Southern-fried corn cooked in a cast-iron skillet is the perfect side dish. With only five ingredients, including fresh sweet corn and bacon, this recipe pairs beautifully with just about any entree and is a real family favorite.
In the South, it is said that we will fry anything, and while that’s partially true, fresh sweet corn fried in bacon grease is a delicacy. Add in a glass of sweet tea, some sliced tomatoes, a squash casserole or field peas, and fried chicken, and you have a summer feast that’s beyond compare.
Why you will love this recipe:
- It’s quick and easy to prepare. And, if your corn is really fresh, it only takes minutes to cook.
- It is one of the best ways to showcase the incredible taste of fresh summer corn.
- Only five ingredients and you can make it ahead.
What’s the difference in fried corn and creamed corn?
While both creamed corn and fried corn are made with fresh kernels cooked in bacon grease, creamed corn has a small amount of cream or milk, and flour to thicken it. As the name implies, it also has a creamy consistency.
Fried corn, on the other hand, is made with just five ingredients, corn, bacon, butter, salt, and pepper. Both dishes are delicious in their own right, and I would have a hard time choosing if I had to pick just one favorite.
I have seen some folks fry an entire ear for fried corn on the cob, and while that is also delicious, it is more difficult to make and requires a deep-fryer.
What variety is best?
I have made this recipe for fried corn with white, yellow, and bi-color and they are all delicious. In our area, Silver Queen is the gold standard. But, honestly, instead of what kind, the most important variable is how fresh it is. Even field corn is delicious fried if it’s just been picked.
When buying it, look for ears with bright green husks, that are heavy for their size and feel slightly damp. For the best results, plan to cook it the same day you buy it. If you have to store it, wrap it up in a plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator for up to three days.
How to shuck it:
If there is anything remotely difficult about this recipe it’s shucking the corn, which means removing the husk and then removing the silk. If you have never done it before, I think the microwave method is easiest, but once you get the hang of it, just pulling the husk off by hand and removing the silk is faster.
Cut off the stalk end one-inch above the last row of kernels. Place two ears on a microwave-safe plate and microwave uncovered for two to four minutes. Let the ears cool, then, grab the cob by the uncut end and shake and squeeze it until the ear comes out husk and silk-free. Repeat.
Peel back the husk at the tip of the ear just until you can see the top few rows of kernels. Slip your finger under the husk layers and grasp about a quarter of the husk and silk firmly and peel downward. Continue doing this until all of the kernels are exposed. Gather the husk and silks in one hand and snap them off with the stalk at the base. Discard the husks, silks, and tassels.
If you have any silk remaining on the cob, hold the cob in both hands and twist each hand in the opposite direction. Check out my video if you have questions.
Here’s what you will need:
How to make it:
Add the bacon to a cold 10-inch, cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat and cook for about five minutes or until the fat starts rendering out of the bacon.
Turn the heat up to medium and cook, frequently turning, for another four to five minutes or until the bacon is browned and crispy. Remove the bacon and drain it on paper towels. Set aside. Leave the grease in the skillet.
While the bacon is cooking, grab a deep bowl and a sharp knife. Hold each ear up and slice the kernels off. You may have to go around several times to get all of the kernels.
Then, take the back of the knife and scrape the cob to get all of that milky goodness. Don’t skip this step.
Add the butter to the skillet and when it is melted, add the kernels. Season it with salt and pepper.
Stir and cook it for anywhere from five to fifteen minutes. (The amount of time it will take to cook depends on how fresh the corn is; just-picked corn barely needs any cooking at all, and if it’s older, it will take longer.) For this dish, it’s important to taste it as it cooks to know when it’s tender.
Remove it from the heat, top with crumbled bacon and serve immediately.
To make it ahead:
Make this dish up to the point of adding the crumbled bacon. Allow the pan to cool and store it covered in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. To reheat, just place the pan on the stove over medium-low heat and allow it to heat back up. Top with the bacon and serve.
I always use a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet and I highly recommend that’s what you use if you have one. If not, a heavy-duty non-stick skillet works too.
Leftovers, if you have them, should be stored tightly covered in the refrigerator for up four days. Leftovers can also be frozen.
This side dish is so good, I also recommend that you consider making more than you think you need because I predict everyone will want seconds.
More corn recipes:
If you are a corn lover like me, you might also like these recipes: Spicy Corn Casserole with Cream Cheese, Southern Shrimp and Corn Fritters, Southern Corn Salad, Fresh Corn and Blue Crab Bisque, Southern Succotash with White Acre Peas and Corn Tomato and Avocado Salad.
If you need some more side dish ideas, here is a link to all of my side dish recipes.
★ If you make this recipe, please consider rating it and leaving a comment. I’d love to know how you liked it!
Thank you so much for visiting Grits and Pinecones. I hope you’ll come back soon!
Southern-Fried Corn Recipe
- 6 ears fresh sweet corn shucked
- 4 slices bacon not thick sliced
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Add the bacon to a cold 10-inch, cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat and cook for about five minutes or until the fat starts rendering out of the bacon.
- Turn the heat up to medium and cook, frequently turning, for another four to five minutes or until the bacon is browned and crispy. Remove the bacon and drain it on paper towels. Set aside. Leave the grease in the skillet.
- While the bacon is cooking, grab a deep bowl and a sharp knife. Hold each ear of corn up and slice the kernels off. You may have to go around several times to get all of the kernels. Then, take the back of the knife and scrape the cob to get all of that milky goodness. Don't skip this step.
- Add the butter to the skillet and when it is melted, add the corn. Season it with salt and pepper.
- Stir and cook it for anywhere from five to fifteen minutes. (The amount of time it will take to cook depends on how fresh the corn is; just-picked corn barely needs any cooking at all, and if it's older, it will take longer.) For this dish, it's important to taste it as it cooks to know when it's done.
- Remove it from the heat, top with crumbled bacon and serve immediately.
Hi Sharon. I love the words “Southern” and “fried” all in the same recipe name. And then you added bacon. This is truly a piece of heaven right here in this post. As always, thanks so much for sharing.
Verna M Buchanan
I did not make this wonderful corn dish, but had it at the home of a native Floridian. Delicious!! I love that you include tips, alternatives, and photos so there is no possibility of failure with your recipes. I also love your blog name: Grits for when I lived 25+ years in Tampa Bay, and Pinecones for Maine, where I grew up and now live in retirement.
Thank you so much for taking the time to leave such a sweet note. It truly made my day!
All the best,