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How to make canned corn taste better

Canned corn may feel like it’s less than fancy but you can make any store bought version feel full of slow-cooked home grown flavor with just two simple ingredients.

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Fresh corn is wonderful to cook down when you have it. But it’s also a lot of work and not everyone has time for that.

So you go for the can (or a bag of frozen kernels) and that’s completely fine. Canned vegetables still deliver health benefits like fiber, protein and potassium. Vitamin C can’t tolerate the heat canning process so it’s gone before you dig in, but canned corn is still better than frozen corn dogs.

Choose a good canned corn and watch the salt

If you want your canned corn to taste as good as possible, start with a better quality one. Look for a can that says “sweet corn”. In this recipe I used Aldi’s golden sweet corn. It will have more natural sugars and a more homemade flavor.

If you can’t find a sweet corn, a dash of sugar or a tad of honey (do you know how much a tad is?) will boost bland flavor.

Salt is almost always added to canned goods for a bit of flavor and preservation. I used salted corn today but you can buy it unsalted or get frozen kernels which won’t have added salt. If your corn has salt, make sure to use less when you doctor up this recipe.

If you are using unsalted corn, you may need to add more than I did.

a can of corn open with the lid peeled back on a table

The water in canned vegetables is super nasty and bad for me, right?

No, it’s not. The liquid in your canned corn is water, salt and the natural juices of the corn that cook out during the heat canning process. It’s not toxic. It’s not going to hurt you.

We will keep part of the liquid from the can for this recipe but if you’d like to pour it all off and add some fresh water or even replace it with chicken broth you can do that. The final flavor will be a bit different though.

Keep your canned corn simple

This recipe calls for the simplest of ingredients:

  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Corn

Make sure you use real butter and not Country Crock, margarine, or some other imposter. If you feel up to it, you can add a bit of heavy cream near the end of cooking but we’ll talk about that in a bit.

a skillet of canned corn with butter and salt on top before cooking

What to serve with canned corn

I consider corn to be a starch so I try to serve non-starchy vegetables and main dishes with it. Try:

Avoid making potatoes or pasta with canned corn unless it’s a holiday and there are lots of other side dishes.

Variations and additions you can add to this base recipe

You can go wild if you want to! Some ideas you may want to try:

  • A dash of cajun seasoning
  • A couple of cloves of crushed garlic
  • Chopped fresh herbs like parsley
  • Several grinds of fresh black pepper
  • Three or four tablespoons of heavy cream added at the end of cooking
  • A little heat with some diced fresh jalapenos
  • Add a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar or honey if your corn isn’t a sweet variety

Can this corn be made in a slow cooker?

Take a couple of minutes to simmer down the corn on the stove top first, then move it to a slow cooker to keep warm. The slow cooker is going to hold in moisture so the liquid would never evaporate if you just dumped it in and left it.

Can this recipe be multiplied to feed a crowd?

Yes. Just multiply the amounts of each ingredient.

a skillet of corn on a table with a spoon in it

How to make canned corn taste better

Canned corn can taste like homemade with a few simple steps
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Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 13 minutes
Servings: 2 people
Calories: 101kcal
Author: Rachel Ballard

Ingredients

  • 1 15 ounce can Sweet corn 1 bag frozen sweet corn kernels will substitute
  • 2 tablespoons butter salted or unsalted
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt I prefer sea salt, see note 1

Instructions

  • Drain half the water from your can of corn and place the corn in a 9" skillet. If you are making a larger batch, use any size pan or pot that will hold the corn without spilling.
  • Add the butter and salt and bring the skillet to a gentle simmer over medium high heat.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and stir occasionally so the corn doesn't burn. Cook until the liquid is almost totally gone and just a couple of tablespoons remain in the bottom.
  • Serve warm.

Notes

Note 1: If your corn is unsalted, consider using 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add half and taste it first, then add the rest if needed. 
To make this dish for more than 2 people, simply multiply the ingredients. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 101kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 30mg | Sodium: 391mg | Potassium: 5mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 351IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 1mg

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