How to Grill Corn on the Cob

How to Grill Corn on the Cob

May 16, 2023Bearded Butcher Blend Seasoning Co.

There are very few things that work better as a side dish than corn on the cob. It goes with steak or burgers, and it makes an excellent addition to grilled chicken or fish. Corn can be steamed, grilled, or broiled – with or without flavor added – and it is always a welcome and delicious part of any outdoor meal with family and friends. 

In this article, we'll aim to give you the confidence to know that your corn on the cob will turn out perfect every time. Plus, we'll give you a couple of quick corn-on-the-cob recipes that you can use to mix it up at your next barbecue.

When is Grilled Corn on the Cob Done?

Sooner or later, you are going to over-grill corn on the cob. It happens all the time, and sometimes it is pretty unavoidable. Luckily, we've learned some tips over the years to tell when grilled corn on the cob is done. Selecting good-quality corn is the first step, then you'll want to determine how you plan to grill the corn on the cob. Some methods are faster than others.

Selecting Good-Quality Ears of Corn

You will likely find corn sold in one of two ways – in the husks or removed from the husks. We like to buy it in the husks because it is easier to tell that the corn is fresh. 

The key way to tell is by looking at the silk. It should be light tan and mostly dry. Soggy, dark brown cornsilk is a sign that the corn is not fresh and has not been stored at low temperatures. Try to avoid these corn ears. 

You may find that the store has cut off the silk before displaying the ears. This can indicate that the silk was showing its age.

Next, start by gently squeezing the ear from the base to the tip. It should be firm without any gaps in the rows of kernels. 

Do this with corn sold already out of the husk, too, because you'll feel when corn is old. It will feel soft, squishy, and might be moist. Also, avoid ears with gaps of missing kernels or signs of bug damage, like holes in the husks. 

Picking fresh corn is the first step to making the best grilled corn.

Yellow Corn vs White Corn

There are more than 200 varieties of corn, but the two that are the most common are yellow corn and white corn. Yellow corn contains beta-carotene, the same phytochemical that gives carrots their orange color. Beta-carotene gives yellow corn its pigment and makes it slightly more nutritious. White corn tends to have less flavor, allowing the natural sugars to be present, leading many people to describe white corn as "sweeter."

A Note on GMO Corn

Lots of people avoid GMO food products for many different reasons. Officially, GMO corn has been shown to be no different than non-GMO corn, but that isn't really important because your chances of encountering GMO corn are pretty slim. 

The reason is that almost all of the sweet corn – the variety grown for human consumption – is heirloom varieties or hybrids created through selective breeding. Nearly all of the GMO corn grown in the US is field corn used for livestock feed, ethanol, and other non-food purposes. 

But the best way to know for sure is to ask, most farm stands will know and even big grocery stores are likely to have a good idea.

Grilling Corn on the Cob

Several popular cooking methods exist for the freshest corn-on-the-cob results.

Grill Corn in the Husk

Our favorite way to grill corn on the cob is in the husk, State Fair-style. Wash the corn ears and remove loose leaves, then cut the silk off about an inch above the point of the ear. The husk acts as a natural heat barrier that lets the kernels steam to the perfect doneness and adds a delightful grilled corn flavor. 

In the husk corn can be cooked on direct or indirect heat, just watch for the leaves to start to burn. You'll also want to periodically roll the corn so that all sides get cooked evenly.

Grilled Corn in Foil

If you are grilling corn that has been de-husked, you can wrap it loosely in aluminum foil. This is one of those times you want the heavy-duty foil. Wash the ears and trim them. 

You can snap them in half by hand or with a knife or cook the ears whole. You want the foil to cover the corn completely but not be pressed tightly against it. Some people like to season the moist corn before grilling, but that is a personal choice.

Of course, cooking corn on the cob directly on the grill grates is possible. Just be sure to grill with indirect heat. Turning occasionally will prevent scorching the kernels and give the corn a smoky flavor.

How to Tell if Grilled Corn is Done

Grilled corn typically takes anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes, depending on a few factors. The best way to tell if corn is done is to remove a bit of husk and pierce a kernel or two. The inside should pop out and the knife should pierce the kernel easily. 

Corn is safe to eat raw when properly washed, so don't worry too much about undercooking corn.

Corn that is not in the husk should be grilled in aluminum foil or directly on the grill. You can tell it is done when it is tender and hot. 

When we grill corn out of the husk, we typically mix up a little melted butter with a good dash of our Bearded Butcher Butter Blend seasoning and brush the ears before turning them.

Using heat-resistant gloves, pull the husks down, then snap off the bottom of the cob to remove husks easily, removing any remaining silk. Carefully unwrap whole cobs in foil, making sure that no foil sticks to the corn. Yellow corn will be bright yellow, while white corn will look glossy.

How to Season Your Corn on the Cob?

One of the best things about corn-on-the-cob recipes is the endless variety of seasoning choices. 

Our go-to, quick and easy seasoning solution is the Bearded Butcher Butter Blend seasoning. It's a blend of our Original Blend seasoning with luscious, creamy, natural butter flavoring and it's perfect for corn on the cob.

The seasoning can be sprinkled on when the corn is fresh off the grill, or you can mix about one tablespoon of seasoning with a stick of melted butter and brush the mixture on with a silicon brush. 

It's a great way to make the perfect grilled corn that everyone craves.

Elotes Mexicanos Recipe

Looking to elevate that basic grilled corn on the cob recipe to a new level? Elotes Mexicanos is a variety of grilled corn that is typically served by street vendors. It combines fresh sweet grilled corn with spiciness and the creaminess of crumbly cheese to make one of the best corn-on-the-cob snacks that exist. Our favorite version is El Salvadorean Sour.



  1. Start with grilled corn that has been peeled. 
  2. Insert a large wooden skewer or a corn-on-the-cob handle, then sprinkle the corn with sea salt and lime juice. 
  3. Mix together equal parts mayonnaise and sour cream, then brush completely on all sides of the corn. 
  4. Roll the corn in your choice of cheese, then dust with Bearded Butcher Blend Zesty Lime and Chipotle seasoning and squeeze a bit of fresh lime juice over the cobs. 
  5. Optional: For added heat, use chili powder or crushed red pepper flakes.

If you live in an area that has a decent Hispanic foods section, you'll find Mexican mayo and sour cream. Typically, the mayo simply has lime juice added, but there are subtle differences in the sour cream. Our favorite is El Salvadorean sour cream. It has a slightly salty, tangy sourness that is excellent on spicy dishes.

We like to make this with corn that is grilled directly over medium-high heat to get a slightly charred flavor from the corn husks. Fortunately, this recipe works just as well for foil-grilled corn as it does for corn grilled in the husk – so grill it whichever way you prefer! You can also steam the corn before brushing on the mixture and cheese.

Grilling Corn on the Cob FAQs

Q: How do you cook corn on the grill?

A: Corn can be grilled in the husk, wrapped in foil, or you can grill cobs directly on the grill grates.

Q: When do you season corn on the cob?

A: Grilled corn on the cob can be seasoned before, during, or after cooking. The easiest method is after the corn is cooked. You can brush butter on cobs on the grill for more butter flavor. Seasonings like pepper and salt are best just before serving.

Q: What temperature should the grill be at?

A: Grilled corn in the husk or wrapped in foil can be cooked directly over medium-high heat. Unwrapped corn cobs should be done on indirect heat. A gas grill on medium heat is usually ideal for perfect grilled corn.

Grilling corn on the backyard barbecue is one of the quintessential American pastimes. Corn is a versatile and delicious side dish that goes great with almost any type of meal. The Elotes Mexicanos recipe we shared today is so good that it can even make a great snack all on its own. 

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