How To Cook Canned Corn, And Why You Should!

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It’s often one of those things that ends up in your hand when you’re searching the kitchen cupboards looking for something you can rustle up quickly, so knowing how to cook canned corn and turn it into something tasty can be a lifesaver.

These golden nuggets are a lot more versatile than you think and, contrary to popular belief, they’re pretty good for you, too, which we’ll explore more in this post.

We’ll also take a look at a few recipes as well as a few different ways to cook canned corn. First, let’s bust a few myths that have become attached to these shiny yellow kernels.

Common canned corn myths

bowl of tinned corn

Before we get cooking, let’s explode a few myths, shall we?

Myth #1: Sweet corn is a grain, so it must be bad for me?

First off, not all grains are bad. Second, sweet corn isn’t actually a grain, anyway. Well, not all the time.

When harvested early for human consumption, it’s regarded as a vegetable because, unlike field corn, it’s picked when immature and at it’s “milk stage”, rather than being left to mature and dry out. Dried kernels harvested for flour production and such are considered grains, however.

Myth #2: All corn is genetically modified

Actually, it isn’t. Again, the confusion comes about because of field corn, which is heavily affected by genetic modification. Sweet corn is largely GMO-free corn, but you should still check your labels as GMO sweet corn does exist.

Buying organic will guarantee that your corn has not been genetically modified as the the USDA prohibits the practice for organic products. (1)

corn on the cob

Myth #3: Sweet corn is full of sugar so should be avoided

Sweet corn does have a fair whack of sugar in it otherwise it’s name would be a little misleading, but should you really avoid it? Well, for starters the sugar is natural, so it’s far better than the refined muck (providing you check the can to make show those pesky manufacturers haven’t added any).

Second, other foods we love such as apples, bananas, figs and dates all have lots more sugar in them than sweet corn, but we still chow down on those bad boys.

Myth #4: Canning destroys all of the nutrients

Now, before you get all furious with me, let me say that in no way am I saying you should favor canned produce over fresh. I’d never say that. I’m always banging on about the importance of eating proper whole foods that have had the bare minimum of human interference.

However, canned veggies can be a handy thing to have in case of emergencies, but there are concerns over whether you are sacrificing nutrients for convenience when using them, for sure.

Thankfully, studies have shown that nutrients levels remain relatively stable in canned produce, thanks largely to the lack of oxygen which causes fresh fruits and veggies to rapidly deteriorate. (2)

In fact, fresh produce may, in some instances, be less nutrient dense than canned produce, depending on how it has been stored before it hits your plate. Eek!

The important thing to remember is to ensure you only buy canned corn that has nothing in the tin other than corn and water. No salt, no sugar. Better yet, buy the best pressure canner you can afford and can your own!

Myth #5: Canned corn has zero health benefits

Not true. Canned corn has quite a few things going for it, actually. One of the standout health benefits of canned corn is the fact that it can help prevent eye diseases, thanks to its high antioxidant values.

Carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin are what give corn that brilliant yellow coloration, but they can also help reduce the risk of macular degeneration, too.

Sweetcorn is also high in folate, or vitamin B9. This essential vitamin may help with cardiovascular disease prevention, reducing cholesterol levels, and could even lower the risk of strokes. (3, 4, 5)

How does corn get inside the can?

It’s quite a process, so to save time and give you a more interesting way of finding out about canning corn, here’s a neat video by How It’s Made:

How to cook canned corn

Now we know a little bit more about canned sweet corn and have dispelled a few of the myths that surround it; it’s time to get cooking!


Before we get to the canned corn recipes, let’s go over a few basic methods you can use if you just want to serve your corn as it is:

Cooking canned corn on a stovetop

Probably the most traditional way of cooking canned corn is on a stovetop, and it couldn’t be simpler:

1. All you need to do is open your can of corn and tip the contents into a small-to-medium sized saucepan.

2. Place your pan on the stovetop over a medium heat and stir frequently to ensure that your corn gets cooked evenly.

3. Season with a little salt and pepper to taste.

4. Test the corn to ensure that it’s cooked through and you’re seasoning is good.

5. Once the corn is hot all the way through, serve.

TIP: To really bring out the golden yellow of the kernels, drizzle and toss with a little olive oil before serving.


Using a microwave to cook canned corn

Less traditional, but super-fast and effective, is to cook your canned corn in the microwave. Again, this isn’t going to take a lot of kitchen skills, so providing you can wield a can opener, you’re all set:

1. First, get the can open and tip the contents into a colander or sieve to drain the liquid from your kernels before rinsing them under running water in your sink.

2. Next, grab a microwavable container and place your rinsed corn inside.

3. Give your corn a few twists of salt and pepper before cooking and drizzle with a little olive oil. Not sure how much salt and pepper you should use? Remember the old adage: you can add, but you can’t take away, so use just a little to start with.

4. Cover the container, but be sure to leave some form of gap to allow the steam to escape – we don’t want any explosions!

5. Place inside the microwave and cook on high for 2 minutes.

6. Remove the container from the microwave, stir well, and check your seasoning. Add more salt and pepper if desired.

7. Place back inside the microwave and cook for a further 2 minutes.

8. Remove from microwave, stir again, and serve.

Oven baked canned corn

This is a great alternative, and it’s also a good option if you’re not too keen on corn cooked in a regular fashion. Roasting the corn changes the flavor and texture of the kernels, giving you a tasty treat perfect for snacking on:

1. Preheat your oven to 450f (230c).

2. Open your can of corn, drain in a colander or sieve and rinse under a tap.

3. Pat your corn dry with a kitchen towel to remove as much moisture as possible.

4. Toss the kernels in 1tsp of olive oil.

5. Lay your kernels out on a baking sheet, ensuring that they have plenty of room and form a single layer.

6. Place the baking sheet in the top of your oven to get the maximum amount of heat to them quickly.

7. Cooking times will vary, so keep checking them, turning the kernels each time you do so (you can do this by simply giving the baking sheet a shake).

8. Your baked canned corn will be ready to eat once they turn a deep golden brown. When done, remove from the oven and season according to taste.

9. Serve either on their own or as a crunchy salad topper. (Get more salad recipes here!)

Canned corn recipes

Now, the above methods are all well and good if you want a quick and simple way to eat your kernels, but let’s face it, while they show you how to cook canned corn they’re a little boring.

So, to add a little bit of excitement to your store-cupboard staple, check out these canned corn recipes from some of my favorite foodies.

Vegan zucchini corn fritters

canned corn fritters

Melissa Huggins of the ever-brilliant Vegan Huggs has taken corn fritters to whole new level with this recipe. Melissa recommends either fresh or frozen corn in her recipe, but I switched them out for canned corn and the results were amazing. Go make some now!

Vegan lentil chili

canned corn recipes - vegan chili

Have you got that one non-vegan friend who always goes on about how vegan food looks gray and unappetizing? Well, pick up the phone and get them over to share this vegan lentil chili from Jenn at Peas and Crayons…just look at those colors!

The recipe may be lengthy, but I promise this is super-easy to make and you’ll want to do it again and again.

Black bean and corn vegan quesadilla

vegan quesadilla

Looking for something quick and easy, yet incredibly tasty? Willow over at Create Mindfully has got the perfect recipe for you. These black bean and corn vegan quesadillas are ridiculously easy to make, but boy do they work! Perfect for when friends come over unexpectedly. Go take a look!

Summer corn chowder

canned corn chowder recipe

This is another recipe that calls for fresh sweet corn, but at a pinch canned corn can be substituted in. Keri has some wonderful recipes on Fashionable Foods and while not all of them are vegan, some of them are and it’s worth digging through her site because there are a few real gems for you to make.

Get her summer corn chowder recipe here.

Mexican vegan vegetable stew

vegan stew with canned corn recipe

Tracy of the wonderfully named Baking Mischief has given us something else to smile about with this canned corn recipe. Low in calories, but high in flavor, this is absolutely perfect for those cold evenings when you’re in need of comfort food…regardless of the reason why! Go visit her site now and bookmark this recipe so you’ll never lose it.


Corn and tofu kebabs

tofu and corn kebab recipe

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any more exciting, we bring you corn and tofu kebabs! Well, we don’t, it’s all thanks to the wonderful Ruchi over at Ruchi’s Kitchen. This recipe is exactly what searching the Internet for something different is all about; what an amazing idea!

While there are a few stages to making these kebabs, it’s totally worth the effort. Now, who said canned corn recipes are boring?

Vegan spicy cream of corn soup

cream corn soup recipe

One of our favorite people online is Lindsay Cotter of Cotter Crunch. Her gluten-free site is a must if you have a gluten intolerance and want some kitchen inspiration, but it’s also home to some amazing vegan recipes, too, just like this one!

Like some of the other dishes we’ve mentioned here, fresh corn straight off of the cob is preferable, but I’ve made this with canned corn and it’s still delicious. As ever, just make sure you buy organic and avoid brands with added salt and sugar if you can.

Phew! What started out as a “how to cook canned corn” post turned into something a little longer than I expected. We touched on a few of the health benefits associated with these golden kernels, busted a few myths, and even featured some of my favorite go-to canned corn recipes, too.

I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together for you. If you’d like to comment, please feel free to do so. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

About The Author:
Lisa Williams
Happy Happy Vegan editor

Lisa Williams is a committed vegan, passionate animal welfare advocate, and keen follower of too many v-friendly food blogs to mention. She started back in 2016 because she felt there was a need for more straightforward information on plant-based living.

Back then, too many sites seem to either concentrate solely on recipes or be too intimidating or inaccessible for the v-curious, and she wanted to change that. The landscape is certainly a whole lot different now!

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How To Cook Canned Corn, And Why You Should!
  1. Miles McEvoy | Organic 101: Can GMOs Be Used in Organic Products? |
  2. E. J. Cameron, R. W. Pilcher, and L. E. Clifcorn | Nutrient Retention During Canned Food Production |
  3. M Ward | Homocysteine, folate, and cardiovascular disease |
  4. Artur Mierzecki, Karolina Kłoda, Hanna Bukowska, Kornel Chełstowski, Magdalena Makarewicz-Wujec, and Małgorzata Kozłowska-Wojciechowska | Association between low-dose folic acid supplementation and blood lipids concentrations in male and female subjects with atherosclerosis risk factors |
  5.  Julie Corliss | Folic acid, a B vitamin, lowers stroke risk in people with high blood pressure |


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