Have you ever had grilled corn on the cob at a county fair? This way of roasting sweet corn is one of my favorite ways of eating corn on the cob. There is nothing quite like the smoke of a charcoal fired grill and the slight char that it imparts to the kernels.
This post will show you how to grill sweet corn at home that is better than you can get anywhere else. I once served this to a dubious dinner guest from Nebraska. She expressed concern that the people of Illinois didn’t know how to cook corn as well as natives of the corn husker state. By the end of the meal, she admitted it was the best sweet corn she had ever tasted.
Tools Of The Trade
If you have ever cooked with a camp dutch oven, you have probably used a charcoal chimney. If not, there is no time like the present to start using one. This tool will change the way you think about grilling. Gone are the days of tall flames licking the sky and singeing your hair. These chimneys are able to get the coals ready in a half hour or less.
The best part is you never have to smell or keep in stock lighter fluid. I just use a paper shopping bag to get the coals started. If you observe the picture carefully, you will notice I have the chimney in a galvanized pan to help protect the ground underneath. When grilling corn on the cob, fill the entire chimney as you want the hottest grill you can get for best results.
Pro Tip: You can start with the cheapest charcoal chimney you can find (I did). However, once you start using a charcoal chimney you will want the best one available, the weber charcoal chimney. The size and air circulation make all the difference.
Shears and Gloves
Use a good pair of kitchen shears to trim the silk off the corn on the cob. Part of the ritual of grilling corn on the cob is cleaning each ear of corn. You don’t want the silk or any loose husk on the corn when you place it on the grill.
You will also want a good pair of rawhide gloves for turning the corn during grilling. The ones in the picture came from the welding department at the local farm and fleet store. These gloves are great for handling the charcoal chimney when it is full of hot coals as well as the ears of corn as they are roasting. The corn should be grilled for a half hour (or more) and turned every ten minutes.
The Ingredient That Takes It To The Next Level
Now for the most important step for grilling corn on the cob. Soak the ears of corn with the husk on while the coals are getting ready. This will help steam the corn as it is roasting. I have heard of some people soaking the corn over night, but I have found that soaking the corn for about a half hour is sufficient. Be sure to shake excess water out of the corn before putting it on the grill.
You can soak the corn in your kitchen sink but as a beekeeper, I keep a supply of food grade plastic buckets that I get from the local donut shop. The large capacity of the bucket makes it easy to prepare plenty of corn on the cob. Any left overs can be cut from the cob to be eaten later or even used in chicken corn chowder.
The Special Ingredient
What makes this corn on the cob so special? I add about a half a cup to a full cup of table sugar to the water when filling the bucket. The corn soaks in this sugar water and the additional bit of sugar imparts just a bit of extra caramelized goodness to the roasted corn.
Grilled Corn On The Cob Recipe
- 12 Ears of fresh sweet corn
- 1 Cup of sugar
- Start full chimney of charcoal
- Add sugar to food grade plastic bucket
- Fill bucket with water
- Trim silk and loose husk from corn
- Soak corn while coals are getting ready (about half an hour)
- Shake excess water from the corn and place it on the grill
- Grill the corn for at least 30 minutes (grill longer for more charring)
- Turn corn every ten minutes