What Is a Corn Roaster?

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  • Written By: Lori Kilchermann
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 31 March 2020
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A corn roaster is a machine used to roast sweet corn in large quantities. Typically found at fairs and large gatherings, a corn roaster uses charcoal or liquid petroleum (LP) gas to roast the corn as it revolves around the cooking element. The corn is placed into the corn roaster after being dampened with water; this water forms steam that actually cooks the corn and prevents the ears from burning. Corn is loaded into the roaster with the husk remaining on the ear and is peeled or shucked after it has been roasted. The shucked corn is commonly dipped into a vat of melted butter and seasoned to the diner's taste with salt, pepper and a host of flavorful blends.

Most corn roaster designs require a truck or other type of vehicle to tow the device to a destination. Manufactured from heavy, flat steel, the roaster incorporates an electric motor to turn the roaster's chain belt around the heating element of the roaster through the use of chains and sprockets. The chain belt is designed with small pouches that are sized to hold an ear of corn upright and against the chain belt as it rotates. The speed of the roaster operates so that a single pass around the roaster results in a fully cooked ear of sweet corn.


The individual operating the roaster is responsible for both loading and unloading the corn in a typical arrangement. In some large venues, the roaster may be manned by three or more workers. The worker loading the corn first removes the husk from the corn ear and then removes much of the silk before pulling the husk back over the ear to protect it from burning. The ear is then placed into the corn roaster to begin the roasting cycle. Large burners burn LP gas over wooden blocks that are used to flavor the corn, and charcoal models utilize wood in the charcoal chamber.

As the ears of corn make their way to the top of the corn roaster, workers wearing heat-resistant gloves to protect themselves from being burned on the roaster or the corn remove the ear from the chain belt and tear the husk off the ear of corn. The worker then wraps a napkin around the small piece of stalk attached to the ear and tips the ear upside down and plunges it into the vat of melted butter. The corn is then allowed to drip momentarily before being handed to the consumer. The corn is then covered in salt or the spice of the consumer's choosing and eaten, fresh from the corn roaster.


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