How To Grill Corn On The Cob

Jun 12, 2020 | Recipes

Corn on the cob, what food is more summery? Today as we continue my summer-long barbecue cooking series we are going to look at my two favourite methods for cooking corn on the cob on the grill. Both of the methods that we are going to look at have their benefits. I suggest you try both and see which one you prefer. It may just be that you are about to find your new favourite way to cook corn on the cob.

Okay, let’s get to it. This is…

How To Grill Corn On The Cob

Grilling Techniques

Although there are a few different ways that corn can be cooked on the grill, I have two that I prefer. The first and arguably the best way is to cook the corn right in the husk over moderate, indirect heat. Cooking the corn in the husk takes more time than other cooking methods but the flavour of the corn cooked this way can not be beat.

The other barbecue corn cooking technique that I prefer is to grill the corn right from raw on fairly high heat. All the corn needs is a little oil or butter rubbed on it, and some salt and pepper. This method is quicker than cooking in the husk, and it stills comes out delicious. The big difference is really in the taste which we will get into in a minute. But first, let’s take a look at both of these methods separately.

Grilling Corn In The Husk

There are a few benefits to cooking corn in the husk that you may not have realized. The main benefit is really the flavour. The corn husk locks in moisture meaning the corn steams in its own juices. This makes the corn a little extra sweet and especially tender. This steam has the added benefit of bunching the corn silk together which makes the corn a breeze to husk after it is cooked. This means that you don’t have to worry about the mess that comes from husking fresh corn.

To soak or not to soak

I used to think that when corn was cooked in the husk on the grill it needed to be soaked in water first to prevent the husk from catching on fire. Over time I’ve realized that this isn’t necessary at all. The secret to not catching the corn on fire is to cook it over indirect heat.

Grilling the corn over indirect heat just means that the flames from the fire never come into direct contact with the corn. I generally either cook the corn on the upper grate of my barbecue, turn off one of the elements and place the corn above it, or if using charcoal, push the coals to one side and place the corn off to the other side. I’ll admit that this indirect heat cooking method does take longer for the corn to cook, (45 minutes to 1 hour). However, you just put the corn on and mostly forget about it with the exception of flipping it now and then.

How do you tell if the corn is done?

When you can’t see the corn, how can you tell when it is cooked? That is a great question and one I’m willing to bet that you were asking yourself. There are two main ways that I use to check and see if that corn is cooked without opening the husk. First, I wait until the husk looks toasted. You can see the progression of the colour on the husk in the pictures below. The second method is to give the corn a squeeze. If it still feels hard, it’s not done. If it has some give to it, and the husk is toasted, the corn is likely ready.

I should say that I have never seen corn burn or dry out when cooked in the husk.

Once the corn is cooked

Once the corn is cooked I either let it the husk cool down for a few minutes (the corn will stay hot inside the husk for a long time), and peel it with my hands, or, I grip the corn with a kitchen towel and peel using another kitchen towel. Either way, the husk and silk come off very easily leaving no silk threads behind. Also, the corn looks super cool with the roasted husk still attached.

Grilling Corn Out Of The Husk

When I grill corn out of the husk I first drizzle it with olive oil and season it with salt and pepper. then I cook it about halfway on direct medium-high heat and finish it on indirect heat. This gives the corn a very unique flavour and texture when compared to cooking it in the husk. The flavour of the corn becomes much more complex than it normally would because some of the sugars start to caramelize and some the kernels take on a parched or toasted flavour.

Combination cooking

As I’ve said, when I grill corn out of the husk I use a combination of direct heat and indirect heat. I do this simply because the corn has a tendency to dry out and possibly burn if cooked all the way over direct heat. However, I want the flavour that comes from cooking over direct heat. So, I find cooking the corn half on direct heat and half on indirect heat to work best.


There is also the option to steam or boil the corn to cook it partway prior to putting it on the grill. However, I am not a fan of this. Part of the reason I like to grill foods is that it cuts down on dishes, so dirtying a pot to parboil the corn seems counterintuitive to me. The other reason I don’t like this method is that I find that the corn retains too much moisture which causes it not to develop that unique grilled corn flavour.

How long do you grill the corn and how do you know when it is done?

I find that it takes about 15-20 minutes to cook the corn in this way. So, that would be 7-10 minutes over direct heat, and 7-10 minutes on indirect heat (with the lid down on the barbecue). Cooking the corn for any longer than this will cause it to start to dry out.

The corn is done when the kernels are tender. The easiest way to check this is to scrape the corn with a fork or spoon. If some of the kernels come off easily or break easily the corn is done.

Bonus Sauce Recipe

An added benefit to grilling the corn out of the husk is that the corn can be brushed with a sauce. You can see me doing this in the picture above. The sauce I’m using (recipe below) is inspired by Mexican Street Corn, and is a combination of mayo, lime juice and zest, parsley and a few spices. The flavour of this sauce combined with the unique flavour of the grilled corn is out of this world. Of course, don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself!

Grilled Corn Sauce

A quick sauce for corn on the cob influenced by Mexican Street Corn.
Total Time: 5 minutes
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Keyword: Barbecue, Corn on the cob, Grilling, Summer, Summer food
Servings: 8 ears of corn
Author: Chef Ben Kelly


  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • Juice and zest from 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Combine all ingredients and mix well.
  • Grill some corn on the cob and brush some of the sauce on 3/4 of the way through cooking. Finish the corn with more of the sauce.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


I think it goes without saying that corn on the cob is a delicious and wonderful part of summer. There is nothing like sitting out in the sun, nibbling corn right off the cob. But, don’t limit yourself to just boiling, steaming, or cooking the corn in a foil pouch. Try these techniques, I think that you’ll be happy that you did.

Thank you as always for reading and remember to share this post and subscribe to the blog so you never miss a post again.

Have a great weekend everyone!


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