31 Days of Vegetables

Sweet Corn: The Best Ways to Pick It, Shuck It, Cook It, and Eat It

updated Jun 30, 2020
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

There are so many vegetables to eat in the summertime, but sweet corn is one of the veggies most crucially linked just to summer. You can’t find a good fresh corn before June where I live, and then it’s time to fill up on those sweet, crunchy, satisfying ears. If you’re ready to get started on a summer of eating sweet corn, or are looking for a better way to pick it or shuck it, or a new recipe to try, start here.

Is Corn a Vegetable?

But wait, you say, is corn even a vegetable? For some reason my 3-year-old is convinced that it is not. “That’s silly!” she was insisting the other day. Is this because corn is so sweet, and that milk white-yellow, perhaps? But she’s wrong, of course: Corn is indeed a vegetable. Well, at least some of the time! The whole ear of corn is indeed considered a vegetable. But the kernel alone is a grain (maize is one of the great agricultural treasures of the New World). And technically if you’re popping that kernel into popcorn and eating it as a seed, it could be called a fruit. So corn is a vegetable, grain, and fruit all rolled into one. Pretty cool, huh?

The Corn Top 5

Love sweet corn? Here are the top five things you should really, really know to be at your absolute corn-eating peak this summer.

  1. How to act like a civilized human around corn at the grocery store.
  2. Why you should never throw away corn cobs.
  3. Ina Garten’s brilliant sweet corn tip.
  4. How to top corn on the cob like a pro chef (well, a pro chef with a tiny pantry).
  5. You don’t actually have to cook corn for it to be great.

How to Choose the Best Corn

Want to choose the best, sweetest corn every time? Use these tips.

There’s also this funny farmers market trick a reader recommended to us if you want to try it!

The Best Way to Take Kernels Off Corn

Once you have your corn, it’s time to shuck it and (if you’re just in it for the kernels!) zipping those kernels off the cob. (And don’t forget to try Ina’s brilliant corn kernel tip).

The Best Ways to Cook Corn

Ready to cook your corn? There are so many great ways to eat it. Here are the very best techniques and methods for cooking it quickly and easily.

One other method we really need you to know is the pure pleasure of butter bath corn! This popped up last summer as a wildly popular way to cook corn, and we are going all out this summer on it. You can even do it in your Instant Pot!

Credit: Joe Lingeman

How Long to Boil Corn on the Cob

Okay, so you want to just boil the corn the simple, old-fashioned way. How long do you do this? Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil and boil shucked fresh corn on the cob for 4 minutes for crispy and just-picked taste. If you want them a little softer, boil for 6 to 8 minutes.

Can You Cook Corn in the Microwave?

Why yes, you can cook corn in the microwave! In fact, by cooking it quickly in the microwave (just about 3 minutes or so per ear) you also make it easier to shuck. Here’s how.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

No Fresh Corn? What to Substitute.

No fresh sweet corn? Here are some tips and thoughts on cooking with frozen corn, which we pretty much always have in our freezers. (We don’t even thaw it before cooking with it.)

The Best Ways to Use Up Leftover Corn

Bought too much corn? (It’s so easy to do!) Zip those corn kernels off the cob and just throw the corn in the freezer. Here’s how to do it.

You can also throw that corn into a frittata or pasta casserole. Or grab one of these very delicious recipes recipes listed below.

Credit: Brie Passano

Our Top 20 Corn Recipes

Twenty recipes worth a floor covered in corn silk.

What’s your favorite recipe or use for sweet corn? Any favorite way to cook it?

31 Days of Vegetables: How to fall in love with vegetables in 31 days. How many of these splendid veg have you eaten this month? Take a look at the whole list and take our July challenge to eat every single one!