For years, I’ve resisted the lure of corn ribs. Despite the fact that they were everywhere I turned, plastered over Instagram and Pinterest, playing on an endless loop in TikTok videos, it wasn’t hard. The whole concept was a turn off. Who really wants corn that eats like ribs, with all that sticky, messy sauce coating your fingers as much as the food? In age and wisdom, I’ve come to realize two simple truths:
- I need to take myself less seriously.
- Being messy and playful is the whole point.
The reason why it took off as a food trend is exactly why I couldn’t stand the idea to begin with, which is more of a personal failing than a dig on the social media complex. Yes, some of the appeal is novelty, like most “stunt food,” but it goes deeper than aesthetics. If you let yourself get dirty, digging in with both hands and throwing caution to the wind, you might just enjoy it.
Besides that, the technique yields effortlessly tender-crisp fresh corn with beautifully charred, lightly caramelized edges.
If BBQ isn’t your bag, there are plenty of alternative seasonings to consider for corn ribs:
- Buffalo sauce
- Miso paste
- Garlic butter
To be honest, no further garnishes need apply. A touch of green scallion is nice for color and a gentle hint of allium flavor, but you can happily take those corn ribs from the kitchen to the table as is. When you want to pull out all the stops, that’s far from the only choice. Dipping sauce on the side is always welcome for a cooling contrast too.
More tasty toppings for your corn ribs includes:
- Ranch dressing
- Caramelized onion dip
- Mayonnaise or aioli
- Parmesan-style cheese
- Smoked paprika
An air fryer makes easy work of this recipe without heating up the whole house, but it’s a snap to toss into a conventional oven as well. Double, triple, or quadruple as needed to feed a crowd; the formula is flexible and infinitely scalable like that.
If you’re going to serve corn this summer, you might as well have fun with it. Stop worrying and learn to love the mess.