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The Best Way to Grill Corn

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Haters will say grilling season is coming to a close, but autumn is actually my favorite time to grill, because standing in the hot sun next to a hot grill kind of sucks. Corn season, however, is quickly dying down, which means you need to grill that last bit of sweet corn before it disappears for the year.

As you may or may not know, I love sweet corn so much, I often eat it raw, which is not only legal, but delicious. In terms of cooked preparations, grilled is probably my favorite, though people can get a little weird and precious with it. There’s often much discussion and hand-wringing over how you “prepare” the corn for the grill. Do you leave the husk on? Do you wrap it in foil? Do you get really precious and soak or brine it? Luckily, the best method is the simplest: Just throw the naked cob directly over the hot coals or flames.

Doing so actually lets the kernels see some heat and develop that “grilled” flavor. As Meathead Goldwyn points out in his article on the subject, all that brining and wrapping doesn’t result in true grilled corn, but steamed corn:

Boiling, microwaving, and steaming make tender, juicy corn. But grilled corn is muuuuch more flavorful. Yes, it is a bit chewier, but I don’t mind. When grilled, the sugars caramelize, adding a depth of flavor no other method can produce. And when I am talking about grilling corn, I am not talking about the popular method of soaking the corn, husk and all, in water and then grilling it in the husk. Or putting it in foil. This is steamed corn, not grilled corn, and you do not get all the flavors you get when it is grilled nekkid.

Besides, if your grill is hot enough, it won’t take very long to cultivate that lovely charred and caramelized flavor, so the chances of really drying out the kernels are slim.

For the best grilled corn, heat your grill to medium-high, somewhere in between 375°F and 425 °F. Remove the husk and all the stringy silk, and rinse the ears in cold water. Place the corn on the grates so that the cob is running parallel to them (this makes for easy rolling). Grill until the kernels are fragrant and take on the amount of color you desire. You can brush them with some herb-infused butter like Meathead does here, if you like. Just keep rolling them around the grates, closing the lid for a couple of minutes at a time, until the corn takes on that golden brown grilled color in spots. Serve with butter and salt.

   

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