This quick dish is equally tasty made with fresh or frozen corn
Fresh, local sweet corn—it’s one of the glories of mid-summer. But corn also freezes exceptionally well, and what you find in the frozen-food aisle usually has been processed within hours of picking. That means it may have more flavor than “fresh” corn that’s actually days old when it hits your grocer’s produce department.
Which comes in handy when making a dish like this sautéed corn. It’s wonderful with fresh corn, but you won’t even notice the difference if you substitute frozen.
With the main ingredient so readily available year round, this tasty dish might become a menu staple: Have it during summer to celebrate fresh corn. And have it again in winter, to remind you that sunny days will soon be here again.
Recipe: Sautéed Corn with Chilies and Bacon
This dish is just a quick sauté of corn with fresh chilies. It’s similar to a classic Cajun and Creole dish called Maque Choux (aka maquechoux). But the Louisiana dish typically contains tomato and (usually) cream. Our dish omits both of those.
We use bacon in this dish because it combines so well with corn. But it’s easy to make a vegan version (more about that in the Notes).
BTW, exact measurements aren’t crucial for this recipe. We often just eyeball the ingredients rather than measure them. And although we suggest specific chile peppers for this dish, feel free to substitute whatever you prefer (see Notes).
Prep time for this dish is about 10 to 15 minutes. Cooking time adds another 15 minutes or so.
This recipe yields about 6 sidedish-sized servings. Leftovers keep for a few days if refrigerated in an airtight container.
- 3 slices of bacon
- 1 small onion (we like purple onion in this dish, but any variety, including scallions, will work)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 small red bell pepper
- 1 Poblano pepper
- 1 to 3 jalapeño peppers (to taste)
- salt to taste (maybe ¼ teaspoon of Kosher salt, or about half that if using regular table salt; see Notes)
- freshly ground black pepper to taste (several grinds for us)
- 3 to 4 cups sweet corn (frozen or kernels cut from fresh corn; see Notes)
- garnish of jalapeño pepper and/or onion slices (optional)
- Slice the bacon into pieces of 1-inch or a bit smaller. Place the bacon pieces in a large frying pan on medium heat, then cook them until nicely browned (8 minutes or so).
- Meanwhile, peel the onion and cut it into dice of ½ inch or less. Set aside.
- Peel the garlic and mince finely. Set aside.
- Wash the red bell pepper and the Poblano pepper, then remove the stems and core. Chop the peppers into dice of ½ inch or so. Set aside.
- Wash the jalapeño peppers and cut them lengthwise. Use a teaspoon to scoop out the ribs and seeds (be careful, the oil on these is hot; keep fingers away from your eyes). Chop the peppers into very small dice (or use a mini food processor; you may want to reserve a round or two of the jalapeño as a garnish). Set the diced peppers aside, then wash your hands with soap and water to remove the hot jalapeño oil from your skin.
- By now the bacon should be nicely browned. Remove the bacon pieces from the frying pan with a slotted spoon and allow them to drain on paper towels. Spoon most of the bacon drippings out of the pan, leaving a tablespoon or so. Add the diced onion, garlic, and peppers to the frying pan. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sauté the mixture until the onion is translucent—5 minutes or so.
- Meanwhile, measure out the corn (if you’re using fresh corn, cut the kernels from the ears; see Notes). When the onion is ready, add the corn to the pan. Cook until just done—usually 2 or 3 minutes.
- Add the drained bacon pieces back to the pan, stir to incorporate, and taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary, and serve. We like to garnish with slices of jalapeño and/or onion.
- If using fresh corn, we usually estimate that one ear yields about ¾ cup of kernels.
- We find the easiest way to cut kernels from a cob is to stand a shucked ear of corn upright on a cutting board (the stem is up—you hold onto that with one hand). Use a sharp knife and slice downwards underneath the rows of kernels.
- Want to make a vegan version of this dish? Just omit the bacon, substituting a tablespoon of olive oil for sautéing the veggies in Step 6.
- In this dish, we like to use red bell peppers for color, plus Poblanos and jalapeños for heat. But feel free to substitute what you like. Green bell pepper could take the place of red. And Hatch or California green chilies would be wonderful for spice.
- If you’d like an even spicier dish, add some hot pepper sauce (like Tabasco) at the end of cooking.
- Tomatoes work well in this recipe. Just add a cup or two of diced tomatoes in Step 6 when you add the other veggies.
- For additional flavor, you can also add some chopped parsley or cilantro when you add the corn (Step 7).
- How much salt and black pepper to use? Whatever tastes good to you. We provide suggested measurements—but in truth we rarely season any dish the same way twice in a row. New cooks sometimes get intimidated without specific measurements, but you really need to trust your own sense of taste. When in doubt, under season. You can always add more at table.
“Love this dish!” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “So much flavor.”
“Aw, shucks,” I said. “It’s nothing.”
Mrs K R shot me a look. “I hope this isn’t going to be another corny ending to a post.”
“That would be pretty ear-responsible,” I said.
“Not to mention cornfusing,” she said.
“We really can’t resist bad puns,” I said. “Guess we’re just a couple of corn flakes.”
“Well,” said Mrs K R. “I like to think we’re amaizing.”
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Southern Green Beans with Bacon
Summer Pea Soup with Mint
Celery, Corn, and Bacon Chowder
Easy Pickled Watermelon Rind
Or check out the index for more recipes
Oh, yum....this is the season for good fresh corn! I love grilling those ears and slathering in butter but your recipe looks delicious and much easier to eat. Thanks....:)
Wow, a quick dish that'll pass for a side or a snack or even a meal when we're on our healthy mode. A nice and refreshing recipe, thank you!!
Julie & Alesah
Gourmet Getaways xx
Ya gotta love bad puns. And, I gotta love the bacon in this dish. Can't wait to get some fresh corn to try it!
Hi Pat, there's nothing better than grilled corn! Or roasted. But this is a really close second! Thanks for the comment.
Definitely amazing! And so is this dish :) Craving bacon lately so this gives me a reason to buy some. We just adore summer corn too - love the peppers and the lively "corny" conversation!
Hi Julie & Alesah, you really could make a meal out of this. In which case this recipe would probably serve 2, maybe 3. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Debra, we're hopelessly addicted to bad puns. Which makes us hopeless, I suppose. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Tricia, we're suckers for corn. Of every kind. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Bacon seriously makes the world go round and round! ;)
Hi GiGi, yup, bacon rocks our world! ;-) Thanks for the comment.
So pretty and colorful, totally a bowl of sunshine. And thumbs up on bacon and chilies. Yeah crazy how frozen stuff can be healthier than fresh! Thanks for the recipe!
I don't think you need cream with the wonderful flavors going on here. This really lets the corn shine!
You are so right, adding the bacon is a fantastic pairing and you do NOT need cream in this! And bring on the chilies!
I make a similar dish when I'm serving Mexican food. I'll definitely have to try your version with the bacon. After all, everything is better with bacon.
The simplest things in life are always the best aren't they? This is a great dish in so many ways and I can see how it really doesn't need the bacon, but why would one leave it out. :) Great dish John! Thanks for sharing it!
I love corn and this is just the way I would love to eat! Yum!
What a great little easy side dish for summer. I love it. I don't allow myself bacon very often. So when some is tucked into a dish or a sandwich, like wow man---groovy.
And I agree with Mrs. R. I think the two of you are amazing.
Hi Evelyne, this is indeed a bowl of sunshine. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Chris, cream could be really good in this, but I agree you don't really need it. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Nagi, what doesn't bacon pair well with? ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Karen, this would be a pretty easy dish to spice up with Mexican flavors (the chilies are already taking it in that direction). Your dish sounds yummy! Thanks for the comment.
Hi MJ, this tastes just fine without the bacon. But better with. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Holly, corn is such a wonderful ingredient, isn't it? Love its flavor! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Carol, we really like using ingredient as a flavoring in dishes. That way you get the taste, without eating quite so much. :-) Thanks for the comment.
With all ingredients that I love.... Who could resist to this bowl of deliciousness?
Hi Denise, this really is hard to resist, isn't it? ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Your recipe of Sautéed Corn with Chilies and Bacon looks so yummy. Full of flavor and really simple. Sometimes I think the simplicity is what really makes the dish. Plus, I like the little bit of heat with the peppers. It really gives it that zing! Great recipe as usual. I will have to try this when I am feeling better...a nice added touch to a grilled dinner. Have a great week...
Hi Dottie, this really is a simple (and tasty!) recipe. Fun to make, fun to eat. :-) Hope you're feeling better soon, and thanks for the comment.
OMG! I totally crave this ! Such a wonderful combination of flavors! I will definitely do it !
I love anything with corn and this one sounds fab, John! Lovely combination of flavours! Greetings from Yorkshire!
Growing up, I (truly) hated succotash, so when I first saw your photograph, John, I cringed a childish "Oh, no!" But succotash this is not! What a lovely combination of flavors, and to have a sexy name, too!
What a great summer side dish for picnics and parties or simply take advantage of the sweet corn coming in season. Sweet, salt, spice ... a winner.
Hi Marcela, aren't these flavors great together? And it's a pretty dish, too! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Liz, hope you're having a wonderful trip! So nice of you to drop by when you're on vacation. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Rosemary, I hated succotash when I was a kid, too. This is better. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Judy, this is so nice! And it really is one of those dishes that you can make in the winter, too, to remind you of summer. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
This takes me straight back to my childhood when my mom would make her fried corn. I'm going to have to mix a batch of this up. Thanks for this recipe.
Hi Karen, this definitely is a dish moms everywhere like -- easy and so tasty. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi John, this corn dish look very appetizing, great combo. I love corn and bacon.
Thanks for sharing this comfort recipe.
Way to go, John! This is what I call good summertime eating! And the colors are pretty great too. It has to be delicious, thanks for your recipe! Take care
Hi Amelia, this really is a fun recipe -- so much flavor! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Pam, isn't this pretty? And so tasty! Thanks for the comment.
I could eat the whole batch. It sounds heavenly---and perfect for the leftover sweetcorn! Thanks for the marvelous recipe!
I can't get enough of fresh corn in summer. You can do just about anything with it. It takes to so many different preparations and pairings. With peppers and bacon, you definitely can't go wrong.
Hi Liz, heavenly is a good word to describe this. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Carolyn, we get corn-crazed every summer. Well, all the time really, but particularly in the summer. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
So, John, how long does it take you guys to come up with that ending conversation? They're so hilarious, I always end up smiling at the end of your posts.
This corn salad looks womderful. Our CO corn isn't here yet but I can't wait. This will be great recipe to try. I do love maquechoux as well. Corn is just good any which way
Corn, bacon and jalapenos - bloody marvellous! Fresh corn is in abundance here at the moment so I'm buying it almost daily. I haven't enjoyed it with too many salads though because we're having our coldest winter on record but I do like the list of ingredients in your salad so will warm the house and enjoy this with a roast xx
Hi Nazneen, those endings do take a bit of writing. They, and the opener, probably take as much (often more) work than the whole rest of the post! Anyway, this is such a great dish! And Colorado corn is terrific, and would be perfect in this. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Charlie, isn't this a nice combo of ingredients? And this dish would be wonderful with a roast! Thanks for the comment.
I love corn and this is so bright and colorful! So delicious :) Another great recipe!
Hi Dana, don't you love the colors of this? Flavor is good, too. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
I love a quick and easy, fresh dish and this will make a wonderful side for almost anything. I just started eating bacon again because I get it from an organic farmer. Gosh, I had forgotten how amazing it tastes! Thanks for a wonderful recipe :)
PS...I'm all about using frozen veggies - especially in the winter months. I much rather have those than something that has been sitting in a truck for 2 weeks while it finds it's way to Canada, lol.
Hi Robyn, corn and peas are are favorite frozen veggies, although there are others that are quite good. And organic bacon sounds wonderful! Thanks for the comment.
I just finished lunch and you are making me hungry again. My boys would love the spicy and the bacon flavours in this dish. Bacon is its own food group, right? Love those crispy and beautiful photos!
Hi Bam, bacon is definitely its own food group! ;-) Thanks for the comment.
I love reading through your puns, always fun and this corn dish sounds wonderful.
Hi Cheri, we just can't resist corny puns. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I would love to cut the kernels off some corn and make this dish. The chilies would give me heat and the bacon, well.. seriously, it's bacon. Delicious!!
I couldn't use the last ears of corn from my csa right away, so I cut the kernels off the ears and put them in the freezer. The frozen corn is just waiting for this dish! Love the mix of chiles and corn.
Hi Maureen, yup, bacon happens. ;-) This is a good dish -- you'd enjoy it, I think. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Lisa, sounds like you have the makings for this dish in your freezer. ;-) And I know that in Texas you can get some excellent chilies! Thanks for the comment.
This is screaming summer to me. It sounds so good and would be perfect with some grilled chicken or fish!
I'd pile it on tilapia and be a very happy man. GREG
Hi Alyssa, definitely the taste of summer, isn't it? And wonderful with grilled anything! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Greg, love the idea of this with tilapia! Nice combo. Thanks for the comment.
How lovely and your corn looks so fresh. This would be amazing in a taco or alongside a hearty chicken dish. Great suggestion and I have never had a poblano chilli, it is something I will have to seek out, thanks John :)
Hi Merryn, this would be particularly good in a fish taco, don't you think? Something I'm planning to try! Thanks for the comment.
Oh dear, it's a darn good thing your recipes are as good as they are, the puns...well. A diced avocado would be wonderful in this tasty salad, I adore fresh corn.
Hi Eva, we're hopelessly addicted to bad puns. ;-) An avocado would be terrific in this! Great idea. Thanks for the comment.
Colorful, flavorful, and tasty. It looks great!!
Hi Pam, doesn't this look nice? And it's so tasty! Thanks for the comment.
I think this would be a perfect side for a grilled dinner/supper.
Hi Madonna, this goes wonderfully well with grilled foods! Thanks for the comment.
I can't deny that the fresh corn is the best but the frozen ones can be equally good. Like how you enjoyed these beautiful corn.
This looks like a great side dish. I love the combination of the corn, bacon and peppers. This would be a great side dish and salsa.
Hi Zoe, fresh corn really is wonderful, isn't it? Although for many purposes frozen is just as good. Thanks goodness! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Vicki, this could easily become a salsa! ;-) Thanks for the comment.
I love corn in salads and with bacon - YES!!!! What a great recipe thanks.
Hi Lizzie, isn't this a great combo of flavors? Looks pretty, too. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Simply damn delicious n comforting dish!!!
Corn, bacon and chilies are amaizing to me! All my favorite flavors in one corny bite! Thanks, John!
Hi Dedy, it's a great dish! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Abbe, one can never have too many corny bites. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
I love reading your post, pun and all.
Simple recipes, home cooked comfort feeling. Absolutely wonderful.
Hi Asha, I'm afraid we're hopelessly addicted to puns! Thanks for the comment.
I love a good sweet corn recipe. This sounds wonderful! I love the colors of this dish and your pictures are beautiful as always.
Hi Dawn, corn is good stuff, isn't it? I'll eat it any which way! I do particularly like this recipe, though. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Love your corn banter, had me laughing out loud, my colleagues asked what was so funny, it didnt translate without the picture. Darn it! Love me some corn, wouldnt have thought to make it the main event tho. Great combo of flavors, especially the bacon.
Hi Anna, we just can't resist bad puns! It's a weakness. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed that our farmer's market has it's first Colorado Sweet Corn of the season tomorrow. I'll either be enjoying corn or fussing over our rainy cold Spring that has delayed everything. Your recipe looks fresh and yummy. I actually made made Maque Choux once and it was heavenly. It was from one of the restaurant cookbooks, either Galatoires or Commander's Palace. It took a long simmer and caramelization and I couldn't stop eating it. With all that said: yay for corn season.
Hi Lea Ann, I love Colorado corn! It get shipped into St. Louis, and even though it's gotta be a couple of days out of the field by then, it's still really good. Maque Choux is good stuff, isn't it? As is this. :-) Thanks for the comment.
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