How to Grill Corn (Even If You Don’t Have a Grill)

Everyone’s entitled to a few (or, ahem, many) golden, charred corn cobs every summer, dripping with butter and salt. But how can you get that barbecue taste if you don’t have a grill? And if you do have a grill, how can you do summer’s favorite side justice? Here, how to grill corn both ways

How to Grill Corn on a Grill

For you lucky ducks with a barbecue at your disposal, it’d be a crime to let the season float by without cooking a few cobs over the open flame. Shuck them and grill them naked, or let them soften right in the husk. Just be sure to take off the corn silk (aka those annoying little strings) before grilling if you’re keeping them in the husk. Smoky barbecued corn, anyone?

  1. Turn the grill on medium-high heat.
  2. Once it’s hot, brush the corn cobs with olive oil or butter (optional), then place them on the grill.
  3. Rotate the corn cobs to char them evenly.
  4. Remove them from the grill after about 10 to 15 minutes.

How to Grill Corn Without a Grill

Just because you don’t have an outdoor grill doesn’t mean this seasonal delicacy is out of reach. Here are some alternatives to use next time you’re craving a cookout. Smoky seasonings like chipotle, smoked paprika or your favorite dry rub can also help bring out that signature barbecue taste. Try a drizzle of spicy aioli on for size once they’re ready too.

  • Indoor grills: Yup, they’re a thing. Often electric, an indoor grill is the next best thing to a real grill while also being easier to clean and less messy overall. You can also preheat the grill minus the guesswork that comes with an outdoor barbecue. If you’re worried about setting off your apartment building’s fire alarm, search for a smokeless indoor grill. 
  • Grill pan: Indoor grills are a bit of a commitment, so how about just adding another pan to your arsenal? Just heat this up on the stove, sear the corn and rotate the cobs every few minutes for those dreamy char marks you’re after. There are plenty of affordable ones to consider, but if you already own a cast iron skillet, that can work in a pinch too. The grill marks just won’t be as distinct.
  • Broiler: If you’re not up for buying something new just to get your corn fix, your oven’s broiler is a great compromise. Just wrap the husked corn in aluminum foil, season how you’d like and pop it under the broiler for about 10 minutes. Rotate the corn halfway through for even browning.

How to Pick Ripe Corn

Whether you’re at a farm or the produce section, always hunt for corn with tight, hydrated green husks and lots of moist corn silk. Peek inside the husk at the cob’s tip. If you see juicy yellow kernels, it’s ripe. If you see white kernels, keep looking. Corn with a rounded or flat tip also signals ripeness, versus a pointy tip. Avoid corn that has holes in its husk—you can thank worms for those. Once you bring it home, store it in the fridge, husk in tact, with all of the ears of corn wrapped tightly in a plastic bag. It’ll be at peak deliciousness for three days.

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taryn pire

Food Editor

Taryn Pire is PureWow’s food editor and has been writing about all things delicious since 2016. She’s developed recipes, reviewed restaurants and investigated food trends at...