How to Cook Canned Corn (Make it Taste Great!!!)

Learn how to instantly turn an ordinary vegetable into an extraordinary side dish with this easy canned corn recipe! It covers everything, from how to cook canned corn on the stovetop to how to dress it up with seasonings and flavor boosters to what to serve with it for a meal to remember.

It just isn’t summertime without fresh corn on the table. From corn on the cob to Mexican street corn salad, this budget-friendly and deliciously sweet veggie is a hit with everyone.

But when fresh corn isn’t available, canned corn has you covered. Is it the most exciting ingredient? Not really, unless you learn how to cook and season it like a pro.

This how-to guide teaches you how to cook canned corn on the stove, ways to make it taste better with seasoning and add-ins, and a long list of meal pairings. Have fun experimenting with the flavors and, before you know it, you’ll be stocking your pantry with cans of corn!

Do you have to cook canned corn?

Canned corn kernels are pre-cooked, so they technically do not need to be cooked ahead of serving. But doesn’t a warm and buttery side dish sound better than plain canned corn? Yes, I think so!

Ingredients for canned corn labeled on counter.

Ingredients needed

  • Canned corn – I used one can of corn but you can use more if you’d like to double or triple this recipe to serve a crowd. Remember to drain and rinse the corn kernels before you get started.
  • Water
  • Butter – Melted butter adds fat and flavor to the canned corn. Want to keep this recipe oil-free? Omit the butter entirely.
  • Salt
  • Red bell pepper – The pepper is optional but it does add another layer of sweetness to the canned corn side dish, as well as a pop of color and more texture.

How to cook canned corn

Add the drained corn kernels to a medium skillet or saucepan along with the water, butter, and salt. Heat to a simmer over medium-high heat.

Turn the heat down and continue simmering until the corn is warmed through. Give it a taste and season with more salt if needed.

If you’re making this with the red bell pepper, sauté it in a buttered skillet or saucepan until tender. Next, continue with the recipe as normal.

Tips and tricks

  • Any kind of canned corn works for this recipe but I personally prefer sweet canned corn.
  • Always drain the liquid from the canned corn before you start cooking.
  • Use this cooking method for frozen corn kernels instead! There’s no need to thaw them ahead of time, but you may want to add an extra minute to the cooking time.
  • Don’t overcook the canned corn. Since it’s pre-cooked, the goal of this cooking method is to simply warm the corn and infuse it with flavor. Cooking it until all of the water has evaporated will lead to chewy corn.

Variations

You aren’t limited to salt and butter in this easy side dish recipe. Corn is easy to pair with all kinds of seasonings, flavor agents, aromatics, and more. Check out these other ways to season canned corn:

  • Broth – Replace the water in this recipe with store-bought or homemade chicken bone broth for extra flavor.
  • More spices – A sprinkle of black pepper, white pepper, cumin, Italian seasoning, cajun seasoning, or taco seasoning over the cooked corn can go a long way!
  • Fresh herbs – Add a bay leaf to the simmering water-butter mixture to give the corn an herbal flavor. You can also garnish the cooked corn with crispy sage leaves or fresh chives, basil, dill, or parsley. 
  • Mexican-inspired – After cooking, season the canned corn with chili seasoning, fresh cilantro, lime juice, and crumbled cotija cheese.
  • Acid – A splash of dry sherry, white wine, or white wine vinegar gives the corn a lovely tang.

And for an irresistible presentation, we have add-ins! Check out these add-in ideas to help you make the best canned corn recipe:

  • Vegetables – Sauté mushrooms, carrots, leeks, or onions instead of or in addition to the red bell pepper. 
  • Spicy peppers – Replace the bell pepper with something with a little more heat, like diced and sautéed jalapeno or serrano peppers. 
  • Meat – Fold sautéed pancetta, bacon, or leftover ham into the corn.
  • Dairy – Stir a dollop of cream cheese and/or parmesan cheese into the cooked corn for some creaminess.
Cooked corn and red peppers in bowl.

Serving suggestions

Serve the cooked canned corn as a side dish with any of these delicious meals:

Storage

The cooled leftover corn can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. I don’t recommend freezing the corn because it tends to become mushy when thawed.

To reheat, zap the corn in the microwave or add it to a saucepan and heat over medium heat until warmed through.

Cooked corn and red peppers in serving bowl.

More corn recipes 

More how-to guides

Did you make this canned sweet corn recipe?

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Overhead close up of cooked canned corn in serving bowl with spoon.

How to Cook Canned Corn

Learn how to instantly turn an ordinary vegetable into an extraordinary side dish with this easy canned corn recipe! It covers everything, from how to cook canned corn on the stovetop to how to dress it up with seasonings and flavor boosters to what to serve with it for a meal to remember.
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Prep Time: 1 minute
Cook Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 4 minutes
Servings: 2 people

Ingredients

  • 1 15.25 ounce can corn (drained)
  • cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon butter (optional)
  • Salt (to taste)

Optional

  • 1/4 cup red pepper (diced, about ¼ pepper)

Instructions

  • Add the corn kernels to a skillet or saucepan along with water, butter, and salt.
  • Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
  • Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2-3 minutes, until warmed through.
  • Taste and season with additional salt, as needed.

To Make with Red Pepper

  • To use with pepper, saute pepper in butter first.
  • Add the corn kernels along with water and salt.
  • Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2-3 minutes, until warmed through.
  • Taste and season with additional salt, as needed.

Notes

  • Any kind of canned corn works for this recipe but I personally prefer sweet canned corn.
  • Always drain the liquid from the canned corn before you start cooking.
  • Use this cooking method for frozen corn kernels instead! There’s no need to thaw them ahead of time, but you may want to add an extra minute to the cooking time.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @platingsandpairings or tag #platingsandpairings!

Equipment

Small Skillet

Nutrition

Calories: 56kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 0.3g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 48mg | Potassium: 42mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 759IU | Vitamin C: 24mg | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 0.1mg

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