Canned corn is cheap and convenient, and it makes a good pantry staple to have on hand in between shopping trips (or if your area is prone to severe weather and you worry about losing power). But do you know how to cook canned corn?
Canned vegetables have fallen out of favor due to the availability of frozen vegetables. There can sometimes be an aftertaste with canned vegetables that many dislikes and frozen vegetables are more flexible. A can of corn is already fully cooked, and therefore it’s less well-suited to salads and other applications where a bit of a crunch from the kernel being undercooked is preferred.
There are advantages to canned vegetables, though. First of all, frozen corn requires freezer space, while fresh is more difficult to prepare if you’re not serving it on the cob. Canned goods are convenient to store as they’re shelf-stable. If you live in a space without freezer access (such as a dorm), canned goods are your alternative. And as mentioned above, those who live in areas that regularly experience severe weather benefit from keeping canned goods on hand in case they lose electricity. Even if all the food in your fridge goes off, your canned goods will still be there to keep you fed until power is restored.
Regardless of your reason for purchasing it, it’s useless to you if you don’t know how to cook canned corn. In this article, we’ll review a few methods that range from quick and easy to slightly more labor-intensive (and delicious).
How to Cook Canned Corn in the Microwave
This is by far the fastest, least complicated, and lowest effort option on the list. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean it won’t taste good. Here are the steps:
- First, open your can of corn and drain out the liquid (unless it’s creamed corn, in which case you should keep it), then empty it into a microwave-safe bowl or container.
- Add any of the following mix-ins for better flavor: a small pat of butter or margarine, a pinch of black pepper, or a dash of your favorite spice blend.
- Microwave the corn for 1-3 minutes, depending on the size of the can and the wattage of the microwave. If you’re not sure, microwave it for one minute at a time until it’s steaming hot.
While this method is simple, it’s also very versatile. One delicious example is adding a pinch of taco seasoning, then using the corn in a burrito or burrito bowl.
How to Cook Canned Corn on the Stovetop
This is only slightly more effort than using the microwave and will turn out fairly similar results. Here are the steps:
- First, open your can of corn and drain the liquid. As when using the microwave, don’t drain creamed corn as the saucy component is part of the dish.
- Put the corn into a small pot. It should at least cover the bottom to ensure even heating and seasoning without burning.
- Add any of the mix-ins mentioned above: butter/margarine, pepper, or a spice blend.
- Place the pot over medium heat, and stir it every 30 seconds to one minute. If it starts hissing loudly, turn it down to medium-low or low.
- The corn is done when it’s hot and the butter or margarine (if you added it) is melted. In the case of creamed corn, it’s done when it starts to bubble and should be removed before it gets any hotter to prevent sticking.
This process is useful when a microwave isn’t available. Some people prefer this method, but there shouldn’t be too much of a difference flavor-wise.
How to Cook Canned Corn in a Skillet
This method has the highest amount of effort and attention required, but it pays off. The small spots of browning you get when preparing corn in a well-oiled skillet add a depth of flavor you won’t get when simply reheating the corn. While it will work in a nonstick, you’ll get more browning and better flavor in an uncoated skillet. Do note that creamed corn isn’t suitable for this method of preparation. Here are the steps:
- Add your oil component to the skillet. This is vital to prevent sticking and burning. It can be a thorough coating of nonstick spray or a small splash of vegetable oil, but butter should be avoided as the initial fat because it will burn before the corn is finished browning. If you want a buttery flavor, add a small amount when the corn is finished cooking.
- Drain your corn and add it to the cold skillet. It’s important to have the corn in the pan prior to applying heat, as otherwise, the moisture of the corn being added to hot oil will cause spitting and splashing, potentially leading to serious burns.
- Add optional mix-ins here prior to cooking. Seasoning blends and pepper work well, but as mentioned in step one, butter should be reserved to the end.
- Start the pan at medium heat. Once you can hear the corn start to sizzle, begin to stir it every 10 to 20 seconds. If any kernels stick, scrape them off the bottom of the skillet and continue. If the sizzling is especially loud, you should turn the heat down to medium-low or low. Continue this process until you’ve reached the level of browning you want; this can be some slight browning on most of the kernels, all the way up to golden brown kernels mottled with a few tiny spots of black char.
- Turn off the heat when the corn is done, and add butter if desired. Stir it in until it’s fully melted, then serve.
This cooking method really elevates a simple can of corn to something delicious. If you cook the corn with taco seasoning and add butter and sliced green onion at step five, it’s an incredible addition to tacos and burritos. You can even prepare your corn this way and mix it into a dip for an interesting textural component (bean and buffalo cream cheese dips work especially well). It’s also the method that’s most effective for masking the slight ‘tinny’ aftertaste that canned goods can have if you’re feeding someone who dislikes that.