13 Surprising One-Ingredient Toppings for Corn on the Cob

updated Aug 29, 2023
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photo of six ears of corn on a marble surface topped with chimichurri, Tajin, Boursin, furikake, chili crisp, and everything bagel seasoning
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Debbie Wee

With just a heavy smear of butter and a sprinkle of salt, corn on the cob is a mainstay of many summer meals. But why leave it well and good alone when it’s fun to play around a bit? Sweet, juicy corn is a blank slate when it comes to flavorful additions. In fact, these 12 one-ingredient toppings might just have you pushing the butter dish aside for the rest of the season.

First, How to Cook Your Corn

Before you can utilize the hot honey, you of course have to have some perfectly cooked corn on hand. Here are three ways to make it happen.

  • Boiled The most classic way to cook corn — boil corn for three to five minutes in a big pot of salted water.
  • Microwaved: This mostly hands-off method calls for leaving the corn in their husks and microwaving them on high power for four to six minutes.
  • Grilled: If you already have the grill going, toss your corn cobs on for about 15 minutes, turning frequently for smoky, charred results.

Our Favorite 1-Ingredient Toppings

Seriously Salty

  • Olive tapenade: This salty and briny spread gives the corn a Mediterranean flair.
  • Furikake: This Japanese seasoning is made up of seaweed, sesame seeds, sugar, dried fish, and salt — it’s crunchy, salty, and completely unexpected.
  • Miso paste: Just a little bit goes a long way. It counters the sweet corn with its earthy, complex flavor.
  • Everything bagel seasoning: At this point it’s very clear that the iconic mix of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dried onion, dried garlic, and salt is good for so much more than bagels.

Hot, Hot, Hot!

  • Harissa: Kicked up with garlic and other spices like cumin and coriander, harissa is the perfect complement to sweet corn.
  • Tajín: A popular Mexican spice powder made up of ground chile peppers, salt, and dehydrated lime juice, Tajín adds both a spicy and sour element.
  • Chili crisp: This fiery Asian condiment is usually destined for noodles and dumplings, but also perks up corn.

Spicy and Sweet

  • Hot honey: For something that’s balanced by a little sweetness, try chile pepper-infused honey.
  • Hot pepper jelly: Its sticky-sweet yet spicy characteristics are meant to be slathered over each kernel.

Completely Herb-Packed

  • Herbes de Provence: The dried herb blend of savory, rosemary, marjoram, and thyme practically whisks your corn off to the south of France.
  • Chimichurri: The herby sauce that’s most often spooned over grilled steak, also gives the corn a garlicky tang.

Cheesy (in the Best Way)

  • Herbed goat cheese: Or Boursin! It gets extra creamy and melted when spread over the hot corn kernels.
  • Nutritional yeast’s: It’s not technically cheese, but it’s nutty, cheesy-like flavor makes sprinkling it on corn a no-brainer.