60 Healthy Ways to Cook Sweet Summer Corn
Cooking with Corn
Fresh corn is pure summer. Peel back a cob and poke a plump kernel with a thumbnail to see the sweet milk. Beyond the whole cob lie these of-the-moment recipes: tangy corn salad, crisp grilled corn, savory corn casserole, creamy corn chowder, and comforting corn soup.
Corn’s mild sweet flavor makes it easy to love. Corn is also impressively versatile—and it can easily go from quick-and-easy side dish to show-stopping main. While corn is typically treated like a vegetable in cooking, it's actually a healthy whole grain. It's also a rich source of antioxidants, and whether you enjoy it on or off the cob, corn has a rightful spot in a healthy diet. Our healthy corn recipes explore both classic and clever ways to use fresh corn—from from corn chowder to grilled corn, corn casserole to corn salad, and so much more.
Creole Shrimp and Creamed Corn
This dish is a fresh, tasty twist on shrimp and grits. The shrimp mixture takes on bold flavors from Creole seasoning, smoked paprika, thyme, and garlic—making for a robust mixture that’s complemented by the sweetness of the creamed corn. Aim for large shrimp here so the dish feels a little more special; we suggest 16/20 count shrimp or 10/15 count if you want them even bigger.
Corn on the Cob with Lemon-Chive Butter
Nothing says summer like fresh corn on the cob. Here are a few of our favorite flavor combos for buttering them up:
Tomato, Basil, and Corn Pizza
A sprinkling of cornmeal keeps the dough from sticking to the pizza stone and gets the bottom of the crust extra crispy. If you don't have a rectangular pizza stone, use a heavy baking sheet instead. Serve with a green side salad for a winning weeknight combination.
Andrew Zimmern's Grilled Corn and Snap Pea Salad
You can assemble this salad the day before you plan to serve it, but toss in dressing just before serving to keep Zimmern's salad as crisp as he intended.
Grilled Green Onions with Corn and Tarragon
This combo goes well with grilled chicken or flank steak. Or serve with grilled zucchini planks.
Early Summer Succotash
In this fresh take on succotash, we use a pan-steaming technique (no steamer basket required) to cut down on cooking time and keep the beans and corn crisp-tender rather than ultra-soft. For succotash, fresh corn always tastes more delicious than frozen, but thawed frozen corn would certainly be a good stand-in here in a pinch. If you are using fresh corn, after you cut the kernels off, run the dull side of your knife down the kernel and scrape some of the corn “milk” into the pan, too. This recipe makes a small portion but can be doubled or even tripled to serve a crowd.
Fresh Corn and Potato Soup With Sautéed Shrimp
Sweet fresh corn and butter-sautéed shrimp pair up deliciously in this seasonal soup. After tasting the delicious results of "milking" a fresh corn cob, you'll never shuck and chuck again. We fully tap the flavor of in-season corn with this kernel-to-cob cooking method, infusing our summer soup with a wealth of rich, sweet flavor.
Mexican-Style Air-Fried Corn
No need to track down a food truck to get your Mexican street corn fix—your air fryer turns out a fantastic batch. A quick turn halfway through cooking yields crispy, juicy corn that soaks up the tasty garlic-lime butter like a champ.
Pick out small ears, or trim them slightly so that they fit into the air fryer basket. If you have any leftovers, cut the kernels off the cob and stir into a dip or sprinkle over a salad.
Skirt Steak with Corn and Red Pepper Puree
Red Bell Pepper gets used two tasty ways: as a vegetable in the corn sauté and as a pureed sauce for the plate. Fresh corn is not just sweet; it has a surprising hit of umami intensity.
Corn Cakes with Bacon and Turmeric Yogurt
Serve these sweet-savory cakes as a hearty side dish (they would be great with grilled shrimp) or as a lighter entrée with a side salad. Or turn them into an appetizer by making smaller cakes.
Fresh Corn Cakes with Summer Salsa
This speedy vegetarian entrée is absolutely bursting with peak-season produce. Side suggestion: an herby white bean and arugula salad.
Summer Corn and Shrimp Succotash
This succotash is richly satisfying yet healthy and not heavy. Fresh beans bring verdant brightness, while briny shrimp marry perfectly with sweet corn.
Mushroom and Charred Corn Tacos with Guacamole
This quick taco filling is perfect for weeknight dinners, Poblano chiles bring rich, earthy flavor but little to no heat. (Every once in a while you can get a hot one, though.) If you want to add a little spice, add some crushed red pepper when you sauté the mushrooms.
Smoky Grilled Corn
Halibut with Bacony Corn Sauté
Be sure to buy fresh, never-frozen fish, summer corn on the cob and in the husks, and your favorite bacon. Applewood-smoked bacon is more subtle than hickory or mesquite and won't clobber all of the other ingredients. Just a spritz of fresh lime juice brings the flavors into perfect balance.
Mexican Corn Salad
Corn, Squash, and Green Onion Flatbreads
If you think this vibrant flatbread won't be filling enough for a whole meal, combine it with a simple mixed-greens salad for a delicious all-veggie dinner.
Snapper with Corn-Okra Relish
Chilled Butter Bean Soup with Basil-Corn Relish
Sauteed sweet corn and earthy basil make a delicious garnish to this fresh summer soup. You'll need about 1 1/2 pounds of butter bean pods to get 2 cups shelled beans. You can substitute fresh lima beans, if you prefer.
Shrimp Tacos with Corn Salsa
The broiler is a clever shortcut for crisping and browning corn quickly—then we combine it with avocado, fresh cilantro, lime juice, and other ingredients to make a fresh tangy salsa. Tossing the shrimp in a little honey before cooking helps to create tasty grill marks.
Grilled Corn, Chicken, and Bell Pepper Salad
Shredded rotisserie chicken and sweet corn get extra-delicious when paired with perfectly charred bell peppers, oregano, and cream.
Esquites (Creamy Corn Salad)
Esquites is a cousin to elote—that street food favorite of creamy cheese-coated corn cobs. You can also find this off-the-cob version with Mexican street food vendors. It's great on its own or served as a side dish with grilled meats.
Smoky Beer-Poached Grilled Corn
We took a technique that’s typically used for bratwurst and applied it to corn—with amazing results. You can save the beer after poaching the corn and use it for poaching brats or for steaming peel-and-eat shrimp.
Tomato and Corn Bulgur Salad
Fresh corn from the farmers' market stars in this dish, which is sprinkled with crumbled bacon and toasted pine nuts.
This tangy corn relish recipe features fresh corn, bell pepper, diced green tomato and tomatillos and gets a kick from jalapeno pepper. You'll be amazed at how many ways you can serve this recipe. Feel free to make a milder relish by seeding the jalapeño.
Shrimp and Corn Chowder
Serve this hearty chowder with a crusty baguette. Use fresh corn, if available.
Sweet Corn Oatmeal with Peaches
Try substituting unsweetened almond milk (we like Almond Breeze) for the whole milk for a rich, slightly nutty flavor.
Shrimp, Chorizo, and Corn Salad
Shrimp, fresh corn, and chorizo make for a delicious trifecta, while fiery Sriracha sauce adds a touch of heat. Prepping the ingredients takes less than 10 minutes, so you can easily whip this up during a summer cookout and still enjoy the party.
Grilled Pork Tacos with Summer Corn and Nectarine Salsa
We love this recipe because it is a complete hand-held meal nestled within a grilled corn tortilla—plus, it's budget-friendly. Be sure to zest your lime before you slice and juice it.
Corn Frittata with Pecorino-Romano Cheese
There isn't an herb that doesn't go well with crisp fresh corn—dill, basil, cilantro, lovage—but dark green Italian parsley is also good and bracing against the corn's sweetness. For an extra dose of smoky essence, sprinkle a pinch of smoked paprika over each serving.
Saucy Crawfish with Whole Corn Grits
Substitute shrimp for the crawfish, if you prefer. Toasting the flour brings nutty flavor to the sauce, similar to a brown roux. Microgreens make an elegant garnish.
Corn Pancakes with Smoked Salmon and Lemon-Chive Cream
These savory pancakes are dressed perfectly with fresh lemon-chive cream and smoked salmon. Breakfast time, or anytime, these are a must try.
Oaxacan-Style Grilled Corn on the Cob
Look for crema at Latin markets or by the supermarket's Mexican cheeses. It's slightly tangier than sour cream.
Sweet Corn Ice Cream
Steeping cobs in the cream mixture infuses it with corn flavor. If possible, chill the corn mixture overnight. This lets flavors meld and helps the ice cream to freeze faster: The quicker it freezes, the creamier it will be.
Shrimp and Corn Cakes with Heirloom Tomato Salsa
Delicious patties made of fresh corn, shrimp, and bell pepper are pan-fried to perfection in this recipe. Serrano chile in the heirloom tomato salsa adds a bit of heat, and cilantro some earthy freshness.
Mushroom, Corn, and Poblano Tacos
Keep your tortillas soft by wrapping them in foil and keeping them in a warm oven.
Paella with Poblanos, Corn, and Clams
This recipe from Mark Bittman received rave reviews from CL staffers for its crunchy rice and sweetness brininess from fresh littleneck clams. Bittman says: "The part of paella I couldn't dare change is the socarrat—the crisp browned rice on the bottom of the pan. The crust won't form until all of the liquid from the clams and the tomatoes has boiled off, so be patient with that last step: I promise you, it's worth it."
Grilled Corn on the Cob
Grilled in its husk, the corn takes on a wonderful, lightly charred flavor while its sugars caramelize and intensify. Soaking in salted water lightly seasons the corn and helps keep it moist as it grills. Then, since the silks have been removed, just peel and enjoy.
Grilled Corn, Poblano, and Black Bean Salad
Here's a great side for grilled meats and fish. Be sure you don't skimp on the fresh cilantro. It brings an extra dash of fresh flavor.
Ginger-Scented Corn and Asparagus Stir-Fry
Rice and corn make a perfect bed for this bowlful of delicious flavor. Tofu makes this a filling meal.
Basil and Corn Farro Salad
If you can't find precooked farro, substitute precooked or boil-in-bag brown rice.
Avocado-Corn Chowder with Grilled Chicken
Top a creamy chilled avocado soup with fresh corn and grilled chicken for a colorful and flavorful main-dish entrée.
Grilled Corn Salsa
Don’t be afraid to get some good char all over the corn; that’s where a lot of the flavor comes from. We like the look of red jalapeños here, but you can also use green jalapeños (which taste the same) if they’re easier to find. Try the citrus-spiked salsa as a dip with tortilla chips or a topper for blackened fish, steak, or chicken; or tuck some into fish or shrimp tacos, combine it with black beans for a quesadilla filling, stuff a hefty spoonful into an omelet or frittata, or toss a generous amount with quinoa for a hearty main-dish salad.
Grilled Corn on the Cob with Roasted Jalapeño Butter
This easy, 5-ingredient grilled corn gets its flavor from jalapeño peppers that are roasted, chopped, and stirred into honey butter.
Silky Tomato-Basil Soup with Fresh Corn
A warm bowl of soup is often unappreciated in the summer heat, but we tap into some of the season’s best produce, from juicy tomatoes to sweet corn, to create a luxurious, fresh tomato soup. Silken tofu stands in for traditional heavy cream, lending rich body and a hit of quality protein. Serve this vibrant soup with thick slices of day-old grilled bread (think giant personal croutons) for a virtuously comforting meal.
Summer Veggie Pizza
Using store-bought pizza dough is a lifesaver when dinners have to be quick. These vegetable toppings use the very best of the season with fresh bell pepper, corn, and basil. It’s simply good.
Summer Squash and Corn Chowder
Enjoy soup in the summertime by making this satisfying chowder with seasonal produce. Top with cheese and bacon for kid appeal.
Corn Fritters with Roasted Tomatoes and Lime Aioli
For convenience, you can make the tomatoes and fritters in advance, then reheat them to serve. Reheating the fritters in an oven or toaster oven will keep them from being soggy.
Creamy Corn Risotto
Fresh, crunchy summer corn is a great addition to this savory dish. Add in other summer veggies, like squash, if you like.
Golden Corn Salad with Fresh Basil
For a quick, tasty, and affordable side dish to bring to parties, picnics, or just to house in the fridge for snacks, try this recipe. Fresh summer corn can be a sweet treat, especially with tight, green husks and golden, moist silks.
Chilled Fresh Corn Soup with King Crab
This chilled soup is full of delectably sweet fresh corn and gorgeous pieces of king crab legs.
Goat Cheese and Roasted Corn Quesadillas
Browning the corn caramelizes its sugars and deepens the taste of this dish. If you have fresh cilantro on hand, chop two tablespoons and stir it into the salsa.
Quick Chicken-Corn Chowder
You can have this chicken and corn chowder on the table in less than 30 minutes. Sounds too good to be true, right? We guess you will just have to try it to find out.
Sweet Corn Chowder with Hot-Smoked Salmon
The fish, used in place of the bacon often found in traditional chowder recipes, adds heart-healthy fats and protein. Great made ahead, this soup gets better with time.
Indiana Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches with Creamy Corn Relish
This Midwestern signature sandwich traditionally features a deep-fried pork cutlet that sprawls like the Great Plains over a comically overmatched bun. Our pork is more modestly sized, yet holds its own in the flavor and crunch departments. The real flourish on this sandwich features another classic Midwestern element: creamy-tangy corn relish, which really makes the sandwich pop. We love fine-textured Wondra flour, which helps create the crispy coating on the pork—but you can also use all-purpose flour and still get great results. If you're not immediately assembling and serving the sandwiches, keep the pork on a wire rack so the bottom doesn't get steamy and soggy.
Sweet Pea Risotto with Corn Broth
All over the country, summer markets are full of fresh, locally grown corn. It's put to delicious use in this dish. We loved the Corn Broth and thought it would make a tasty summer soup all by itself.
Baked Tomatoes with Quinoa, Corn, and Green Chiles
These tomatoes are stuffed full with super healthy quinoa, sweet fresh corn, poblano chiles, and lots of shredded cheese. Fresh lime juice adds a burst of citrus freshness. It's a delicious side or meatless main.
Easy Corn Casserole
Making the most of convenience products, this corn casserole comes together quickly as an ideal side dish for chili, spicy pork, or chicken.
Crab and Grilled Corn Salad
Charring the corn adds toasty, nutty depth. Serve with for a complete meal.