Corn makes for a delicious side dish, plus it’s far healthier than deep-fried chips or fries. It has a higher nutritional value and will also keep you satiated for longer. However, many people find corn to be dry and boring on its own.
Many factors contribute to the flavor of corn. The type, size, and color of corn will often dictate how it tastes but the one thing that always elevates the delicious factor of corn is adding seasonings into the mix.
So, what are the best seasonings for corn? Corn goes great with a range of spices, condiments, and herbs like cayenne, cilantro, ginger, pepper, chaat masala, lemon zest, and more. The right seasoning can be the difference between great-tasting corn and boring or bland-tasting cobs.
There are literally hundreds of ways you can enhance the flavor of corn, whether it is on the cob or off it. You can also use these seasonings when adding corn to a range of delicious recipes.
Keep reading to learn more about how you can add exciting flavor into otherwise ordinary corn.
It’s All In The Seasoning
Corn pairs extremely well with a range of herbs and spices. Some people prefer to have just one seasoning while others like a nice blend of different condiments.
The reason why people love seasoning on corn is that the naturally sweet and earthy flavor of corn provides a great canvas for a range of different flavors.
Throw in spice and you will get a mix of sweet and spicy flavors. You can even add butter for a rich and deliciously creamy flavor.
We will get to a few popular recipes in a bit but for now, let’s look at some of the most popular seasoning options.
These are usually categorized into three columns:
For the most part, people tend to prefer to have some spice on their corn.
Spices like cayenne, smoked paprika, and a range of other condiments can be used to enhance the flavor of the corn, especially if you are having sweet corn.
The soft and chewy texture of boiled or cooked corn with its naturally sweet taste makes for a great snack or side dish. You can also add in some lemon zest or lemon juice in the mix for that tangy, sweet and spicy flavor.
Additionally, some people enjoy a mix of herbs like oregano, parsley, cilantro, basil, and more.
These herbs are great at amplifying the natural flavor of the corn and add an unmistakable aroma to a hot cob as well. Our favorite way to enjoy corn is by using spice and herb blends.
For example, in South East Asia, corn is usually had with chaat masala – a cousin of garam masala that is mostly made up of spices and citric acid.
This blend is popular in many regions around the world and is best enjoyed when the cob is smoked or grilled.
Corn can also be paired with butter and other ingredients to make it more irresistible.
In fact, mixing butter with spices or other blends is one of the best ways to enjoy corn (on and off the cob).
How To Prepare Corn For Seasonings
To enjoy corn, you must first learn how to properly cook it. The number one mistake people make while preparing it is that they overcook it.
Corn is delicate and if you wish to keep it supple and juicy then you must cook it the right way.
Think of it as heating corn rather than cooking it. There are several ways you can do this.
The following are some of the most popular techniques used to prepare corn:
- Open fire
Grilling corn is one of the easiest ways to cook it while it is on the cob.
Grilling is not an exact science so we will try to avoid specifics because every corn is different and will react to temperatures differently.
As a general rule of thumb, you would want to keep the grill at a temperature of 350 F.
First, prepare the corn by removing its husk. Remove every part of the outer layer until you are left with just the corn.
You may also remove the stem at the end but we prefer to keep it as it provides a way to hold the corn while eating it.
Set your grill at the mentioned temperature and put the corns over the grill one by one. Lightly brush the corn with some neutral oil for a glossy look.
As the corn heats up on one side, you will start to hear pops. This means that the kernels have started to cook.
Corn has a natural golden yellow color but when heat is applied, it turns a bit red and then starts to char. You would want to get a light char on the kernels.
The goal here isn’t to blacken the entire cob but to just lightly heat it until it gets an even and light char.
Flip the cob around until you cook all the sides equally then remove from the grill.
Please note: this is the ideal time for you to season the corn. We recommend going for a simple red chili powder with a lemon combo to get started.
Don’t worry we will discuss more seasonings below.
BBQing corn works the same way as grilling it. You can either smoke the corn using different types of wood or you could straight up use charcoal.
The goal is simple, to get a light char on each side while cooking the cob.
You can also mix and match different types of wood to get more flavor on the cob. Simply start with almost any type of heat source and then experiment with the flavors.
BBQing corn will follow the same technique as grilling it but you may have to be extra careful as the corn may burn if left unattended.
To cook corn over an open fire, simply cut off the stem and stick a BBQ stick or a fork at the bottom. This will act as a handle and will allow you to move the corn around at different angles.
Start by levitating the corn just over the fire.
You don’t want to put it directly over the fire, the goal here is to cook the corn using ambient heat so that it cooks from the inside out instead of cooking from the outside in.
The corn will turn reddish and then start to char.
Be careful when doing this as the kernels may pop and create a mess which is why you would want to slowly cook the corn over the fire.
Boiling corn is simple and requires the least amount of overseeing during the process.
Simply start by removing the husk from the cob and placing it in a pot of boiling water. Add in 1 tablespoon of salt to at least 3-4 liters of water.
Let the corn cook for about 15-20 minutes or until it has taken on a darker shade of yellow.
You can test for doneness by breaking off a kernel and tasting it. If it is soft and easily chewable then you are good to go.
If not then just boil the corn for about 5 more minutes – repeat this process until the corn is ready.
You can have corn on and off the cob using this method. We recommend boiling the corn first and then removing the kernels off the cob so that it’s much easier to clean everything.
Once you have prepared the corn, it’s time to choose from a range of delicious seasonings. Our favorite is a mix of spice and tanginess.
You can use any type of seasoning and experiment with a range of flavors too.
A word of advice: corn is best seasoned when it is hot.
While you can mix everything as it is, we recommend doing it while it is warm so that all of the flavors are incorporated properly.
Here are a few great seasoning options:
- Salt and cheese
- Butter and spice
- Butter and cheese
- Salt and pepper
- Mayo spice mix
- Herb mix
- Spice and herbs
Salt And Cheese
This is a classic way to enjoy corn either on or off the cob.
The mix of salt and cheese is simple and delicious. Just mix in a pinch of salt and your favorite cheese on the corn for a blast of amazing flavors.
The sweet flavor profile of the corn will go extremely well with the cheese and everything will be amplified because of the salt.
You can also throw in chopped cilantro in the mix for color and flavor. Make sure you add these ingredients while the corn is hot.
Mix or spread it all together and serve while it is still warm for the best results.
Butter And Spice
You can’t go wrong with butter and light spices.
Prepare the corn either on or off the cob and throw in half a tablespoon of butter or more as needed.
Add in some smoked paprika and a dash of lemon juice for a pronounced sweet, buttery, and spicy flavor.
This type of seasoning is best for all types of corn and you can even add cheese on top for more flavor.
Remember, there is no rulebook when it comes to seasoning corn. You can use a combination of these seasonings as per your liking!
Butter And Cheese
As we said, butter and cheese are a tough combination to beat. You can either use cheddar, mozzarella, or even a cheese sauce.
To make the cheese sauce, add in 4 tablespoons of butter, ½ tablespoon of all-purpose flour, a pinch of salt, and cook over low-medium heat until the mix is homogenous.
Be careful, you don’t want to burn the butter, we only want it to melt and mix with the flour and salt.
Add in 1 cup of milk and throw in 2-3 slices of cheese. Keep mixing everything until fully incorporated. Turn up the heat until the mix starts boiling.
Reduce the sauce until it has reached the right consistency and then take the pot off the heat.
Pour it over the cob or in a cup with the cooked kernels and you are good to go! You can also top this with a range of light herbs like oregano, basil, and cilantro.
Salt And Pepper
Trust us, there is something truly wholesome about a hot cob seasoned with nothing but salt and pepper. This classic combo is perfect for every type of corn.
We recommend that you try this with corn on and off the cob.
For added flavor, you can also throw in some spices and a bit of butter for a more grounded and complete flavor.
Mayo Spice Mix
Yes – mayo and corn make for a wonderful combo. In fact, if you are going to try corn off the cob, then we recommend adding in a bit of spicy mayo.
You could either make mayo at home or use store-bought mayo.
To make spicy mayo, just add in 2 tablespoons of your favorite mayo and some smoked paprika and cilantro. Mix it well with the corn and eat it while it’s hot!
You can also purchase store-bought spicy mayo and try a range of other condiments too.
Not many people prefer to have corn with just herbs but once you try the basil and oregano mix with some salt and pepper, you may not want to go back.
This combination of herbs is perfect to balance the sweet and earthy flavors of corn.
Sprinkle some herbs over the cob or just the kernels and mix well. We also recommend adding 1 tablespoon of melted butter over the corn for a unique and healthy snack.
Spices And Herbs
Remember how we talked about chaat masala? This type of seasoning blend is the perfect way to enjoy corn on and off the cob.
Pick any recipe by searching online and mix the spices as per the provided ratios.
You can also use this simple recipe to make the spice blend at home:
In a food processor blend,
- 1 cup coriander seeds
- 1 1/4 cups cumin seeds
- 1/2 cup thymol seeds/ajwain
- 1/2 cup mango powder
- 2 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 1 1/4 cups black rock salt, powdered
- 4 tsp black pepper, powdered
- 2 tsp citric acid
- 1/2 cup dried mint leaves, powdered
Here’s a great way to enjoy corn with the blend above:
Take some of the seasoning and pour it into a small container or plate. Cut a lemon in half and dip one half of it in the seasoning.
Then rub the seasoned lemon onto the corn until it’s completely covered. You can repeat this process until you get a decent amount of seasoning on the corn.
Corn makes for a healthy treat and you can take it to the next level by seasoning it properly. We guarantee that you are going to love every seasoning on our list.
You can also try frozen off-the-cob corn if you are short on time. Remember, regardless of how you enjoy the corn, on or off the cob, finding the right seasoning is what is more important.
Once you have a go-to seasoning, you can build from there and mix and match to create your own blend of seasonings!
Let’s cover a few additional corn-related inquires.
Can I Eat Raw Corn?
It is advised to at least heat the corn until it has a reddish hue. While you can eat raw corn, not cooking it properly may lead to digestion issues.
Always cook the cob properly before seasoning it and consume it while it is hot for the best results.
Can I Use Different Spices To Season Corn?
Yes, you can use a range of different spices and herbs to flavor corn.
There are many combinations that you can try but we recommend starting with classics like lemon and smoked paprika or salt and pepper.
What Type Of Corn Is Best For Seasoning?
Any type of corn will work with all types of seasonings.
If you want the best of the best then we recommend going for special varieties like golden bantam, honey select hybrid, jubilee hybrid, or others.
You can find these at your local supermarket or you may also order them online directly from a local farm.
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