Ingredient Intelligence

Blue Corn: What It Is and How to Use This Vibrantly Hued Ingredient

published Jul 9, 2022
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Purple corn cobs
Credit: Getty Images/DoraDalton

Yellow corn tortilla chips are already pretty great, but when blue corn tortilla chips enter the chat, things get a little bit more interesting. But what exactly is blue corn, and where does it come from? Let’s break down this ancient superfood to learn more.

What is blue corn?

An indigenous food cultivated by the Hopi, a Pueblo Native American tribe from the Rio Grande, as well as other Southwestern tribes, blue corn comes from flint corn grown in Mexico and the Southwestern United States. 

There are several varieties of blue corn, whose names are derived from their distinctive shade of blue — “standard” blue (“sakwaqa’o”), hard blue (“huruskwapu”), and grey-blue (“maasiqa’o”).

Is blue corn’s color natural?

Blue corn’s azure hue comes from anthocyanins, the same pigment found in blueberries and grapes.

What does blue corn taste like and how is it used?

Blue corn has a rich, sweet flavor. It is typically used in its ground form and cannot be eaten off the cob like yellow corn.

In addition to its role as a ceremonial food for the Hopi, blue corn has a wide range of culinary applications, from traditional Mexican dishes like tlacoyos and tamales, to tortilla chips, taco shells, cornbread, and pancake mix. It’s also a key ingredient in atole de pinole, a sweet, fortifying, nutrient-dense drink from Mexico.

Interested in trying blue corn? Here are a few great products.