Perfect Corn on the Cob

Corn on the cob is the main reason summer exists, in my opinion. We love the stuff and manage to chow down at least 20+ ears of corn weekly when it is in season.

Since I believe our family loves corn on the cob more than any other family on the planet (concluded through a very scientific survey), I want to share the secret to cooking perfect corn on the cob, and if you never learn another thing from here, I hope this tip will carry you through the rest of your culinary adventures. Here it is. Brace yourself.

Whatever you do, absolutely, positively, do not cook the corn in salted water.

There. That’s it. Well…almost. The secret to perfectly cooked corn on the cob is to cook the corn in water that has been enhanced with two special ingredients – sugar and vinegar. Just a touch of each. The result is juicy corn kernels that literally pop off the cob and sprinkle morsels of sweet, buttery corn all throughout your mouth when you take a bite.

And so with that description lingering in your mind, I ask you – is it a crime to tell your 6-year old child that corn on the cob is full of grasshopper spit so that he/she will willingly hand over their ear of corn?

Just wondering.

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Perfect Corn on the Cob

Perfect Corn on the Cob


  • 7-8 ears of corn, husked and silky threads removed
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (probably about 4-6 quarts of water). When boiling, add the sugar and vinegar and bring to a full boil again. Add the husked corn, submerging all the ears in the water the best that you can. Bring the water to a full boil again. This is important! It may take a few minutes for the water to come back to boiling temperature once the corn is added but let it come to a full boil before moving on.
  2. Once the water is at a full boil, cover the pot, remove from the heat and let the corn sit in the hot, steaming water for 10 minutes. (The corn can stay in the water for up to 20 minutes without becoming pithy and dry.)

Recipe Source: My Kitchen Cafe

62 Responses to Corn on the Cob {Best Ever!}

  1. I love corn in sugared water – it is the best!

  2. Kim in MD says:

    Wow…what a great tip! I have been cooking several dozen ears of corn a week! My family loves corn salad (fresh corn cut off the cob, a little oil and vinegar, garlic and fresh herbs). I have been grilling the corn (trying to keep my kitchen cool in our 90 degree plus weather here in Maryland), but I love corn cooked on the stove, too. I have had people tell me to add sugar and milk to the water, but I would have never thought to put vinegar in the water. I am definately going to try this tonight!

    About the salt- what negative effect does that have on the corn? Whenever I blanch vegetables, I always salt the water, so I am curious why you advise not to when cooking corn. That said, every single tip you have ever shared has always been spot on, so I am sure that there is a good reason! πŸ˜‰

    Oh- I love the grasshopper spit trick! I may have to try that with my children the next time we fight over the last piece of corn! πŸ™‚ I hope you had a great 4th of July holiday, Melanie. Thanks for sharing!

    • Mel says:

      Hey Kim – the main negative effect of salt is that it draws out the moisture of the corn and can make it dry and chewy. I know a lot of people that have boiled their corn in salt for years and swear by it but the times I have tried it, it has left the corn pithy and dry. I think it must be a corn thing because I add salt to my peas and broccoli when I steam/cook them.

  3. Amber says:

    Our local farm market has a “corn countdown” I just checked the website, only one week to go! I can’t wait…. I think I may freeze and bag some this year.

  4. Kim says:

    Mel, you crack me up. Grasshopper spit. I love it. I do have a question. If I want to freeze the corn, do I still cook it the same way? And then what is the best way to reheat. I have never frozen cobs before.

    • Mel says:

      Kim – I’ve only ever frozen corn once it has been cut off the cob but I’ve never frozen cobs of corn. You might try googling the answer to that one. I usually just cut the corn off the cob (after it has been boiled) and store it in freezer-safe ziploc bags. Then reheat gently in the microwave to serve.

  5. Julie says:

    Just bought some corn this morning…will definitely try the sugar and vinegar thing today!

  6. CaSaundra says:

    Love corn on the cob–summer isn’t complete without it!

  7. StephenC says:

    What an interesting idea, the sugar and vinegar. We’re in the habit of steaming our corn – 8 minutes if it’s fairly young, otherwise 10 min.

  8. Laurie says:

    I always grew up with sugar and milk in the water, YUM! I will have to see if I notice any difference using your method.

  9. AJ says:

    I have always done milk and honey in my corn water. I think the next time I will have to try the sugar and vinegar. Thanks for the good tip!

  10. Natalie says:

    This sounds great! We’ve been grilling corn on the cob almost weekly. I’ve made a tomato-corn relish to put over grilled salmon and I’ve made a corn chicken chowder too with any left over grilled corn I have.

  11. Carol says:

    Mel, this sounds so good. I can’t wait to try it………native corn around here is almost ready-I’ll be hanging on to this recipe for the first batch. πŸ™‚

  12. Shrek says:

    Grasshopper spit is quite tasty.

  13. Veronica M. says:

    I usually only cook 2 ears of corn at a time since it’s just the hubs and me and the best way for that is to just stick them in the microwave, husk and all, for a few minutes. The husks keep the moisture in and I love them this way without anything else added. But I will do your way when we need a big batch for a family barbecue, which is usually once a year. And who is this Shrek person???? Is that one your pals goofing around?

  14. grace says:

    just the other day, i saw a gal getting ready to eat an ear of corn sans butter. methinks she must be an alien, no? πŸ™‚

  15. juliann says:

    I have a serious love affair with corn on the cob as well. I cant wait to try this method and see how it compares to all the other methods people swear by πŸ™‚

  16. Aly says:

    Love it! Thanks for the tips. I’m going to try this tomorrow.

  17. faith says:

    Mmmm I love corn season! I will def. have to try that technique. Ive never heard of adding stuff to the water, so I will be curious to see how it differs in taste!!!

  18. robin says:

    I agree!! this is how I always make my corn…well- other than nuking it for a quick fix!! hoorah for corn season!

  19. Kim in MD says:

    Hi Mel- I made your corn recipe last night, and I have to say that it was the best boiled corn I have ever had! I was leary about the vinegar, but you could not taste it at all (and even my vinegar hating son didn’t notice it!). Another fabulous tip/recipe from you that I will be making from now on! Thanks so much! πŸ™‚

    P.S. Did you know that Shrek reads your blog? πŸ˜‰

    • Mel says:

      Kim – I’m so glad the corn turned out well! And yes, good ol’ Shrek is a personal friend of mine. Don’t worry, he’s harmless! πŸ™‚

  20. Kim says:

    Oh, I love sweet corn! I will have to try your method next time we have it. I always know I will get fantastic results from your recipes!

  21. Your Fave Sis-in-law EVER says:

    Grasshopper spit? I bet the boys loved that!

  22. Melanie says:

    I have never cooked it in anything but plain water. I am excited to try it this way! I love your witty posts:)

  23. great tip and make the corn as soon as possible after picking, as the natural sugar turns into starch once its picked…..(I’ve actually been known to speed home and put the pot of water on the stove to boil while peeling the corn)! Do you think a policeman would forgive me for that?

  24. Anissa says:

    Perfect…but I wouldn’t expect less from you !!

  25. Steph says:

    I love this corn…I just made it for the whole fam (including in-laws) and everyone said it was the best corn on the cob they have ever had. I love your tips and blog and I love you for posting the most yummy recipes! Mmmmm!

  26. Tifani says:

    I hope you will try Veronica’s microwave tip. I know it sounds crazy, but it is the best way to cook corn. Even with our family of 6, we can quickly get all ears to the table.

  27. Luka says:

    I’ve cooked it in even parts of water and milk. Very juicy and sweet!

  28. renee says:

    i tried this last week and i’ll never eat corn on the cob any other way again!!!!!! YUM!!!!

  29. Libby says:

    I grew up with sugar while DH had the salt water growing up. My way won (31years now) How do you tell when it’s done? I smell it…when it’s done it smells like sweet corn. It is also a beautiful tastey yellow.

    I’ll have to try the vinegar, never heard of that.

    When my boys were 6 they would eat the corn covered in grasshopper spit so that wouldn’t work though now they wouldn’t believe me.

  30. Chavah says:

    Just tried this tonight and it was great. Usually our corn (with salted water) turns out yellow and good, but not FANTASTIC. Well, our corn came out looking beautiful and white and tasted so crisp-tender and great. Thanks for the suggestion!

  31. Paul says:

    my mother always added sugar and white vinegar to ears of corn. A friend asked me why add vinegar and I had no idea. What does the vinegar do for the corn? Thank you.

    • Mel says:

      Paul – to be honest, I don’t know the answer. My guess is the vinegar somehow aids in retaining moisture and creating juicy corn, but that’s just a guess.

  32. sarana says:

    ever since i’ve read this tip, i’ve been cooking my corn on the cob this way and we’ve never had any leftover. love love love it! it’s so juicy. thanks again for another wonderful tip

  33. Amy D. says:

    We loved this recipe and it’s now our go-to way to make corn! Thanks so much!!!!

  34. Mel says:

    Thanks, Amy D.!

  35. Mimi says:

    Love the method! I’m sharing it on my blog ( tomorrow. I’ve linked back to your blog for all the credit! FABULOUS!

  36. Zoe says:

    Very clever, I never thought of cooking corn like this before and we make a lot of corn in my house. I have a great recipe for cojita corn that would taste great using this cooking method first! thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

  37. […] Corn on the Cob on Mel’s Kitchen Cafe […]

  38. […] of the sausages I decided to boil the corn. Β It was my first time boiling corn so I followed this recipe and it turned out […]

  39. Tammy says:

    This was deeeeeelicious!!!

  40. Jaime says:

    This is very similar to they way I boil corn on the cob but instead of vinegar, I use fresh lemon juice. It’s from an old Betty Crocker cookbook of my mom’s. Maybe it’s the acidity? Who knows but in 16 years if making it this way, it’s never failed me!

  41. Wendi says:

    I’m trying this tonight.

  42. Elizabeth says:

    I made your corn tonight and it was excellent. My two children and favorite husband loved it! Thanks!

    • gina says:

      I’m just curious, but what did your less than favorite husband think of it? You must have a very interesting household.

  43. Camille says:

    What is GRASSHOPPER SPIT? I read this several times in your mail. Please explain and give recipe. Thanks.

  44. […] Source: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe […]

  45. Mike says:

    Best corn I’ve ever had…………….great recipe! Thank you!

  46. Nan says:

    Had to try it!! Have always added salt…had to hide the salt so no one could add … Best corn in cob will always cook this way.

  47. Juliann Bramley says:

    I always do 1/2 water and 1/2 milk and it comes out so amazing

  48. Marjorie says:

    The corn I get from a local farmer is so sweet naturally I wouldn’t dream of adding sugar. I put it in boiling water for a minute or two and that’s it! No salt no butter. Perfection. I’m glad I live in the garden state. πŸ™‚

  49. Melanie C says:

    Holy moly was this delicious!! I don’t think I can say in polite company how many ears of this corn I could eat, but it’s A LOT!! I’ve long been a believer in submerging the corn in boiling water, covering the pot and removing from heat, and letting it set for 10 minutes. We’ve always loved it that way, and I didn’t think it could be any better…till now. Something about the vinegar and sugar just made the most unbelievably delicious, sweet, CRISP corn on the cob! I followed your directions exactly, letting it come to a full boil after each step, and after it was finished I slathered the ears in butter and sprinkled with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Can’t say enough how delicious it was, thank you so much!

  50. Robert says:

    just made it. It is good, but i much prefer salty buttery corn

  51. Karen K says:

    Ha!! Exactly the same 2 ingredients I add to the water when boiling corn on the cob!! My grandmother told me that “secret” about 20 years ago!! Our corn is always very good & sweet πŸ™‚

  52. Kay Vaughn says:

    I was looking for a new way to cook my corn and came across your recipe. Love it and so did my friends.

  53. Makiko says:

    I have been searching for the best recipe for frozen corns. I looked in a several recipe of how to make frozen Coe nicer as once it gets frozen, they really get dried and can not enjoy the sweetness and mouthful juicy corn any longer. Vinegar and sugar, it all make sense scientifically, no salt! Your recipe hit my logic so hard and I decided to go with your recipe tonight. Thank god, you are so genius! All my guests were impressed.

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