When I was younger, I loved eating corn on the cob solely because it meant using our cute corn-shaped holders. I’ve since gained a more nuanced appreciation for sweet summer corn—it’s easy to prepare, can be added to any number of summer dishes, and needs few (if any!) adornments when eaten at its prime. In fact, I stalked my local farmers market’s Instagram page to know the very first day it was ready for pickup.
The downside of this love affair? I stress about the best way to cook it. I have this sunny-hued, perfectly ripe, naturally sweet vegetable at my disposal, and the last thing I want to do is make it chewy or tough by overcooking it. And that’s exactly why the air fryer is corn on the cob’s best friend.
Unlike the Instant Pot, the oven, or a pot of boiling water, the air fryer allows you to easily check on the corn as it cooks as often as you want, making it practically impossible to over or undercook. Just pull out the drawer (or, if your model has one, peek through the viewing window), and assess whether the kernels are plumped and tender to your liking. An air fryer also preheats much faster than a grill and is a much more realistic option for city dwellers.
The real boon is the flavor. Thanks to the circulating hot air of the air fryer, the corn’s natural sugars begin to caramelize, resulting in a crisp exterior, tender and juicy kernels, and an intensified sweetness. Better yet, you can brush the cooked cobs with butter and return them to the air fryer, resulting in extra caramelized flavor.
How To Make Air Fryer Corn on the Cob
Here are the ingredients you’ll need:
- 4 ears of corn, shucked (or fewer, if you’re just cooking for one or two)
- Olive oil spray or extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
Heat the air fryer to 400°F. Spray or lightly brush the corn with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. I find it’s easiest to do this by placing the cobs in a baking dish.
Place the corn cobs in the preheated air fryer—they should sizzle upon contact. Cook, flipping halfway through, until the kernels are plumped, more vibrant in color, and lightly charred in spots, 8 to 10 minutes.
Brush with butter (you don’t need much, since the corn is so flavorful) and return to the air fryer for 1 to 2 minutes more. Serve warm.
Tips for Making Air Fryer Corn on the Cob
I suggest preheating your air fryer, even if your model doesn’t require it, which will ensure the corn begins to crisp and cook immediately. Plus, it cuts down on the overall cook time. Simply heat it to 400°F as you prep the corn.
On your first go-round, I recommend erring on the shorter end of the cooking time and checking on the corn as often as you need. The worst mistake you can make is overcooking the corn. While it will char in spots, don’t wait for it to get super brown and crispy all over, because at that point the corn will be chewy.
And lastly, feel free to dress up the cobs however you please, whether that means seasoning with Cajun spices or making a version of Mexican street corn. Or, cut the kernels off and use them in salads, quesadillas, nachos—you name it. They’ll add an instant burst of flavor.