How to Make Perfect Grilled Corn on the Cob

Grilled corn

 The Spruce/Anita Schecter 

Grilled corn is a delicious summertime addition to your backyard barbecue menu. And whether you have a gas grill or a charcoal grill, grilling corn is quick and easy. Plus, you can vary up the seasonings you use, so that you can try a little something different each time you make it. A way better alternative to the traditional bland method of boiling corn.

Just keep in mind throughout this process that the heat should be medium to medium-high. Avoid placing the corn directly over an active flame, since the husks can catch fire.

Soak the Corn Cobs

Corn soaking
The Spruce/Anita Schecter

As with any vegetable cooked on the grill, you should start by soaking corn on the cob in cold water. This will allow extra moisture into the corn, softening the husks and making them much easier to work with. Allow the corn to soak in cold water for at least 30 minutes to an hour prior to grilling.


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Remove the Silk

Removing corn husks
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Fresh corn on the cob is lined with corn silk. These are the long, thin, unappetizing strands of silky threads running between the protective husks and the delicious kernels. Remove the ears of corn from the water and take off three or four outer layers of the husk. A few layers should remain to protect the corn as it cooks, but not all of it is needed. Save the detached husk leaves for tying the tips of the corn cob.

Now gently pull down the remaining husks to expose the corn and the silk. Remove as much of the silk as is possible. This can easily be done by using a dry paper towel to wipe them away. Don't worry if a little still remains, since the rest of the silk will be removed after the corn husks are grilled.

Butter the Corn

Buttered corn
The Spruce/Anita Schecter

With the corn exposed from the husk, this is a good time to add extra flavor. Use your favorite flavor combination and add either butter or olive oil. Rosemary olive oil is delicious, as is butter sprinkled with a little salt, dried dill, and powdered garlic. Corn butter helps make this process quick and easy. Brush the seasoning over the corn evenly and thoroughly. The great thing about butter is that it hardens when applied on the corn and infuses as it cooks. 

Close up the Husks

Retied corn
The Spruce/Anita Schecter

With the corn is seasoned and ready to cook, it is time to close the husks. Pull the husks down evenly over the corn as best as you can. Take some of the removed husk leaves from earlier, tear them into strips, and use them to secure the end of the corn. This will help hold the husks in place while the corn cooks. When tying the husks, make sure to tie around the end of the corn cob, not past it. This will give the tie something to hold onto.

Grill the Corn

Grilling corn
The Spruce/Anita Schecter

With the corn tied and seasoned, it is time to grill. These ears will be forgiving of most things except unnecessary handling. Odds are that they are going to be cooked with something else, so find an unused corner of the grill or warming rack to set the corn on the cob. Cook over a medium to medium-high heat for 10 to 15 minutes. If cooking at a lower temperature or on a warming rack, increase the cooking time to 20 to 30 minutes. As long as the husks don't burn off the cobs you're fine. A longer cooking time will increase the delicious smoke flavor.

Finish up the Corn

Once the corn is done, keep it warm until you are ready to serve or leave it on a cooler part of the grill while you plate the rest of the meal. Take the corn off the grill, carefully remove the remaining husks and serve immediately. You can set out additional butter and seasonings or apply it to the corn before serving.

Nutritional facts of corn on the cob
Illustration: Kelly Miller. © The Spruce, 2019