Learn how to boil corn on the cob! Sweet, juicy, and golden, it's the BEST summer side dish. Top it with butter, salt, and pepper, and dig in!
I think my love of seasonal cooking comes from all the corn on the cob I ate as a kid. In the summer, my mom served boiled corn on the cob with dinner almost every night. She’d pick it up from a farm stand nearby, so it was always super-sweet and fresh. I couldn’t get enough of it – the juicy, golden kernels coated in butter and sprinkled with salt. To this day, the thought of that summer sweet corn makes my mouth start watering.
I’ve posted recipes for steamed corn on the cob and grilled corn on the cob in the past, but I’ve never shared my method for how to boil corn. I love it because it’s SO easy, and it yields the sweetest, juiciest corn on the cob you can make. The recipe is really straightforward, so I don’t have any big tips or tricks, but I will say one thing: the fresher your corn is, the better your corn on the cob will be. Enjoy!
How to Boil Corn on the Cob
My method for how to boil corn on the cob is simple. You only need 1 ingredient: fresh sweet corn! You can cook as many ears as you’d like, as long as your pot is large enough for all of the ears to be fully submerged.
First, remove the husks from the corn. Discard the green corn husks and the silks, the thin strands that cling to each ear of corn. While you work, bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Then, cook the corn. Add the corn to the boiling water and cook, uncovered, until the kernels are tender and golden. Exactly how long to boil corn on the cob will vary based on how much you’re cooking and how you like your corn. I typically go for 3-5 minutes, which shouldn’t be much longer than the time it takes for the water to return to a boil after you add the corn. If the corn is done before the rest of the meal is ready, I turn off the stove, leaving the corn in the hot water to keep warm until I’m ready to serve it.
Finally, eat! Remove the corn from the pot and transfer it to a serving platter. Serve it with butter, salt, and pepper, or whatever fixings you like.
Boiled Corn on the Cob Serving Suggestions
I love adding grilled corn to tacos and salads, but whenever I’m boiling corn, I’m almost always going to eat it off the cob. The simplest way to enjoy it is with butter, salt, and pepper, but your options don’t end there. Here are a few ideas for changing it up:
- Use compound butter instead of regular butter. Any of these 4 variations would be fantastic!
- Drizzle it in a yummy sauce, like chipotle sauce or vegan ranch.
- Sprinkle it with fresh herbs. I recommend cilantro, basil, or chives.
- Spice it up. Dust it with smoked paprika or chili powder.
- Make Mexican-style corn on the cob. After boiling corn, brush it with adobo sauce from a can of chipotles and top it with crumbled Cotija cheese.
Let me know what variations you try!
Round out the meal with cookout fare like veggie burgers, black bean burgers, or BBQ jackfruit sandwiches and a fresh summer salad. Or, serve your cooked corn on the cob as a side dish with whatever you’d like!
More Favorite Corn Recipes
If you loved learning how to boil corn, try one of these summer corn recipes next:
- Mexican Street Corn Salad
- Stuffed Peppers
- Black Bean and Corn Salad
- Grilled Vegetable Skewers
- Best Vegan Pizza
- Or any of these 25 Fresh Corn Recipes!
How to Boil Corn on the Cob
- 4 to 8 ears fresh sweet corn, husks and silks removed
- Butter or compound butter, for serving
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the corn. Cook, stirring occasionally to make sure the corn is submerged, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the corn is tender and bright yellow. Alternatively, place the corn in a large pot filled with cold water. Bring it to a boil and cook 1 to 2 minutes, until the corn is just tender.
- Drain and serve warm with butter, salt, and pepper.
Thanks for the recipes.
Try addinga splash of vinegar to the water! a pinch of sugar. The vinegar makes it out of this world.
Hi Janine, my mom does the sugar thing but I never thought to try vinegar. Thanks!
Hello, sorry if this is a basic question. Why boil uncovered? Covering pan traps heat and makes water re-boil faster and keeps all steam from escaping. Why boil uncovered? Thanks!
Hi EJ, you can cover if you’d like. Since the corn cooks very quickly I just go ahead and boil uncovered.
Simple, easy, perfect. Yum!
I’m so glad your corn came out well!
Thanks! I always forget how long to boil it for. I appreciate the reminder.
Perfect corn! Thank you!
This made giggle! 😁
I add about 2 tbsp sugar to the boiling water. Seems to make the corn just a tad sweeter.
my mom does that too, I agree 🙂
Using the alternate method, does cook the corn on the cob fully. Use the first method that works fine.
Fresh farmstead corn may be cooked long enough at 3 to 5 minutes but supermarket corn may need 10 to 12 minutes. The corn I ate after a family member followed your recipe was very starchy.
Thank you as I was wondering why mine tonight had to cook much longer than 5-6 mins before it was the tender sweet consistency my family likes.
Starchy corn implies old corn. The longer corn sits around after being pick, the more sugars convert from sugar to starch. This happens no matter how you cook. Don’t stock up on corn to cook at a later date. Always buy the freshest ears near when you are going to use it.
How much milk does he use? Thanks.
thank you for the recipe. We made it yesterday and it was very delicious.
I suggest eating fresh corn on the cob naked, with no butter or salt or other fixins’. Yummy!
Lol! That made me laugh!! 😂
Just used the timings here to cook my first ears of homegrown sweet corn. Great!
I’m so glad it worked out well!
My brother in law an executive chef on the west coast and Maui would boil the cob in water with milk( to sweeten it) and a few bay leaves with salt. You don’t even need to butter to add to eat!
Sounds good. Does he boil with husk on or off?
Add a cinnamon stick too! Yum!