When I lived in the country, you knew it was really summer when pick-up trucks appeared by the side of the road loaded with sweet corn. The farmers would bring their extra harvest to town first thing in the morning, and it'd all be snatched up before lunchtime. Not much can beat naturally sweet, juicy summertime corn, especially when it goes from stalk to dinner table in a matter of hours—but on-the-cob, daubed-in-butter isn't the only way to serve it, good though it may be. If you're looking to branch out a little, try one of these 17 delicious ways to enjoy fresh corn at its peak.
Grilled Corn, Tomato, Feta, and Herb Salad
Grill fresh, in-season corn to give it a smoky and sweet flavor before combining it with ripe tomatoes at the peak of their season, and you've got the building blocks of a perfect summer salad. Salty feta, lots of fresh herbs, and a simple lemon dressing are the only other ingredients you need.
The Best Basic Grilled Corn
If you want to grill corn on the cob, you have a few options—and all of them are delicious—but the most important element is just using ultra-fresh corn. Serve it straight up with a little butter in this recipe, or get creative with one of our grilled corn variations.
Charred Corn, Radish, Jicama, and Green Bean Salad With Lime Dressing
This vegan chopped salad is loaded with crisp fresh vegetables: raw green beans combined with crunchy radishes, lightly sweet jicama, bell pepper, scallions, and smoky charred corn, all tied together with a light but flavorful honey- and lime-based dressing.
Savory Bacon-Cheddar Pancakes With Corn and Jalapeño
Though we're used to having them sweetened and smothered in maple syrup, American-style pancakes are just as good when prepared as a savory dish—for example, stuffed with smoky bacon, corn, jalapeño, scallions, and gooey cheddar cheese. These make a great dish for brunch or dinner, and they take only 30 minutes from start to finish.
Steak and Corn Salad With Tomatillos and Ancho-Chili Vinaigrette
A salad that acts as a complete meal is a convenient way to minimize your time in the kitchen over the summer. The fact that this one incorporates seasonal sweet corn is just a bonus. Here, charred corn kernels are mixed with spice-rubbed flank steak and crunchy raw tomatillos, then topped with a sprinkling of cotija cheese and tossed in a lightly spicy lime vinaigrette.
Roasted Pepper Cornbread
Cornbread (cooked in a cast iron skillet, of course) is always a good choice for mopping up all the smoky grilled flavors of summer. This Southwestern-style recipe uses whole corn kernels in addition to cornmeal, plus roasted poblano and red peppers to add powerful flavor and a little cayenne pepper to lend a touch of heat. Sour cream and buttermilk keep the batter moist.
Mexican Street Corn (Elotes)
As we're prone to pointing out here, Mexican street corn is a top candidate for the best way to eat fresh corn, ever. Grilled corn is slathered in a creamy mixture of salty cotija cheese, crema, mayonnaise, garlic, cilantro, and chili powder. The result is sweet, creamy, tangy, cheesy, smoky—basically, it's just really, really good.
Guacamole With Charred Corn, Black Beans, and Scallions
Add some heft, texture, and extra flavor to creamy guacamole with charred fresh corn, black beans, and scallions. It's a super-easy way to make this dip almost a meal in its own right, or just to make an otherwise standard appetizer a little more special.
Parisian Gnocchi With Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Corn, and Zucchini
Here, homemade gnocchi is accentuated by a bright and subtly sweet summertime medley of corn, cherry tomatoes, and squash. This dish works perfectly for a dinner party—the gnocchi can be made and refrigerated before the guests arrive, and you can finish off the corn and tomato mixture in 30 minutes, with a glass of wine in hand.
The Best Corn Chowder
If you really want to experience the fresh, sweet flavor of corn in its purest form, put it in a chowder. Use the freshest corn possible, and keep it simple—none of that bacon stuff. In this version, the cobs are simmered with the stock to extract even more corn flavor. Once all the ingredients are combined, the mixture is lightly blended to achieve a creamy consistency.
Poached Eggs With Corn, Chorizo, Basil, and Brioche Croutons
For a gourmet brunch in less than half an hour, serve perfectly poached eggs with a ragoût of charred corn, small-diced chorizo, brioche croutons cooked in the chorizo fat, scallions, and basil. When broken, the egg yolk turns it all into a delicious sort of breakfast stew, rich and light at the same time.
Corn, Avocado, and Radish Tartine
Tartines make an easy summer appetizer, snack, or light lunch that's prettier than a sandwich. For this one, just toast up some hearty bread and top it with mashed ripe avocado, charred corn, garlic, cilantro, scallions, and crispy radishes. It's cool and creamy and toasty and crunchy, and it'll only take up 20 minutes of your day.
Potato and Corn Empanadas With Aji
Make the dough in advance, and these empanadas come together in no time. They're great as a snack or a party appetizer, or as part of a meal. The fresh corn gives them sweetness and crunch, while potato lends extra heartiness, jalapeño gives a bit of heat, and scallions and cilantro add fresh notes to every mouthful.
Chicken Salad With Avocado, Corn, and Miso Dressing
Infuse an ordinary chicken salad with the refreshing flavors of corn and avocado to make it instantly taste like summer. Use a sous-vide precision cooker, if you have one, to ensure that the meat stays super moist and absorbs the flavor of the aromatics it's cooked with.
Cheesy Slow-Cooker Creamed Corn
Using a slow cooker allows you to make traditionally labor-intensive comfort foods like creamed corn the easy, hands-off way. A mixture of cream cheese, American cheese, and crème fraîche leaves this version plenty creamy and cheesy, but is less heavy than a flour-thickened white sauce or heavy cream.
Chorizo-Spiced Pulled Pork With Mexican Street Corn Slaw
Combine the heady spices of chorizo with the juiciness of pulled pork in one dynamite dish. The pork, slow-cooked in a Dutch oven with spices and beer, emerges tender, juicy, and flavorful. The corn slaw used to top it off is reminiscent of elote (Mexican street corn) and adds a much-needed element of freshness to the meaty sandwiches.
Esquites (Mexican Street Corn Salad)
If you want to serve Mexican street corn at a proper sit-down dinner—I mean, without kernels flying all over the place as everyone ravenously digs in—shuck the corn and cook it in a hot wok, then toss it with the usual mixture of cotija cheese, mayonnaise, scallions, garlic, cilantro, and lime for an excellent (and tidier) summertime side.