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Fresh sweet summer corn slathered in a garlicky cilantro lime butter is the perfect grilled side dish to any meal. It's incredibly easy to make, well-seasoned, and always a crowd pleaser!
One thing that amazes me still about living in the Virginia countryside is how many open farm fields there are around here.
On the side of the road, down towards the neighbor who has the fresh eggs (literally you just go up and knock! It's wild!), is a field of corn. No fences, nothing. Just right up to the road, nothing but fresh summer corn. I've seen people just park and pick it like nothing. I'm too chicken to do it, but it does look good.
We go to a U-pick farm just a few miles away up in the mountains, where they have plenty of the best corn for the pickin' right now. And let me tell you: farm fresh corn tastes a billion times better than the store bought, I haven't had corn this good since I was little!
And that corn has been going right onto the grill all summer long, because what is summer without warm buttery ears of corn to munch on?
Which is exactly why we have this easy grilled corn on the cob recipe today. It's my favorite way to make it! Super easy to make, and the secret to its deliciousness is a tangy and savory cilantro lime garlic butter that makes this the perfect summer side dish.
You need a grill. I use my gas grill, but this technique works on a charcoal grill as well over indirect heat.
Heavy-duty foil. Can't make grilled corn in foil without the aluminum foil!
Tongs, to grab the corn from the hot grill.
Large Baking Sheets. For transporting the buttery ears of corn from the kitchen to the grill and vice versa.
Why You Should Grill Corn on the Cob in Foil
Grilling corn may be the best way (definitely one of the tastiest ways) to make this summer staple: less mess, easy cleanup, and you could easily crank out a dozen ears or more in under 30 minutes.
The foil packets traps all the evaporating liquid from our butter and corn, the corn steams, and all the corn kernels absorb all that buttery flavor. So there's no pre-soak needed for the corn!
It's perfect for summer days, when we're already outside grilling! No need to heat up the house with the oven or the stove, we can even take this out camping since it's such an easy recipe, requires almost no prep, just a little butter, and can be prepped ahead of time! Just throw the foil-wrapped corn onto your campfire or grill and you're on your way!
Picking out perfect fresh ears of corn
To make the perfect grilled corn, we need great corn. When you are searching for those perfect fresh ears of corn, instead of stripping the husk at the store, try these tips on picking ideal corn cobs without peeling the husks.
Look for wormholes. These are tiny brown holes around the top of the husk where worms got in. We don't want those.
Go for brown, sticky silk tassels at the top of the husk. Dry or black tassels mean they are old and no good.
Look for vivid, green husks that are tight against the corn kernels. This is a good indicator of a fresh corn cob, and you should be able to feel the plump kernels beneath the husk to see if there are any gaps.
Fresh Sweet Corn. We want that good, tender corn for this summer favorite. Make sure to read the tips on picking the best corn above!
For that Delicious Compound Butter
Limes. I love using the zest and lime juice, because the peel holds that lime flavor while the juice has that tangy freshness. Lemon juice and zest can be swapped but it will taste slightly different.
Fresh Cilantro. If you're not a fan of cilantro, swap it for flat leaf parsley.
Grated Garlic. When making a homemade garlic butter, you don't want to bite into big chunks of garlic so grating it into the compound butter not only makes it smoother, but intensifies the garlic flavor. You can also use garlic powder in a pinch.
Sea salt or kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.
Unsalted butter. Use room temperature butter so you can mix all the ingredients into it easily.
How to Grill Corn in Foil
First step: preheat your grill to medium high heat, about 400 degrees F.
Place large pieces of foil onto a baking sheet or tray, then place an ear of corn on each piece. For the best grilled corn use heavy duty foil or double up on the regular foil so the corn is protected from the heat.
Whip up the cilantro lime butter in a small mixing bowl, then spread the herb butter all over each ear of corn and then fold up the foil packets and put them on the grill.
Grill them for about 25 minutes, moving or turning them after 15 minutes so they don't end up burnt on one side.
Carefully pull them from the grill with tongs and serve the best grilled corn of your life with even more of that good cilantro lime butter.
Use oven mitts when removing the corn from the foil packets. They will be steaming hot!
You won't use the all of the butter on the corn prior to grilling, top the grilled corn with extra butter
A pastry brush is super useful for this recipe, it really gets all that buttery flavor into every nook and cranny of that juicy corn.
Serve it with...
Corn is the perfect side dish to so many dishes at grilling time, but they go with other great meals, too!
Have this as a fresh side dish during Thanksgiving! Buttered corn is always welcome on the dinner table in the fall along with all the delicious food.
Tailgating is a time for grilling, right? Smoked burgers, potato salad, some baked beans, and plenty of beer while you cheer Roll Tide or Tidewater. Camping, too!
Toppings for Grilled Corn
- Fresh parsley, cilantro or chives. Mix it into your butter or sprinkle it over the corn by itself.
- Gremolata. This Italian herb sauce/seasoning is fresh and bright!
- Smoked paprika. I always say that smoked paprika will change your life! It's got great flavor.
- Sour Cream.
- Old Bay Seasoning. This spicy Chesapeake Bay-favorite is perfect on corn.
- Blue Cheese.
- Mexican street corn (elote). One of the tastiest to eat corn is as elote or Mexican street corn: a creamy mayo-based sauce, tajín, sprinkle on some fresh crumbly cheese, and lots of lime and cilantro.
- Greek seasoning + Feta Cheese. Greek seasoning is made with basil, oregano, garlic powder and onion powder: perfect for sprinkling on corn.
Storing and Reheating Instructions
Store leftover corn in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Warm them up
You can also shave the kernels off the cob and eat them in a tomato avocado feta salad!
Frequently Asked Questions
You can pre-wrap your ear and they are ready to toss into the grill or campfire when you get to your campsite! I do recommend double-wrapping the corn in two layers of foil if you plan to cook it in a campfire.
Because we are grilling the corn without the husk and in foil, there's no need to soak the corn. The corn itself is really juicy!
You can tell the corn's done by pulling back the foil a little; the kernels will be plump and will look almost steamed or boiled.
More Summer Side Dishes
- Grilled Peach Caprese Salad
- Crispy Garlic Smashed Potatoes
- Easy Sautéed Lemon Garlic Asparagus
- Ahi Tuna Poké Bowls
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- 6 fresh ears of corn, husk and silk removed
Cilantro Lime Butter
- 1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely minced
- Zest and Juice of 2 limes
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat your grill to medium-high heat, about 375 to 400 degrees F.
- Rip large pieces of foil for each ear of corn you're cooking.
- Place one ear of corn on each piece of heavy duty foil, double wrap the corn if using regular foil.
- Mix together the unsalted butter, lime juice, lime zest, finely chopped cilantro leaves, grated garlic, kosher salt and black pepper in a small bowl.
- Use a brush or back of a spoon to smooth some of the herbed butter mixture all over each ear of corn.
- Fold the foil around the corn, crimping the edges at the top to enclose it completely.
- Place the foil wrapped corn in your preheated grill, close the grill, and let cook for 15 minutes. Turn them or move to indirect heat for another 10 minutes.
- Remove the foil packets from the grill with tongs, remove the corn from the foil, and serve hot with more garlic cilantro lime butter.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 139Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 270mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 3gSugar: 10gProtein: 4g
All nutrition facts are estimations. Please see a physician for any health-related inquiries.
Eden Westbrook is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Sweet Tea and Thyme. A classically trained chef, Eden has inspired home cooks into the kitchen with cultural comfort foods, easy family-friendly eats and sweets, and glorious spreads for date night and entertaining since 2015.