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For the Grill of It! Sweet Corn on the Cob—Three Ways

lime squeeze

Take a bite out of summer (literally) with grilled sweet corn! It’s great for munching right off the grill (but let it cool a few minutes first), or try dressing it up with one of our three favorite kid-friendly toppings: Elote, Cinnamon ’n Honey Butter, and Pesto & Parm (recipes below). Elote, a.k.a. Mexican street corn, is a roasted cob coated in a creamy, dreamy combo of mayo, crema (or sour cream), cheese, spices, and a squeeze of lime.

Take a family trip to your local farmer’s market or u-pick farm to get the freshest cobs possible—and then get your camera ready for some Pre-K corn-chomping grins!           

corn and tongs

Lots of folks have a favorite way to grill their corn: in the husk, partially in the husk, wrapped in foil, after a 30-minute soak in water, etc. Our favorite method is grilling it “naked” (the corn, that is—not you). The final product won’t be as tender as cobs left in the husk or wrapped in foil when grilled, but it’s the best way to get that yummy, smoky, charred flavor that smacks of summer.

When selecting sweet corn, try to get it as fresh as possible and use it ASAP—as soon as corn is picked, the sugars in the kernels begin turning to starch, which mutes the sweet flavor and makes the corn less juicy. Resist the urge to pull back the husks to check if the corn is good—it just speeds up the aging process. Instead: feel for plump and plentiful kernels through the husk; make sure the husk is bright green and tightly wrapped; and look for tassels that are brown and sticky rather than dry and black. If you can’t use it right away, store in the fridge (with husks on and uncovered) for up to a week.

overhead of cinnamon corn

Corn for dessert? You’ll believe it when you sink your teeth into a cob coated with a simply delicious combo of butter, honey, and cinnamon. 

close up of pesto corn

Go green with a flavor-packed coating of pesto and a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese. Store-bought pesto is a great go-to for busy parents, but if you have a few extra minutes (and maybe even a garden full of fresh basil!), consider making your own—our version uses almonds, which have a slightly milder flavor than pine nuts (and you’re more likely to already have them stocked in your cupboard). 

corn on plate

In our centers, we embrace family-style eating—encouraging children to serve themselves teaches them important social skills (like passing items, sharing, being patient, and saying “please” and “thank you”) as well as how to listen to their own hunger cues. Allowing them to get in on the serving action can also inspire kiddos to try new foods, like tasty, toasty grilled corn!

Our recipes below explain how you, the parent, can coat the cobs three delicious ways, but we also suggest inviting your child to “dress” his own. Sure, there will likely be some spills when children take the lead, but also lots of smiles. Serve grilled corn as a hearty snack or as part of an al fresco feast—it goes great with our tuna burgers!


To Make the Grilled Sweet Corn:

Total Time: 12–14 minutes

Yields: 4 ears corn


  • 4 ears corn, shucked and silk removed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt to taste


  1. Prepare a gas or charcoal grill.
  2. Lightly coat each ear of corn with olive oil and, if desired, sprinkle lightly with salt.
  3. Place the corn on the hot grill and cook, turning occasionally, until nicely charred on all sides, about 15–20 minutes. Remove from the grill and set aside to rest for about 2 minutes before topping.

Topping #1: Elote (Mexican Street Corn)

Total time: Less than 5 minutes

Serves: 4

Mexican corn fixins


  • 4 ears grilled corn
  • ¼ cup heart-healthy canola- or olive-oil mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup sour cream or Mexican crema
  • ½ cup crumbled cotija cheese, plus extra for serving
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Optional: ½ teaspoon chili powder, plus extra for serving
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges


  1. After putting the corn on the grill, prepare the sauce: In a large bowl, mix together the mayo, sour cream, cheese, cumin, and chili powder (if using).
  2. One at a time, transfer the ears of hot corn to the bowl of sauce and use a large spoon to evenly coat all sides. Place each ear on a plate and, if desired, sprinkle with extra cheese and chili powder. Squeeze a lime wedge over the top. Enjoy!

Topping #2: Cinnamon ’n Honey Butter

Total time: Less than 5 minutes

Serves: 4

cinnamon corn fixins


  • 4 ears grilled corn
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon, plus more for serving
  • Optional: Pinch of good salt


  1. After putting the corn on the grill, prepare the sauce: Combine the butter, honey, cinnamon, and salt (if using) in a small bowl and thoroughly mix together.
  2. Transfer the sauce to a 9x13 inch pan—it’s fine if it’s in a heap.
  3. Roll each ear of hot corn in the sauce until thoroughly coated. Sprinkle with a little extra cinnamon and enjoy!

Topping #3: Pesto & Parm

Time: Less than 5 minutes

Serves: 4

pesto corn fixins


  • 4 ears grilled corn
  • ½ cup homemade or store-bought pesto
  • ¼ cup grated (not shredded) Parmesan


  1. If you’re making your own pesto, do so before you grill your corn and set it aside. If using store-bought, place it in the middle of a 9x13 inch pan—it’s okay if it’s in a heap.
  2. Roll each ear of hot corn in the pesto until thoroughly coated. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of Parmesan and enjoy!
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