Alex Guarnaschelli’s Unusual Trick for Better Corn on the Cob

updated Aug 16, 2019
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Credit: From left to right: Squire Fox; Joe Lingeman)

There’s nothing like biting into sweet corn on the cob with toppings and seasonings at an outdoor barbecue, and apparently Chef Alex Guarnaschelli has been a fan of the yellow vegetable since she was 15 years old, where she tried it at a family barbecue and fell in love. 

However, to really enjoy that delicious cob, you’ll need to make sure you’re grilling or boiling it to perfection, to evenly cook it through, and adding the right seasonings to get that punch of flavor. Luckily, Guarnaschelli has a trick to take that corn on the cob to a whole new level. 

Sweeten Your Corn with Brown Sugar

Her tip? Add brown sugar to the water when boiling corn on the cob. While you’ll salt your water if boiling corn on the cob, you should also add a pinch of brown sugar to the water, which will give it a bit of added sweetness. Then you can have that “candied corn on the cob,” as a delicious sweet treat, while still getting in some fiber and nutrients. 

You’ll know it’s fully cooked when you remove it from the water, and it’s hot. Yet, it should be about five to eight minutes total, so give it at least eight minutes and don’t go over the eight-minute mark, or else it might become over-cooked. 

You can enjoy this candied corn for salads, grain bowls, tacos, and more, and it’ll offer a caramelized sweetness to complement any savory flavors, like meat, lime, or fish. Or simply just nibble off the cob itself, and feel free to add some squeezed lime, honey, or cayenne on top for added taste once it’s cooked.

What’s more, save that cob—you can put the cob to good use. 

Take the corn off the cleaned cobs before cooking, simmer the corn cobs in water for about 15 minutes, add the salt and brown sugar, shut off the heat, and then let the cobs steep for about 10 to 15 minutes before straining. You can then use this brown sugar cob as a stock for soups, risotto, or creamed corn.