May 8th 2008
archived under: Meatless, Other, Recipes, Sides, Vegetables

corn on the cob - how to boil

If there’s one thing that says “summer” to me, it might just be corn on the cob. When my family visited my grandmother in Michigan every summer, “Doo-Dah” would bring us corn on the cob for the requisite family cookout. My dozens of cousins and second cousins (well, close to dozens) and I sat in the yard, shucking the corn and taking off as much of the silk as we could, happily anticipating the feast ahead.

A few short hours later would find us happily munching the kernels off of the cobs, which we had buttered and sprinkled with salt. Delightful!

My father taught me how to eat the corn neatly so it wouldn’t get stuck in your teeth, by popping the kernels off one row at a time using your bottom teeth, rather than digging in with a CHOMP! It works, and has the added benefit of a typewriter joke. Finish the line of corn, say “Ding!” and start over. Well, that’s what my dad does anyway.

He also taught me the delights of eating leftover corn, still cold from the fridge, with a sprinkle of salt. It’s one of my favorite summertime treats to eat corn this way, so I usually get extras so I can intentionally have leftovers.

how to boil corn on the cob

Unfortunately, when I moved out on my own, I discovered that I wasn’t actually sure about the right way to cook corn on the cob. I tried microwaving it, boiling it endlessly, seasoning the water with a variety of things… but nothing was ever quite right.

So after reading about a dozen “recipes” and formulas for corn on the cob, the guy and I settled on this method (which is a conglomeration of a couple different ones), which turned out to be a happy discovery. THIS is how corn on the cob shoud be!*

So here it is…

How to Boil Corn on the Cob Perfectly

3.0 from 2 reviews
How to Boil Corn on the Cob Perfectly - Too Easy for a Recipe!
Recipe type: Vegetable, Side dish
Cuisine: American
  • Lots of water
  • ¼ -1/2 cup sugar
  • Several ears of corn on the cob
  1. Fill your pot with water (leave room for the corn!)
  2. Add the sugar.
  3. Drop in your corn.
  4. Bring everything to a boil, making sure the sugar is dissolved in the water.
  5. Boil for no longer than 8 minutes.
  6. Remove from the water and let it cool enough for handling and eating.
  7. Handle it and eat it.


It was perfect! Well, almost perfect. It was early-season corn and not the best I’ve ever had, but it was delicious and cooked properly! With just a smear of butter and a few shakes of salt, it was delicious with our dinner of tomato pie.

And I had my 2 ears of leftover corn reserved in the fridge for later, when I enjoyed them cold, and sprinkled with salt.

Now that you’ve got such an easy delicious recipe for corn on the cob, don’t forget it!
*Unless it’s grilled, which is equally as delicious, and always a special treat. I LOVE grilled corn on the cob. 

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Katie Harding (17 comments)

Just bought corn on the cob yesterday so I will most certainly be using this recipe! Nothing says summer like corn on the cob!

Jon B (1 comments)

Why add sugar? Corn is sweet enough already.

Bob (1 comments)

I’m from Iowa, where we never had a bad ear of corn. Lived in NYC for decades and almost never found good corn. Without good corn, it doesn’t matter how long you boil or otherwise prepare it. FINALLY found good white corn from Long Island at Eli’s in Manhattan. Very expensive but worth it. Bring a pot to the boil, add corn and cover. Bring to a second boil. (You have to lift up the cover and peek!) Immediately shut off the flame, let sit TWO MINUTES. Add butter and salt to taste. THIS IS THE LAST WORD!

jAMIE (1 comments)

I just tried your method tonight… my family and I loved it! SO perfect and SO easy!!! Thank you!!

Paul (1 comments)

Should i put the corn in for 8 mins while it comes to a boil? Or let it be already boiling before i drop it in and start the clock?

Annie (1 comments)

I add salt AND sugar. The salt draws out the worms. No tough corn here either.

Rosemary G (1 comments)

Been boiling this way for years. Yes,your doing it the right way. :)

Deebs (1 comments)

I never eat corn, but we are fasting and only eating fruits & veggies. This was FABULOUS! my super picky daughter (age 5) who doesn’t like veggies (but she eats them anywayz) loved it! Ate her piece and asked for more. Thanks for sharing and don’t worry about haters, they’ll always try to bring you down.

Liz (1 comments)

grain-free…..you do realize that corn is a GRAIN, right???

Joyful Abode (953 comments)

I wrote this in may 2008. Over a year before I “found” grain free.

Meg (1 comments)

Corn is actually a grass, not a grain.

jack (1 comments)


grain (grn)
a. A small, dry, one-seeded fruit of a cereal grass, having the fruit and the seed walls united: a single grain of wheat; gleaned the grains from the ground one at a time. Also called caryopsis.
b. The fruits of cereal grasses especially after having been harvested, considered as a group: The grain was stored in a silo.

Funny Ppl (1 comments)

Who cares smarty pants. Don’t worry about her mistake…. But one mistake she didn’t make was to teach me how darn easy it was to boil some corn.. Lol. Can I say yumm to my first time boiling corn on the cob?! Turned out great. Now I’m not afriad to boil my own corns. Super EASY! No more tiny little store bought freezer corn :)) Thanks, my mommy is going to be surprise!

Joyful Abode (953 comments)

I’m glad you got the point of the post. haha. Haters gon hate.

rey ordona (1 comments)

thanks, i never thought it was just that simple.

Suzie (1 comments)

After several failed attemps boiling corn with butter and salt, you have shown me how to do it right. Thank you.

Erica (1 comments)

BooHoo Mr.No Sugar! Recipe was awesome! Kids loved it…..moderation my dear man. Think we can handle a little extra sugar with dinner. Butter? You better take that out as well. No sugar water and no butter? Yuck! Thanks for the great recipe….

moonlake (1 comments)

We’ve always added sugar but we add a cup may try it your way with less sugar. Enjoyed reading your site.

Rob (1 comments)

Tied it today. The corn came out perfect! the sugar added a little sweetness to the corn. Cooked it for 5 minutes.

Henny (1 comments)

I’m eating this as I type. Absolutely delicious. I boiled for 3 minutes and it came out lovely.

Joanne (1 comments)

Can you use Splenda?

Kathy (1 comments)


Spark*Amy (1 comments)

So, So, good! I never would’ve thought to add sugar to the water. Loved it!

amy h (1 comments)

just wanted to comment that you might want to leave out the sugar. The U.S. has a bad obesity problem, ya know?

Ericka (1 comments)

The sugar gives the corn a nice sweet flavor. Who cares if the US has an obesity problem, a half a cup of sugar isn’t going to make a difference to a person that chooses to live unhealthy.

Great recipe! Thank you! :)

Nick (1 comments)

Corn has enough natural sugars in it to bring out the sweetness. If your corn isn’t sweet enough then you are boiling it for to long.

Shay (1 comments)

Came our perfect. I used agava liquid cane sugar which gave it the same sugar taste with less calories and no preservatives. I agree with what was said…if you already have a problem..eating sweet corn is not going to solve it. Live a little! Most of the sugar probably gets thrown out with the water when you drain…then soaking multiple ears of corn decreases this by more. It really was great!..also..i used frozen mini corn and it worked great too!

Proud American Citizen (1 comments)

Just wanted to comment you might want to leave your nose out of other peoples’ business. Ya know?
This is a delicious recipe for boiled corn on the cob. Thank you!

alex (1 comments)

Ummmmm…… maybe you shouldnt mock people, “ya know”

Debbie Bowman (1 comments)

Yes, and we still spray ‘Dibrom’ over 63,000 acres!!! Look it up. It will make you love sugar!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lynnmeister (1 comments)

You go “Doo Dah”. Many thanks. Just picked it out of the garden, used your recipe (I can never remember how long I cook it) and it was JUST right. And I am a southern woman!

Karena (1 comments)

Along with the microwave shucking instructions, these have not have been the easiest, but best corn on the cob I’ve ever made. Several of my more Southern neighbors have told me I put “my foot” in the corn this year! High praise indeed.

Misty (1 comments)

Thanks for a great recipe!! Tried this tonight and it was a hit for everyone!!

karen Myers (1 comments)

Thanks Emily! I have to look for cooking times for corn on the cob evey year. Don’t know why I can never remember…do I put the corn in before or after the water boils?…haha your tips on the EATING protion of your post, we will try tonight : ) Thanks again!

xavier (4 comments)

57 commets! dam!!!

Charles (1 comments)

Just had it, guess the small addition of sugar makes all of the difference. Both me and the misses loved it! Thanks

xavier (4 comments)

hope its good!!!!

xavier (4 comments)

thank god for the deliusousnes

henry (1 comments)

Tried it…liked it……one variation….used brown sugar…..yum yum!!

walter (1 comments)

thought i knew. thanks

Al Fredrick (1 comments)


Jerry (1 comments)

Thanks! You are wonderful. Appreciate the tip on using bottom teeth…gonna try that one.

connie (1 comments)

I cook corn severa ways, but did you know that you could fry fresh corn with a little hot pepper? after you take the corn off the kernel you place it in a frying pan and fry it with hot pepper and salt. We usually fight on who will eat more…..

HAppy Anderson (1 comments)

Geeez, you guys! The Indians taught the Pilgrims how to plant corn. Who ever came up with the idea that we should not eat grain? I think we should eat all the healthy foods that are mentioned in the Bible…even the fatted calf. I’ll probably get thrown off this site. :)

tricia (1 comments)

I also do they same method. Being raised in Wisonsin,my grandmother always did the same. Yes to all you nay sayers the corn is sweet enough. And don’t think it wasn’t fresh picked off the farm. But this does add a little extra to it. And… brings back memories of 30+ years ago loving my grandmothers cooking. So you don’t have the family memories you don’t have to add milk and sugar. But we do

James (1 comments)

I agree with others, no sugar needed, the corn should be plenty sweet.

I usually do this, drop ears of corn into COLD water in pan, turn on heat to medium high, cover. When water comes to a boil turn off the heat and remove the ears. They will be crisp and sweet, the way I like them.

Nothing worse to me than a soggy ear of corn that has been in the water too long.

Shirley W (1 comments)

Need to cook 3 dz ears at once. Thought boiling in electric roaster best. But how long will it take? Do I divide between two roasters? No directions in manual.

jer (1 comments)

You don’t need white sugar in your freaking water. Sacrilege!

edra (1 comments)

I wonder if adding sugar to the water adds calories. That maybe a stupid question but I don’t know. I have never heard of it but I am going to try it. thanks.

Gracie (1 comments)

I, too, had no clue how to cook corn-on-the-cob. I stumbled upon this recipe a year ago, and now I constantly receive compliments on how great “my” corn-on-the-cob is. Of course, I always make sure to give credit where credit is due, and mention this website. Thanks for the sweet tip!

Brooke (1 comments)

I use half water and half milk for added taste and moisture.

JD (2 comments)

You’re all forgetting to add some fresh ground pepper after the butter and salt! In fact, if anything, I’d skip the salt in favor of pepper!

xavier (4 comments)

J.D IS MY Freind

JD (2 comments)

Thanks! We can never have too many friends!

Cindy (1 comments)

This was without a doubt the best corn I have ever eaten!!! THANK YOU!!! Who knew perfect corn on the cob could be so easy, simply delicious!!!

Alice (1 comments)

I have found that the best way to cook corn on the cob is to steam it. Same method as most above, but I just put about an inch of water in the pan, then the corn, and turn heat on high and start to time corn when the water boils.,.. About 8 minutes. It takes too long to boil a big pot of water. I use to put sugar in the water, but the corn is so sweet any more that I don’t bother now.

Alexa (1 comments)

A very good post

Paul (1 comments)

Best. Recipe. Ever. And just in time for Memorial Day (am also using grilling suggestions posted above for my guests who like it that way). Thanks!

Brad (1 comments)

If you’re going to grill your corn, cooking it in the husk makes the corn tast like husk. I suggest shucking the corn then sticking in salt water to brine, this will keep the corn nice and moist and then give toy those beautiful grill lines we all love so well.

Brenda (1 comments)

I put in a tablespoon of salt or so and only boil for three minutes. Turns out great every time!

Amy Holly (1 comments)

I just googled instructions for boiling corn on the cob and you came up and so glad you did….followed your easy instructions…and Best…BEST corn on the cob so far that I’ve ever eaten! Thanks so much

Terrah (1 comments)

That’s funny. I always get teased for eating my corn on the cob like that but that’s how I have always eaten it. Everyone always remarks on how clean my cob is when I’m done.

Cowboy Dave (2 comments)

Here’s an Easy and tasty Recipe

Cowboy Sausage :
2 Beef Sausages
1 Can of Honey Barbecue Sauce
1/2 to 1 Cup Brown Sugar

Cut Sausage into small rounds (like little coins)
warm up frying pan…once warm.. (no Oils
…add Sausage
now add 1 bottle of Barbecue sauce
bring sauce to a boil
reduce heat and add Brown Sugar
turn pan to Frying
as it’s beginning to Fry stir
remove pan from heat altogether
It is done
Serve with a side of Bush’s Maple & Brown Sugar Beans

The Brown Sugar gives the barbecue sauce thickness and makes a Sweet and Tangy BBQ Sauce You’ll Love It !!

Cowboy Dave (2 comments)

and thanks soo much for the Corn Recipe it was delicious who’d a thought Sugar and Corn
Mmmmmmmmmm !!

Kim (1 comments)

I love this!!!! I never knew about adding sugar in water n almost couldn’t believe my eyes. I tried it. And I love it. Thanks

Rita (1 comments)

Ditto!!! Thanks much!!

Sean (1 comments)

Excellent – thanks for this. Hadn’t got a clue how to do this until I read this page.

grillmiester (1 comments)

Best way to cook corn in my experience is on the grill. Yes i realize this sounds insane but bear with me a minute. take your corn, pre shucked, add just a smidgin of oil to the outside( i prefer olive) now set on the grill i recommend using the top section of the grill or anyplace thats hot but not in direct path of the flames. let the corn cook for about 20mins making 1/4 turns every so often. the corn gets steamed inside of its all natural package, this is key because it traps moisture but it also lets some out, the perfect balance. remove from the grill, shuck , season if desired and enjoy

Jfkldjfkl (1 comments)

Twas the best corn I've ever put to mah pallette.

Scottiesdoughball (1 comments)

I was raised in Des Moines. As a rule, the fresh corn out of the field, was soooooooo….. good!!!!!!!!! Should have paid more attention to what my mother was doing! Oh well; let's try to figure out what she was doing. I realize that the corn I'm cooking now is'nt the corn my mother was cooking from that corn that was grown from that great Iowa soil. But here goes!! Scott

Royal food taster... (1 comments)

Finally a simple corn on the cob recipe that is basically foolproof! The corn was absolutely delicious!

Wordygurl (1 comments)

wasn't sure if it was as basic as this, but it was. thanks for a helpful post.

Brenda (1 comments)

This is exactly the way I cooked the corn last night. After it came to a second boil with the corn in it I covered it for about 5 minutes, it was delicious.


TNT (1 comments)

Well, I shucked my corn the night before so it would save me some time come sunday morn. Wasn't sure if I was supposed to soak it in water in the fridge or just simply place it in the fridge covered until ready to cook the next day????????

ilovecorn (2 comments)

here in southeastasia, my dad buys the Japanese Sweet Corn variety. we just rinse the whole ear with tap water to remove the dust/debris. put them in a pot with water and bring to a boil and boil them for about 10 mins. then carefully shuck it (the silk usually comes off quite easily).
butter and salt to taste. perfect.

Dr. Jim (1 comments)

For 6 ears, to the water I add 1cup of sugar, 4 heaping tablespoons of salt, and 2 chicken boulion cubes. It is delicious. When cooled, I freeze the water & use it again, adding 1/2 cup of water, 2 tablespoons of salt and 1 chicken boulion cube. The same water can be frozen & doctored up several times. FYI: I am a professional Executive Chef !

jannh (1 comments)

I'm boiling the corn now. Our family will try eating it the way your father taught you– complete with “Ding”! I'm looking forward to it. Thank you!

cookingdad (2 comments)

thank you for your help i am a dad tryin to cook for the family since my wonderful wife is working late and she usually does all the cooking so thank you again

cookingdad (2 comments)

thank you for your help i am a dad tryin to cook for the family since my wonderful wife is working late and she usually does all the cooking so thank you again

Pat (1 comments)

My method is similar to #13′s.
Bring a pot of water to boil. Add sugar and salt to taste.
Drop in fresh cobs of shucked corn.
Cover pot and bring the water back to a boil.
Remove from heat drain immediately. Eat and enjoy!
The secret is to NOT OVERCOOK IT!

Kerry-Lea (2 comments)

I am loving reading your recipes (found you just today via the granola bar recipe). One thought. My mother-in-law taught me to boil corn the way her mother taught her, and it is so quick and has never failed. Are you ready? It’s very complicated.

Put shucked corn in pot, cover with cold water, bring to a boil, and it’s done. Really. My sisters-in-law and I were a little skeptical, but she was right!

It has never failed me. And I’ve been cooking it this way for 16 years. It’s never been tough, either. So long as the corn is fresh and sweet, that is. And we are lucky enough to live where the corn is fresh.

You may need the sugar and other tricks for less than optimum stock, but maybe not. Try it. You might like it. Or you might not.

Jessica (1 comments)

Thanks this sounds yummy. I like shucking the corn buttering it (salt too) and wrapping each piece tightly in foil. Then I throw it in the oven at 450 degrees and bake for 25 minutes.

Amy Kemper (1 comments)

I tried this yesterday for a birthday party cookout. I made about 20 ears, after boiling I put the ears into my Nesco roaster on warm. This was scrumptious!!!! Thank you so much for sharing! Wonderful technique!

Jules (1 comments)

Just wanted to say thanks for the easy recipe – I’ve always boiled it in plain water, but I tried the sugar tonight and it was absolutely the best corn on the cob that I can recall in my adult life! (Childhood always has that ‘never matched’ memory taste)…


Joe Seabstian (1 comments)

A ground misture of mont leaves,a hint of green chilli,green coriander leaves,salt and lime juice -all mixed and ground in the misxy,and brushed over the boiled corn gives a wonderful taste to it. You must adjust the green chilli as per your taste bud permits. In India, this type of eating corn is very famous.

EmmaH (19 comments)

I know you’re super busy at the moment, but I tried your corn “method” last night. Yum! Thank you for making my tummy happy :D

MonsterBug Blankets (16 comments)

Hey Joyful,

I boil my corn with a bit of milk in the water–it brings out the sweetness. I use maybe 1/4 cup, if that (I just dump some in). And I add salt to the water–so I’m not adding too much to the cob at the table. Turns out so yummy!

:) Jennifer

PamperingBeki (3 comments)

That sounds yummy and I love your pictures!

At some point I’d love to hear your ‘recipe’ for grilled corn too because there are just so many versions of that. :)

fourthmonth (4 comments)

My mom always puts sugar and milk in her corn water, mmmm. Everyone thinks I’m crazy when I suggest throwing in sugar so thanks for the corroboration.

Kathi D (8 comments)

Mmmmmmm, you have SO put me in the mood for corn and tomatoes! I have never had it cold out of the fridge (except in corn salsa or salad, etc.) but I’ll try it.

We have cooked it all kinds of ways, and my favorite is grilled. A few years ago a friend grilled it for us, just tossed on the grill (already shucked) until done, and it was great. I always assumed it needed to be in the shuck, or in foil, or buttered or marinated or something. But the easiest way turned out to be our favorite.

Joyful Abode (953 comments)

Helena, that sounds amazing! Does your friend wrap it in tin foil or just throw it on directly?

Liz, thanks so much! I didn’t serve any meat, but I guess you could! Maybe a grilled chicken breast or some homemade chicken salad would be a good match. Something not too heavy.

Liz (2 comments)

I really like the recipes that you have shared here. The corn & tomato pie sound like a really good dinner. Do you add any kind of meat dish to it or is the dinner a vege thing? I think corn & tomato pie will be on next week’s menu.

Helena (6 comments)

My favorite way to eat corn is grilled the way a college buddy of mine from Puerto Rico used to do it. Mix up some mayo and hot sauce (lots of hot sauce) and coat the corn with it. Grill until corn is done and all the sauce has browned–you don’t want any goopy bits on it. Before you take a bite, run a slice of fresh lime over it. Yum.

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