Bobby Flay's 3-Step Process For The Juiciest Grilled Corn

When cooking outdoors, it's so easy to focus all the attention on the protein. But vegetables can easily become the star of the show, especially if you treat them right. Corn is a classic side, and chef and grill aficionado Bobby Flay has some great tips for making the most out of the sweet yet savory, smoky, and juicy vegetable. His simple method is a three-step process that involves removing the silks, soaking the corn, and then grilling it.

While there are many ways to grill your corn to perfection, the first decision is whether you prefer to cook it shucked or un-shucked. Flay likes to keep the husks on, which offers more protection from the high temperature. It means the corn steams within its natural wrapper. Firstly, the chef gently peels back the husk and gets rid of the silks, which are inedible. Once removed, he re-covers the corn with some of the husk and soaks it. 

About 20 minutes in a pan of water is enough time to add some much-needed moisture, so it doesn't begin to dry out when it hits the heat of the grill. Keeping the husks wet also reduces the risk of flare-ups — an important consideration when cooking "right on top of the grate," which is Flay's preferred technique (via YouTube).

Bobby Flay grills corn in the husks for extra protection

A major bonus of Bobby Flay's three-step process is that you don't need to do much advance prep before you start the actual grilling. Once they've been soaked, Flay likes to cook the whole corn cobs straight on the grates. Because they're in the husks, you don't need to worry about wrapping them in foil to keep them moist. It will take around 15 to 20 minutes over medium-high heat to get a juicy yet crunchy result.

While the husks will char and pick up some color on the hot grates, the corn within will stay beautifully yellow and tender. It's another key advantage of Flay's method — you get all the delicious flavor and texture from the grill but without the danger of any burnt bits when grilling without the husks. 

One potential downside to Flay's method of cooking the corn within the husks is that it's not so easy to season the tender kernels before or during the grilling process. But the chef believes, as do many fans of this technique, that the charred husk actually helps to infuse the corn with its own distinctive bold and smoky taste. There are also many other ways to ramp up the flavor once you take the vegetables off the heat — and Flay has some top tips for this, too.

Add extra flavor to grilled corn with compound butters

One great way to infuse grilled corn with a gorgeous burst of flavor, as well as add extra richness, is to peel back the husks and slather the vegetable in a compound butter. Bobby Flay likes to use fresh basil and garlic or to mix butter with sweet and smoky Spanish piquillo peppers — the uncommon canned peppers Flay always has on hand, and which deliver a welcome heat to the buttery corn. Garlic, paprika, and fresh thyme add a Mediterranean feel to the chef's pepper butter, and topping the buttered corn with grated Manchego cheese further enhances the Spanish flavors. 

If you're a fan of spice, try making grilled corn with alla diavola butter, and shower it with Pecorino Romano cheese. A blue cheese butter would pair perfectly if you're serving the corn with steaks, or add chili and the juice and zest of fresh lime to softened butter for a bright, zingy finish to accompany grilled chicken or fish.

To incorporate even more flavors, it's easy to transform the cooked corn into an altogether more elaborate side dish, such as a salad, rather than serving whole cobs. Try a grilled corn and quinoa salad, fresh and fragrant with cilantro and lime. Or go for a grilled corn pesto macaroni salad recipe for a more substantial alternative.