How to Boil Corn on the Cob

When we have a barbecue, everyone in our family eats one ear of corn each. Our kids really like corn.

Buttered corn on the cob

Buttered corn on the cob

I Love Corn on the Cob

A tasty buttery starch goes great with barbecue. While many barbecue lovers will go with a tasty baked potato (I love them as well), my family and I prefer to prepare corn on the cob on the stovetop to go with a beef brisket, pulled pork, or salmon.

Here's the easiest way to make crisp corn on the cob in just a few minutes!

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

10 min

8 min

18 min

1 ear of corn per person


  • corn on the cob, shucked
  • dash salt
  • butter, to taste
  • water
Freshly shucked corn on the cob

Freshly shucked corn on the cob


  1. Begin with whole ears of corn. Shuck each ear by removing the husk and the silk. You may want to shuck the corn over a paper bag because it can be a bit messy.
  2. Place a pot 3/4 full of water on the stove. The pot should be large enough that the corn will float in the water. Add a dash of salt to the water.
  3. Bring the pot of water to a boil.
  4. Add all the ears of corn to the boiling water. Cover the pot with a lid. Boil for 8 to 10 minutes. Note that smaller ears of corn take less time to cook than larger ones.
  5. To test an ear of corn for doneness, remove it from the pot with tongs. Run cold water over it, then take a small bite. Corn that is fully cooked will be bright in color and have a little milk to it. If it wrinkles, it's been cooked too long.
  6. When done, remove all the ears and let them dry in a straining bowl.
  7. Serve with butter.

How Long Does It Take to Boil Corn?

The size of the corn impacts that cooking time. Most people prefer crisp corn on the cob, so avoid overcooking (which leads to wrinkling). Taste at the recommended time. If it's not done, boil longer.

Corn Cob SizeTime in Minutes to BoilTaste

1/2 ear of corn

7 minutes


1/2 ear of corn

9 minutes


1 small ear of corn

8 minutes


1 large ear of corn

10+ minutes


Remove corn from boiling water with tongs.

Remove corn from boiling water with tongs.

Boiling Water and Tongs

I once saw my mother pull corn out of a boiling pot with her bare hands. It's a bad idea. Use tongs or thick rubber gloves to remove the ears from a boiling pot.

Rub butter on the corn.

Rub butter on the corn.

Using Corn Holders to Put Butter on the Cob

The best way to butter an ear of corn is by using corn holders inserted into the end of the cob and turning the ends back and forth while the cob spins on the top of a cube of butter. In some households, this technique is frowned upon. In ours, it's considered the best way to do it!

Serving Sizes

In our family, adults and kids both eat one ear each. Our kids really like corn. However, I think most kids would be satisfied with half an ear.

Tip: Snap the corn in half with your hands before boiling. It takes a little strength, but it's pretty easy to break a cob in two.


Nicole K on November 17, 2017:

Nice hub on corn on the cob! Very detailed. I buy the corn pre-shucked from Trader Joe's or Sprouts. Then I just put it in boiling water for 10 minutes. Stab w/ a fork and see if it's done. Then cover w/ butter and Lawry's seasoning salt. Really yummy :)

Gina Welds from Tampa, Florida on September 26, 2016:

I tend to do my corn Cajun style with lots of spices....like cumin, cayenne pepper, basil, garlic, onion, salt, black pepper, chili powder. I love it with a kick.

agusfanani from Indonesia on April 01, 2013:

I love sweet corn on the cob, specially when it's boiled. The way it's served with butter or cheese makes it even much yummier. Hmm...the photos are mouthwatering...

carol stanley from Arizona on March 27, 2013:

It is the photos that are enticing..Even though this is not my favorite I found my mouth watering....

jtrader on March 26, 2013:

I haven't had corn on the cob in a while.

Debra Allen from West By God on March 26, 2013:

I love corn on the cob and can't wait until we get it here on the farm market. Aaa that won't be until July or August. Something to look forward too. A hint here too as well..don't shuck the corn before you put it on the grill. It keeps the moisture in and prevents scorching or burning. It als keeps all the nutrients in too. I do as everyone else by adding a bit of sugar to the boiling water. After the corn is picked it will lose some of it's sweetness and go to a more starchy flavor. Sugar adds the sweetness back in.

Tim Mitchell from Escondido, CA on March 26, 2013:

I'm hungry, later like Wally the Gator, I'm off to the kitchen to discover somethun'

Smile and thanks, I prefer not well done, knowing perfect at times is better . . . while offering ditto of the latter, yet it is later rhyming with gator, with a smile . . .


Paul Edmondson (author) from Burlingame, CA on March 26, 2013:

Adding a bit of sugar is a nice idea. I tend to do that when I grill it.

BigEd5857 on March 26, 2013:

Add 1/4 cup milk and two tbsp sugar to water, result = best corn ever.

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