Sweet corn is tasting like it's peak season, and this delicious side dish is something that should be enjoyed all year long. These super-simple ingredients create a little magic when they meet in a hot pan and start to caramelize. People are always amazed by the complexity and all the layers of flavors you can get from something so simple and easy to make.
The sugars in the corn and onion will caramelize and create an amazing flavor that you don't get from corn on the cob. Good corn can be eaten raw, and it definitely doesn't like to be overcooked.
Easily Remove Corn from the Cob: Cutting corn can be messy, but it doesn't have to be. Use a large bowl, a wide 13"x9" baking pan, or even a bundt pan to slice over, keeping the kernels contained and off the floor.
What You'll Need
- Fresh Corn - Figure 1 ear per person when shopping. The corn cobs should be firm and heavy for their size. I always peel back the top of the husk to check the quality. If it is questionable, just grab another.
If good fresh corn isn't available; frozen corn can be substituted. Trader Joe's has some really good "Super Sweet Frozen Cut White Corn." I always keep a bag of it in the freezer for when I need a quick side dish.
- Red Onion or Shallot - diced
- Butter - Sweet cream unsalted so you can control the seasoning separately.
- Fresh Thyme - Adds that wonderful fragrance like nothing else. Remove it from the stem and give it a quick chop.
- Salt and Pepper - give it a good seasoning during and after the cook.
- A Skillet - Any skillet will work, but I prefer a stainless-steel skillet for this one because it helps develop color and flavor with the sugars. An 8" is perfect for 1-2 ears of corn, 10" for 3 to 4 ears and a 12" skillet for 4 to 8 ears of corn.
Optional Flavor Add-Ins
As perfect as the corn is with just those few ingredients, it can be fun to mix it up. After all, corn season is almost ⅓ of the year.
- Brown butter
- Chili powder
- Chopped garlic
- Green onion/scallions
- Everything But The Elote Seasoning Blend from Trader Joe's
- Smoked paprika to make it smoky
- More salt and some sugar for a kettle corn vibe
- Bursting cherry tomatoes
- Bacon or smoked pork belly
How to Make It
Husk the corn and slice it off the cob. After you cut the kernels off, use the back side of your knife to scrape the cob again and extract even more corn juices that add a ton of flavor.
Heat butter in the skillet over medium-high just until it starts to brown.
Add the corn, chopped onion and chopped fresh thyme. Sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Cook until the corn starts to brown and is still crunchy. There's no reason to overcook it, since corn is really good raw. We're just trying to add more flavor and make it tender.
Taste test and season with salt and pepper. Enjoy hot or at room temperature.
Serve It Up
- Inside of tacos or on salads
- With your favorite steak
- Alongside Pork
- Make a chipotle-style burrito
- With BBQ chicken or Beer Can Chicken
- Paired with fluffy baked potatoes
Did you make this recipe?
I'd love to know how it turned out!
Please leave a note and a rating in the comments section below, or tag @SaltPepperSkillet on Instagram.
Simple Sautéed Corn Recipe
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 ears fresh corn , husked and sliced off the cob
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme , destemmed and chopped
- ½ medium red onion , chopped fine
- Salt and pepper
- In a 10" frying pan, heat the butter on medium-high just until it starts to brown.
- Add the remaining ingredients and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently. The sugars from the corn and onion will start to caramelize and develop a fantastic flavor.
- Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- Easily scale the recipe up. Figure 1 ear of corn per person.
- If good fresh corn isn't available, frozen sweet corn can be substituted. My favorite is the Super Sweet Frozen Cut White Corn from Trader Joe's.
This post was originally published on October 7, 2014, but has been updated with more helpful information and new photos.
Thanks for this delicious recipe! If using Frozen Corn, do you think I should thaw it before cooking?
Hi Elizabeth! No need to thaw the frozen corn. Just put it right in the pan.
Thanks, Justin! I appreciate your getting back to me so quickly! Can't wait to fix this Corn!
Seanine Bowen says
This is super easy and so delicious! What a way to jazz up corn! I’ve made it a few times now and it’s always a hit. Thanks for an awesome recipe!!!
Thanks for sharing, I've made it several times now. It's my go-to side dish whenever people come over and I want to add something quick and flavorful. It's always a big hit with everyone.
Kelley @ Chef Savvy says
I love fresh corn in the summer time. What a simple and delicious recipe for sauteed corn!
Mmmm, the corn tasted great and was so easy to prepare; thanks for the pictures, Justin. I served it with lemon-pepper chicken, which made a tasty and healthy combination.
Fantastic! Glad you enjoyed it.
Yum! And your photos are gorgeous!
Fritz Renner says
Looks delicious. I'll give it a try. Love your photography.
Thanks, Fritz. Let me know how it turns out. 🙂