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What Are Corn Nuts?

Carol Luther
Carol Luther

Corn is both nutritious and highly versatile. It shows up in world cuisines in the form of kernels, meal, grits and polenta, along with the American favorite, corn on the cob. As a snack, it is popular in popcorn form, introduced to American settlers by Native Americans. Corn nuts, a less familiar form for many, are also a snack food. One makes them by toasting whole corn kernels.

The corn nut is a 20th century American creation. The first ones used standard corn kernels. After some experimentation and research into improving the original product, the creator discovered a variety of corn from Peru that produced 1-inch (2.54-cm) kernels, more than twice the size of American sweet corn. The first corn nuts to be marketed in the United States using giant Cusco corn kernels debuted in the 1960s.

Corn nuts are made from corn kernels.
Corn nuts are made from corn kernels.

Snack food manufacturers that produce corn nuts use a hybrid corn that produces extra-large kernels. The retail versions of corn nut snacks start with a water soak that plumps the kernels before cooking. Once the kernels are ready for cooking, manufacturers add seasonings. They then roast the corn kernels in an oven until they are crunchy or fry them in oil. Kernels prepared by frying may have more calories than toasted ones.

Commercially produced corn nuts come in a variety of flavors. Plain corn nuts commonly only have salt added during preparation. Commonly available seasonings include fiery corn nuts with cayenne or chili pepper, ranch flavored and barbecue. Salsa and nacho cheese flavors also appear in some product lines.

Corn is a super food that has sustained various cultures that have harvested it or learned to grow it outside its native regions. It belongs to the vegetable group and the grains food group. Toasted corn nuts have the same nutritional profile as regular corn before any seasonings are added. They provide protein, vitamin C, calcium, iron, dietary fiber and carbohydrates. These heart-healthy treats contain fat, but it is mostly unsaturated, and corn nuts contain no cholesterol.

Corn is not the only seed that produces a tasty snack food. Soy nuts and roasted chickpeas are often available in health food stores. One must cook these legumes before roasting them. Once fully cooked, they are ready to be roasted or fried to produce a crunchy, portable treat. Each one has its own natural flavor, though one also can add seasonings during preparation to complement those flavors.

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Discussion Comments


What is french fried hominy called?


My favorite are the ranch corn nuts but I also like the BBQ and the spicy. The weird thing is that the only flavor of corn buts that I absolutely don't like is the original. I don't know why, they just do not sit well with me. But put some ranch seasoning on that same nut and I could snack all day.


Does anyone know how to make corn nuts at home? I love them but they are kind of expensive. I would also love to try some unique flavor combinations that I have been dreaming up.

If anyone has a corn nuts recipe I would love to see it. I know that there are books that teach you how to imitate popular snack food recipes in your own kitchen. If there was an easy way to make homemade corn nuts I would be in heaven.


I used to live in a little town in Ohio that only had two bars. The bars were almost identical in every way. Same TVs, same jukebox, same terrible selection of beer.

The only real difference and the only difference that mattered was that one of the bars gave away free corn nuts in baskets they had sitting everywhere. For that reason alone I always went to that one bar and never to the other.

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    • Corn nuts are made from corn kernels.
      By: 歌うカメラマン
      Corn nuts are made from corn kernels.