Delicious 5 Ways to Cook Corn in a Styrofoam Cooler

Cooking corn in a Styrofoam cooler is not recommended due to the potential release of harmful chemicals from the Styrofoam into the food when heated. Regular coolers, typically made of polypropylene or polyethylene, do not contain BPA and are considered safe for cooking corn. However, Styrofoam coolers are not designed for cooking and should not be used for this purpose.

The Dangers of Cooking Corn in a Styrofoam Cooler

Styrofoam, also known as expanded polystyrene (EPS), is a commonly used material for coolers and food containers. However, when exposed to heat, Styrofoam can release harmful chemicals, such as styrene and benzene, which can leach into the food. These chemicals are known to be carcinogenic and can have adverse effects on human health.

According to a study published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials, the migration of styrene from Styrofoam containers into food can increase significantly when the containers are exposed to high temperatures. The study found that the migration rate of styrene increased by up to 50% when the Styrofoam containers were heated to 60°C (140°F) or higher.

Furthermore, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified styrene as a “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” based on studies that have linked styrene exposure to an increased risk of certain types of cancer, such as leukemia and lymphoma.

Safe Alternatives for Cooking Corn in a Cooler

Can You Cook Corn in a Styrofoam Cooler

Instead of using a Styrofoam cooler, it is recommended to use a cooler made of safer materials, such as polypropylene or polyethylene. These materials do not contain BPA or other harmful chemicals that can leach into the food when heated.

When cooking corn in a cooler, follow these steps:

  1. Shuck the Corn: Remove the husks and silk from the corn cobs, ensuring that the corn is clean and ready for cooking.

  2. Break the Corn in Half: Break each corn cob in half to create smaller pieces, which will allow for more even cooking and faster cooling.

  3. Fill the Cooler: Place the corn cobs in the cooler, making sure they are completely submerged in boiling water.

  4. Add Butter and Salt: Add one stick of butter for every 8-10 ears of corn, and season with Kosher salt to taste.

  5. Cover and Let Sit: Cover the cooler and let the corn sit for approximately 40 minutes, allowing the corn to cook and the flavors to meld.

This method is particularly useful for large gatherings, as it allows you to prepare the corn in advance and keep it warm and ready to serve directly from the cooler. Additionally, the cooler method can be more energy-efficient than traditional stovetop or oven cooking, as it requires less energy to maintain the water temperature.

Factors to Consider When Cooking Corn in a Cooler

When cooking corn in a cooler, there are several factors to consider to ensure the best results:

  1. Cooler Material: As mentioned earlier, it is crucial to use a cooler made of safe materials, such as polypropylene or polyethylene, to avoid the potential release of harmful chemicals.

  2. Water Temperature: The water used to cook the corn should be at a rolling boil, as this will ensure the corn cooks evenly and thoroughly.

  3. Cooking Time: The recommended cooking time is approximately 40 minutes, but this may vary depending on the size and quantity of the corn cobs.

  4. Serving Temperature: The corn should be served hot, so it is important to keep the cooler closed to maintain the temperature until ready to serve.

  5. Food Safety: As with any food preparation, it is essential to follow proper food safety guidelines, such as ensuring the cooler and all utensils are clean and sanitized, and keeping the corn at a safe temperature (above 140°F) to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.


In conclusion, while cooking corn in a cooler can be a convenient and efficient method, it is crucial to avoid using Styrofoam coolers due to the potential release of harmful chemicals. Instead, opt for coolers made of safer materials, such as polypropylene or polyethylene, and follow the recommended steps to ensure a delicious and safe corn-cooking experience.