14 Creative Ways To Use Canned Corn

Some ingredients are hotly sought prestige items (looking at you, truffles!), while others are plain old pantry staples we keep on hand because they're convenient. Consider canned corn, for example. We all know that perfectly fresh sweet corn is definitely tastier, but its season is limited and even in season it's sometimes hard to find. Frozen corn is closer to fresh, but it takes up freezer space and lasts just months or less if it isn't properly closed each time, per Eat By Date. Canned corn, in contrast, just needs a small corner of your cupboard and it's good for years.

It's one thing to know that canned corn will always be there when you need it, but it's another thing entirely to come up with creative, tasty ways to use it. The beauty of the internet is that you don't have to do that on your own. From the thousands of possibilities available, here's a curated list for you to try.

Turn it into pickled corn

Pickles and relishes have been around for many centuries, both as ways to preserve foods and to add interest to plain meals (literally, you'll "relish" them more). With canned corn, the preserving part is already looked after, so you can focus on just making it tasty. The easy way to do that is by quick-pickling the drained corn with vinegar, sugar, and flavorings, either on its own as pickled corn or in a corn-based relish. Either way, it lends a bright accent to your summer barbecue dishes or winter roasts.

If you're interested in traditional pickles made through fermentation, rather than added vinegar, you can use canned corn for that as well. It takes time — usually a couple of weeks, as opposed to quick pickles which are ready by dinnertime — but all it takes is salt, water, canned corn, and any flavoring ingredients you choose to add. Beneficial bacteria and yeasts will do the work from there, and as a side benefit the resulting pickled corn will be rich in probiotics that pack potential health benefits, according to Harvard Medical School.

Whip up corn milk pancakes

Pancake mixes are commonplace on store shelves and in cupboards everywhere, but scratch pancakes aren't that complicated: they're basically just milk, eggs, flour, and baking powder. One of the more interesting pancake variations you can make simply replaces some or all of the milk with corn "milk."

Most sweet-corn pancake recipes call for fresh corn, but it's easier to use canned. Just drain as many cans as you need to make up the right quantity of corn, then puree it in a blender or food processor. When you're done, press it through a sieve to remove the solids.

The finished pancakes will have a sweet, low-key corn flavor, and the more regular milk you replace with corn milk, the more pronounced that flavor will be. From here you can double down on corn's natural sweetness by adding vanilla, warm spices, or a hint of maple; or maybe take a savory turn by adding in chopped green onions, coarsely shredded cheese, or a small can of drained mild chiles. Tip: If you aren't comfortable making pancakes from scratch, use the pressed-out corn milk with your favorite grocery store pancake mix instead.

Chill with corn ice cream

If you have foodie friends on Instagram, you've probably seen a lot of artisanal ice cream in their photos over the past few years. It's a popular way for trendy chefs, professional or amateur, to show off their skills; and it's great for taking advantage of whatever ingredients you have at hand (and canned corn is always at hand).

Corn ice cream starts the same way as corn pancakes, by pureeing the drained corn and pressing out the "milk" (or you can use the puree as-is, for a more textured and colorful end result). If you use a traditional ice cream recipe with a custard base, egg yolks will give the finished ice cream a richer flavor and yellow hue. If you don't want your dessert to be quite that rich, you can skip the eggs — but still enjoy a rich flavor and smooth texture — by picking a recipe based on sweetened condensed milk instead.

You can tweak the flavor by adding complementary ingredients like honey or sorghum, or by going in a less-sweet direction and adding savory fresh herbs such as thyme, sage, or basil. The savory version makes a great summertime amuse-bouche to start a meal, or a palate-cleanser between courses, but beware: the sugar in your recipe is what keeps the ice cream soft and scoopable. There are plenty of other softeners like gelatin, alcohol, or gums so if you're leaning in this direction you can experiment with those or adapt an already-savory ice cream recipe.

Take buttermilk biscuits to the next level

Almost everyone likes some kind of bread with meals, though the bread itself can be very different across cultures. Some of us favor dinner rolls or soft white bread, while others prefer a crusty whole-grain loaf or flatbreads like naan or tortillas. If you're from the South, you'll opt for cornbread or — better yet — light, fluffy buttermilk biscuits.

A really well-crafted biscuit is a thing of beauty. You can make a good one with plain milk and baking powder, but buttermilk and baking soda are even better. The buttermilk adds a pleasant tang and the baking soda makes your biscuits brown up beautifully.

While plain biscuits are good, buttermilk sweet corn biscuits are even better. The corn's sweetness and little pop of texture make a surprisingly good upgrade to a tender biscuit, especially with the added savory notes of herbs and sharp cheddar. They're even extra-easy to make because they're "drop" biscuits: the chunky add-ins make rolling and cutting impractical. If you're in a hurry or don't trust your baking skills, just use your favorite biscuit mix instead of working from scratch.

Upgrade any meal with a quick succotash

Succotash is one of the classic American side dishes. Its roots date back to the native cultures of pre-colonial days, and the modern version is especially loved in the South. The core ingredients are beans and corn, two of the "Three Sisters" of native agriculture, and if you're looking to shorten your prep time opening a can or two of corn instead of shucking fresh ears is an obvious way to do that.

A classic succotash recipe in the modern sense pairs the corn with lima beans – you may know them as "butter beans" — at a minimum, and often green beans as well. Onions and sweet peppers provide a savory base of flavor, diced tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes bring juiciness and bright, lively acidity, and you'll round out the flavors with salt, pepper, and other herbs or spices as you see fit. The whole thing comes together in just moments, and it combines everything that's best about summer in one plate.

If you're really in a hurry or if you have any physical issues that limit your cooking ability, most supermarkets now carry pre-chopped vegetables including onions and usually peppers. Pre-cut fresh green beans are harder to find, but frozen ones will work just fine.

Brighten your day with street corn casserole

One of the great things about travel is the opportunity to experience foods that you can't get at home. Sometimes that means dining at one of the world's best restaurants, but if you really want to get the literal flavor of another country you'll eat its street food instead.

Some of those signature street food dishes are popular enough that they migrate to the US of A, with returning tourists or new immigrants. A perfect example is elote, often referred to as Mexico's "street corn." The cooked cobs are slathered with a mayonnaise-based crema, enlivened with the flavors of chili and lime, and topped with crumbled cotija cheese.

Those flavors work wonderfully together, but let's face it: in its original form this is a dish that's meant for eating outdoors. It's fun, it's messy, and it's not necessarily ideal for a sit-down meal. That doesn't mean you can't adapt it, of course. Combining canned corn with the same sauce and flavorings and then baking it as a casserole, is one of the best Mexican street corn recipes and a great side dish. If you like the idea, but would rather go "light and summery" instead of "warm and comforting," making street-corn salad is another alternative.

Brunch things up with corn shakshuka

You may have noticed a few years ago that suddenly everyone on Instagram was making shakshuka. Scholars believe it originated in North Africa, but it's a cherished dish all across the Middle East and every nation has a version to call its own. Why is it so popular? Well, it's simple and fast to make, uses just a few ingredients, it's cheap, and — above all — it's really, really tasty.

The canonical version is a sort of quick tomato sauce made in a skillet with onions, maybe a pepper or two, and some simple spices. Then you crack a couple of eggs into the sauce, let them poach, and serve them with the sauce and bread of some sort to sop up the juices. What's not to like?

You can vary this basic format as much or as little as you like. Italians, for example, make a very similar dish called eggs in purgatory that follows the "eggs in tomato sauce" template but gives the sauce's flavors an Italian spin. For something that takes the basic idea much farther out on a limb, consider this carbonara-style corn shakshuka. Instead of the bright acidity of tomatoes, it brings the classic savory carbonara flavors of pancetta and Pecorino Romano, complemented by the sweetness of the corn. Yes, it's different, but pancetta is just Italian bacon and how far wrong can you go with bacon and eggs?

Find comfort in Southern-style corn pudding

When you hear the word pudding, what's the first thing that comes to your mind? For most people, it's dessert. In fact, in England, the word pudding often just means "dessert." It may come pre-made in a plastic cup, or whipped up from an instant mix, or even steamed for your Christmas celebration. They're all good, in their respective ways.

But not all puddings are desserts. One that's dear to Southern hearts in particular is creamy corn pudding, which isn't sweet at all. Okay, it's a little sweet — it is Southern, after all! — but most of that sweetness comes from the corn itself.

Like many other puddings, this one starts with a custard base made of milk and eggs, made savory with salt, pepper, green onions, and lots of cheese. Corn is the star of the show, though — fresh, frozen, or canned — with the custard serving purely as a vehicle to bind it all together and deliver that rich corn goodness to your taste buds. This is comfort food at its finest: half crustless quiche, half vegetable side dish, and 100% delicious.

Enjoy bite-sized bliss with corn fritters

There are some basic cooking techniques you can use confidently with almost any ingredient. Swaddling your ingredient of choice in batter and frying it is one of those reliable basic techniques, and you'd be hard-pressed to name a culture that doesn't love a variation on that theme.

So, when you're combing your pantry for something to tickle your taste buds, grab a can of corn and pull out this corn fritters recipe. It goes together quickly and easily, using cream corn this time rather than plain kernels. You do keep both in your pantry, right?

The secret to this particular recipe is separating the eggs and whipping the whites. Folding the whites into your corn-based batter makes the bite-sized fritters startlingly light and airy, and altogether irresistible. You could think of them as very small pancakes and top or dip them with sweet stuff, like maple syrup or jam, but that's only one option. You can also take them in a savory direction by pairing them with a strong cheese or cured meats — hello, charcuterie board! — or even using them as the base for canapes.

Lighten up (and power up) with kale and corn salad

One tip for weight management is eating lots of foods that are low in calories, but high in fiber and nutrition. Kale is one of those, which is why it's often described as a "superfood." You may be dubious about the whole concept of superfoods — there's a case to be made either way — but as part of the extended family of cruciferous vegetables, kale is inarguably good for you.

It's also versatile, and in fact, it's more versatile than you think. Most recipes either embrace kale's sturdiness by cooking it for a long time or simply puree it in soups or smoothies. Those are both ways to work around kale's signature chewy texture, which is relatively rare among leafy greens, but you're missing a trick if you've never had it in a salad.

This corn and kale salad is a perfect example, with canned corn's sweet juiciness providing a foil for kale's earthy flavor and a hint of bitterness. The ginger-lime vinaigrette with its touch of maple and the garnish of slivered almonds round out a pleasing bouquet of flavors and textures. The keys to making it work? Use relatively tender lacinato or "dinosaur" kale, slice it into fine shreds with a sharp knife, and most importantly massage it with your hands for a few minutes. The kale will soften, shrink, and become sweeter as a result, and you'll wonder why you don't include it in all of your salads.

Make Meatless Monday magical with corn and black bean chimichangas

A lot of us have embraced "Meatless Mondays" even if we aren't vegetarians. Having that one meatless meal each week is a great way to inspire your creativity with vegetables, it's good for your health, and it's also an excellent way to cut your personal carbon emissions,

Pairing grains with legumes is one of the core principles of meatless eating, and while we think of corn largely as a vegetable it's still a grain botanically. That's why corn and black beans are such a staple combination in Southwestern dishes, like these corn and black bean chimichangas. In an ideal world, you'd start with good-quality dried beans and fresh ears of corn. On a time-stressed real-life weeknight, when you just want a tasty meal on the table in a hurry, go to the pantry instead and pull out the canned versions. Sure, fresh is better, but will you really taste much difference after you've added the rice, the vegetables, the seasonings, and the cheese, and then fried the filled tortillas? Probably not.

Better yet, if deep-frying chimichangas feels like too much work after a hard day, you can switch gears and make tacos instead. Just swap corn tortillas for the flour tortillas, serve your rice on the side, and use the corn, beans, cheese, and flavoring ingredients as your filling.

Upgrade your scrambled eggs in seconds with canned corn

Eggs are one of the most versatile options you have for quick meals. You can fry them, boil them, poach them, or turn them into a quiche or frittata. One of the simplest and best is just to enjoy them scrambled. The soft, creamy-textured eggs stand all on their own as a breakfast, or you can pair them with a salad or other appropriate side dish for a light and satisfying brunch or lunch.

Scrambled eggs also lend themselves to a lot of upgrades, and some of them are more obvious than others. Cheese, herbs, sliced green onions, or crumbled bacon are all slam-dunk options, of course, but there's no reason to stick with the obvious choices. Surprisingly, corn lends a perfect touch of sweetness to scrambled eggs.

It might sound odd at first, but when you try it you'll understand. The corn's creamy, buttery sweetness enriches the eggs without adding the calories and saturated fat you'd get with actual butter or cream; the kernels add textural interest while also making the meal more filling. Canned corn is actually ideal for the purpose: Fresh corn needs to be cooked before you can add it, and frozen corn needs extra time in the pan to thaw, but you can drain the canned kind and add it directly. Best of all, there's zero prep required.

Add hearty to your party with a cheesy corn dip

If you throw a party, and it doesn't include at least one gooey, cheesy treat, is it really a party? Really? There's just something irresistible about the combination of carbs and cheese, especially when the carbs come in the form of something crispy like tortilla chips or crackers to provide a textural contrast.

There are lots of recipes out there for cheesy dips, but even in that crowded field Korean corn cheese stands out. For one thing, it's served hot and bubbly right from the oven or broiler, which immediately gives it an edge over other cheese dips or corn dips that are served cold. Not only does heat bring out the dip's rich flavors, but it means the cheese is at its ooey, gooey best.

In this case, canned corn isn't even a compromise or substitute. The dish was created after Korean War-era GIs handed out American rations, including canned corn, to the local civilians. Yes, you read that right: it's canned corn that makes it authentic! Treat it as a hot dip for party nights or as a casserole alongside Korean barbecue — it's good either way.

Add corn to your mac and cheese

Macaroni and cheese is one of the great comfort-food dishes. There's something about that combination of tender pasta and creamy, gooey cheese that just hits all the right notes when you're feeling down. In its way, it's a small marvel of perfection. That said, mac and cheese also provides a lot of scope for you to exercise your creativity. No matter what your skill level, you can experiment fearlessly: the basic dish is low-key enough, and forgiving enough, to handle almost any add-ons you care to throw at it.

Canned corn may not be the first thing that springs to your mind as a "secret ingredient," but it genuinely makes better mac and cheese. The sweetness of the corn complements the savory richness of macaroni and its sauce, and it adds both moisture and a pleasing textural contrast to the finished dish. It'll be a more filling meal, too.