corn on the cob

Rachel Schneider / Cheapism

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As we head into the season for sweet corn, I feel it is my civic duty to share with the world the proper way to cook corn on the cob. Is it good on the grill? Sure. Is it fine just boiled in some high-quality H2O? Yeah. But if you ask me, the only way to cook corn on the cob is to add milk, sugar, and butter to a pot of boiling water. And since you probably have all of those ingredients readily available, you might as well just trust me and try this out.

By adding water, sugar, and butter, you'll elevate the corn's naturally sweet taste and deepen the flavor. After it's cooked, you can slather on some more butter and sprinkle on salt and pepper to balance the sweetness. 

While I usually add about 1/4 cup of sugar, some people who make their corn this way (widely referred to as "southern style") like theirs even sweeter and opt for 1/2 cup. It's all about preference. You can play around with how much milk, butter, or sugar you add in; just make sure your liquid looks cloudy, like the picture shown below.

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pot of water with milk and sugar added to itPhoto credit: Rachel Schneider / Cheapism

After bringing the liquid and corn to a boil, simmer the ears for about ten minutes to achieve the perfect texture. You don't want a mushy corncob, but you also shouldn't have to tear your teeth apart trying to get a bite. The cook time is a fickle beast that you don't want to tamper with too much. 

Keep in mind that while this method doesn't result in corn that's as sweet as a sweet potato, you can definitely taste the presence of the sugar. If you like your corn to have an obvious salty, savory taste, make sure you top it with plenty of salt and pepper after cooking. And if you're making elotes, you're better off grilling your corn or leaving the milk and sugar out of the pot. 

corn on the cobPhoto credit: Rachel Schneider / Cheapism

The Best Sweet Corn 


  • Water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6-8 ears of corn, husks and silks removed


  1. Fill a large pot a little over halfway full with water.
  2. Pour in 1 cup of milk and 1 stick of unsalted butter.
  3. Add 1/4 cup of sugar and the corn to the pot and bring to a boil.
  4. Simmer the corn for about 10 minutes until tender.
  5. Remove the corn from the pot with tongs, slather more butter on those bad boys, and sprinkle some salt and cracked pepper on top. 

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