Buttery Southern Fried Corn

Southern fried corn in a small wooden bowl
The Spruce
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 25 mins
Servings: 4 servings

Fresh sweet corn is delicious enough on its own, steamed or even grilled, with butter, salt, and pepper. This recipe requires you to remove the corn from the cob and pan fry in butter or bacon fat in a skillet. The result is a sweet and slightly smoky side dish.

Sometimes, depending on how the corn is grown or the type of corn you buy, it can be a bit bland. If so, feel free to add a little bit of sugar or honey during the cooking process. That being said, if you can seek out local corn in season, you're likely to be rewarded even more with the sweet, sunny flavor.

If you've never removed corn from the cob before, it's not hard. The safest way to do it is to trim a bit off each end so you have two flat ends to work with. Hold the ear vertically with a flat side on a cutting board and, with your chef's knife, slice the kernels off the cob, turning it as needed to slice off anything you missed. Some people like to put it in a bowl (it catches all the corn easily) rather than a cutting board; it's up to you.

This recipe is easy to customize, too, depending on your tastes. Consider sautéing some finely chopped onions and sweet bell pepper in the butter before adding the corn. It makes a delicious and colorful side dish. Alternatively, add a small amount of finely minced jalapeño pepper or chipotle pepper for some heat. (A dash of cayenne pepper would be good as well.) Serve this alongside burgers, fried chicken, or any other favorite summertime grilled food.


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  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels, scraped off the cob (about 3 ears)
  • 2 tablespoons butter (or use part bacon drippings)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon sugar

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Corn on the cob lined up on a plate with butter
    Tom Grill / Getty Images
  2. In a large heavy skillet, heat butter over medium-low heat until foamy.

  3. Add the fresh corn kernels in an even layer; cook, stirring occasionally and lowering the heat if necessary to keep the butter from burning, until the corn is light golden in places, about 15 minutes.

    Buttery Southern fried corn in a skillet, before cooking
    The Spruce
  4. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper; taste and adjust seasoning. Add the sugar if desired. Enjoy!

    Buttery Southern fried corn in a cast iron skillet
    The Spruce

Can You Use Frozen or Canned Corn in This Recipe?

You can use canned or frozen corn for this recipe, but you will have to drain the corn very well and pat it dry before it hits the pan. You may also need to adjust the sweetness and other seasonings, depending on the taste. The recipe is really best with fresh corn, but it will definitely work if you're looking for summertime taste and all you have is frozen or canned.

Recipe Variations

  • Add 2 tablespoons of finely minced onion and 2 tablespoons of finely minced bell pepper, any color. Cook in the skillet for 2 minutes before you add the corn.
  • For some smoky spice, mince about 1/2 to one whole chipotle pepper in adobo sauce and add it to the corn a few minutes before it is finished cooking. 
  • A Creole spice blend such as Tony Chachere's is also good with fried corn.

How to Keep and Freeze Corn

Cooked corn will stay fresh in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to 5 days.

If you want to freeze uncooked fresh corn during the height of the season, you can follow the steps for removing it off the cob and transfer the corn to a zip-close bag. Flatten it to one layer so it freezes as separately as possible. Use within 6 to 8 months. Or freeze it right on the cob.