How to Steam Corn (and Why You Should Skip Boiling It)

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When it comes to nutrition, there’s a clear winner for how you cook your corn this summer.
Image Credit: GMVozd/E+/GettyImages

Fireworks, sandy toes, the ever-present scent of sunscreen and yes, corn on the cob, are just a few of the delights of summertime. Corn's sweet and delicious... but likely isn't the first vegetable to come to mind when you're considering nutritious choices.

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But gnawing on corn on the cob is not without nutritional benefits.

"​​Compared with many other sides, fresh roasted or steamed corn is a good source of vitamin C, thiamin, magnesium and folate," Lisa Moskovitz, RD, CEO of NY Nutrition Group and author of The Core 3 Healthy Eating Plan, tells LIVESTRONG.com.

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"While it may not be as nutrient-dense or low-calorie as kale, broccoli or asparagus, steamed corn can certainly be enjoyed as a healthy addition to any meal," she says.

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The Most Nutritious Way to Cook Corn Is to Steam It

There are many ways to cook corn. But if your goal is to take in the most nutrients, steaming is the clear winner compared to boiling.

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"Boiling any vegetable typically leads to significantly greater nutritional loss than other methods," Moskovitz says — that's particularly true for water-soluble nutrients such as B vitamins and vitamin C.

Boiling simply does not have a lot of nutritional benefits. "The only benefit to boiling your corn is if it's the only way you'll eat the corn or if you plan to drink the liquid you boiled it in after it's cooled — that's where most of the nutrients will go," Moskovitz says.

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How to Steam Corn on the Stovetop

Things You'll Need

  • Corn

  • Large Pot

  • Water

  • Steamer basket

  1. Remove the corn's husk.
  2. Fill the bottom of the pot with water to about 2 inches deep.
  3. Place the steamer insert inside the pan. The water level should be just below the steamer. If there's water touching the steamer, drain some water out.
  4. Cover the pot, and bring the water to a boil.
  5. Once the water is boiling, place the cleaned corn in the steamer insert.
  6. If your steamer basket has a lid, put it on. Otherwise, cover the pot.
  7. Steam the corn for 5 to 7 minutes.

How to Steam Corn on the Grill

Things You'll Need

  • Corn

  • Aluminum foil

  • Ice cubes

  1. Remove the husks from the corn.
  2. Place each corn on the cob in aluminum foil, adding one or two ice cubes inside the foil.
  3. Tightly seal the aluminum foil around the corn.
  4. Place the aluminum foil-covered corn on the grill rack; close the top of the grill.
  5. Cook the corn on the grill for 20 to 25 minutes. "The ice will melt and gently steam the corn as it heats up," Moskovitz says.

Tip

If you're following a low-carb diet, that doesn't mean that corn is off-limits. “Most of the calories in corn come from carbs, so you may want to adjust the rest of your plate accordingly,” Moskovitz says. You'll want to focus on protein and fats for the rest of your meal.

How to Boil Corn

Nutritional downsides aside, boiling is a quick, easy and low-equipment way to prep corn. Read on for instructions on how to boil corn if you don't want to steam it.

Things You'll Need

  • Corn

  • Large Pot

  • Water

  1. Remove the husks from the corn.
  2. Fill a large pot with water.
  3. Bring the water to a boil.
  4. Once the water is boiling, add the corn to the pot.
  5. Boil the corn, uncovered, for 2 to 4 minutes. Cook longer if you prefer softer kernels.

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