These air fryer corn ribs feature a simple yet delicious smoky rub and they’re perfect for entertaining in summer (along with other great vegan party food options). And they can be made in the air fryer or in the oven! Corn Ribs (or corn riblets) is all anyone has been eating on Tiktok and Instagram recently, and we’re betting they’re not going away anytime soon! Naturally vegan and gluten free too.
🌟 Why this recipe works
Simple & versatile – air fryer corn ribs are so easy to make! It’s as simple as mixing up the rub, cutting the corn on the cob, brushing them with the rub and air frying! But don’t worry, if you haven’t got an air fryer, they’re just as easy to make in the oven. You can even add a simple dipping sauce – we’ll include that in the recipe card below, but it’s basically just sriracha and vegan mayo mixed together. If you love your air fryer as much as us, try this amazing Air Fryer Tempeh, Air Fryer Acorn Squash and Air Fryer Smashed Potatoes.
Corn on the cob upgrade – corn on the cob is great, no arguments there. But somehow air fryer corn ribs are even better! Maybe it's the ease of eating them, maybe it's the addition of complementary flavours from the spice rub, or maybe it's just a Tiktok novelty – either way, they're our new favourite vegan BBQ side.
Naturally vegan – it’s just corn, olive oil and a spice rub so it meets many dietary requirements – vegan, vegetarian, dairy free and even gluten free! Air fryer corn ribs are a very inclusive snack or appetiser. So whether you’re serving them at a BBQ or any other kind of celebration, most of your guests should be able to enjoy them. Unless they don’t like corn of course!
📋 Ingredients Notes
Corn – it needs to be corn on the cob for this recipe – not sweetcorn from a tin. They’re found in the vegetable aisles at supermarkets. Generally they can be bought in full length or half length. For this recipe we used full length corn on the cobs, but also tried them out with the half size. We found that the smaller cobs worked better as they were easier to cut, however the full length ones look better – so it’s up to you which size to use. And if you can't get enough of corn? Try this Kimchi Fried Rice (with baby corn) and this Tofu Quinoa Bowl (with sweetcorn).
Rub – we've created a really simple mix of olive oil, paprika, garlic powder and seasoning to add a smoky flavour to the air fryer corn ribs. There are so many variations that can be made to this – for example, adding a hot chilli powder or a chipotle chilli powder for even more smoky goodness. Lime juice could even be added for a zesty flavour! Basically, the smoky rub pairs beautifully with the sweetness of the corn, so you can’t go too far wrong!
Check out the recipe card at the bottom of this article for exact measurements to make this air fryer corn riblets recipe.
🔪 Step-by-step Instructions
This is a step-by-step overview with photos for making corn riblets. The full recipe, along with measurements and detailed instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
1. Remove corn silks/threads and husks from the corn cobs. Very carefully cut each cub into lengthways quarters. Start by standing a cob vertically with the widest end on the chopping board, then using a very sharp knife, gently apply pressure rocking back and forward to cut through the centre of the cob.
2. Repeat on each half cob, being extremely careful, to end up with each corn on the cob cut into quarters. Rinse and repeat until they’re all cut up. Cutting the halves can be extra tricky because they’re not as stable when held vertically. You could try laying the half cobs down on the chopping board, flat side down, which provides more stability but does sometimes lead to the corn kernels getting crushed. This method has the cut going against the grain so it can be more challenging to get the knife through.
Top tip: use a rolling pin to hit the back of the knife to break through it. We actually did this and found it to be very efficient but did also dent our rolling pin (it was a cheap one, so do be aware that may happen!).
5. Next, make the rub. Stir together the oil, smoked paprika, garlic powder and salt and pepper in a small bowl.
6. Lay out the cobs on a tray, board or plate. Brush the rub onto each corn rib with a pastry brush. Coat each one evenly with the rub. It’s best to work fast, to prevent as much of the oil from running off the corn riblets as possible.
7. Place the corn ribletss in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Set the air fryer to 190°c / 375°f and cook for 10-12 minutes. The edges will go a little crispy and go golden when they’re ready. It may be necessary to do two batches of the corn riblets in the air fryer basket, depending on the size of the basket. The slices of corn should not be sitting on top of each other, they need to be in a single layer for best results.
8. Alternative method: Preheat the oven to 190°c / 375°f. Lay out the corn riblets on a baking sheet (lined if not non-stick) and bake for 20-25 minutes. They will go tender and crispy once ready.
Serve with fresh coriander, lime wedges and sriracha mayo.
👩🍳 Expert Tips
How to cut – cutting the corn on the cobs into quarters can be tricky! Check out the step-by-step guide above for a visual representation of how we did it, and also check out our Instagram video (you’ll see that we even found it tricky and didn’t get them right the first time!). Basically, to get the air fryer corn ribs into the right shape, you’ll need to go slowly and be patient. Stand the cob up on the flattest end, and try to cut through along the grain. You may need to bash the top of the knife with a rolling pin to help you get all the way through. Alternatively, use a half corn on the cob as they are way easier to cut, because they're not as long!
Any rub will do – as long as you have a bit of olive oil (to help the rub stick to the corn riblets), a smoky spice and some garlic, you’re golden! Alternatives to try include: adding a little hot chilli (if you like the heat), chipotle chilli powder (for even more smokiness) or even lime juice to make it a little zesty too!
Air fryer or oven – corn riblets can be cooked either in the air fryer or the oven. We tried cooking them both ways, and have included instructions for both in the recipe card below. Air fried riblets get more of a curl on the cob and cook a bit quicker compared to baking in the oven. Overall, we preferred the air fryer corn ribs, but the oven ones were still very tasty. I liked that the air fryer version crisped up much quicker! If you haven't got an air fryer, but have been thinking about it, check out this guide to the best air fryers for vegans.
Storage – they are best eaten fresh. The longer they stay out, the dryer they will become. You can reheat them for 3-4 minutes in the air fryer or 8-10 minutes in the oven. However, they won’t be as juicy once reheated and they will be tougher.
No, don’t eat the cob! Just eat the sweetcorn kernels that are covered in the delicious rub. They go crispy, tender and delicious once cooked. The cob will remain pretty hard and would not be enjoyable to eat!
Use the cob side of the riblet to hold onto and bite the juice kernels away from the cob. The cob is used as a ‘bone’ would be on a meat rib, just to give you a reference point.
It’s not easy to cut the corn into the corn ribs shape. Basically go slowly, use a very sharp knife and you may need to use a rolling pin to know the knife handle, to help it go through the whole cob. Check out the step-by-step images above or head to our Instagram video to see what we mean.
🍛 Serving suggestions
- Sriracha Mayo
- Easy, creamy hummus
- Garlic bread
- Chipotle Ketchup
- Vegan Sloppy Joes
- Basically anything that you would serve at a BBQ!
🌽 More recipes to try
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Corn Ribs (Air Fryer & Oven)
- 4 corn cobs – husks and corn silks/threads removed
- 4 tablespoon olive oil
- 2.5 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 0.5 teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt & pepper
Optional serving suggestions:
- Fresh coriander – roughly chopped
- Lime wedges
- Sriracha mayo or other dipping sauce
- Remove corn silks/threads and husks from the corn cobs.4 corn cobs
- Very carefully cut each cob into lengthways quarters. Start by standing a cob vertically with the widest end on the chopping board, then using a very sharp knife, gently apply pressure rocking back and forth to cut through the centre of the cob.
- Repeat on each half cob, being extremely careful, to end up with each corn on the cob cut into quarters. Rinse and repeat until they’re all cut up. Top tip: use a rolling pin to hit the back of the knife to break through the cob. It may cause rolling pin damage though, so be careful.
- Next, make the rub. Stir together the oil, smoked paprika, garlic powder and salt and pepper in a small bowl.4 tablespoon olive oil, 2.5 teaspoon smoked paprika, 0.5 teaspoon garlic powder, Salt & pepper
- Lay out the cobs on a tray, board or plate. Brush the rub onto each corn rib with a pastry brush. Coat each one evenly. Work fast, to prevent the rub from running off the corn riblets.
- Place the corn ribs in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Set the air fryer to 190°c / 375°f and cook for 10-12 minutes. The edges will go a little crispy and golden when they’re ready. It may be necessary to do two batches of the corn ribs in the air fryer basket, depending on the size of the basket. The slices of corn should not be sitting on top of each other, they need to be in a single layer for best results.
- Oven method: Preheat the oven to 190°c / 375°f. Lay out the corn ribs on a baking sheet (lined if not non-stick) and bake for 20-25 minutes. They will go tender and crispy once ready.
- Serve with fresh coriander, lime wedges and sriracha mayo.Fresh coriander, Lime wedges, Sriracha mayo
- For most enjoyment, eat them as soon as they’re cooked – whether that’s in the air fryer or the oven.
They will keep in the fridge for a couple of days in an airtight container. Reheat and crisp back up in the air fryer for 3-4 minutes at 180°c / 350°f, or in the oven at the same temperature for 8-10 minutes. They won’t be as juicy after reheating.
We do not recommend freezing.
If corn ribs are left out, they will go dry.