How to Boil Corn on the Cob

Updated on December 9, 2019
Paul Edmondson profile image

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 time: 10 min
Cook time: 8 min
Ready in: 18 min
Yields: 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?

Corn Cob Size
Time in Minutes to Boil
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
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.
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.

Do you prefer corn on the cob boiled or grilled?

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    • kiddiecreations profile image

      Nicole K 

      2 years ago

      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-Hulse profile image

      Gina Welds Hulse 

      3 years ago from Rockledge, Florida

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

    • agusfanani profile image


      7 years ago from Indonesia

      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...

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      7 years ago from Arizona

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

    • jtrader profile image


      7 years ago

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

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 

      7 years ago from West By God

      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.

    • tsmog profile image

      Tim Mitchell 

      7 years ago from Escondido, CA

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Edmondson 

      7 years ago from Burlingame, CA

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

    • BigEd5857 profile image


      7 years ago

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


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