How to Grill Corn on the Cob (4 Unique Styles)

Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: December 5, 2023

Corn on the cob is one of those mouth-watering favorites that everyone looks forward to.

But getting the perfect balance between taste, juiciness, and texture can be tricky.  Fortunately, we've got you covered, so creating consistently perfectly grilled corn on the cob will be a snap.

Soon you will find yourself worrying less about getting the grilling right and more about what spices you can add to your perfectly grilled corn on the cob.

Quick Summary

  • Grilling corn on the cob can be done in various ways: with or without the husk, in foil, or after parboiling.
  • Regular turning and careful timing are crucial to avoid drying out the corn during grilling.
  • Pre-soaking or parboiling corn can enhance juiciness and reduce grilling time.
  • For excellent grilling results, check out our top picks for stainless steel grills.

Grilling perfect corn on the cob has a lot to do with how it is prepared for grilling, the amount of attention it receives while grilling, and the amount of time it stays on the grill.

There are a few different methods that you can use to grill corn on the cob.

But, no matter which way you choose to prepare them, they will become a favorite so let's start creating some delicious corn on the cob!

How To Grill Corn On The Cob

Grilling corncobs in charcoal grill

There is no best way to grill corn on the cob. Whatever method you choose will be delicious, and corn on the cob can be an extremely versatile meal.

You can change up or down and experiment with different seasonings and grilling methods. You can even cut the corn off the cob after cooking to create a salad that will have a delicious smokey flavor [1].

Corn should always be as fresh as possible. Ideally, it should be used as soon as you purchase it.

If you must buy it a few days before it will be used, keep it in a sealed bag in the refrigerator. Do not husk the corn until right before you use it.

Corn loses its sweet flavor over time and can dry out quickly, so if you find freshly picked ears of corn, enjoy it on the same day.

When choosing corn, look out for those that have plump, tightly packed kernels. Fresh corn also has a delightful, distinctive fresh smell that makes your mouth water long before you even start cooking.

Once you have placed your corn on the cob on the grill, the cooking time is usually around 15-20 minutes over medium heat.

You will need to keep turning them to ensure that they are evenly cooked on all sides. Basting them with olive oil or butter during the grilling process can add flavor and keep them from drying out.

Corn on the cob must not be left on the grill after it has cooked through. Once it begins to dry out, the kernels can become tough.

You can check when the corn is cooked by inserting the point of a sharp knife into a kernel. If it has cooked sufficiently, clear liquid will shoot out. At that point, you need to remove the corn from the grill.

There are many ways to create perfectly cooked corn on the cob and give it a distinctive smoky grill flavor.

The overall result will depend on how you prepared the corn before it went onto the grill. Let's look at some methods to get corn ready to come off the grill sweet and tender.

1. Grilling Corn On The Cob In The Husk

Grilled corns in its husk

Nature has provided a perfect protective covering during the grilling process.

To make perfect corn on the cob consistently, with no presoaking, follow the following steps:

  • Pull back the husk and remove the silk. Do not detach it. Then smooth the husk back on and secure it at the top using kitchen twine.
  • Now, this is important. Soak the corn in a pan of water for at least an hour before grilling. This will create a steaming effect and ensure that the corn doesn't catch fire during the grilling process.
  • If you want to add some butter or spices before grilling, just pull the husk back and add them before resealing.
  • Then pop it onto your grill and let it steam inside its over delicious covering. You should turn the corn frequently, but the chances of it burning are much less while it is covered.
  • Cook it over medium heat for at least 20 minutes. You will know it is ready when it starts steaming.
  • If you would like to get some of the delicious smoky taste, use tongs to carefully pull back the out husk and place it directly on the grill for a few minutes

2. Grilling Corn On The Cob Without A Husk

Grilled corncobs in a charcoal grill without its husks

It is possible to simply pop ears of corn directly onto the grill.

However, be careful. This method may be the easiest, and it can yield delicious caramelized results if the corn is grilled slowly and slathered in butter and spices.

But this method is also most likely to go wrong and result in hard, tasteless kernels.

Handy tip: If you do love the smoky grill flavor of this open roasted method, you can pull husks back and tie them together with kitchen twine. Besides just looking attractive, this provides a 'handle' to turn them regularly.

Just be sure that they have been soaked, or keep them away from direct heat from the grill as the dry husks may ignite.

This naked method works best on a medium heat grill that you can cover with a lid.

That way, it will be able to cook thoroughly without burning. They will still need to be turned regularly, even if you use a covered grill. This is a simple method to use if you want your corn to absorb the flavor of juicy meats on the grill around it.

3. Grilling Corn On The Cob In Foil

Corncobs covered in foil being grilled

To create variation in the taste of traditional grilled corn on the cob, try covering them in spices and olive oil or butter and wrapping each ear of corn in aluminum foil.

Sealing them in to cook will keep the kernels juicy and plump. Just be sure to poke one or two small vent holes in the foil to allow air to escape.

Overall cooking time will depend on how hot the grill is, but usually, 25 minutes is sufficient.

The only downside of grilling your corn on the cob in foil is that you might miss out on some of the distinctive smokey grill flavor.

4. Parboiling Corn On The Cob Before Grilling

Parboiling corn inside a pan

You can speed grilling time and reduce the chance of burning the outside by partially cooking your corn before it goes on the grill.

This can be done quickly in a microwave, but the best way to get your corn on the cob tender and delicious is to boil them quickly before grilling [2].

Just be sure to use tongs to move them between the hot liquid to transfer them to the grill.

To make corn on the cob extra juicy and soft, and add sweet and delicious flavor, boil them for around 3-5 minutes in a mixture of 1 part milk to 2 parts water. Adding a tablespoon of sugar will bring out the sweetness of the corn.

The other method is to boil the corn on the cob in salt water. This will do the trick to cook them and add plumpness so they don't dry out when transferring them to the grill.

This method can work well if you plan to add other seasonings and sauces, which will add additional flavors during the grilling process.

Pre boiling your corn on the cob before grilling is not necessary, but it does make grilling time considerably shorter, and it will be less likely to dry out during the grilling process.

Should You Soak Corn Before You Grill?

Grilled corn with soaked in sauce

For extra juicy corn on the cob that is tasty and sweet, soak the corn before grilling.

After removing the husks, soak the ears of corn in a gallon of water mixed with half a cup of salt and a half cup of sugar for up to eight hours.

Try not to exceed 8 hours, as the corn can get a little mushy if left in brine for an extended period.

The kernels will plump up as they absorb the salty sweetness from the soaking process.

Corn on the cob is far less likely to dry out if it has been presoaked, and the grilling process will enhance the delicious flavor.

For extra juiciness, brush them with butter as they are grilling. Grilling usually takes around 15 minutes and the presoaking will add to the delicious, succulent corn on the cob taste.

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About the author

Timothy Woods
CEO / Co-Founder
Timothy is a professional chef and the main man behind Carnivore Style. He’s an advocate of the carnivore diet, an athlete, and a pure health enthusiast. Timothy believes that a good steak is a great conversation starter, and his love for food eventually brought him to start Carnivore Style, a website designed for meat lovers and all things meat-related.
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