I'm as big a fan of grilled sweet corn dripping with salted butter as the next person. The summer is long, though, so why limit yourself to standard corn on the cob when you can try these intriguing upgrades? Ranging from simple to elaborate, each of these garnishes deliciously accentuates this summer staple.

By Sarah E Crowder
Updated March 20, 2019

1. Mexican Street Corn

During the warm months, you can find Mexican street corn, or elote, on what feels like every corner in my neighborhood. Served on a stick and often slathered with crema and sprinkled with Cotija cheese, it's a salty-sweet summer snack I can't resist. If you aren't so lucky as to have it available just around the corner, try Pati Jinich's recipe.

2. Italian-Style Corn

If you're in the mood for Italian, try a version inspired by Mexican corn that replaces crema and queso with pesto and Parmesan. Get the recipe at Cooking for Keeps.

Our Best Summer Side-Dish Ideas

3. Flavored Butters

The most popular and, in my opinion, unequivocally superior corn on the cob garnish is butter. A natural way to pump in extra flavor is through flavored butters, and I have these three in mind: chives, sun-dried tomato, and smoked paprika. Get the recipes at The Foodie Corner.

4. Corn Kabobs

Sometimes it's nice to keep the seasonings simple. Plus, do you know what I love most with my vegetables? More vegetables. These corn skewers help you eat your veggies and serve them stunningly. Get the details at Merry Tummy.

5. Corn on the Cob with Cilantro Chimichurri

Chimichurri is a superb topper for all things grilled, and corn is no exception. This garlicky, herbaceous sauce pairs perfectly with the pop of warm, sweet corn kernels. Get the recipe at Ricotta and Radishes.

6. Fire-Roasted Corn with Vegetable Medley

This bountiful version moves corn on the cob from the side-dish zone firmly into main-course territory. Only juicy, sweet, slightly smoky grilled corn could hold the weight of blue cheese, bacon, and a trio of vegetables without getting lost. Get the recipe at Little Rusted Ladle.

7. Batter-Fried Corn on the Cob

Does this one sound healthier if I call it corn garnished with corn? It's actually corn on the cob dipped in a cornmeal batter and deep-fried. No matter how you spin it, I want some. Get the recipe at Simply Sated.

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Comments (4)

July 3, 2018
As good as all the recipes are that I've seen online and tried, the best is the simplest: if the corn is not fresh and sweet, nothing will improve it. Trim the stalk end and lay up to 4 in the microwave, in the husk, alternating direction. Cook 2 minutes per ear, let rest about half that time, then flip over and move the inner ears to the outside. 2 more minutes per ear, then stack until you get enough cooked. They stay warm a long time and they don't need anything else, even children agree. When grilling, we soak in water 15 minutes, then line them up on the warming rack of the grill. In any case, one ingredient: corn in the husk.
July 7, 2018
I agree - DO NOT REMOVE THE HUSK BEFORE MICROWAVING! This allows the ears to steam in the husk. I also lay a clean dishtowel over them after I take them out to hold in the heat for a bit. They are SO MUCH EASIER to husk after cooking! You don't need to add water, either if you leave the husk on. I simply put them on a plate!
July 3, 2018
I agree! The easiest way is the microwave. I shuck the ears, place up to 8 ears in a 9 x 13 glass dish, add 3 Tablespoons of water, and microwave for 10 minutes.
July 3, 2018
The most delicious way to eat corn on the cob is to shuck it, remove all stray fronds, boil it until tender, remove and drain, then place place 2-3 ears on a dinner plate and next liberally top them with freshly milled cracked black pepper and sea salt, fresh 100% virgin Olive Oil, and Sons of Italy Basalmic Vineagar salad dressing and freshly sliced Thai basil. Nothing compares! Add fresh sliced tomatoes to your plate and smother them with the same ingredients. You can also add fresh slices of mozzarella. Finish with sliced watermelon. The BEST Summer meal!!