Huitlacoche: Mexican Corn Truffle

Huitlacoche: Mexican Corn Truffle

Huitlacoche is a type of corn that’s been overtaken by the fungus Ustilago maydis. The fungus makes the kernals swell and become mushroom-like, taking on a greyish-blue color. The flavor of huitlacoche is slightly sweet, savory, mushroom-y, smoky, and earthy. It’s a naturally gluten free and vegan ingredient, and many of the dishes its used in are gluten free too!


Corn smut from Fungi Woman

Huitlacoche, aka cuitlacoche, Mexican corn truffles, or corn smut, is much more delicious than it sounds. Although corn smut is something that many farmer try to avoid, it’s considered a delicacy in Mexico, and therefore sells for a higher price. The preparation of huitlacoche in foods dates back to the Aztecs, and was popular among the Native American Hopi and Zuni tribes. Huitlacoche is more nutritious than corn, and more complex in taste. The fungus causes corn to produce flavor compounds like sotolon, vanillin, and glucose. It contains much more protein than corn, and includes the essential amino acid lysine, which is lacking in regular corn. It even contains beta-glucans, which may help reduce LDL cholesterol.


Sauteed huitlacoche from Sauce Magazine

When cooked, huitlacoche transforms from light blue pillowy kernals to an inky black paste. Most recipes call for huitlacoche to be simmered or sauteed before being added to a dish, although they can be eaten fresh as well. Common uses include tamales, quesadillas, omelets, and sauces. With it’s high protein content and savory flavor, huitlacoche is a great sub for meat.

Buy Huitlacoche

While huitlacoche is best when fresh, it’s highly seasonal and rather difficult to find many places in the world. Canned huitlacoche is much cheaper and more accessible. We’ve linked some canned and frozen options below. Check your local stores first, as they tend to have better prices!


Basket of fresh huitlacoche from Fredy's Tucan

Recipes That Use Huitlacoche

If you live in a huitlacoche-producing region of Mexico, or have the option to visit, it’s going to have the best huitlacoche dishes. But sometimes it’s fun to travel through food in your own kitchen.

* Title image courtesy of KCRW.

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