Of all the ways we cook corn, none is more underrated than roasting. Boiling is the quintessential method, while microwaving and grilling hold their own as cool alternatives. Yet roasting corn is like unlocking its hidden sweetness and earthy flavor in a totally hands-off way. Even better? There’s more than one way to do it right. You can roast corn with the husk on, the husk off, or wrapped in foil depending on who you’re feeding.
Why roasted corn is always worth it
Here’s why heating up the oven for a few ears of corn will always be worth it: Roasting brings out a crisp sweetness in corn. Roasting with or without the husk contributes to browning, which adds another layer of flavor (think: caramel-like richness) and doesn’t require the tending that grilling does. Bottom line, roasting is ideal for cooking corn in the oven when you need to cook a lot of it while preparing other food. There are three ways you can roast corn in the oven, and each will give you a slightly different result.
1. Roasting corn in the husk
This is my personal favorite way to roast corn in the oven. All you need to do is trim the silk at the top of each cob and set the cobs on an oven rack. The husk will dry and pull away in the oven, browning a few of the kernels but also making removing the husk even easier after cooking. The taste is subtly sweet and less caramelized than roasting the corn without the husk.
This method is best for: When you don’t have a lot of prep time for husking and want to get the corn started right away. Done in about 30 minutes.
2. Roasting corn without the husk
Roasting plain, husked cobs in the oven creates the most caramelized corn in the oven, but also makes for chewier, drier corn. The corn will cook more quickly than the other two methods but is prone to drying out — so this is corn you’ll want to serve with lots of butter or a creamy sauce.
This method is great for: Grilled flavor without a grill. Make sure you have a sauce, butter or cheese ready to combat dryness. Done in 25 minutes.
3. Roasting corn in foil (with butter)
This method is for all you buttery corn enthusiasts out there. Husk the corn, wrap it in foil with a dab of butter, and roast the little packets of corn goodness until tender. These corn cobs will essentially steam inside the foil, creating a corn that is both tender and sweet.
Try this when: You’re cooking and serving corn for a crowd and you also need to keep the corn warm for serving later. Done in 30 minutes.
- 4 ears fresh corn
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (optional)
Method 1: Roasting corn in the husk
1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350 F.
2. Use kitchen shears or a chef’s knife to trim the top of the corn, cut the tassels, and remove the first layer of husk.
3. Place the corn directly on the oven rack and roast until the husk is brown and pulling away from the corn, about 30 minutes.
4. Set the corn aside until cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes. Remove the husk and silk and serve.
Method 2: Roasting corn out of the husk
1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400 F.
2. Remove the husk and silk from the corn.
3. Place the corn directly on the oven rack and roast until golden-brown, about 25 minutes. Set the corn aside until cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes.
Method 3: Roasting corn in aluminum foil
1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 375 F.
2. Remove the husk and silk from the corn. Wrap each ear of corn in a 6-inch piece of aluminum foil — add 1/2 tablespoon butter to each package if desired.
3. Roast the foil-wrapped cobs directly on the rack for 30 minutes. Set the foil-wrapped corn aside until cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes, before serving.
Recipe notes: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.
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