Corn on the Cob for a Large Group: Exactly How Much to Buy


Corn on the cob is a classic side dish at summer barbecues. As you prepare to start cooking for a large group, you may find yourself wondering how much corn you actually need to buy.

When feeding a crowd corn on the cob, assume each adult will eat at least one full corn on the cob. Children do not need as much but most can eat a full cob. One adult serving of corn is about ½ cup. The average corn on the cob amounts to ¾ of a cup; however, this can vary to ½ to a full cup.

Putting together a meal for a large group might sound difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Plan the perfect summer barbecue by following our corn on the cob buying guide. We will even share some tips on how to cook corn for a large group! 

Corn on the Cob Quantity Guide

While corn on the cob is not the main dish at the cookout, it is still a fan favorite and therefore important that everyone gets some.

Although one serving of corn may be enough for some people, others will happily go back for seconds. You could keep things simple and just cook one cob per guest, but some guests might leave a little disappointed.

Instead of serving one cob per person, plan for one and a half for each adult guest. This allows for half the guests to go back for a second cob.

See how this works for different group sizes in the table below!

Number of GuestsMinimum Cobs NeededExtra CobsTotal Cobs Needed
1010515
15157.523
20201030
252512.538
30301545
353517.553
40402060

While feeding adults corn on the cob is relatively simple, it becomes more complicated when children join the group.

It is more difficult to determine how much corn on the cob each child will eat. Some only want half of a cob. Others can eat just as much as the adults.

In general, plan for each child to eat half of a cob each. To make sure everyone has the opportunity for seconds, cook a 1/4 of a cob extra per child. At first glance, you might think this leaves you with a complex math equation and 3/4 of a cob leftover, it actually evens out fairly well.

See how this adds up for your group size in this table!

Number of GuestsMinimum Cobs NeededExtra CobsTotal Cobs Needed
10 adults, 5 children12.56.2519
15 adults 10 children201030
20 adults, 15 children27.513.7541
25 adults, 20 children3517.553
30 adults, 25 children42.521.2564
35 adults, 30 children502575

Even though some numbers did not come out as a whole number, just round to the closest whole number instead. Although you are usually advised to round up, that is not necessary for this function.

Chances are not every guest will take up the offer for seconds while others will eat thirds. With plenty of other food at the barbecue, no one will go hungry if they get just one cob.

How to Cook Corn on the Cob for a Crowd

Corn on the cob is fairly easy to cook for larger groups, but once those groups get above 10 to 12 people, cooking all the corn becomes a bit of a challenge.

While you may not have a pot big enough to fit 30 cobs of corn, chances are you do have a cooler.

Now I know what you are thinking, coolers keep things cool they don’t cook them. But what many backyard barbecue enthusiasts are discovering, is that their cooler can do both.

Start by shucking all your corn and putting it into a large, clean cooler. Once all the corn is in, add enough boiling water to cover the corn. Shut the top of the cooler for 30 minutes and voila, perfectly cooked corn.

Dump out all the water– careful to avoid flower beds or prized patches of the lawn as the boiling water will kill them. Aim for weeds or ant hills in your yard instead to help get rid of them.

Keep the corn in the closed cooler until ready to serve and enjoy it warm with all of your friends and family.

Read more about this recipe from Jager FoodsOpens in a new tab. here!

How to Make Corn on the Cob Go Further

Purchasing nearly 100 cobs of corn may not be feasible for everyone. If this is the case, you will need to make a smaller amount go further.

Luckily, corn on the cob will not be the only dish at the cookout. It is only a side dish to be served with burgers, brats, potato salad, chips, and so much more.

If you need to decrease the portion size or not cook extras for seconds it will be perfectly fine.

Another way to make corn on the cob feed more people, is to cut all the cobs in half. Everyone will start with one or two and will either be satisfied with that or go back for a third. By cutting the cobs in half it makes people think they are eating more while in reality, they are eating less.

How to Serve Corn of the Cob to a Group

The easiest way to serve corn on the cob is to set it all out on a plate with the butter, salt, and other condiments next to it. Although this is easy, it also makes for a slow-moving line as people stop to roll and salt their corn one at a time.

For a faster moving line, have your corn on the cob already buttered and salted before serving.

After the corn is done cooking (in a pot or in a cooler) set it somewhere to dry a bit. Have a dish of melted butter mixed with salt ready and a stack of precut tinfoil. Roll each piece in the butter mixture, wrap it in tinfoil, and place it into the warm (dry) cooler.

When it comes time for dinner guests just grab tinfoil of corn and move on to the next item. It will take a bit more prep but will pay off when you have a line of hungry guests.

Another simple way to make serving easier is to cut all the cobs in half and skewer them. This is especially great for kids so they will not have to hold onto the hot, slippery corn while eating.

Instead of laying out a stick of butter for guests to roll their skewers in, prepare a bottle of butter sauce.

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