How to Boil Corn on the Cob

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!

Corn on the cob

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!

Fresh sweet corn in husks

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.

Hand removing ear of corn from pot of hot water with tongs

Then, cook the corn.Β 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.

Large pot of corn next to platter of boiled corn with butter

Finally, eat!Β 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.

Platter of cooked corn on the cob with butter

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!

Boiled corn with herbs and butter on a platter

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!

How to boil corn on the cob - platter of corn with butter

More Favorite Corn Recipes

If you loved learning how to boil corn, try one of these summer corn recipes next:

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How to Boil Corn on the Cob

rate this recipe:
5 from 83 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Serves 4 to 8
Learn how to boil corn on the cob! This easy method for boiling corn yields tender, sweet, and juicy ears every time. Served with butter, salt, and pepper, they're the perfect summer side dish.


  • 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.


5 from 83 votes (71 ratings without comment)

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Rate this recipe (after making it)

  1. Christine Schmitt

    I leave you with one word……Milk!!! You will love your corn with new found taste buds! No really, you will.

  2. Laraine

    5 stars
    I just use a wide shallowish saucepan, barely cover the cobs with cold water and bring the water to the boil. Then I drain the cobs, pat dry and smother in salted butter. I add nothing else. To me they taste divine with only butter.

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Thanks for sharing your method, Laraine!

  3. Justine

    I can’t believe how much you typed out just to tell us how to boil corn in water 😭

  4. whizkid

    5 stars
    Thank you. Just boiled corn 🌽 I didn’t put anything on the water. Will top with butter or cheese later. How do you get it off from the cob, btw? 😜


    This recipe is simple and produced outstanding results. Will now add this to a regular mean in the household

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hi Henry, so glad you loved it!

  6. Mark D Geist

    I cooked the corn like yo said bring pot of water to a boil add the 🌽 and cook bring water back to boil cook 3 to 5 minutes. Worked great. Towards the end of the corn season. I add a table spoon sugar to the water first bring to boil and add corn.

  7. Pamela

    Can’t wait to try your recipes !! I’m anxiously waiting AND. HUNGRY!!


  8. Janine Bright

    Try addinga splash of vinegar to the water! a pinch of sugar. The vinegar makes it out of this world.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Janine, my mom does the sugar thing but I never thought to try vinegar. Thanks!

  9. EJ

    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!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi EJ, you can cover if you’d like. Since the corn cooks very quickly I just go ahead and boil uncovered.

  10. Doug Wilder

    5 stars
    Simple, easy, perfect. Yum!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad your corn came out well!

  11. Anne

    5 stars
    Thanks! I always forget how long to boil it for. I appreciate the reminder.

  12. FeeFee

    5 stars
    Perfect corn! Thank you!

  13. JSD

    This made giggle! 😁

  14. Duke525

    5 stars
    I add about 2 tbsp sugar to the boiling water. Seems to make the corn just a tad sweeter.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      my mom does that too, I agree πŸ™‚

  15. Louis

    Using the alternate method, does cook the corn on the cob fully. Use the first method that works fine.

  16. Rus

    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.

    • Robin

      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.

    • Gardener

      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.

      • Marykaye Kuehnast

        How much milk does he use? Thanks.

  17. Louis Ventelucci


    thank you for the recipe. We made it yesterday and it was very delicious.

  18. Molly Bentsen

    I suggest eating fresh corn on the cob naked, with no butter or salt or other fixins’. Yummy!

    • Pixie

      Lol! That made me laugh!! πŸ˜‚

      • Jane

        5 stars
        Just used the timings here to cook my first ears of homegrown sweet corn. Great!

        • Jeanine Donofrio

          I’m so glad it worked out well!

  19. mary o

    5 stars
    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!

    • Gbear

      Sounds good. Does he boil with husk on or off?

        • Knust

          Add a cinnamon stick too! Yum!

    • Paul littler

      Milk sugar bay leaf salt
      Forget all that ex.chef
      Naked cobs boil in lobster crab
      Shrimp finger likin’ good

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Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.