Trader Joe's Corn Ribs Were Not What I Was Expecting But I'm Going Back For More
Here's the best way to cook and eat 'em!
The trendy new transplant to Trader Joe’s School of Frozen Food is … corn! When I spotted Trader Joe’s Seasoned Corn Ribs ($3.99 for 15 ounces) in the “what’s new” freezer section a month ago, I grabbed a bag and some scallions and cotija cheese to immediately run home and make an elote-inspired dip that I could dunk the ribs in. It was an ambitious afternoon plan, and I was immediately surprised when I opened the bag.
The only firsthand, not-just-on-TikTok experience I had with corn “ribs” before this was at a sushi restaurant in LA, The Izaka-Ya by Katsu-Ya, where the ribs are shaved off the cob but still intact, tempura battered, fried, and dipped into a miso butter sauce. I thought I could finally recreate it at home with this shortcut, but this was no boneless rib.
In the photo on the bag, the corn ribs are cut thin, curled up like a big smile, perfectly bronzed with golden brown patches. And there appears to be little-to-no cob along the kernels of corn, making me wrongly assume that you could bite straight through like a chicken tender. What was actually inside the bag was cobs halved crosswise then quartered with the cob fully intact like a bone. With these, you are still eating corn off the cob, just a smaller bit of cob. So they couldn’t be used as a dipper, topper for salads, or a great taco filling like I thought. Instead, they could be glazed with barbecue sauce or tossed with Buffalo sauce for vegan-friendly eat-it-off-the-"bone"-style ribs.
How To Cook Trader Joe's Frozen Corn Ribs
Air-fried at 400 degrees for 12 minutes, the corn ribs got nice and crispy on the exterior with a tender, toothsome interior. I used a drip tray in my oven-style air fryer to catch any grease that fell through the perforated basket, and I am glad I did—it dripped off at least a few tablespoons of vegan butter. Those with basket-style air fryers won’t encounter this issue, but I do recommend using a parchment paper air fryer liner to help with cleanup.
Flavor-wise, the vegan butter and seasonings were fine, but the “ribs” require a sauce or dip assistance to truly shine. I dipped mine into a corn-less, elote-inspired dip—equal parts sour cream and mayonnaise, the zest and juice of one lime, and as much cotija cheese, garlic powder, and Tajín as your heart desires. Some chile powder or cayenne for smokiness and/or heat, or a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce wouldn’t hurt. My technique was to dip and then bite the corn off the cob, more like eating a chicken wing. Ain’t no thang.