Corn on the cob is a quintessential summer side dish, but when you’ve had your fill and are looking for new ways to use fresh sweet corn, turn to this easy recipe for Blackened Corn. The amount of flavor achieved with a short list of ingredients and a simple method is an argument for simplicity. Enjoy the sweet, smoky and vibrant side dish with any number of grilled or pan-seared proteins. 

As a born and raised Iowan, I grew up eating, and cooking, a lot of sweet corn.

So it was only a matter of time until I gave the blackening method, which I use for blackened salmon and blacked fish, a try on fresh corn. And it’s the perfect vegetable for the method. 

The sugar content of the corn, in addition to butter, lends itself to caramelization, thus adding a lot of flavor to the dish throughout.

Plus, that sugar and starch content of the corn means it will blacken quickly, making it a very quick side dish to whip up. Cajun seasoning, which is commonly used in the blackening method, adds smoky and spicy flavor.

Then red onion, jalapeno, cilantro and lime all add depth of flavor and freshness. This dish will surely become a summer staple!

Four ears of shucked sweet corn on a speckled metal platter, a bowl of oil, fresh cilantro, a jalapeno, red onion, Cajun seasoning, butter, and lime set out on a counter.

Ingredient Notes

The full recipe, with ingredient measurements and instructions can be found in the recipe card below. 

  • Oil, butter, salt and pepper: pantry ingredients that I don’t usually count toward the number of ingredients that you’ll need. Nonetheless, they are needed and they are important! Use a high-heat cooking oil such as avocado oil, canola or vegetable oil. 
  • Corn: fresh sweet form is best here! Frozen can be used, but it won’t char like fresh will. Plus, fresh is crisp and will hold up nicely to the blackening process. 
  • Jalapeño: I like the mild heat and vegetal flavor that jalapeño adds to this dish. For more heat, keep the ribs and seeds intact—better yet, use a serrano. For a mild flavor, remove the ribs and seeds from the pepper. 
  • Onion: red onion is best, but you can use a yellow or white onion. You only need ½ cup finely chopped. Use the remaining red onion to make pickled red onions
  • Cajun Seasoning: there are two options here—grab a pre-made spice blend or make a homemade Cajun seasoning with a handful of spices including paprika, garlic powder, dried herbs and cayenne. 
  • Lime: a squeeze of fresh lime juice at the end balances out the bold flavors with a bit for bright acidity. You can also use a splash of rice vinegar
  • Cilantro: this is optional, but I do like to sprinkle some cilantro leaves over top right before serving. Skip it if you aren’t a fan, or use parsley. 

How to Make It

  1. Preheat the cast-iron skillet then add a splash of oil and swirl to coat the skillet.
  1. Add the corn, onion and jalapeño. Cook the vegetables until they start to soften.
Sweet corn, minced jalapeno and minced red onion in a cast-iron skillet.
  1. Add in the butter and cajun seasoning and continue to cook until the corn is deeply browned and starts to make popping noises. 
Blackened sweet corn in a cast-iron skillet.
  1. Remove the skillet from heat and stir in the juice of half a lime. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Storage Instructions

Leftover charred corn can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat gently in the microwave or on the stove top. 

For longer storage, transfer the cooled charred corn to a resealable zipper-lock bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature for 1 hour before reheating. 

Blackened sweet corn in a cast-iron skillet with fresh cilantro scattered over top and a silver spoon set in it.

Recipe Tips and Variations 

  • The corn won’t brown immediately, so be patient and turn up the heat if you need to! 
  • Seasoning for Corn: For a savory and slightly spicy charred corn, use a store-bought or homemade Cajun Seasoning. For a slightly smokier blackened corn, use my homemade Blackening Seasoning which uses smoked paprika instead of regular. 
  • Make it Dairy-Free: use a vegan butter or additional oil. 
  • Buying Fresh Sweet Corn: when buying fresh sweet corn, I recommend pulling back the husk and taking a look at the corn. It should be free of any soft spots or black/brown pockets. The interior silks should be light yellow/green. 
  • Cook it on the grill: place the cast-iron skillet right on the grill and cook the dish over an open flame! Charcoal will give you a smokier flavor than gas will. 
Blackened shrimp set over a bed of blackened sweet corn on a white dinner plate with a silver fork set on plate. Orange water glass, juiced lime half and fresh cilantro set around the plate.

What to Serve it With

Blackened Corn Recipe

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Yield 4 cups (4–6 servings)
Category Side Dish
Cuisine American, Cajun

Description

An easy skillet blackened corn recipe made with just 5 ingredients! A bit of butter, some cajun seasoning, red onion and jalapeno make a fresh and flavorful side dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 4 ears sweet corn, shucked and kernels cut from cob (4 cups corn)
  • ½ cup chopped red onion
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 lime
  • Cilantro, optional, for serving

Instructions

  • Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add avocado oil and swirl to coat. Add corn, jalapeño, and onion; season with ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally until starting to brown, about 6 minutes.
  • Stir in cajun seasoning and butter and cook, stirring occasionally, until corn is deeply browned and starting to make popping noises, about 6 more minutes.
  • Off heat, stir in juice of half a lime; season with salt to taste. Serve with cilantro scattered over top, if using.

Notes

Cajun Shrimp: make this a meal (as pictured) with the addition of Cajun Shrimp
Seasoning for Corn: For a savory and slightly spicy charred corn, use a store-bought or homemade Cajun Seasoning. For a slightly smokier blackened corn, use my homemade Blackening Seasoning which uses smoked paprika instead of regular.
Make it Dairy-Free: use a vegan butter or additional oil.
Buying Fresh Sweet Corn: when buying fresh sweet corn, I recommend pulling back the husk and taking a look at the corn. It should be free of any soft spots or black/brown pockets. The interior silks should be light yellow/green.

Nutrition

Serving: 2/3 cupCalories: 145kcalCarbohydrates: 22gProtein: 4gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 434mgFiber: 5gSugar: 4g
Like this? Leave a comment below!I love hearing from you and I want to hear how it went with this recipe! Leave a comment and rating below, then share on social media @zestfulkitchen and #zestfulkitchen!

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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