Originally published May 24, 2011 – Updated Jul 23, 2019.
Note: Every now and then, I like to jump back to old posts and update the photos a bit. My skill has changed over the years and some recipes just deserve a little refresh. I’ve updated the images and the post here a little. Y’all enjoy!
Y’all. I just love fried corn. Like LOVE it. For those of you not too familiar with Southern fried corn, it’s not a big ol’ ear of corn deep fried – though I have seen that! I guess you’d liken it to something more like creamed corn. Though I’m not sure that’s even a good comparison. Quite literally, it’s fresh corn, cut off the cob, and fried in butter and bacon grease in a cast iron skillet.
It’s one of my absolute favorite vegetable sides and I look forward to early summer and the first crops of corn each year so I can have some. I could literally hurt myself eating the stuff.
There are a few tips and tricks you’ll need to know to make authentic Southern fried corn though. Most of them really boil down to prep. You can’t just cut it off the cob and throw it in a skillet. There’s a little more involved, but I promise it’s not too hard.
What kind of corn should I use for fried corn?
While some folks prefer the starchier field corn for fried corn, I really like using sweet corn best. A variety like Silver Queen, a common variety in the South, is perfect.
Chances are, if you can’t find Silver Queen, that the corn in your local grocery store in the summer simply labeled “corn” or”sweet corn” will work just fine.
How to Get the Husks and Silks Off Corn on the Cob
One of the biggest issues with using fresh corn is all that shucking and removing the silks. Ugh! But I use this super easy microwave method where you cut off the stem end of the corn and microwave it for a couple minutes then shake the perfectly clean corn out of the husks and silks. Get all the details here. It’s not always foolproof, but it will certainly get you way ahead of the game.
How to Make the Best Fried Corn
The biggest secret/tip I can pass along is you HAVE to scrape the cobs. Yep, after you cut the corn off the cob, turn your knife over and scrape the remaining parts of the kernels out. All that extra starch (sometimes called milk) will help to thicken the dish and give it some great flavor and texture.
Once you cut the corn off the cob, it’ll look like this…
Once you scrape all that goody out, it’ll look like this…
The other thing to keep in mind is that while bacon grease is optional and you can choose to use all butter, the bacon grease adds a perfect savory flavor and smokiness that I think is key to perfect fried corn. If you don’t have bacon grease, you can actually purchase some right from my Amazon store.
Southern Fried Corn
- 8 to 10 ears fresh sweet corn (I prefer the Silver Queen variety)
- 2 tablespoons bacon grease (not necessary but sure makes a big difference)
- 4 tablespoons butter, divided (or 6 if you’re not using bacon grease)
- salt & pepper
- With your corn shucked and cleaned, place it standing up in a large bowl or pan in your sink. (Cutting corn off the cob is quite a task and a messy one at that. I think it’s best to do it in the sink. You’ll thank me later when it’s time to clean up.) Run a sharp knife down the cob cutting the kernels off.
- Next, we’re going to scrape all the starch and “goody” out of the remaining kernels. This is what gives fried corn it’s unique texture and flavor. Simply turn the back of your knife nearly perpendicular to the cob and scrape down the sides.
- Heat a skillet (preferably cast iron – I always use my great-grandmother’s – it’s one of my most prized possessions – it’s second to be grabbed in case of a fire after my kid) over medium heat and add bacon grease and two tablespoons of butter (or 4 tablespoons of butter if you’re not using the bacon grease – but you should use the bacon grease). Once melted, add corn. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Reduce the heat to medium low and stir frequently, cooking for 20 to 30 minutes – or until it's cooked to your liking. Immediately before removing from heat, add remaining butter and stir until melted.
If nutritional values are provided, they are an estimate and will vary depending on the brands used. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, I recommend grabbing your favorite brands and plugging those ingredients into an online nutritional calculator.