When boiling corn, how can I tell when it's done?

I usually remove the husk and silk. Would there be any advantage to leaving them on when boiling?

  • 1
    what's your general technique after you've removed the husk and the silk (which I do as well)? Place in boiling water? Place in cool water and bring to a boil? Add salt? Sugar?
    – justkt
    Aug 11, 2010 at 16:53
  • I start the water to boil and then husk it. Once it's boiling, I add the corn. I don't add salt or anything else to the water.
    – KatieK
    Aug 11, 2010 at 21:08
  • on a side note, Try grilling them too :)
    – dassouki
    Aug 12, 2010 at 14:59
  • @dassouki - so, so good grilled with the husk and silks off drenched in butter and covered in seasoned salt and pepper
    – justkt
    Aug 12, 2010 at 15:23
  • next time, mix a wee bit of butter with chilly or cayenne
    – dassouki
    Aug 12, 2010 at 15:30

10 Answers 10


It does depend on the corn.

Eat some raw... Notice the starchy taste (Still yummy, just starchy)

What you want to do is boil it just enough to drive out the starchy taste.

I would get 3 cobs, break them in half, and pull one out every minute.

Then have a taste test.

  • I love kitchen tests, +1 from me - with corn, "done" can be very subjective and this is the perfect way to test how long it takes to get it done to your liking Aug 11, 2010 at 19:50

Removing the husk is fine. Usually you can detect a color shift when it's nearly done. White corn will become slightly yellow and yellow corn will turn a bright dark-yellow.

Easiest way is to just set a timer. Cooking times range from 1 - 10 minutes.

1 minute = still has a bite to it (slightly crunchy) 10 minutes = soft with almost no bite


It depends on your definition of done. My suggestion is to standardize your method and then just determine how many minutes you like. I use already boiling water with a maxed out flame and a good amount of salt, and the husk and silk removed, and I find 90 seconds is about right. You may find you like 2 or even 4 minutes. Be sure and use a pot that is big enough that the water won't cool down too much when you add the corn.


My method is to get the pot to a boil, add corn and wait 5 minutes. I use shucked corn, I would think it would be pretty messy to work with boiled un-shucked corn. I only use sweet 2-tone corn so its possible all yellow corn would need longer.


I always shuck my corn just before I want to cook it. Never buy pre-shucked corn as it loses it's freshness sitting there in plastic. I bring the water to a boil, but instead of salt like you would use for most vegetables, I use about a tablespoon of sugar. This helps to add sweetness to the corn. I put the corn in and boil at a medium rolling boil for about 8 minutes. The corn changes colour to a deeper yellow just before this.


I shuck the corn and put the husks (not silk) in a large pot and add cold water just to the top of the husks. Place corn over this and steam for 15 minutes on medium heat. Would never boil or add sugar - corn is sweet enough.


I leave the husk and silk on and boil for 15-20 minutes, the husk obviously slows the cooking time. Then drain and remove the husks and silk to serve - although you need asbestos hands.

Alternatively, remove the husks and silk, rub some butter on each cob and wrap in baking paper - twisting the ends to keep in the steam and butter. Then microwave on high for 5-10 minutes, plus or minus, depending on how "done" you like your corn and how many cobs you're doing in the batch. The butter melts through and the moisture in the corn/butter steams them perfectly.


Assuming you are talking corn on the cob...another method.

Shuck the corn. Boil salted water. Add ears to boiling water, cover. Return to boil, turn off heat. Wait 5 minutes. Serve. Any remaining ears can be left in the water for up to 10 minutes without becoming tough.


Hmmm, now I'm surprised. I always cook my corn husks 15-20 minutes. Gotta try shorter time, aparently!

Edit: I will say though, given the corn I use, it is still crunchy after boiling this long.

  • Are you European? Corn there is different. It's pretty well only the Russians who grow American Sweet Corn in any quantity (Kruschev introduced it as a food crop.) Most European corns are hard corns, used primarily as livestock feed. Aug 26, 2010 at 12:53
  1. put the pot on the stove to boil.
  2. go out to the garden and pick the corn
  3. remove the husks and silks
  4. into the boiling water
  5. You can tell when it's done by how quickly it dries when you lift a cob (with tongs) out of the water. A cooked cob is a hot cob, and it will steam dry within just a few seconds. You shouldn't need to cook fresh corn longer than 5 minutes. Once you learn the look od a cooked cob, you will not need a timer any more. There is also a colour change you can learn to recognize.
  6. Butter, salt, pepper, eat it

Don't cook more than one or two person at a time - it's hard to get a pot that will hold more anyway, and they cook so quickly it's better to just get up and cook another batch. Don't pour out the water until you're out of corn or everyone's full.

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