What’s the Difference Between White and Yellow Corn?

updated Sep 15, 2022
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Sweet Corn
Credit: Getty Images/BRETT STEVENS

It’s that wonderful time of the season, when market bins are piled high with mountains of sweet summer corn. But when it comes time to buy, you’ve got choices: Do you go with white or yellow corn? Or perhaps bicolor corn to get the best of both worlds?

Most importantly, do you really know the difference between white and yellow corn?

The Difference Between White Corn and Yellow Corn

So what exactly is the difference between white and yellow corn? Turns out, it’s a trick question! There’s no difference between yellow and white corn, except in the color of the kernels. That’s right — there’s no difference in size of ears or taste of the corn between white, yellow, and bicolor varieties.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Is White Corn Sweeter than Yellow Corn?

Some people will argue that white corn is sweeter than yellow, while others will firmly hold their ground claiming that the yellow variety is sweeter than white.

Both camps are right — sort of. Sweetness isn’t determined by the color of the kernel, but rather the type of sweet corn.

There are three types of sweet corn sold today, each differentiated by sweetness: normal-sugar, sugar-enhanced, and super-sweet (this one with nearly three times the amount of sugar as the normal variety). So, if you’ve noticed that your corn on the cob tastes blissfully sweet, that’s probably because it is, no matter what color kernels you’re eating.

This super-sweet variety accounts for the majority (but not all) of the corn on the market today, and can be found in white, yellow, and bicolor. Some might even find it too sweet for their tastebuds, but unfortunately your choice in corn is largely limited to color — not the type of sweet corn.

Our Favorite Summer Corn Recipes

Yellow and white corn can be used interchangeably in any recipe, but do keep in mind whichever color you choose will be reflected in your finished dish. So, if you want a pale dish, opt for white corn; if a golden hue is your goal, use yellow corn.