What's the Difference Between White and Yellow Corn?

Does the color of corn really matter? You might be surprised.

You see a tower of green ears of cornat the farmers' market or grocery store and immediately get a craving for corn on the cob. So you grab an ear of corn and peel back a few husks to reveal the kernels inside. Are they white, yellow, or bi-color? And depending on what color it is, do you put the corn back in the pile?

Like peaches, tomatoes and other prized produce, Southerners tend to have a lot of opinions about corn. Some say yellow corn is the sweetest, juiciest corn. Others prefer white corn, saying it has better flavor. And then there are the bi-color corn (or "butter and sugar") fans who say that they're getting the best of both worlds—yellow and white on the same cob.

So which type of corn is better? Truth is, it is not the color that determines the flavor of the corn. It's the variety of corn. Corn is typically grown in three varieties that have been engineered for maximum sweetness. And those varieties come in all three colors: yellow, white, and bi-color. So if you happen to have a particularly juicy and sweet ear of corn, it's due to the variety, not the fact that it's yellow. Or white. Or bi-color.

Buying corn when it's in peak season helps too. While it's typically found year-round in grocery stores, corn grows throughout the South and is at its peak in the fall, winter, and spring. By the height of summer, it disappears from farmers' markets, unlike in the North, where corn is a peak summertime crop. If you happen on a batch of sweet and tasty corn, try our Classic Grilled Corn on the Cob recipe.

So the next time you're in the mood for corn, buy whatever's freshest, and don't pay attention to the color.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles