I am obsessed with this corn ribs recipe. Slightly charred with a smokey, not spicy, dry rub. Dip these corn riblets in our sweet and spicy chili sauce for one incredible bite. This delicious recipe can make a great side dish or summer appetizer.
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If you aren't familiar with corn ribs, they are essentially fresh corn on the cob, cut into long quarters. When grilled, or oven-baked, they curl slightly. You eat them just like a pork rib, discarding the "bone" or center of the cob.
They are a wonderful addition to any BBQ. I serve them alongside our BBQ baby back ribs as a vegetarian option. But they are so popular with the meat-eating crowd (thanks to their viral moment on Tiktok) I always make extra.
📖Why This Recipe Works
Corn ribs need to be cut evenly and properly to cook without burning. Follow my tips for a perfect cut every time. Just like with pork or beef ribs, our corn ribs have a dry rub. The main ingredient in our rub is smoked paprika. It gives a complex flavor without a blow your doors off spiciness.
And I love a spicy corn recipe but there is something about peak summer sweet corn that needs to be balanced with complex flavor, not hit you over the head spice.
This recipe can be grilled or oven-baked, heck you can even smoke them for a few minutes if you want. But grilled is always my preference. Grilling the corn ribs gives you a perfect char.
This recipe is vegetarian and gluten-free.
Obviously, you need fresh corn (still on the cob) for this recipe. Obviously, any corn recipe is going to tell you fresher is better. BUT... the hardest part of this recipe is cutting the cob into 4 pieces. It is much much much easier to cut the corn when it is fresh. If it dries out for more than a day or two it becomes significantly harder to cut.
For this recipe, you will also need:
Butter- You can also use olive oil for dairy-free but I find the spices stick to the corn better when you use melted butter.
Chili Powder- For a slightly spicy but not overwhelming flavor, you can upgrade to ancho chili powder.
Smoked Paprika- As mentioned before, smoked paprika isn't spicy but adds a depth of flavor that pairs with sweet corn.
More Seasonings- Kosher Salt, Garlic Powder, and Cayenne- Just a smidge.
For garnishes, I like to use greenery like fresh cilantro, jalapeno slices, lime wedges, or scallions. If you want to add a bit of Mexican street corn flair also add a little bit of cotija cheese.
Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce
Mayonnaise- You can sub Greek yogurt, sour cream, or even vegan mayo.
Garlic Chili Sauce- Found in the Asian aisle of most supermarkets. This sauce isn't as spicy as sriracha if you substitute reduce the quantity and skip the hot sauce.
Fresh Lime Juice
Honey- I don't recommend using sugar as an alternative because it can make sauce gritty. Agave would be a better choice.
Hot Sauce- Optional
See the recipe card for exact quantities.
⏲️How to Make Corn Ribs
Once you get the corn ribs cut into pieces the recipe goes fairly quick. The hard part is in the prep. Before you get started preheat your oven or grill.
Step 1- How to Cut Corn Ribs
Start by shucking the corn and removing any silk pieces stuck to the corn. Using a large sharp knife cut the bottom of the stalk end (the thicker side), about ⅓ inch off at most.
Cutting off the end will make a flat base, making it easy to stand up the cob of corn and cut down through the center. If you leave the corn on its side and try to cut it will roll around.
Stand the corn cob up on the flat end so it is vertical. Carefully cut down through the core, rocking the knife back and forth. This might take a minute or so per piece.
Lay the two halves flat and cut them in half again. Repeat with the other pieces of corn.
Step 2- Season Corn
Melt the butter in a small bowl (15 to 20 seconds in the microwave should do it). Add all the spices and salt. If you do a taste test it will be on the salty side. Some will drip off and when combined with the sweet corn it will be perfect.
Brush onto the kernel sides of the corn.
Step 3-How to Grill Corn Ribs
Heat your grill to 400 degrees, on a medium flame. Clean and lightly oil the grates to prevent sticking. Add the seasoned corn ribs with one of the cut sides down and cook for 8 minutes.
Turn the corn to the other cut side and remove from direct heat if using a charcoal grill or reduce the heat to low if using a gas grill. Cook for another 6 to 8 minutes. The outside should be lightly charred, and the ends curled in slightly.
How to Make Corn Ribs in the Oven
Preheat your oven to 425°F. Cover the bottom of a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil to make clean-up easier. Place the corn ribs on the baking sheet cut side down in a single layer.
Bake for 12 minutes and flip to the other cut side, bake an additional 6 to 8 minutes. The outside should be lightly charred, and the ends curled in slightly. For more char you can turn the broiler on for 1 to 2 minutes.
Step 4- Serve
In a small bowl, whisk together all the dipping sauce ingredients. Season to taste with additional honey or hot sauce. Pile the corn ribs on a platter garnish and serve with the dipping sauce.
🥗What to Serve with Corn Ribs
Complimentary sides include molasses baked beans, old-fashioned coleslaw, blue cheese potato salad, or this balsamic cherry tomato salad. I also added this recipe to the weekend potluck, so check it out.
👩🏻🍳 Expert Tips
Sharpen your knife before attempting to cut the corn cobs into riblets. Go slow and use a rocking motion if you get stuck.
- Vegan- This recipe is easily made vegan by using dairy-free butter and vegan mayo.
- Mexican Street Corn (elote- inspired)- Add 1 teaspoon of ground cumin to the rub and swap our avocado crema for the chili dipping sauce.
You can make the dipping sauce up to 2 days in advance but the corn should be served fresh. You can cut the ribs ahead of time and cook within 4 hours of cutting.
Leftover ribs should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Eat cold or reheat in the oven or microwave.
More Summer Side Dish Recipes
💬Frequently Asked Questions
Hold each end of the riblet (just like a pork rib bone) and eat the kernels as you would corn on the cob.
No, you do not eat the cob when eating corn ribs. The cob is the bone that holds the corn kernels which are the only part you eat.
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- Using a sharp knife, cut the wide end of the cob (about ⅓ of an inch) to create a flat end. Stand the corn cob up on the flat end so it is vertical. Carefully cut down through the core, rocking the knife back and forth if necessary, to split the cob in half lengthwise. Lay the cob halves flat with the center side down, cut in half lengthwise. Repeat with the remaining cobs. You will have 16 corn riblets in total.4 ears of corn
- Mix together the melted butter, spices, and salt. Brush the butter on the corn rib pieces.4 tablespoon unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Grilled Corn Ribs
- Prepare a grill for medium heat and lightly oil the grates. Cook for 8 minutes and rotate the corn. Reduce the heat to low and cook another 6 to 8 minutes. The outside should be lightly charred and the ends curled in.
Oven Baked Corn Ribs
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cover the bottom of a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the corn ribs on the baking sheet.
- Bake for 12 minutes and flip, bake an additional 6 to 8 minutes. The outside should be lightly charred and the ends curled in.
Sweet and Spicy Chili Mayo
- Mix together all the ingredients in a small bowl. Serve alongside the corn ribs, topped with garnishes.Sliced jalapenos, cilantro, cotija cheese, or scallions, ½ cup mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons garlic chili sauce, 1 tablespoon raw honey, ½ teaspoon hot sauce, ½ lime
- The center of the corn cobs will be very tough. You need a sharp knife or a serrated knife to cut through.
- This recipe makes 16 corn ribs, enough for 3 main course servings.
- Sub vegan mayo if needed.
- If using sriracha cut the garlic chili sauce amount in half.