This four-ingredient Skillet Fried Corn Recipe is a nice way to get that lovely char on your corn as if you were grilling some beautiful ears of corn cob on the charcoal out back.
Alas, if your grill is broken like ours, or it’s off of corn season, or it’s not the right time of year for being outside to wait on perfectly grilled Silver Queen, this basic recipe will get you a large skillet of caramelized, blistered and charred corn with a simple can of corn and a couple other ingredients.
Now, this isn’t southern fried corn, which takes bacon grease and sometimes milk.
And we’re simplifying this even further; you don’t have to use fresh sweet corn, because you save time and effort when you just pull a can out of your pantry or frozen corn out of your freezer.
Many recipes out there use a little sugar, but as you well know, a can of corn has been jostled around in salt and sugar water and has plenty of both, so we didn’t add any extra.
To serve as an easy side dish, cook until a golden brown color, with just a touch of moisture left in the kernels.
Or cook longer til the kernels blacken and char up—this will make an incredible elote dip, or combined into taco salads, or layered into a tex-mex casserole.
This extra char makes for dry corn kernels, great when you don’t want any added moisture into your recipes.
Either way this corn would go really well into our Layered Mexican Tortilla Casserole, Mexican Street Corn (Elote), or on some fish tacos, or your own corn salsa.
We’ve seen a lot of different ways to make skillet corn out there, some use heavy cream that looks more like cream corn, some use corn off the cob and bacon drippings.
Ours came out heavy on the char, beautiful blistered kernels that were smoky and delicious, warm with some unsalted butter on top right before we ate it with our hands.
Just kidding. Mostly.
It was four ingredients’ worth of heaven.
- After draining the corn for several minutes in a colander or sieve, pat a lot of corn with a paper towel in a large bowl to get them very dry. If they are too wet, they will just steam without getting crisp and golden.
- What’s the best corn for this recipe? We used a can of corn, but frozen corn works okay too, you just need to cook it for a bit longer.
- While it only takes a few minutes of prep time, remember to start cooking on medium but turn to low.
- We used olive oil but you can use vegetable oil instead.
- Don’t stir very often, because you want the corn to be golden and crisp, with several getting black with char for a great way to get that smoked flavor.
- The kernels will get hot and pop out, so use a splatter screen to help keep them in the pan. Don’t cover your pan with a lid, though, or it will steam cook.
How to serve skillet fried corn recipe
- It makes a perfect side dish to tender, saucy Mustard Pork Chops.
- Combine with cooked rice in our Mexican Casserole recipe.
- Spoon into fish or shrimp tacos.
- Mix into elote as a corn appetizer at your next game night.
- Stir into your own corn salsa with a beautiful smoky flavor.
- Make it an easy lunch with simple ingredients like garden fresh tomatoes and salad greens as a perfect side dish.
- Straight out of the frying pan with a little chili powder, lime juice, and cotija cheese.
- Get the corn nice and blistered for a great smoky corn flavor in seven-layer dip.
- Enrich your next Taco Soup!
- Switch out plain corn for this skillet fried corn in this Tex-Mex Quinoa Salad.
- Can opener
- Colander or sieve
- Cast iron skillet
- Measuring spoons
- Wooden spoon
- Splatter screen
- Large bowl
The bottom line
It’s a savory side dish that uses a little butter and a little salt that you can take to a weekend potluck.
Use your can of sweet corn or some leftover corn to cook up some delicious charred sweet kernels to use a side or to perfect another great dish!
Skillet Fried Corn
- 1 can of sweet corn kernels, drained well
- 1 T butter
- 1 T oil (olive or vegetable)
- ½ t fresh ground black pepper
- 1 t butter
- ⅛ t salt (or 2 pinches of salt)
- Place the colander or sieve into the sink.
- Open the can of corn with the can opener.
- Drain and dry the corn: Pour the can of corn into the colander or sieve. Leave the corn to drain for two minutes. Pat dry with a clean towel or a paper towel in the colander or transfer to a separate bowl first.
- Place the cast iron skillet on the stovetop over medium heat.
- Once the skillet is hot, add 1 T butter and 1 T olive oil.
- Allow the butter to melt completely.
- Once the butter is melted, add the corn and ½ t of pepper. Spread the corn evenly in the skillet.
- Cook the corn on medium heat for 5 minutes and then stir.
- Reduce the temperature to low heat and cook the corn for another 5 minutes. Stir only once or twice.
- Cover the skillet with the splatter screen to prevent the corn and oil from popping out.
- When the 5 minutes is up and your corn isn’t as brown or charred to your liking, cover with the splatter screen and continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes.
- Once the corn is cooked to your liking, remove it from the heat and into a medium bowl.
- Add ⅛ t of salt (or 2 pinches of salt) and 1 t of butter to the bowl and stir.
- Serve warm.
If you don't have a splatter screen, you may be tempted to just use a lid, but we don't recommend that because it will steam the corn instead of blistering it with dry heat, which is what creates that smoky char. Just know that without the splatter screen, some corn may pop out of the pan, so don't be alarmed.
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