Steamed Corn on the Cob

Steamed corn on the cob

​The Spruce / Julia Estrada

  • Total: 9 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 4 mins
  • Servings: 3 servings

Steaming corn on the cob is one of the easiest and most delicious ways to cook fresh corn. It only requires two ingredients: corn and water. The steaming process is very quick and enables the corn to retain all of its nutrients. This method really brings out the best taste and texture of fresh, in-season corn.

You will need a steamer basket and pot to use the standard steaming method. If you don't have a steamer basket, don't sweat it. Alternative methods are listed using your microwave, skillet, or oven.


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Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for steamed corn
    ​The Spruce / Julia Estrada
  2. Husk the corn and remove the silk. Trim off any discolored kernels or any that have been damaged by insects. Depending on the size of your steamer basket, you may need to cut the ears of corn in half so they are short enough to fit.

    Three ears of husked corn
    ​The Spruce / Julia Estrada
  3. Add 2 inches of water to a large pot and insert a steamer rack. Make sure the water is not touching the bottom of the steamer rack. If it is, pour some of it off.

    Steamer inserted into a pot
    ​The Spruce / Julia Estrada
  4. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil over high heat.

    Covered red pot
    ​The Spruce / Julia Estrada
  5. When the water begins to boil, place the corn into the steamer basket inside the pot using a pair of tongs.

    Corn in steamer basket
    ​The Spruce / Julia Estrada
  6. Cover the pot and let the corn steam for 4 minutes or until it turns deep yellow and crisp. If you prefer softer corn, steam for 7 minutes. For the softest corn, steam for 10 to 15 minutes. The longer you steam the corn, the more attention you must pay to the water level. Don't let it fall lower than 1 inch or it may run dry and scorch your pot.

    Let corn steam
    ​The Spruce / Julia Estrada
  7. Turn off the burner and carefully remove the corn from the pot with tongs. Serve as is or with butter, salt, and pepper.

    Fresh steamed corn on the cob with pats of butter on a serving plate
    ​The Spruce / Julia Estrada 

Can I Steam Corn on the Cob Without a Steamer Basket?

If you don't have a steamer basket, try these methods.

  • Skillet: Heat 1 to 2 inches of water in a skillet to boiling. Add the shucked corn cobs to the water. Return it to a boil, lower the heat, and cover the skillet with a lid. Steam for 4 minutes or until it is bright yellow. If you have a large skillet, you may be able to steam three or four ears at a time.
  • Oven: Heat your oven to 400 F. Shuck the corn and cut it in half if needed. Place it in a bowl or casserole dish with 1/2 inch of water. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake it for 30 minutes. With the right size dish, you can steam multiple ears of corn at the same time.
  • Microwave: You can steam corn on the cob in the microwave in two ways. The easiest is to place the cob in the microwave without husking it or trimming it. Microwave on high for 4 minutes and remove the corn using tongs or an oven mitt. Trim the bottom of the ear (not the top where the silk attaches). Shake out the cooked cob by grasping the top end; this should release the corn and retain the silk. The drawback is that you can only cook one cob at a time this way.
  • To microwave more than one cob at a time, shuck it, cut it in half, and place it in a bowl or dish with a couple of tablespoons of water. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 4 to 6 minutes until bright yellow. Increase the time if needed.


  • Choose young, ​freshly picked corn and savor its sweetness and tenderness.
  • Avoid salting the water or the corn before you cook it. Salt will toughen the corn. Save the salt and butter for seasoning the corn after it has been steamed.
  • The best steaming/cooking time for a cob of corn is 4 minutes. It produces cooked kernels that are still crisp and sweet.

How to Store Steamed Corn

Steamed corn will keep in the fridge, covered or well wrapped in aluminum foil, for 3 or 4 days. You can either keep it the cob, or remove it. Leftover corn is great in salads, tacos, and quesadillas.

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