Best Grilled Sweet Corn

Best Grilled Sweet Corn

So have you guys been getting some incredible corn this year? I have been so blessed to be able to participate in some of our local Food Fairs and last week there was a lot of corn! So expect more corn recipes coming up. In the meantime, yanno it’s so hot and I’ve been grilling a lot so it was inevitable, amirite? I had to post my Best Grilled Sweet Corn.

Best Grilled Sweet Corn

Best Grilled Sweet Corn


No worries, though, I have recipes coming up that will be perfect easy meals for back to schoolers or those who are starting to realize summer is ending (so sad!) and some of that summer casualness is ending, too. In the meantime, I’m taking advantage of every glorious ear of corn I can get my hands on!

About Best Grilled Sweet Corn:

The first time I remember having grilled corn was way back when I was a teenager in the 1970s and it was at a pig roast in my hometown in Iowa. I took note…coz even though I didn’t realize it, I had an obsession interest in food way back then. I’ll post their method sometime, which is the same way they make corn at the Renaissance Festivals & the Fairs. (Our Great Minnesota Get Together has been canceled this year but we do have a Food Parade!) Just in case you’re jonesing for fair food! (I am!)

And while your State Fair style method is a little complicated (which is why I hardly ever make it) this is super easy! All you do is shuck the corn and brine (soak in salty water) for a while before you grill. Some kind of chemical reaction/osmosis is at work (scientists are still arguing about what makes brining work) and the sweet corn remains sweet and plump when grilled.

You gonna have some caramelized goodness and concentrated, smoky flavor to your corn, but you won’t get as much of that dried chewy texture that can be the downfall of grilled corn. That chewiness was what turned me off to most grilled sweet corn in the past…but the funny thing? When I did a little search, it seems Cook’s Illustrated had this method published over a decade ago! Here it is in the Chicago Tribune, May 2009. So I could have been (and maybe you, too) enjoying this easy grilled corn for over a decade!!

Making Best Grilled Sweet Corn:

So all you do is get yourself a container large enough to hold your corn. You can use something flat like a casserole, baker or roaster (a slow cooker will be great) or some sort or something vertical like a stockpot (my IP liner worked well for the smaller ears I had.)

I like to shuck and add my corn, then fill with enough water to cover, remove the corn and figure out how much brine to make. I hope that makes sense because corn and the vessel you use can be different sizes, and the amount of corn you will want to make might be different. And all those changes require different amounts of the brine. There’s no sense in making too much and it kinda blows to make too little. No need to be perfect, just get a rough idea of how many quarts or gallons you’ll need.

Then you’ll know how much salt you’ll need, and this is an incredible amount, so trust me on this. 1/2 cup salt per gallon (4 quarts). Chart below. Have something to weight the corn down (a plate or bowl might work, and brine for at least a half an hour but no longer than eight. Easy peasy.

When I make the brine, I toss the salt (if you’re going for more than an hour, make sure to use something without iodine in it, like kosher or sea salt) in the vessel (I have never used the word vessel so much, lol) and hot water, enough to just dissolve the salt. Add in the corn and fill the rest with cold water.

Preheat your grill when ready to cook preheat your grill to medium (preheat five for charcoal, 15 for gas) oil the grate and then cook for a total of 10 minutes, turning as each area is lightly charred. (Put the lid down between turnings if using gas). I like to line the corn up with the grates for maximum char. Make sure to brush with butter as soon as it’s done so the corn doesn’t dry out. If you have a little pan or a corn server, you can melt the butter on the grill and just roll each ear of corn in the butter as it comes off the grill. Herbed butter is great, btw.

Just a note: some people like to add sugar to their brine, and some up to equal amounts of sugar to salt. I’d say if you have stellar corn it’s probably not needed, but if you have older, run of the mill corn it might help it out. If you think you’d enjoy sweeter corn, give it a go.

Saving Money on Best Grilled Sweet Corn:

Those that know corn know you pick it the day you use it, never refrigerate it (unless you’re not going to eat it right away – which you should never admit to) and husk it right before cooking. And you don’t open it before you buy it – that’s for rank amateurs. Look for fresh silk at the top and inspect the cob for small holes or breaches in the husk.

Feel along the top of the ear and you’ll be able to tell if the cob has beautiful, full kernels. Try it on another portion of the ear to see what it feels like. Be bold, toss it in your basket unopened, and roll away from those at the bin ripping open corn left and right and husking it there at the store. Then turn and look for the “nod.” That nod you get, that little signal of respect, from others in the know that signifies that they get it. You’re a sweet corn bad***.

Look for corn on sale and know your prices. Here at a low, they can drop to 17 to 20 cents an ear. A good price is 25 cents. Sale go on sporadically through the summer, but the local corn shines when it’s in season. Watch for spectacular sales before summer holidays. See what’s on sale during any holiday on my post, Win at the Grocer.

Best Grilled Sweet Corn

Best Grilled Sweet Corn


Best Grilled Sweet Corn

  • Author: mollie inspired by cook's illustrated
  • Total Time: 15 minutes * brine
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Side
  • Cuisine: American



Note: amounts are approximate. To find the exact amount of water/salt for your corn, use the method cited in my post.

  • 8 ears sweet corn, husks and silks removed
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 4 quarts water (2 cups hot the rest cold)
  • 4 tablespoons butter


In a pan/casserole or another vessel large enough to hold the corn, dissolve salt in about 2 cups of hot water. Add the remainder of the water, stir. Add the corn. Weight with something to hold the corn under the water. Brine for at least 30 minutes and up to 8 hours.

Prepare grill for direct cooking over medium heat. Preheat for five minutes if using charcoal, 15 if using gas. When ready to cook, oil grate and place corn on grill (cover grill if using gas) and cook, turning every two to three minutes for a total of about 10 minutes until corn is tender and lightly charred.

Remove to serving platter and immediately brush or coat with butter

Keywords: Brine, Corn, Grilled or Smoked, Side, Vegetable Side

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Best Grilled Sweet Corn - there is a little secret and its soo easy! Beautiful, smoky, tender sweet corn is in reach, even on the grill. No more chewy grilled corn #SweetCorn #GrilledSweetCorn #SweetCornOnTheGrill, #BrinedSweetCorn #GrilledCorn

18 thoughts on “Best Grilled Sweet Corn

  1. How did you know that I am craving for corn?? I love grilled sweet corn, but I haven’t tried this method. I usually cook them with milk and salt (I really forgot the full ingredients haha) then grill them after that. Thanks for sharing, Mollie.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      I love cooking with milk and butter, salt and maybe sugar! We call it butter bath corn but I haven’t tried grilling them after!! Next time!!

  2. I will have to try this method. I must admit I have a cheaters method…a single ear of corn (silks and husks on) cooked in the microwave for 3 minutes. You do have to cook all the ears separately but we have a very small household. It’s easy to remove the silk and husk after cooking. Then brush with butter and place on the hot grill just long enough to char.

    BTW, I heard you were moving. Good luck and I hope it goes easily. I look forward to hearing about your new home.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Liz, I do that, too! Worth a blog post, maybe! Yes, I haven’t “formally” announced yet but it is in the works! And just as my tomatoes are coming in…bummed about that!!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      We do have an advantage in the upper midwest. It’s still coming in like hotcakes. Or should that be corn cakes?

  3. Fascinating! I’ve never thought to brine corn. BTW, I have a big plastic bucket called a briner, and I love it because it has a lid that you can put at multiple levels within the bucket, which holds down the turkey or whatever you’re brining. It’s really handy.

  4. Several years ago we started grilling corn and that is the only way we’d have corn on the cob. Though we don’t shuck it but do soak it in water for 20 minutes. Then we shuck it once grilled. I won’t lie, it’s a very hot way to shuck corn! But I like your way as well.

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