Corn off the Cob with Butter, Lime, & Ancho Chili

by Lu
Corn off the Cob

Make this buttery, spoonable corn off the cob with zesty lime, sweet ancho chili powder, melt-in-your-mouth onions, and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro before summer is over!

But first, let’s learn how to strip an ear of corn without making a total mess or wasting any of the tender germ, that precious bit inside each kernel considered to be a beautifying ingredient in traditional Chinese cuisine.

The original recipe for this dish has you stand each ear of corn up and shave off the kernels top to bottom. I’ve done this and the kernels go FLYING. All over your kitchen. Bah! Don’t do this. Not even in a big bowl, which is also really awkward because how the heck are you supposed to position your knife INSIDE a bowl?

Why not just lay the ear of corn flat on a cutting board and slice horizontally? Keep rotating the ear of corn towards the knife and slice a few rows at a time, then stand the cob up and scrape the rest of the corn off. Use your sharpest knife and start around the middle, then flip the cob and repeat. This protects your fingers. The part you scrape away will be milky and starchy, basically the best part!

Corn off the CobCorn off the Cob
Corn off the Cob
Corn off the Cob
I first had this dish when Kat brought it to my 30th birthday picnic last year, after she made it twice because she zested too much of the lime peel (including the white part) into the first batch, which made it bitter. So take note: very lightly zest your lime. I only run my microplane once over the lime. Don’t run your zester back and forth over the surface. Too much.

Howeverrr, the second batch was so incredibly flavorful everyone started asking for the recipe. I’ve since made it for rooftop dinner parties and also just for myself, because I can eat a whole bowl of this stuff on my own, but it’s also good as a side dish, with grains, tossed in pasta salad, stuffed in tacos, what have you! I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to share, but here you go, at last. 🙂

Corn off the CobCorn off the CobCorn off the Cob

Corn off the Cob with Butter, Lime, & Ancho Chili

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Serving Size: Serves 4

Corn off the Cob with Butter, Lime, & Ancho Chili


2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups small-diced Vidalia onion (1 medium-large onion)
1 teaspoon salt (I used Himalayan pink salt. The original recipe calls for Kosher salt. Sea salt will work too.)
2 heaping cups fresh corn kernels (cut from 4-6 ears of corn)
1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 lime, plus extra lime wedges for serving
Chopped fresh cilantro to taste (I used 1/3 cup. The original recipe calls for 3 tablespoons.)


  1. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter with the olive oil in a large skillet or pan over medium-low heat.
  2. Add the onions and mix in 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Uncover, turn up the heat to medium, and saute, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, another 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, the corn kernels, and another 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sauté, overturning the mixture frequently to cook it evenly, until the corn is tender, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  4. Add the chile powder and lime zest. Cook for 1 more minute.
  5. Remove the pan from heat. If the bottom of the pan is browned, let the corn sauté sit undisturbed for 2 minutes (moisture released from the vegetables as they sit will loosen the browned bits), then stir again, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  6. Season the sauté with a few generous grinds of pepper and squeeze in the lime juice. Stir in half of the cilantro.
  7. Serve with the rest of the cilantro and extra lime wedges.


Closely adapted from Susie Middleton's Summer Corn-off-the-Cob Saute with Chile, Lime & Cilantro from Fast, Fresh & Green

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Tim in TN September 7, 2015 - 9:06 am

Made this for dinner tonight as a side for carnitas. Ended up putting the corn into the burritos….oh so good. Thanks.

Lu September 8, 2015 - 6:22 pm

I’m so glad you made this Tim! It’s seriously so good on everything 😛

Alison @Food by Mars August 8, 2015 - 8:25 pm

This sounds and looks so lovely and fresh! Pinning!

Lu August 10, 2015 - 4:50 pm

Thanks Alison!

Medha @ Whisk & Shout August 7, 2015 - 10:19 am

Loving the flavors here! The ancho and lime sound heavenly with the buttery corn 🙂 Pinning!

Lu August 8, 2015 - 1:30 pm

Thanks Medha! The ancho and lime is super flavorful 😛


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