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How to Cut Corn Off the Cob with No Mess

How to Cut Corn Off the Cob with No Mess


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Slippery corn on the cob can cause a serious mess in the kitchen. Say goodbye to that mess for good with this easy technique that catches all of the kernels in one place.View More: The No-Mess Way to Cut Corn

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Oven Roasted Kernel Corn

Published: May 15, 2020 · Modified: May 15, 2020 by Brooke · This post may contain affiliate links.

Are you looking for ways to use up fresh corn on the cob? Try our oven roasted kernel corn recipe! It's a twist on boiled or grilled corn and tastes a little spicy with a hint of lime.


In Season: Corn

Each year, when corn season arrives, I take my kids to the local market to pick up some fresh ears. Together we remove all the husks (they always end up dropping an ear or two into the garbage pile but, hey, that’s part of the fun!). Then, we take them home and cook them up. I love watching my kids gobble down what they picked out. Our favorite is eating fresh corn straight off the cob, but there are tons of ways to enjoy these sweet summer kernels.

Corn is a New World food, and Europeans didn't enjoy it until after Columbus sailed the ocean blue. In Europe, they call corn maize, which comes from the American-Indian word mahiz. Many Americans toss all but the corn kernels, but the entire plant has household uses: the husks work for tamales, cobs can thicken stocks and the stalks are great for animal feed. Some folks even make medicinal teas from the corn silk.

Corn grows in a rainbow of colors -- from yellow to purple to white to brown and some multicolored. The two most popular types are white and yellow. The different varieties all have fun names, too! “Silver Queen” is a sweet corn with white kernels and a creamy texture. “Tuxedo” is another variety of sweet corn that is yellow with 8-inch ears. “Temptation” is one of the most popular varieties of sweet corn and is typically eaten on the cob and has narrow 7-inch ears with bi-color kernels.

Peak season lasts from May through September. Because sweet corn is grown in all 50 states, you can easily find it at your farmers’ markets or corner farm stand. In fact, 40% of the world's corn comes from the U.S. and half of that goes to feeding livestock. Canada, China and Brazil are also big corn growers. Beyond just animal feed or corn on the cob, corn byproducts go into creating bourbon, corn oil, cornstarch and, of course, the infamous high fructose corn syrup.

Corn is a starchy vegetable (technically, the kernel is a grain), which makes it higher in calories than other veggies calorie-wise, it's similar to grains such as rice. One cup of cooked corn contains 130 calories and 1.8 grams of fat. It’s an excellent source of thiamin, a B-vitamin that helps produce energy, and a good source of fiber, protein, vitamin C and potassium. It’s also packed with lutein, saponins, and maizenic acid -- all phytochemicals that have been associated with heart health and cancer prevention. Corn also contains yellow carotenoid pigments, including eye-protecting antioxidant zeaxanthin.

Besides fresh, corn comes frozen, canned and creamed. I could give you an earful (pun intended) of ways to prepare it, but 3 of my favorite healthy -- and simple! -- ways are grilled, boiled and steamed on the cob. Just a pat of unsalted butter and a touch of hot sauce makes it irresistible. For the tastiest results, grill, bake and steam corn in its husk. Corn salad is another one of my top ways to eat it. Dana and I made this unbelievably delicious Tomato and Corn Salad for TV appearance this past Memorial Day -- yum!

For salads, soups, quesadillas or pasta dishes, you’ll need to cut kernels off the cob. To do this without making a huge mess, use two bowls: one medium and one large. Place the medium bowl upside down inside the large bowl. Rest the end of the cob on the medium bowl and, using a sharp knife, cut off the kernels in strips. Instead of going all over the counter, they’ll land in the large bowl.

You can preserve your farm-fresh corn by freezing or canning it. If freezing, be sure you blanch it and you can keep it in an airtight container for up to one year on the cob or 2 to 3 months if you're just freezing the kernels. Typically, canned corn is preserved as whole kernels or creamed by using a pressure canner. Creamed corn is another delicious, popular way to enjoy corn, but as the name warns, be wary of the classic high-fat, high-calorie ingredients like whole milk or butter.

Shopping Tip: For the best flavor, eat fresh corn the day it’s purchased. As soon as the corn is picked, its sugar slowly converts to starch, a process that makes it less sweet as time goes on. Look for ears with bright green, fitted husks and golden brown silk. The kernels should be plump and come all the way to the ear’s tip with each row of kernels tightly aligned. Avoid ears of corn with shriveled husks that look burned or have dark-colored slime. Refrigerate fresh corn in a plastic bag with the husk in tact for no more than one or two days.


Cut Corn Off the Cob Without Making a Mess

Fresh summer corn is wonderful in salads and sautés, but slicing it off the cob can send kernels flying. Chowhounds use a variety of techniques and tools to accomplish the task without making a mess. valerie cuts corn into a bowl using the method shown in this CHOW Tip video and loses “very few kernels.” randyji props up the ears in the center of a tube pan, and uses an electric knife to strip the kernels, which fall right into the pan.

Several hounds are fans of the OXO Corn Stripper, which scrapes kernels and milk from the cob and collects them in a closed container with “[no] mess, no fuss, no spray,” gingershelley says. ricepad uses a v-slicer, and says it’s “MUCH easier than using a knife.” Others simply lay an ear of corn flat on a cutting board and slice the kernels off holding the knife horizontally, then rotate the cob and repeat. Using this method, “I lose very little and I don’t have anything extra to wash!” katecm says.


Southern Fried Corn

Originally published May 24, 2011 – Updated Jul 23, 2019.

Note: Every now and then, I like to jump back to old posts and update the photos a bit. My skill has changed over the years and some recipes just deserve a little refresh. I’ve updated the images and the post here a little. Y’all enjoy!

Y’all. I just love fried corn. Like LOVE it. For those of you not too familiar with Southern fried corn, it’s not a big ol’ ear of corn deep fried – though I have seen that! I guess you’d liken it to something more like creamed corn. Though I’m not sure that’s even a good comparison. Quite literally, it’s fresh corn, cut off the cob, and fried in butter and bacon grease in a cast iron skillet.

It’s one of my absolute favorite vegetable sides and I look forward to early summer and the first crops of corn each year so I can have some. I could literally hurt myself eating the stuff.

There are a few tips and tricks you’ll need to know to make authentic Southern fried corn though. Most of them really boil down to prep. You can’t just cut it off the cob and throw it in a skillet. There’s a little more involved, but I promise it’s not too hard.

One of the biggest issues with using fresh corn is all that shucking and removing the silks. Ugh! But I use this super easy microwave method where you cut off the stem end of the corn and microwave it for a couple minutes then shake the perfectly clean corn out fo the husks and silks. Get all the details here. It’s not always foolproof, but it will certainly get you way ahead of the game.

Once you cut the corn off the cob, it’ll look like this…

Once you scrape all that goody out, it’ll look like this…

The other thing to keep in mind is that while bacon grease is optional and you can choose to use all butter, the bacon grease adds a perfect savory flavor and smokiness that I think is key to perfect fried corn.


To enjoy your freshly cut corn on its own, bring a small amount of salted water to boiling in a small saucepan. Add 2 cups cut corn, cover, and cook for 4 minutes. Or, to microwave, place 2 cups cut corn in a casserole dish with 2 tablespoons water. Microwave, covered, at high power for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring once. Drain corn.

Now that you’ve learned how to cut corn off the cob, try those fresh, sweet kernels in your favorite corn recipes. Stir them into a steaming pot of corn chowder, whip up some fresh corn cakes for an appetizer, or add them to fresh salsa for a quick snack.


Cut Corn Off the Cob Without Making a Mess

Fresh summer corn is wonderful in salads and sautés, but slicing it off the cob can send kernels flying. Chowhounds use a variety of techniques and tools to accomplish the task without making a mess. valerie cuts corn into a bowl using the method shown in this CHOW Tip video and loses “very few kernels.” randyji props up the ears in the center of a tube pan, and uses an electric knife to strip the kernels, which fall right into the pan.

Several hounds are fans of the OXO Corn Stripper, which scrapes kernels and milk from the cob and collects them in a closed container with “[no] mess, no fuss, no spray,” gingershelley says. ricepad uses a v-slicer, and says it’s “MUCH easier than using a knife.” Others simply lay an ear of corn flat on a cutting board and slice the kernels off holding the knife horizontally, then rotate the cob and repeat. Using this method, “I lose very little and I don’t have anything extra to wash!” katecm says.


Fresh Corn Salad Recipe

Cook the corn

In a large pot of boiling water, blanch the corn for about 3 minutes. You’re not cooking it all the way through just blanching it to remove some of the starchiness. Then quickly shock the cobs in an ice bath to stop the cooking and to set the bright yellow color. Use a long, shallow pan for the ice bath (a 9吉-inch brownie pan is perfect). Once cool enough to handle remove the corn kernels.

How to Cut Corn Off the Cob (the easy way!)

Place the corn on a cutting board and slice off one side with a large chef’s knife. Then roll the corn over (flat side facing down now) and cut the next side. Keep going until you’ve cut the whole thing. Easy. No special gadgets. No mess.

Assemble the Salad

To a large bowl, add the corn kernels, halved tomatoes, onion, red wine vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper and toss well. The longer this salad melds together, the better it will taste (I usually chill it for about 1 hour). Just before serving, add lots of fresh basil so it doesn’t wilt.

PS: How to Store Tomatoes!

I used to keep my tomatoes in the fridge which is totally wrong. They should be stored at room temperature in a brown paper bag, up to 3 days. I recommend reading this quick post by Golden Earthworm Organic Farm for more storage tips- so good to know!


Mistakes You’re Making With Your Corn On The Cob

The first step with any recipe is to start off with exceptional ingredients, and the same goes for making corn on the cob. After all, corn on the cob is a pretty simple dish, so you want to make sure you’re kicking it off with the most flavorful produce.

To pick out the best corn, check the husks first. Choosing ears with a bright green husk, rather than a husk that’s beginning to yellow or dry out, will produce the best results. The husk is what keeps the corn fresh, so if it’s unwrapped slightly or turning a color other than green, it’s generally best to skip those ears.

Checking the hair or tassels on the corn is helpful as well, as they can also tell you how fresh your corn is. If the tassel has started to decay, making it dry or black, you’ll know that the corn is old. A fresh golden tassel will result in the best flavor for a juicy piece of corn on the cob.


TIPs on How to Pick a Good Ear of Corn

Corn on the Cob that is Already Shucked:

Sometimes the only corn available at the grocery store may already be “shucked” (husks and “silk” or “tassels” removed).

Shucked corn may be sold in a package with multiple ears of corn that are on a styrofoam tray wrapped with cellophane.

Or they may be loose and sold separately by the ear.

Either way, the kernels should be visible.

Look for corn on the cob with kernels that are bright, plump, firm and plentiful.

  • corn on the cob with missing kernels
  • kernels that are dried out (dimpled or slightly dented)
  • kernels that are mushy

The corn may be old and could be chewy and flavorless.

Corn on the Cob with the Husk on it:

When the corn is still in the husk, it’s best not to peel the husk back to look at the corn because this may affect the freshness, and cause the kernels to dry out.

Instead of peeling the husk back, check out the outside of the cob (husk, stem and tassel), and feel the kernels through the husk to check for freshness.

  • a nice bright green husk that is tight to the cob and is slightly damp (well hydrated)
  • a stem at the bottom where the corn on the cob was removed from the stalk in the field, that is a light color
  • a tassel (corn silks coming out of the top of the husk) that is light brown or gold and is slightly sticky to the touch
  • husks with mildew on the outside
  • dried out husks
  • husks that are turning yellow
  • husks that are loose and falling off
  • husks with brown holes on them (it may indicate there are insects)
  • a stem at the bottom of the ear of corn that is brown
  • a tassel that smells like mildew
  • a tassel that is dry, dark brown or soggy

Also, gently squeeze the ear of corn to feel the kernels through the husk feeling for kernels that are:

Try to avoid ears of corn with:

TIP – if the pile of corn on the cob in the grocery store has been picked over or there isn’t much left in stock, ask a store employee if they have anymore corn in the back that they can bring out. If they do it’s great because you’ll get first pick!

Serve this delicious corn off the cob side dish year-round.

And leftovers (if there are any) freeze up nicely in serving-size zipper freezer bags.

Let’s check out the ingredients for this corn off the cob side dish.

Ingredients – White and yellow ears of corn (or multi-yellow colored ears of corn), white vinegar, granulated sugar, water for boiling the ears of corn (about 1 quart of water per ear of corn), butter, salt and pepper

Equipment used for this recipe – An 8-quart tall pot and a 2-quart round glass baking dish with a lid (or foil can be used instead of the lid).

A printable recipe with the measurements and instructions is located at the bottom of this post.

Here’s how to make it.

If making this dish before serving it, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Preparing the Corn on the Cob:

Remove the husks (shuck the corn) and silk strands from each ear of corn.

Rinse the corn on the cob.

If the tip of the ear of corn has brown or soft kernels, carefully cut that part off.

Boiling the Corn:

In a large pot, add just enough water to cover the ears of corn (about 1 quart of water for each ear of corn).

For the 6 ears of corn in this recipe, I used an 8-quart pot that was filled a little over half full).

Bring the pot of water to a boil.

While the water is warming up, add white vinegar and…

TIP – When adding salt, sugar, spices (or other dry ingredients) to a pot of water, it’s best to add these ingredients before the water gets hot so that the steam from the water doesn’t “gum up” the dry ingredients when attempting to add them.

To the pot, using long tongs, carefully add each ear of corn.

Gently add the corn in the pot of water so that hot water doesn’t splash out.

While adding the ears of corn to the water, keep a close eye on the water level so that it doesn’t boil over the pot.

If the water level starts to get too close to the top of the pot, carefully use a large ladle to transfer some of the water out of the pot.

If needed, adjust the placement of the ears of corn so that each one of them is submerged in water.

If more water is needed in the pot, carefully add just enough to cover each ear of corn.

Cover the pot with a lid and turn the heat down to low.

Simmer the corn on low heat until the corn is just tender (about 8 to 10 minutes may be less or more depending on the size of the ears of corn).

Be careful not to overcook the corn or it will be tough.

TIP – While the corn is cooking, keep an eye on the pot to make sure the water doesn’t boil over. If the water in the pot starts to boil over the sides of the pot, carefully remove the pot from the heat and also remove the lid.

After the corn is done cooking…

…using tongs, transfer each ear of corn from the pot onto a large plate in a single layer.

Let the ears of corn cool on the plate until they are cool enough to handle (about 8 to 10 minutes).

Cutting the Corn Off of the Cob:

Following are 3 optional ways to cut the corn off of the cob:

1. Corn on the Cob Laying Flat on a Cutting Board – lay the ear of corn flat on a cutting board vertically so that the top of the corn (the narrower end) is directly above the stem-end.

Carefully cut down the side of the cob to remove the kernels.

Try to cut the corn off the cob in medium to large pieces (they will likely break into smaller pieces when handling them but try to keep some of the rows of corn attached to one another if possible).

Then rotate the ear of corn so that the cut side of the cob lays flat on the cutting board.

Carefully continue cutting and rotating the corn until all of the kernels are cut off of the cob.

2. Corn on the Cob Sitting Upright on a Cutting Board – Stand the ear of corn upright on a cutting board by holding an end of the corn with one hand.

With the other hand, starting at the top end of the corn, away from your hand, carefully slice the corn off the cob (in medium to large size pieces if possible).

3. Corn on the Cob Standing Upright Using 2 Bowls – In the middle of a large bowl, lay a small bowl upside-down.

With your hand, hold the ear of corn upright while it rests on top of the small upside-down bowl.

With the other hand, starting at the top end of the corn, away from your hand, carefully slice the corn off the cob (in medium to large size pieces if possible).

The cut pieces of corn on the cob should fall into the larger bowl.

Layering the Corn Off the Cob in a Baking Dish:

For the First Layer – In a 2-quart round glass baking dish (or similar size oven-proof casserole dish), add a layer of 1/3 of the total amount of cut corn.

Cut the butter into small cubes and evenly place 1/3 of the total amount of butter on top of the cut corn.

On top of the corn, sprinkle ground black pepper and…

For the Second Layer – In the baking dish, lay another layer of cut corn using half of the remaining corn, half of the remaining butter…

For the Third Layer – In the baking dish, add a layer of the remaining cut corn, cubes of butter, pepper and salt.

…cover the baking dish with a lid.

If Making this Dish Ahead of Time:

Store the covered baking dish in the refrigerator no longer than one day before serving.

About 30 minutes before serving, remove the baking dish from the refrigerator and set on the kitchen counter to bring the corn up to room temperature (about 10 minutes).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

If Making this Dish Before Serving:

Bake the corn in a preheated oven until it’s warmed through (about 15 to 20 minutes).

Serve while warm right out of the baking dish (with a warning to guests that the dish is hot of course).

Thank you so much for stopping by CCC!

More Side Dish Recipes You May Like:

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