Got a crowd coming?  Want to serve some of this year’s delicious New England corn-on-the-cob, but not sure how to cook it all at once?  Give the “Cooler Corn” method a go.  It is tried and true.  It keeps the kitchen cool, and it cooks the corn to perfection. 

cooler corn

How to fill the cooler

The method could not be any simpler. 

Simply fill a cooler with boiling-hot water, and place the shucked ears of corn right on in.  The best way to get the water hot would be to use a couple of kettles at a time.  Each layer of corn ( about 8-10 ears ) will require about a half gallon of water or more.

We have found that because the water temperature drops as the corn cooks, there is little damage of overcooking the corn.  After about 30 minutes, the corn is cooked to perfection, just hot enough to melt the butter, but not too hot to handle.  The corn even stays perfect for up to two hours!

Food safety – cooler corn

We must stress food safety here.  You absolutely must make sure that the cooler that you use is completely clean.  Wash it very well with hot, hot soapy water.  If you’ve used the cooler for any kind of raw meats in the past, you might even consider a 20-minute soak in a dilute solution of hot water and vinegar.  Rinse well to remove the vinegar taste and smell.  

This method works very well in smaller coolers, too.  It’s a great idea to use for your camping trips. 

Once you have eaten or removed all the corn, you can bring the cooler outside and simply pull the plug at the bottom to drain the water.

In the unlikely event that you end up with leftover corn, be sure to view our Summer Corn Recipes for lots of great ideas to use up your corn-on-the-cob.  

Or visit our Pinterest “Corn” board.

cooler corn B&M Catering Pinterest

The “Cooler Corn” method is indeed a convenient way to cook a large quantity of corn-on-the-cob for a crowd. Here’s a step-by-step guide along with some helpful insights to make the most of this method:

Ingredients and Equipment:

  • Fresh shucked ears of corn
  • Boiling-hot water
  • A clean cooler (ensure it’s food-safe)
  • Kettles or pots for boiling water
  • Tongs for handling corn
  • Butter, salt, and other seasonings (optional)
cooler corn corn on the cob - clambake catering

Step-by-Step Instructions:

Prepare the Corn:

Ensure that you have fresh, shucked ears of corn. Remove any husks and silk to clean the corn. If needed, cut the ears in half to fit inside the cooler.

Boil Water:

Boil a large amount of water in kettles or pots. You’ll need enough to fill the cooler and submerge the corn completely. Keep the water boiling hot until you’re ready to use it.

Clean the Cooler:

It’s crucial to start with a clean cooler. Wash it thoroughly with hot, soapy water to remove any dirt or residues. If the cooler has been used for raw meats in the past, consider soaking it in a dilute solution of hot water and vinegar for 20 minutes. Rinse well to eliminate any vinegar taste or smell.

Layer the Corn:

Place the shucked ears of corn directly into the clean cooler. You can stack them in layers, but make sure each layer is not too thick (about 8-10 ears per layer). Leave some space between the layers.

Pour Boiling Water:

Carefully pour the boiling-hot water over the corn in the cooler. Each layer of corn will require about a half gallon of water or more, depending on the cooler’s size. The corn should be fully submerged.

Close the Cooler:

Seal the cooler tightly to keep the heat in. You can use a towel or blanket to wrap around the cooler for extra insulation.

Cook the Corn:

Allow the corn to cook in the closed cooler for about 30 minutes. The residual heat from the boiling water will gently cook the corn to perfection. The corn will be hot enough to melt butter but not too hot to handle.


Use tongs to remove the corn from the cooler and serve it with butter, salt, and other seasonings if desired.


The “Cooler Corn” method keeps the corn perfect for up to two hours, so your guests can enjoy it at their leisure.

Clean Up:

Once you’ve served or removed all the corn, take the cooler outside and pull the plug at the bottom to drain the water. Clean the cooler again with hot, soapy water.

Helpful Insights:

  • Ensure the water remains hot while filling the cooler to maintain the cooking temperature.
  • You can customize the cooking time slightly by adjusting the water temperature. If you want the corn a bit firmer, use slightly cooler water; if you prefer it softer, use hotter water.
  • This method is not limited to large coolers; it can work well in smaller coolers for camping trips or smaller gatherings.
  • Leftover corn can be used in various recipes. Check out the “Summer Corn Recipes” for ideas on how to make the most of it.

With the “Cooler Corn” method, you can efficiently cook a large batch of corn-on-the-cob while keeping your kitchen cool and ensuring that the corn turns out perfectly cooked.
It’s a great option for summer gatherings and outdoor events.

Contact us to learn more about our cooking methods and book B&M catering for your next special event.