No more flying kernels in your kitchen!

Megan O. Steintrager
July 19, 2020
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In the summer when I can get farm-fresh corn, I love grilling the corn and then cutting the kernels off to use in salads, grain bowls, esquites and tacos. I also love cutting the corn off the cob before cooking and sautéing it with other vegetables as a pasta topper or side. What I don't love is how messy cutting corn from the cob can be—if you just stick the cob on a cutting board and start slicing, some of the kernels always seems to end up on the counter and floor (and under the fridge and oven where you can't reach them).

To help solve the case of the flying kernels, I checked in with some members of the EatingWell Test Kitchen for their advice on how best to cut kernels from the cob. I also have my own trusty method, which I'll share.

The Best Ways to Cut Corn from the Cob

Bowl, Bundt Pan or Pie Plate

One of the easiest ways to cut corn off the cob is to stand the ear of corn upright in a large bowl, Bundt pan or pie plate, any of which will catch errant kernels as they come off the cob. Holding the top of the cob with one hand, position your knife against the cob at the top and cut downward with one stroke. Continue all the way around the cob until you've removed all the kernels. Any of these vessels will work pretty well.

One drawback to using a bowl is that it can be hard to remove the kernels from the very bottom of the cob. Bowls and Bundt pans can also be unstable. "I used to use a Bundt pan and rest the cob on the center tube and then let the cut corn fall into the pan," says EatingWell magazine food editor Jim Romanoff. "Then I switched to just putting the end of the cob in a big bowl. In the long run both seemed too unstable because of tippy bowls. Now I cut the kernels into a deep-dish pie plate, which has high sides and is flat and stable."

Dish Towel

EatingWell magazine senior food editor Devon O'Brien demonstrates a cool method for catching and collecting kernels in this video for Mexican Street Corn Dip: Drape a (clean!) kitchen towel over a cutting board and then cut the kernels off. The towel helps keep the kernels from bouncing around and once you are done cutting you can just gather up the kernels in the towel and transfer them to a bowl or pan.

Corn Stripper Tool

But if you really want to cut kernels from the cob without a mess, I recommend a corn stripper like this one from OXO ($12.79 from Bloomingdale's). I got this tool as a stocking stuffer years ago and while I normally try to avoid single-use kitchen tools (no garlic presses or avocado cutters for me!), I adore this gadget. It cleanly scrapes all the kernels and gathers them in an attached cup. OXO also makes a stripper without a cup that's highly rated on Amazon ($9.99 from Amazon), but I'm sticking to the one with the cup for my corn peeling needs. With this tool, I can have all the corn salads and fritters and whatnot I want, and I no longer ever find an stray kernel under my fridge.