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The Best BBQ Grilled Corn (foil or no foil?)

A test to find the best way to cook corn on the BBQ. Wrapped in foil or straight on the grill. This post includes grilling tips and clean up recommendations.

eating corn on the cob


It's time to have those last few BBQs before the weather changes and dining indoors becomes the norm again.

Make the most of your garden or outdoor space and invite some family and friends around for a grilled feast with plenty of salads and side dishes or just take your evening meal outdoors and keep it simple.

Burgers, bangers, kebabs and vegetables all taste great when cooked on the grill and let's face it, it's great fun.

glowing barbecue coals


Today I'm cooking corn on the BBQ. 

Yes, you can coat it in  marinade or spices, but I wanted cook it plain to find out if it's best cooked  in foil or directly on the grill to see which comes out best.

This could get messy, but only when you slather the grilled corn with butter (or dairy-free spread) and it drips down your chin as you bite into those juicy sweet kernels. 

As you can see my boy loves corn!

child messily eating corn on the cob


Before we get to the corn grilling experiment, I would like to share some BBQ tips with you.

  • 84% of parents think BBQs are messy
  • 33% who are put off having a BBQ because of the mess

Plan ahead and follow a few simple hacks for a stress-free, fun BBQ with less mess.



1. Don't try and rush your BBQ. Give it time to heat. You want to wait until the coals are grey, almost white and glowing before you start to grill. This is a simple step but really important. Don't use anything chemical-based to speed things up as it will taint the flavour of your food. 

    2. Soak wooden skewers in water for 20-30 minutes before you use them on the BBQ to prevent burning. The ones with the flat end paddles are much easier to turn than the long thin ones.

    3. Make sure you have a pair of long handled tongs for turning burgers and vegetables. That BBQ is going to get hot, hot hot! Best to keep any searing to the food and not your hands and arms.

      4. Have a roll of kitchen paper on a holder next to you when grilling to wipe up any spills, wipe tongs that are covered in marinade, to cover dishes of raw and grilled food and to share around for cleaning up sticky fingers and messy mouths.

        5. Pop some lemon halves on the grill face side down, then squeeze the lemon over loaded skewers and salad for a wonderful flavour burst.

        6. Vegetables can be thrown on the grill whole, think of vegetables with skins like bell peppers, tomatoes and onion, it gives so much flavour and you don't need to prepare them before grilling.

        7. If you're serving burgers in buns, cut the buns in half and quickly toast the inside on the grill. The soft outside and crisp inside of the bun gives a professional finish to your burgers.

        8. Fill a muffin tray with lots of different flavoured ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard. Start with mild on the left going towards spicy on the right, adding a small spoon to each and let your guests help themselves.

        9. If the days are getting cooler and you don't have outdoor heaters, fold a blanket over each chair back so your family and friends can wrap up if they start to feel chilly.  It's one of those little touches everyone will remember.

          10. To make cleaning the grill easy, clean your grill after your BBQ while it is still warm, using a wire brush, some scrunched up kitchen foil or even a halved onion using long tongs. When you have your next BBQ, just give the grill a quick wipe with hot soapy water.

          pin it for later

          Moping up butter from corn on the cob

          GRILLING CORN 



          For this grilling experiment, I decided to keep it simple and let the sweet flavour of the corn shine through.

          Instead of a marinade or spice rub, I just rubbed the corn cobs with a little olive oil and seasoned them with salt and pepper.

          Once the BBQ was fired up and the coals with white and glowing, it was time to grill the corn.

          I placed two corn cobs directly on the grill and two wrapped in foil.

          I left them to cook for a few minutes before turning (this is when you really need those long tongs).

          seasoned corn on the cob on foil

          NAKED CORN

          First the results from the naked corn which was grilled straight on the BBQ.

          1. The naked corn cooked quickly (the foiled corn took a little longer).
          2. When the naked corn starts to brown at the edges it's ready. 
          3. It takes about 10-12 minutes, turning as it cooks. 
          4. The little charred edges give a nutty flavour to some of the corn.

          Once the corn was off the grill, I inserted cob holders to make it easier to eat.

          I popped it on a plate, spread it with dairy-free spread, which immediately started to melt.

          I gave it some extra seasoning of black pepper and rolled it in the melted *butter* until it was well coated, then armed with some kitchen paper to catch drips I dived in.

          Love corn? Try this easy corn curry with cashews.


          The smoky flavour from the BBQ and the little nutty kernels really gave a lot of flavour to the corn, although it was still sweet with extra flavour from the seasoning.

          It was absolutely delicious!

          naked corn and corn on the cob in foil on the barbecue


          Now the results of the corn cooked on the BBQ in foil.

          1. The corn wrapped in foil took about 20 minutes to cook.
          2. It needed regular turning.
          3. It was still a little crisper than regular corn on the cob which is boiled in a pan or steamed.
          4. The foiled corn, didn't take on any of the smoky flavour from the BBQ and it didn't brown. You were left with fresh, sweet corn.


          To be honest I don't see the point of cooking corn on the BBQ this way.

          It doesn't add to the flavour, it takes much longer to cook than it does on the cooker top and it takes up space on the grill that could be filled with other vegetables, more skewers or burgers.

          I say cook it naked.

          Well cooked naked corn and corn on the cob in foil on the barbecue


          For a quick way to cook corn on the BBQ and a wonderful smoky flavour, throw the naked corn cobs (rubbed with just a little oil and some seasoning) straight onto the grill.

          If you prefer it naked, cook it in a pot, don't bother wrapping it in foil and taking up space on the BBQ.

          grilled corn on the cob with seasoning and fresh herbs


          The boy said "Cook it like normal mum,  I don't like the burnt corn and this one is a bit crunchy. I prefer the way you normally cook it".

          Well that's that then.

          I'll be throwing naked corn on the grill for my husband and I next time we have a BBQ. We loved the corn all smoky and charred. For my son, I'll be cooking it in a pot.

          If you have children, you'll be able to judge if they're going to like their corn smokey or if you should just cook their corn in a pot.

          You'll probably find they feel the same as my son, so just grill the corn for the adults and stick to grilled burgers and sausages for the kids.

          They make also like my BBQ Pizza Stuffed Mushrooms and 10 Minute Bean Burgers.

          grilled corn on the cob with seasoning and fresh herbs


          Here are a few more family-friendly BBQ recipes to try.

          pin it for later

          An experiment to see if corn on the cob cooked on the barbecue is better grilled naked or in foil, with 10 clever BBQ hacks

          Follow me on PinterestFacebookTwitter and Instagram. Then join my Facebook group Living on the Veg? It's a very friendly community with lots of recipes and chat. I'm in there every day chatting to group members.

          Remember and say hi. I'm always happy to chat and answer questions.

          Smokey Red Pepper & Chipotle Bean Burgers


          Smokey Red Pepper & Chipotle Bean Burgers

          Smoky red pepper, cheese and bean burgers. These juicy, smoky burgers are easy to make and great served stacked high in buns with salad and finished with a slice of cheddar or vegan cheddar melted over them.


          1. For me corn had to be grilled naked, so that done of the kernels brown and even blacken, and the whole cob takes on a bit of smokiness. Thanks for the more on Regina, I've seen the brand but not used it, good to hear it's a high quality product.

            1. Yes you are so right Kavey, it does taste much better. The kitchen paper is super strong, I started buying it about a year ago and don't bother with the other types now, this is just stronger and you don't use as much.

          2. Love all your tips and tricks! My husband is the griller in our family so I can't wait to share these with him. Also, I love that you did the corn naked! For YEARS I did it in foil and just started doing it naked this summer and it is so much better!

          3. I know, it tastes so much better grilled naked. I let my husband grill too. He is useless in the kitchen so it leaves him feeling like he can actually cook. Bless him.

          4. I'm quite amused that somehow Coop got it all down his neck. Of COURSE that's how one eats really tasty corn!! I'm so glad you all are still having a bit of fine weather. What a summer to remember. We ate lunch outside today and thought of you.

            1. Yes it was a bit drippy with all the butter. It has been a gorgeous summer, one to remember. You must have had even higher temperatures. Not heard about how your holiday went yet.

          5. I prefer to throw the veggies and corn right on the grill directly also. Not only does it eliminate the waste of foil, but the veggies always taste so much better with a little smoky char!

            1. Yes you are right. I usually do my veg on skewers, but I must try just throwing veggies on the grill.

          6. I adore orn and can't get enough during these last days of summer. I like the experiment and I'm happy to grill it "naked!" :-)

            1. Yes it is good and the combination of the sweet, smokey with the juicy and the crunch is so good.

          7. Grilling Corn on the Cob is the best way to cook it. Traps in all the flavor and juices.

            1. So so tasty cooked this way. We'll definitely be doing it again!

          8. I love corn on the bbq especially the nutty, charred kernels so Im not surprised you decided without foil is best. V sensible having Regina to hand too. Looks like Cooper needed jt while he was tucking in!

            1. Oh yes he really needed it. I always have some handy too, it's way too messy eating corn, and way too messy for my nice linen napkins.

          9. the last time I had corn barbecued was from a street seller in Greece. I will have to try it next time I have a barbecue. I usually just barbecue burgers and bananas. Cooper is looking so grown up now. Jill

            1. I remember having it from a street seller in Cyprus years ago too and yes it was delicious. Bananas are good on the BBQ. We used to eat them at my parent's BBQs, I must try that again.

          10. I like to soak my corn on the cobs for a while then grill so they don't burn too soon. I love the idea of the lemon to squeeze on food later - will try that next BBQ.

            1. Ah yes that is a good tip. The lemon is great, cam be squeezed on lots of dishes for a splash of flavour. It really changes the flavour tones of the lemon.

          11. I think smoky straight on the grill sounds just perfect. Maybe Cooper will change his mind over the years :)

          12. Yes it is and I hope he tries more as he gets older.


          I love reading comments, so thank you for taking the time to leave one. Unfortunately, I'm bombarded with spam, so I've turned on comment moderation. I'll publish your comments as soon as I can and respond to them. Don't panic, they will disappear when you hit publish. Jac x