Grilled Corn-on-the-Cob: In Husk or Not in the Husk?

The corn-on-the-cob we’ve been getting in our area has been fantastic this year. How about yours? It really is one of the main stars of summer. And besides being so incredibly good, it’s high in fiber and vitamin B, and has a number of other healthy minerals like zinc and iron.

And how do you like to cook yours? We’ve just been boiling ours in salt water. I’m embarrassed to say we’ve never grilled it.

This grilling approach is intriguing, though. If you grill, do you have any tips or tricks? The great website, Well Plated by Erin ( has some great help that we intend to put to the test this week.

First of all, she assures us grilling corn is easy to do. Good—easy works. Then she answers the question “Should I grill it with the husk on or off?” Erin says husk on is a delicious and no-fail way to go. Good—no fail works, too. And she adds specific reasons why:

“Grill corn in the husk. While some methods call for grilling the corn in aluminum foil, it’s turns out tastier when grilled in the husk. The husk protects the outsides of the corn from burning. It traps moisture and heat, which allows the kernels to steam, resulting in a perfectly juicy, lightly al dente texture. The flavor is amazing and you have no burnt kernels.”

The trickiest aspect of grilling corn is making sure that the insides of the kernels have time to become tender and juicy before the outsides char. It’s not hard—way easier than with the husk off. You just need to know the best method that avoids any burnt kernels.

The best method, according to Erin, is to first soak your corn in the husk, with all ears completely submerged. (You can prep your other dishes as it soaks.) This is a VERY important step! The point of soaking corn is preventing the husk from catching on fire and allowing the water to help it steam (the same reason why you boil corn before grilling in other recipes).

Erin also cautions that it not be overcooked. You want the corn to be tender but not mushy (one of the reasons she thinks it’s better to grill corn instead of boil corn). You do close the grill when cooking corn, so it’s important to take a peek every so often to make sure it’s not overcooking.

To soak corn, pull away the outermost layer of the husks. With scissors or kitchen shears, trim off the topmost part of the husks up to the cob, including the silk tassel. Place the ears in the water. Let sit for at least 10 minutes or up to 8 hours.

When ready to cook, heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium (about 350 to 400°F). Remove the corn from the water and shake off excess. Place the corn on the grill, cover, then grill for 15 to 20 minutes, turning it every 5 minutes or so to ensure the corn cooks evenly. When the corn is done, the kernels should be tender when pierced with a thin, sharp knife.

From there, you just season according to your taste preferences. Coating in butter and then sprinkling with salt and pepper, Parmesan cheese, and dried parsley, is a good place to start. But Erin says she likes creating Mexican corn using chipotle, chopped cilantro, and cumin powders. Truly, you’re limited only to your imagination. I can imagine how good this would go with taco salad, or refried beans and rice!

    Alice Osborne
    DVO Newsletter Contributor since 2006
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