These are the foods that scream summer for me: tomatoes, basil, and burger patties and hotdogs on the barbecue. I don’t think you’ll argue with me when I say that fresh corn says “summer” like nothing else, especially when you take it to the grill. Here are two smart tips that will make sure that grilled corn stays delicious and juicy.
1. Keep the Husk On
Though grilling corn without the husk will give you a smoky, charred flavor, your corn will likely be tough and dry. Even if you use the freshest corn, it won’t be juicy. (Our founder Elise Bauer agrees.) Grilling corn in the husk is a fool-proof way to keep them from drying out—the husks act as a protective layer that keeps moisture in the corn.
I’ve read that I should peel back the husk, remove the silk, and fold the husk back into place before throwing the corn on the grill. For me, this is fussy and unnecessary. In fact, I’ve found that the silk comes off easily along with the husk after I cook the corn—the steam helps the silk release more easily.
Depending on your grill and how hot it is, the corn will take 10 to 15 minutes to cook through and become tender. If beautifully charred grill marks are a must, remove the husks after cooking and throw the naked corn on a very hot grill for a minute, but no longer.
What to do if your corn is already shucked: You can still grill the corn even if the husk has been removed. I took this tip from vegetable whisperer Joshua McFadden. In his cookbook Six Seasons, he says, “You just want to warm the exterior and maybe give it a kiss of smoke and flame, but you want the interior of the kernels to say juicy and almost raw.” This means the corn grills for one to two minutes, that’s it!
2. Give Your Corn a Soak
I’m a big believer in soaking the corn before you throw it on the grill. I once tasted grilled corn that was soaked in milk prior to cooking. That may sound odd, but it was a real game-changer and the best corn I’ve ever had. It tasted like candy even though it was tough, end-of-season corn.
You don’t need to use milk! A quick 15- to 30-minute soak in water gives you a margin for error so the corn doesn’t dry out and get tough or gummy on the grill. If you’re leaving the husks on, soaking also lessens the chance that they’ll burn or catch on fire. No need to be fussy about it—just pop the corn in a baking dish filled with water while your grill preheats. It’s that easy!
According to Simply Recipes’ go-to grilling expert and author of One-Beer Grilling, Mike Lang, “At this point the grilling process is more of a steaming process, but towards the end, you still get some color on the kernels as the husk completely dries out.” Full disclosure: Mike prefers to shuck his corn before grilling them over high direct heat because he says it’s faster and the charred kernels have more flavor.
Delicious Recipes That Take Grilled Corn to the Next Level
Now that you know what to do, try some of our delicious grilled corn recipes:
- Cajun-Spiced Grilled Corn
- Grilled Mexican Street Corn (Elote)
- Grilled Corn Salad
- Grilled Tomatillo and Corn Salsa
- Lobster and Grilled Corn Panzanella
- Mexican Street Corn Nachos
A version of this article originally appeared on MyRecipes.com.