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Knife Skills: Slicing Corn Off the Cob

I'm making sweet corn soup today, which required slicing 8 cobs of corn. I used my handy-dandy chef's knife, put the base of the cob on the cutting board and sliced down 5 or 6 times around the cob, then held the cob at an angle with the tip pointing down to get the top kernels I missed. I got my corn, but frequently the knife slipped and I ended up with half-kernels (not a problem for this use, but something I'd like to avoid in the future), and by the end of the operation the counter, the floor and I were all covered in little corn fragments. There's got to be a better way! What is it?

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  1. I have used two methods:
    One-get large bowl and a small bowl. Place the small bowl upsidedown in the large bowl. Place cob on top of small bowl and slice down. The large bowl collects the flying kernels.
    See method here:
    Two-cut the corn on a large cutting board and tilt the cob slightly as you slice down. It reduces the flying kernels significantly.

    1. Try cutting the cobs in half first so you have two small cobs with flat ends. Place the flat end down on the cutting board so you have a stable base and use a sawing motion to ensure that the knife doesn't slip leaving you with half kernels and corn bits all over the place. You might try using a serrated bread knife if a chef's knife isn't working well.

      Happy cutting!


      1. have not tried it but I hear that using a bundt pan is the way to go - put cob in the center hole and slice down, kernels fall into the pan.

        3 Replies
        1. re: elfcook

          I love the bundt pan method. It solves the flying-kernel problem, and because the cob is lodged in the little hole in the center pillar of the pan, it's really stable, so I can control my knife more easily. It also makes milking the cob a cinch.

          1. re: litchick

            An angel food pan is even better, i you have one, since it's easier to empty and get the milk out.

            Do not hold the knife blade parallel to the counter. Angle the point downward and start slicing at the tip, moving the blade to one side as you slice downward, so that by the bottom of the cob, the tang end of the blade is doing the cutting. Much less force this way, and the knife glides easily down the cob.,

            1. re: greygarious

              That's exactly how Jacques Pepin has said to do over the years, i.e. using the entire blade of the knife. More recently he demonstrated it in one of these episodes:


              Sorry don't remember which one. But I've had pretty good success since trying my best to ape him do it.

        2. If you don't mind the pieces not looking quite so pretty, it works just as well to lay the corncob on its side and slice down that way... the kernels don't fly around nearly so much because they have less distance to travel to the board.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Kajikit

            This is how I do it most often. I've stood them up in a bowl and the cutting board but the cleanest way is on it's side on the board. I then scrape the milk out with the spine of the knife.

          2. I have always just used one bowl, on the large side, and haven't had kernels flying all around the kitchen. Nor do a cut the cobs in half, I use a whole one, but what does seem to help is use a serrated knife and a sawing action.

            1. Do the bundt pan thing and use an electric knife, smooth even cut. No ragged cut kernels, no slipping, easy!

              2 Replies
                1. re: celeryroot

                  Yes mandoline would work if you can set the depth deep enough. It's just more than I want to wash compared to laying the ear down on the board and making four pulls through with a knife.

              1. Your knife should not slip. Make sure it is sharp. Press the edge of the blade toward the cob slightly as you push the knife down the ear. This is similar to the technique you would use to take the skin off a fish fillet. Forget about the tricks. If you have corn flying any where you need to remember the corn is already dead. You don't need to kill it again by pushing hard or going fast. Let your knife do the work.
                Cutting the cobs in half makes twice as much work.

                6 Replies
                1. re: Fritter

                  You cut the kernels, they fall, they bounce. The OP is concerned about collecting the kernals in a tidy fashion. The tricks work.
                  OP-let us know how your next attempt at cutting kernels turns out!

                  1. re: monavano

                    "The OP is concerned about collecting the kernals in a tidy fashion."

                    The OP is also talking about knife slippage and only cutting the kernals half way through.
                    As far as tricks go any one that can not control their knife as well as they might like probably should not be cutting down on a glass bowl for a number of reasons.
                    It would be a lot easier (IMO) to set a small cutting board inside a sheet pan and cut.

                    1. re: Fritter

                      I second fritter's method. I also find that I use a very very slight and gradual pullcut stroke while cutting. The pull stroke ensures that I don't leave any more corn behnind than I have to. The corn often falls off in a single slab, so cleanup is not typically a problem. And it's more of a controlled, even slice than a fast chop, so the corn doesn't go flying. The only problem is that the knife might occasionally slip into the cob itself, but that's easy to feel and correct for.

                      A sharp knife is key, as fritter said. Cutting your corn in a (non-wooden) bowl is a surefire way to have a dull knife in no time.

                      1. re: cowboyardee

                        "The corn often falls off in a single slab"

                        That's the key right there. When you get slabs that easily break into individual kernals then you have cut the corn perefectly.

                        1. re: Fritter

                          Oh the beauty of the long railroad tracks of corn when done properly. People always want to rush this process in their homes. Take your time, use the sharp edge and cut do not push the blade.

                          1. re: Fritter

                            Exactly, my friend, I can't understand why people believe the kernels will all fall out individually, as if they're not connected in some way?!

                            And again, I reiterate, a serrated blade does wonders.