There is a lot of advice and precautions about what you can and cannot put or cook in the microwave. Corn on the cob is a summer staple across the United States, but can you microwave corn on the cob?
Corn on the cob can be cooked safely and effectively in the microwave, with or without the husk, using different processes. Microwaving corn on the cob can help people avoid the mess and hassle that come with traditional corn on the cob cooking methods.
Keep reading to learn more about how to cook corn on the cob, both with and without the husk, in the microwave.
Is Microwaving Corn on the Cob Safe?
Microwaving corn on the cob is safe and can actually be easier than cooking it in other, more traditional ways. Most vegetables must be cooked before consumption because of their lectin content, which otherwise can have a hard time breaking down in your digestive system and lead to an upset stomach, but corn is an exception to this. Corn can be eaten raw, and often has more nutrients before it is cooked, but many people prefer the taste and texture of cooked corn.
As long as you don’t overheat your corn on the cob, heat it in a microwave-safe dish, and don’t wrap it in aluminum foil, plastic wrap, paper, or a plastic bag, you can safely cook corn on the cob in the microwave. You will want to cook it at the recommended cook times given with the microwaving corn on the cob directions listed below. Overheating corn on the cob can cause scorching or burning, and underheating can leave your corn not as warm or as soft as you want it to be.
Fresh corn, so long as it isn’t contaminated by bacteria or raw meat, is safe to cook using several methods, including in the microwave, a pot of boiling water, a steaming basket, an instant pot, the oven, or even on the grill.
A regular, medium-sized ear of corn has a nutrition content of 90 calories, 3 grams of protein, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram each of fiber and fat, 5 grams of sugar, 3.6 milligrams of vitamin C, and 180 milligrams of potassium.
Depending on the method of cooking and how long it is cooked, the ear of corn can lose some of these nutrients during the cooking process, especially through boiling. Cooking corn on the cob in the microwave or on the grill can actually help the corn retain most of its nutrients. Long story short, microwaved corn on the cob is actually healthier than corn on the cob that was cooked by other methods.
Microwaving Corn on the Cob is Less Hassle than Boiling
Boiling a big pot of water can take what feels like ages. Not only do you need a pot large enough to fit long ears of corn, but you need to fill this giant pot up with multiple gallons of water and then transfer it from your kitchen sink to your stove (unless you have a pot filler above your stove). This can be a heavy and daunting task for some.
Secondly, the amount of water required to fill such a large pot that you can submerge the corn into can take much longer than simply boiling a small pot of water. The more water is in the pot, and the larger the pot, the longer it’s going to take to start boiling. Once the water has reached its boiling point, you will also have to wait for the corn to be fully steamed and heated through, in addition to the process of husking the corn before or after you boil it. This means that it will take you quite a while for your corn to be fully husked and cooked, so you will have to plan and prepare everything ahead of time so you can eat dinner on time.
Microwaving your corn on the cob cuts down this cooking time significantly, especially because you don’t have to go through the hassle of filling a pot with water and waiting for the water to come to a boil. The only downside of cooking corn in the microwave is that you can only cook two or three ears of corn at a time. Other methods of cooking corn on the cob are more suitable and quicker if you want to cook several ears of corn at once.
How to Microwave Corn on the Cob without the Husk
If you want to microwave your corn on the cob without the husk, you’ll need to remove the husk first. This process is called corn shucking. To shuck your corn, start by peeling off the outer leaves one by one until only the inner leaves surrounding the ears are remaining. Then peel back the leaves at the tip of the cob to expose the first few rows of kernels on the ear.
Grasp the tips of these leaves and the tassel together with one hand while grasping the bottom of the corn with your other hand. Then pull down in one firm tugging motion so that the leaves and tassels peel straight down and turn inside out. Once the leaves and tassels are fully peeled away from the ear, you’ll want to break off the leaves, silks, and tassels from where they are attached to the corn.
All leaves, silks, and tassels can be discarded into the trash or in your compost bin. Finally, examine the ear of corn and pick and peel away any remaining silks that are still stuck to the corn. If there are several, just peel away the ones that are the most noticeable.
- Moisten a paper towel and wrap it around the ear of corn until it is entirely wrapped. Repeat this process for all other ears of corn.
- Place up to 4 paper-towel-wrapped ears of corn on a microwave-safe plate.
- Set the plate in the microwave and set the cooking time to 3 to 4 minutes. If cooking 1 or 2 ears of corn, cook for 3 minutes. If cooking 3 or 4 ears of corn, cook for 4 minutes.
- Remove the hot ears of corn from the microwave with both hands using 2 hot pads, potholders, or a towel.
- Let them sit for about 2 minutes. The corn will continue to cook outside the microwave while they are still wrapped in the paper towel.
- Remove the paper towels from the ears of corn and add butter and salt to them. Then, enjoy your delicious corn on the cob! (Tip: you can purchase corn on the cob holders to skewer into each end of the ear to make the eating process easier.)
If you don’t have paper towels on hand, here is an alternative way you can cook shucked corn on the cob in the microwave:
- Pour 2 tablespoons of water onto a large microwave-safe plate. The water will spread but should create a puddle in the center.
- Place 2 shucked ears of corn onto the plate and set the plate in the microwave.
- Top the plate with another dinner plate of the same size. Make sure that the other plate is upside down.
- Set the microwave time to 4 minutes and press start.
- Using 2 potholders or a towel, lift the top plate to check on the corn. The corn should be a deeper yellow color than when you placed them inside. If in doubt, carefully press on the corn with a utensil to see if the kernels are tender. If not, they may need to be cooked for 1 more minute. Replace the top plate before reheating.
- Remove the top plate from the microwave, then the bottom plate where the corn is sitting.
- Using tongs, remove each ear of corn from the hot, wet plate and transfer them to a new plate.
- Put butter and salt on the corn on the cob and enjoy!
How to Microwave Corn on the Cob with the Husk
Waiting until after the corn is cooked to remove the husk can make the shucking process, described in the above section, easier. That’s because the heat causes the silk to lose its grip on the corn kernels. In some cases, microwaving corn while it’s still in the husk can cause the husk and the silk to slide off the corn. Just be sure to let the corn cool down a bit before attempting to shuck them.
This process, however, may make buttering your corn on the cob a bit more difficult, as the butter won’t melt and spread as well on the cooled ear of corn. When it comes time to shuck your corn after heating it in the microwave, we recommend following our shucking process described in steps 6 and 7 in this section rather than the steps described in the previous section.
- Cut off the ends of the silks where they stick out of the husks to avoid burning.
- Place 1 to 4 ears of unshucked corn on a microwave-safe plate.
- Set the microwave to the following times, depending on the number of corn ears on your plate: 1 ear – 2 minutes; 2 ears – 4 minutes; 3 ears – 5 minutes; 4 ears – 6 minutes.
- Remove the plate from the microwave using a hand towel or pot holder.
- Let the corn sit for 5 minutes to allow it to finish cooking and cool down.
- Check that the corn is fully cooked. You can do this by peeling back the top of one of the leaves a few inches until the first few rows of corn are exposed.
- Press on the corn to see if it is tender. If it’s not tender to your liking, place the corn back in the microwave and set the time for 1 more minute, then repeat steps 3 to 5.
- Place the ears of corn on a cutting board and cut one inch off the end of each ear with the stub. This is the end of the corn that doesn’t have silk fibers showing.
- Hold the end of the corn with the silk fibers with one hand, then, with your other hand, peel the husk away from the cob, starting at the end where you cut.
- Once you’ve cooked and peeled all your ears of corn, enjoy your corn on the cob.
Reheating Pre-cooked Corn on the Cob in the Microwave
If you’ve already cooked your corn using any of these methods and placed leftovers in the fridge overnight or for a few days, you can reheat your corn on the cob in the microwave. To reheat pre-cooked corn on the cob, follow these steps:
- Pour 2 tablespoons of water on a large, microwave-safe dinner plate.
- Place 1 or 2 ears of pre-cooked corn on the plate.
- Cover the plate with a moist hand towel.
- Microwave the corn on high for 20 seconds.
- Remove the moist hand towel, flip the corn to the other side, then microwave again for another 20 seconds on high.
- Repeat step 5 one or more times until the corn is heated through.
- Enjoy your reheated corn!
Popping Dried Corn on the Cob in the Microwave
Sometimes farm-fresh corn on the cob that comes from the farmer’s market or the grocery store is pre-dried so you can make popcorn. Here’s how to quickly and easily make popcorn from corn on the cob that has dried kernels in the microwave:
- Place your dried corn on the cob into a small paper bag.
- Fold down the end of the paper bag twice to secure it.
- Set the paper bag in the microwave.
- Set the cooking time for 4 minutes.
- Pay attention to the microwave and listen for the pops.
- Somewhere between the 2:30 and 4:00 mark, the popping sound will slow down.
- Stop and open the microwave once the popping sound stops for about 5 seconds.
- Transfer your popcorn from the paper bag and into a bowl, throwing out the core of the corn that the popcorn emerged from.
- Add melted butter and salt to the popcorn to your liking and enjoy!