How Long Do You Boil Corn on the Cob?

There are a couple different methods you can try.

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On a warm summer night, there’s nothing like sinking your teeth into a sweet, delicious bite of corn on the cob. But, to get that sweet, delicious bite, you have to prepare the corn first. While preparing corn on the cob is a pretty straightforward process overall—you just drop it in a pot and boil it, right?—it can be tricky to know exactly how long to boil it for.

Experts from our sister site, Taste of Home, weighed in on how long to boil corn—and offered a simple, traditional way to prepare it.


  • Ears of corn
  • One quart of water per ear of corn
  • 1/2 stick butter and 1/2 cup milk (optional)
  • Butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Shuck the corn and remove the silks and stems.
  2. Bring the water to a boil in a pot large enough to accommodate all of the water and corn, like this one.
  3. When the water boils, place the corn cobs in the pot.
  4. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil.
  5. Add the milk and butter to the pot.
  6. Let the corn boil for three to five minutes, or until tender.
  7. Butter the corn, or consider adding some herb butter to give it some extra flavor.
  8. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the corn to taste.

There you have it—three to five minutes is the most popular time for how long to boil corn and the simplest method. But Nicole Doster, editor of Taste of Home, admits that sometimes you can tweak these guidelines a little bit. “Very fresh corn or super-sweet varieties may require a shorter cooking time while older corn may require a longer one,” she explains.

Another method to try

Different people will have different preferences when it comes to the consistency and crunch they want for corn on the cob. While “three to five minutes” is the most common, tried-and-true duration for how long to boil corn, other people may prefer a different method altogether. James Schend, food editor at Taste of Home, offers a method that technically doesn’t involve boiling the corn at all, but that is his preferred way to prepare corn. Proceed with the first three steps, but then, as soon as you add the corn and cover the pot, turn off the heat. Just let the corn sit in the hot, not boiling, water for ten minutes. This method will give the corn a crisp-tender consistency. “I like the kernels cooked but still with a bit of a crunch,” Schend told “I don’t like mushy, soft corn kernels.” If that’s your preference too, give this other method a try. If you prefer a different kind of crunch when eating corn, try this homemade microwave popcorn recipe.

What about frozen corn?

While three to five minutes is a good standard for boiling fresh corn you may want to eat corn on the cob all year round—and that’s fine too! But if it’s not peak season—corn on the cob tends to peak in the summer and early fall—you’ll want to buy frozen corn, which generally requires a longer boiling time. Taste of Home food editor Rashanda Cobbins recommends boiling frozen corn for five to ten minutes. Once you’ve chosen your perfect method for boiling corn, try out these other kitchen shortcuts you’ll wish you knew sooner.

Meghan Jones
Meghan Jones is a word nerd who has been writing for since 2017. You can find her byline on pieces about grammar, fun facts, the meanings of various head-scratching words and phrases, and more. Meghan graduated from Marist College with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 2017; her creative nonfiction piece “Anticipation” was published in the Spring 2017 issue of Angles literary magazine.