, clean off the silk, then rewrap the corn.

Rinsing the corn under cold water will clean any lingering dirt and silk. Pat the ears dry before proceeding; this step is crucial to avoid steaming the corn on the grill and to achieve that desirable charred flavor.

Optionally, to add an extra dimension of taste, you can brush a light coat of oil or melted butter over the kernels. This not only helps in seasoning adherence but also aids in achieving an even grill mark.

Grilling Time and Temperature

Achieving perfectly grilled corn demands attention to the interplay of time and temperature. A moderate heat – around 350°F to 450°F – is the sweet spot for the kernels to caramelize without charring excessively.

Over a preheated grill, this translates into a cooking duration of roughly 15 to 20 minutes, the corn being rotated every five minutes to ensure even exposure to the heat. If the corn is still in the husk, a slightly longer time might be needed, with the added benefit that the husk can prevent burning.

Being vigilant about the grill’s temperature and the corn’s positioning is crucial, for the difference between delightfully charred and overdone can be a matter of minutes. Keep the lid closed to create an even, oven-like environment that cooks the corn through indirect as well as direct heat.

Seasoning Your Corn for Grilling

The beauty of grilled corn lies in its versatility; the right seasoning enhances the natural sweetness while adding a flavor punch that complements the smoky char. Butter, with its rich creaminess, acts as the base layer of flavor. To elevate the taste, consider herbs such as cilantro or parsley, which add a fresh, summery vibe.

For those who enjoy a spicy kick, a sprinkle of chili powder or cayenne pepper can be transformative. A dash of paprika not only introduces a warm, smoky element but also contributes a vibrant hue. To achieve a tangy zest, lime juice offers a refreshing citrusy note that counterbalances the sweetness of the corn.

Cheese lovers may enjoy a sprinkle of grated Parmesan or Cotija cheese, infusing a savory depth that complements the smokiness well. Lastly, don’t overlook the power of salt and pepper; a pinch of each amplifies the inherent flavors of the corn, ensuring every bite is as satisfying as the last.

Serving Grilled Corn

Once off the grill, serve the corn hot to retain its juiciness. To enhance the flavor profile, consider a brush of melted butter, a squeeze of fresh lime, or a dusting of chili powder for a spicy kick.

Wrapped in foil can keep the ears warm if not immediately served. Offer a selection of toppings on the side, such as grated cheese, mayo, or fresh herbs, allowing guests to customize their ears.

Remember, grilled corn can stand alone as a robust side dish or complement an array of main courses, particularly barbecue classics.