Find three ways to freeze corn, the pros and cons of each, and which may work best for you: unblanched on the cob, unblanched cut kernels and blanched cut kernels – plus get ideas on the best ways to cook with them.
Since publishing how to freeze green beans without blanching and then freezing snap peas without blanching, many readers have asked about freezing corn without blanching as well. So I’ve been experimenting for the last year to see how we liked our corn when frozen, trying a couple of different ways to freeze corn. The results?
You can freeze corn without blanching first, but it’s not as clear-cut as green beans – I actually found I like to have corn in the freezer that’s been preserved three different ways: cut off the cob, both raw and cooked, as well as a few whole ears of unbalanched corn. Any way you decide to do it, having corn in the freezer that’s been frozen at the height of flavor is a wonderful thing! (affiliate links are included in this post where appropriate)
Three Ways to Freeze Corn
1. Unblanched Whole Cobs.
This is the easiest and quickest method:
- Shuck, add to freezer bags, extract air, and toss in the freezer.
Pro: It takes literally minutes, which is why there’s always a few corn cobs in our freezer.
Cons: The cobs aren’t as easy to use as cut kernels in recipes or to sauté. And the cooked corn on the cob, while picture-perfect (right photo above) and fun to have in the depths of winter, is a little chewy and watery.
Best way to cook frozen whole cobs*:
- Bring a large pot of water to boil.
- Drop frozen ears of corn into boiling water.
- Cook for 3-5 minutes or until done to your liking.
*A reader suggested this cooking method as a way to keep the cobs from getting soggy, and though we still found they were a bit watery, it is the best way to cook them I think.
For the next two ways to freeze corn, you’ll need to cut the corn off the ears and then add them to freezer containers:
Here are a couple tips I’ve learned when freezing kernels:
- I use quart-size freezer baggies rather than jars or containers, since I can get a lot of air out of them with a straw and they stack with little waste of space in the freezer.
- I’ve tried a lot of ways to minimize the mess when cutting the kernels off the cobs – regular cutting board, tube cake pan method, special corn cob cutters, etc. – but in the end I always return to my trusty over-the-sink cutting board with a drain/hole in one side. I can place a large bowl under the hole and simply slide the kernels into the bowl as I cut and since it’s over the sink, most of the mess is contained. Here are a couple examples on Amazon that are similar to mine:
2. Unblanched Corn Kernels.
This is the second easiest method, since you don’t need to cook the corn first:
- Shuck and cut the kernels off the cob into a large bowl.
- Spoon kernels into freezer baggies (or containers), remove as much air as possible (I use my handy straw), seal and freeze.
Pros: No need to cook first, just cut and package. Ready for any recipe calling for uncooked corn with no danger of overcooking.
Cons: Corn that has been frozen this way definitely has a different texture than blanched corn and we found it needs to be cooked to use – this isn’t the way to freeze corn that you’d like to use in salads or fresh bean & corn salsas. (Oh, and notice the date on the pictured package of corn above? That is a year old baggie of frozen corn and you can see that it looks great still and the straw sealer worked well!)
Best ways to use unblanched cut corn:
- Sauté in a bit of butter with additions of chopped onions or peppers if desired.
- Bacon and Corn Saute: cook 3-4 strips of bacon until crisp, remove to a towel-lined plate to drain and cook 2-3 cups of corn kernels in the hot bacon grease until done, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve with reserved bacon crumbled on top.
- Add to soups and stews like this black bean soup or any recipe where the corn will cook with other ingredients, like this sausage-corn tart or this bacon-corn tart or these delicious stuffed zucchinis.
- Roast it! Just add it to a lined sheet pan -frozen – and roast at 400 degrees until browned. Season how you like, or make a delicious corn salsa.
3. Blanched Corn Kernels.
The third way is the most traditional way to freeze fresh corn:
- Bring a large pot of water to boil.
- Drop shucked ears into boiling water and cook 2-3 minutes.
- Remove from water to a large bowl and let cool a few minutes until you can handle them.
- Cut kernels off of cobs, spoon into freezer baggies, remove as much air as possible (again using a straw), seal and freeze.
Pros: It’s nice to have baggies of cooked corn in the freezer for eating fresh in salads and salsas without having to cook first. It doesn’t taste as ‘raw’ to me as the unblanched. Plus, I often cook a pot of corn cobs for dinner during the corn season and have leftovers which are easy to just bag up after dinner.
Con: Takes the most time, needing more steps.
Best ways to use blanched cut corn:
- In any fresh salads like this quick chopped salad.
- Make black bean and corn salsa by adding a can of homemade rotel to the corn and beans along with garlic, lime juice and seasonings.
- You can also use this frozen corn in any recipe that calls for corn, just like the unblanched method, so it’s pretty versatile.
- The roasting method mentioned also works well with cooked corn.
Because there are lots of different ways our family likes to eat corn (which you can see more of in AOC’s recipe index), you will usually find corn in our freezer preserved each of these ways – one way just isn’t enough for corn! It is nice to have the options, though, especially if time is short or you’ve got an abundance to freeze all at once, which often happens when you grow your own or find a deal at a farmer’s market.
So, tell me – how do you freeze corn? How do you like to use the frozen corn?
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