There may not be any other food that screams summer more than corn on the cob.
It goes with everything — burgers, steaks, chicken, hot dogs — plus it doesn't require utensils, unless you count those cute cob holders. I simply use my hands and just have extra napkins at the ready. Toothpicks, too. It could also be the centerpiece of a vegetarian meal, piled high with grated cheeses.
Corn can be boiled, roasted or grilled, thus adding to its list of versatile personality traits, and that includes how well it meshes with other flavors.
Butter, salt and pepper have long been the most common way to dress up corn on the cob, though many of us like it without any adornment, especially when it is super sweet. But if you think of all the ways we eat corn — in chowders, salads, vegetable medleys and blends and baked goods — you realize how well it pairs with both savory and sweet.
Our list of 25 ways to adorn corn on the cob proves that point. It's a global survey of flavors that celebrates America's melting pot.
The toppings should cover 8 ears of corn and are good candidates for experimentation.
Oaxacan-style: Combine 3 tablespoons crumbled queso fresco with 2 tablespoons chili powder, ½ cup sour cream, ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon (or more) cayenne pepper. Stir in juice of 1 lime. After the corn is cooked, dollop with mixture and serve with more crumbled cheese on top.
Maple-mustard: Brush olive oil on corn (after, if boiling; before, if grilling). While cooking, combine ¼ cup maple syrup, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard and a pinch of allspice. Spread mixture on hot cooked corn.
Barbecue glazed: Brush corn with olive oil and grill. Meanwhile, combine ¼ cup barbecue sauce, 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion, 2 tablespoons honey and ¼ teaspoon coarse salt. Baste corn with mixture during last 3 minutes of grilling.
Olive oil, garlic and Parmesan: In a small bowl, combine 2 grated garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice. Baste hot, cooked corn with mixture and sprinkle with grated Parmesan.
Chiles and lime: Cut corn into 3- to 4-inch lengths and cook. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix half a stick of melted butter plus 2 tablespoons each mayonnaise, sour cream and lime juice, and 2 teaspoons chili powder and ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper. Adjust seasonings to taste. When corn is cooked, toss in mixture. Garnish with lime zest.
Curry and pistachios: Stir 2 tablespoons curry powder into 1 stick of hot melted butter. Drizzle on cooked corn and sprinkle with chopped pistachios.
Tuscan blend: Mix 2 tablespoons of dried Italian herbs with 1 stick of softened butter. Let sit for at least 30 minutes so that the dried herbs rehydrate. Spread over cooked corn.
Basil and tomato: Seed 2 ripe tomatoes and grate, then drain. Discard as much liquid as possible. Mix tomato pulp with 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese plus 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh basil. Season with salt and spread on cooked corn.
Cilantro and sesame: Mix 1 stick softened butter with 2 teaspoons each toasted sesame seeds and chopped fresh cilantro. Spread on corn and sprinkle with more sesame seeds and kosher salt.
Tarragon and lime: Mix 1 stick softened butter with 2 to 3 tablespoons of minced fresh tarragon and the zest of 1 large lime. Spread on hot cooked corn.
Bacon and Cheddar: Spread mayonnaise on warm corn. Roll in grated Cheddar and top with crumbled cooked bacon.
Honey butter: Combine 1 stick softened butter with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and 2 tablespoons honey. Spread on hot cooked corn.
Parsley and chive: Combine 1 stick softened butter with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and 1 tablespoon each (or more, according to taste) of finely chopped fresh parsley and chives. Spread on hot cooked corn.
Fruit chutney: Mix 1 stick melted butter with 3 tablespoons fruit chutney, such as Major Grey's. (You could even use marmalade.) Drizzle over hot cooked corn.
Guacamole: Spread homemade or prepared guacamole over hot cooked corn. Top with a squeeze of fresh lime.
Bacon-wrapped: Wrap raw corn with slices of bacon to make a spiral and brush lightly with honey. Grill on medium or roast in a 350-degree oven, either for 20 to 25 minutes. Turn several times during cooking so the bacon cooks evenly.
Pesto and Parmesan: You won't need butter or oil when you spread pesto over hot, cooked corn. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan.
Goat cheese and thyme: Stir together 2 tablespoons softened butter with 2 ounces goat cheese crumbles, 1 tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried). Season with freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt. Spread on hot cooked corn.
Cinnamon sugar: Combine 1 stick melted butter and 1 tablespoon each cinnamon and sugar. Drizzle on hot cooked corn.
Cumin and pepper: Mix 1 stick softened butter with ½ teaspoon of cracked black pepper, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds and coarse sea salt to taste. Spread on hot corn.
Garlic and Old Bay: Blend 1 stick softened butter with 1 minced garlic clove and ½ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning. Spread on cooked corn and sprinkle with more Old Bay and kosher salt.
Lemon pepper: Incorporate 2 tablespoons of a lemon-pepper blend with 1 stick softened butter and spread over hot cooked corn. Garnish with lemon zest.
Jamaican sweet corn: Prepare a mixture of ½ cup mayonnaise, 1 ½ tablespoons curry powder, 1 teaspoon grated ginger, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1 tablespoon lime juice. Spread mixture on hot cooked corn and roll in toasted coconut.
Spicy Asian glaze: Mix ¼ cup hoisin sauce, ¼ cup honey, 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce and 2 tablespoons lime juice. Brush on corn and grill or roast, basting and turning several times. Before serving, sprinkle with sesame seeds and sliced green onions.
Spicy Sriracha: Mix 1 stick softened butter with 2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce. Spread on hot cooked corn. Garnish with chopped fresh herbs such as parsley or cilantro.
Sources: Buzzfeed.com; Food Network; Cooking Light; Better Homes and Gardens; Real Simple.