This is not your from-a-can creamed corn! Creamy, sweet and salty, with great texture, this skillet creamed corn is a great side dish for everything from weeknight chicken to a holiday roast.
If you’re looking at your screen right now, all skeptical, I get you. I was never a fan of the canned stuff, or worse, the cafeteria stuff either. It’s gloppy. There’s no other word for it. That’s not what we’ve got going on here. And there’s a reason why.
What is traditional creamed corn?
Creamed corn sounds like corn cooked in cream. That sounds wonderfully delicious, and then we get something that is totally NOT that, and we’re confused and disappointed. The “creamed” in creamed corn is about how the corn is cut off the cob, not about how it’s cooked. To “cream” corn the old-fashioned way involved cutting just the tops of the kernels off, and then scraping the cob to remove the pulp and liquid that remains in the rest of the kernels. What you end up with, once cooked, is very starchy liquid with small bits of actual corn kernels. This is in no way delicious, at least to me.
Then what have we got going on here?
Today I’m going to show you how to make a skillet creamed corn that is what the title sounds like to most of us: sweet corn cooked in butter and cream, with salt, pepper, and maybe a pinch of sugar.
See, here’s the thing: sweet corn is straight-out delicious. You don’t have to do a bunch to it. Just don’t ruin the beautiful product it already is, and you’re golden.
Our skillet creamed corn showcases the great flavor of fresh (or frozen) sweet corn, enhancing it with a bit of seasoning, and then simmering it until it’s gently coated in cream. That part’s key: gently coated, not swimming in. Traditional creamed corn loses the corn kernels in the liquid, and that’s not what we’re about here. We’re just giving the corn a little bonus.
Let’s get to it:
- Butter – Butter is delicious, and it’s corn’s best friend. Think corn on the cob, cornbread, popcorn, you name it. If there’s corn involved, there should be butter right there too. In this case, it both adds flavor, and makes sure that our corn doesn’t stick to the skillet as we sauté it.
- Corn – We’re using either fresh or frozen corn kernels for this recipe. If you’re using fresh corn and cutting it off of the cob, you can cook it exactly as-is, no need to blanch the corn first. If you are using frozen corn, it’s easiest to work with if you thaw it out first, and then drain away the excess water. You can use yellow, white, or bi-color corn, whatever you like or have on hand.
- Salt and pepper – to taste. I used one teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper for 4 cups of corn here. You can adjust as you like. If you do decide to use canned corn, taste before you salt. Canned vegetables have a lot of salt in them, so I’d be surprised if you needed any at all.
- Sugar – this is completely optional, and whether or not you want to use it may depend on how sweet your corn is. Some corn is sweeter than others, and how fresh it is makes a big difference here. This is one of those places where frozen vegetables have an edge over fresh. Frozen corn, because it is picked and processed very quickly, is often sweeter than fresh corn in your grocery store, especially if that corn had to travel halfway across the country to get to you. If you decide you need some sugar in this recipe, 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon should get you there.
- Cream – 1 cup of cream to 4 cups of corn will give you a nice finished dish, without either disappearing on you or leaving your corn swimming in dairy. The cream will thicken as it simmers and make a nice enhancement to the corn without stealing the whole show.
How to Make Homestyle Skillet Creamed Corn
- Melt the butter in a sauté pan. You’re going to want a 3 quart or larger pan for this recipe. A larger pan will make it easier to stir without sending corn or cream over the sides, and more, it will give you more surface area for evaporating water. That’s a big part of the process here. I like a wide-bottomed, straight-sided pan, like this one from Cuisinart for the job. I really like the stainless steel, the shape is perfect for what we need, and it’s a great value for the price.
- Add in the corn, salt, pepper, and sugar (if using). Everything goes in at this point except for the cream. As you can see above, the corn will give off a lot of water as you start to cook it. It’s important to cook the corn until that water is evaporated out and the pan is essentially dry. It should look like this before you move on to the next step:
- Stir in cream. It’s going to look like a lot of cream. It will reduce down as it simmers, I promise. It’s going to take about 15-20 minutes for that reduction to happen, and then all will be well.
Try some of these great variations of skillet creamed corn:
Can I add onion? Absolutely! Chopped onion, or even better, chopped shallots, sautéed in the butter before adding the corn is a delicious twist on the classic.
What about bacon? Can I make this with bacon? Darn skippy! Cook 4 ounces of chopped bacon in the pan before starting the recipe. Set the cooked bacon aside, and pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat. Use that in place of the butter in the recipe. For bonus bacon points, leave the browned bits of fond in the pan when you start the corn, that fond has a ton of flavor that will cook into the corn as it simmers.
How about a little something different? Bring the fun flavors of Mexican-style street corn to your dinner table by garnishing with chili powder, cotija cheese, and a squeeze of lime juice at the end of cooking.
If you like this corn side dish, I have another one you’re going to love! Check out our Roasted Corn Mashed Potatoes!
Homestyle Skillet Creamed CornCourse: Fall, Recipe, Side Dishes, Thanksgiving, Vegetables, VegetarianCuisine: American
Creamy, sweet and salty, with great texture, this skillet creamed corn is a great side dish for everything from weeknight chicken to a holiday roast.
2 tbsp butter
4 cups fresh corn kernels, or frozen corn kernels thawed and drained
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tsp sugar, optional
1 cup heavy cream
- Melt butter in a sauté pan.
- Add corn, salt, pepper, and sugar, if using, to pan.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until all liquid from the corn has evaporated.
- Stir in heavy cream. Lower heat and simmer, uncovered, 15-20 minutes, until cream has reduced and thickened.
- Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Recipe can be doubled as needed for more servings.
- Skillet creamed corn will hold in the refrigerator for 2-3 days and can be made in advance. I do not recommend freezing, as dairy products often change in texture after thawing.
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