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How to make grilled corn with a chipotle coffee rub

elevated view of grilled salted corn with lime slices on baking paper on wooden table
Photo credit: LightFieldStudios/Getty Images

I love fresh corn on the cob, but the last thing I want to do in the summer is boil a big pot of water in my tiny apartment with no AC. Thankfully, we’ve got just enough backyard for a grill, and cooking outdoors is one of the great pleasures in life. I especially like to cook large batches of proteins and veggies so I don’t even have to turn the oven on for days at a time. This delicious grilled corn is one of my favorites, and it is an addictive combo of spicy and savory.

Each ear of corn gets rubbed down with spiced butter and wrapped in foil before being tossed on the grill. Foil is key for keeping in moisture and preventing the corn from burning before it’s cooked. Get the freshest corn you can and you’re halfway there.

One of the best things about this recipe is that it’s easy to scale up for a crowd, plus you can prep the ears ahead of time so you’re ready to go as soon as the grill is set. Just make sure to wash your hands after handling the spice rub — it only takes one time of forgetting and then wiping your eyes from grill smoke and you’ll never forget again.

MORE: 11 grilling essentials you need for your next barbecue

To make this grilled corn, you’ll need:

  • 4 ears of corn
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) softened butter

Chipotle coffee spice rub

  • 1 tablespoon finely-ground coffee
  • 1 tablespoon ground chipotle chili (adjustable to spice preference)
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • Optional: Lime garnish

First, you’ll want to let the butter soften up a bit, which can be done by letting it rest at room temperature for an hour or two. Or, if you’re in a hurry, you can zap the butter in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time, turning it at each interval until it’s soft but not melted.

Blend together your spices and stir them into the butter until well combined. Next, shuck your corn. Tear off four sheets of foil, about 1 foot by 1 foot, and set them out in a row. (If you stack them, you’ll have to unstack them with buttery hands, and that’s no fun.)

Once you’re all set with corn, seasoned butter and foil, you’re ready to slather each ear with the butter (don’t be shy!). After you wash your hands, wrap up each ear in its square of foil, taking special care to seal the ends to avoid butter leaks over the grill.

MORE: Boozy milkshakes to make at home

If you’re working with a gas grill, cook the corn over medium heat. For charcoal grills, you’ll want to wait until the coals are ashy. It should take about 10-15 minutes to cook the foil-wrapped corn; just be sure to turn them regularly to avoid burning.

Shuck your corn and you’re done!

Grilled corn with a chipotle coffee rub

Ingredients

  • 4 ears of corn
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) softened butter
  • 1 tablespoon finely ground coffee
  • 1 tablespoon ground chipotle chili (adjustable to spice preference)
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • Optional: Lime garnish

Instructions

  1. Shuck the corn and trim the stem, if necessary.
  2. Tear off four squares of foil, about 1 foot by 1 foot -- enough to cover one ear of corn.
  3. Blend all spices in a small bowl and then stir in the softened butter until well combined.
  4. Slather each ear of corn with seasoned butter and individually wrap in foil, taking special care to seal the ends so the butter doesn’t spill out while you’re grilling.
  5. Grill the corn over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, turning occasionally to prevent burning. Finished corn should look plump and glossy with a few spots of char.

Notes

  • When checking the corn for done-ness, take an ear off the grill and partially unwrap it in a plate. (Opening the foil directly in the grill may lead to a butter leak flare-up. No fun.)
  • This corn is delicious as a side for any cookout or celebration, but it also makes a great addition to salads. Try taking it off the cob and serving it over greens with blueberries and goat cheese.
  • This is also a great dish to prep at home and pack in a cooler for a car camping trip or tailgating party.
  • This same spice rub is also great for steaks, though you’ll probably want to add more salt.

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