Feasting at Home : Grilled Corn with Chipotle, Lime and Cilantro

June 26, 2012

Grilled Corn with Chipotle, Lime and Cilantro

Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.
Mark Twain

Grilled corn on the cob couldn't be simpler.  There are numerous ways to cook fresh corn, and I think I have tried most of them, but my favorite way, which happens to be the easiest way....is simply grilled.  No foil, no husk, no pre-blanching, no soaking.  Just strait on the grill.  It's ridiculously fast and easy and tastes great.

I was a skeptic at first, I admit.  I didn't think you could actually get the kernels cooked without burning them. Good corn, picked in season, actually doesn't need to be "cooked" but rather heated up. The light charring of the grill makes for good flavor and prepared this way, the corn ends up being juicy and delicious. And the best part, it can be made in 20 minutes or less, if you make the butter ahead, which is great if you having friends over.

First things first: pre-heat your grill to medium heat.
Make the Chipotle Lime Butter.
You don't need a food processor for this, but it's faster.
If entertaining, make the butter ahead, it will keep for 1-2 weeks. And remember, you can use a soy or vegetable based butter. Olive oil works too, but I personally prefer the consistency of butter with this.

Chipotle peppers are what give this grilled corn a deep smokey heat. It is a slow heat, meaning, it doesn't jump out at you in the beginning like fresh jalapeƱo... but rather lingers subtly behind each bite, slowing heating up your palate. Chipotle peppers are basically smoked jalapenos. They come in different forms.... ground into a spice, dried whole, but I prefer the ease and flavor of these in a can. The left over peppers can be frozen in two's in plastic wrap..and used later to flavor soups, beans, a vinaigrette, or even a chocolate cake. You can find these at most grocery stores in the Mexican Food Section. The juice in the can is especially flavorful, so make sure to save it too.

In this recipe I used smoked salt and a bit of cinnamon. You could use Kosher salt instead, and if you are not a cinnamon fan, substitute ground cumin or coriander. To me, the combination of cinnamon and chipotle are a marriage made in heaven.

This recipe makes enough butter for 8 ears of corn. You can save what you don't use of the butter and keep it in your fridge for 1- 2 weeks . 

After the chipotle butter is made, shuck the corn. When picking out corn, choose ones with bright green husks. Pull back the husk and look at the kernels before you buy them. They should be firm, plump and juicy. 

Try to remove as much of the silk as possible. Using your hands or a wet paper bowl rub vertically from top down.

If you want to save/recycle your corn husks here are a few things you could do with them: Compost corn husks -although its much faster if they are broken down into small pieces. I read somewhere that the easiest way to break them down is run over them with a lawn mover before adding to your compost. I personally have never tried this, and it scares me.
If you are extra ambitious, and want a creative project, save the corn husks and try making a  Corn Husk Wreath.  Step by step instructions are here.           

These were made by Linda from  The Keepers House.

Pinterest also has some good inspiration for corn husks....

OK, back to corn.

If serving a larger group of people, you may want to cut the corn in half or thirds.
Use a very sharp large knife on a sturdy cutting board and cut through the cob.

Take the shucked corn, Chipotle Butter, Fresh lime and cilantro to the grill.

Place the plain corn right on the grill. There is no need to put anything on it, if the grill is clean, it won't stick. Cover for 2-3  minutes. Rotate a quarter, cover for 2-3 more minutes. Continue this process until all four sides are very lightly charred and heated through (about 10 minutes). Remember, you are not "cooking" the corn... you are heating it up. A light charring adds flavor. But do not over char because the corn will loose its juiciness.

When the corn is done, remove it from the grill and place on a platter. While the corn is still hot, generously spread the Chipotle Butter on all sides. 

Once butter is lavishly spread, squeeze 1/2 lime over  the corn and sprinkle with chopped fresh cilantro.  Serve with lime wedges. It's best eaten warm, right off the grill,  but it is just fine if served at room temp.

This ended up being my small contribution to our "girls night out" potluck feast, held outside on a friend's patio. It was one of those warm summer evenings where for a few wonderful hours, surrounded by friends, everything seemed right in the world. We ate well and laughed hard. Good for the soul.
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Grilled Corn on the Cob with Chipotle Lime Butter and Cilantro

Preheat grill to MED

Make Chipotle Lime Butter:

1/2 C room temp butter ( or soy butter or olive oil- see note)
1-2 chipotle peppers ( I used two, plus a little "juice") --This ended up being 3 out of 5 stars. A nice slow burning spicy, but not taste bud deadening.
1/4 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste ( you could try smoked salt)
1/4 tsp cinnamon ( or cumin, or coriander)
Zest of 1 lime - save lime for squeezing on after  
cracked pepper

8 Corn on the Cob
1/4 cup chopped cilantro as fresh garnish

In a food processor, combine all ingredients except the butter. Pulse several times. Scrape sides down, pulse again. Add butter and pulse until combined. It doesn't have to be smooth, leave flecks of chipotle pepper and zest. Set Aside. You can do this ahead and keep in your fridge up to a week.

(If you don't have a food processor...mince the peppers and zest and place in a small bowl with the other ingredients) Stir in the butter.

8 Corn on the Cob
Remove husks and strings
Place on MED Heat grill, cover, rotate a quarter, every two minutes until each side is grilled. ( 10 mins)
Fresh Corn, picked in season does not need to cook very long. Don't think of it as "cooking the corn, but rather, heating it up. A little charring gives good flavor.
When done, lavishly spread the Chipotle Lime butter on all sides.
Squeeze with lime, cracked pepper,  and sprinkle fresh cilantro. Serve with Lime wedges. Serve warm or at room temp.


  1. Sylvia.... so great to connect with you via the web, even though we are only a hop, skip, and a jump from one another! I'm in CDA. I love this corn on the cob post and I'll look forward to seeing more now that I'm following you on Pinterest :)

  2. This looks delicious and the presentation is beautiful. You have a lovely blog.

  3. This is such a great recipe, and a beautiful presentation! Thank you for the tip on the corn husk wreath too, I follow CITR but I had missed that one. Lovely blog! Cheers, Andrea

    1. Thank you Andrea, I appreciate your nice feedback.