I Tried The TikTok Viral Air Fryer Recipe

I Tried The TikTok Viral Air Fryer Recipe

On one hand, they were delicious. On the other hand, they should come with a danger warning.

Hannah Loewentheil /

Like you, I’ve come across lots of recipes and tricks on TikTok that make me wonder, could this actually be worth it?

Most recently, I stumbled upon this recipe for air-fried corn “ribs,” which are basically uncooked ears of corn that are quartered, seasoned, tossed in an air fryer, and then coated in an elote-inspired sauce. They looked really good.

With summer barbecue season just on the horizon, I figured I had to give it a try. Could they be the greatest new summer side dish? Or an absolute fail? Let’s find out…

First, I assembled my ingredients. I watched enough TikTok videos to quickly realize that there are lots of ways to make these corn ribs, and you can play around with different spices and seasonings.

If you want to follow a recipe rather than follow a TikTok, I’d suggest this one from food blog Seasoned to Taste.

The first step is to shuck and cut the corn. You halve the ears, then slice them again and again until they are in quarters. Seems simple enough, right?

Wrong. Cutting uncooked corn on the cob into quarters turned out to be really difficult. I was using a brand new chef knife (read: the furthest thing from dull), and I still seriously struggled to cut through the ear of the corn.

Eventually, fearing the loss of some fingers, I enlisted my husband to help me cut the last few pieces. Full disclosure: he struggled too but finished the job. About half of the corn fell apart in the process and became unusable for the ribs.

After about 20 minutes of physical exertion and a few close calls with our fingers, we called it quits. We had about eight or nine “ribs” of corn.

I made a mixture of olive oil, melted butter, and some seasonings (garlic powder, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and cayenne pepper), which I brushed onto the pieces of corn (baby corn and “ribs”. Then I put the corn and some sliced jalapeños in the air fryer at 400°F. After 15 minutes it was beginning to brown, so I added another five minutes for it to get more charred.

Also, at this point, an idea popped into my head. I decided to try the very same tactic using baby corn. There would be no slicing required, and I figured the final result would be similar.

Next, I drizzled all of the corn in mayonnaise and sprinkled it with crumbled Feta cheese (I didn’t have Cotija, unfortunately), the chopped, charred jalapeños, fresh cilantro, more elote seasoning and paprika, and a squeeze of lime.

I followed the same method for the baby corn.

The corn on the cob definitely got more charred than the baby corn in the air fryer. And the larger kernels held onto more of the elote topping while the baby corn sort of absorbed it. Both, however, were pretty tasty.

That being said, I honestly… don’t understand this trend whatsoever. You could just make grilled corn elotes, spare yourself the effort and the risk of chopping off a few fingers, and the flavor would be almost identical. Maybe I’m missing something, but IMHO, the fried corn ribs don’t seem worth the extra effort. Your best bet is to stick with standard elotes here — this one’s gonna be a no from me.

Universal Pictures

Oh, and if you do try to make it at home…watch out for your fingers.

Have you tried making the TikTok-famous fried corn ribs? What did you think?