What Is Hominy?

Plus, how to cook it and what to make with it.

August 12, 2021
Close up of hominy.

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Close up of hominy.

Photo by: duckycards/Getty Images

duckycards/Getty Images

By Layla Khoury-Hanold for Food Network Kitchen

Layla Khoury-Hanold is a contributor at Food Network.

If you’re familiar with Southern cuisine, you might have noticed there’s such a thing as hominy grits. Or perhaps you’ve noticed canned hominy next to the beans at your local grocery store and wondered what to make with it. But what exactly is hominy?

What Is Hominy? And What’s the Difference Between Corn and Hominy?

Hominy comes from yellow or white maize, also known as field corn. Dried hominy kernels are soaked in an alkali solution of lye or slaked lime. This process, called nixtamalization, removes the hull and germ, making the corn easier to grind and cook with. Nixtamalization also helps the kernels release more of their nutrients, including niacin (also known as vitamin B3), and makes them easier to digest, too.

Cooked hominy kernels are about three times the size of raw sweet corn kernels. They can be eaten like corn or mixed into corn-based dishes, such as succotash. Additionally, they can be used to fortify a variety of soups, stews and casseroles or to prepare starchy side dishes, such as hash. They can also be used in baking recipes such as cornbread, quick breads and muffins, or formed into flapjack-like hominy cakes.

In the American South, hominy is ground to make grits, which are cooked into a porridge-like consistency to eat for breakfast, as a side dish or to anchor dishes such as shrimp and grits. Hominy grits are available in fine, medium and coarse grinds.

In Hispanic countries, hominy is ground to make masa, which is then used to make corn tortillas, arepas, pupusas and other dishes found in Latin and Central American cuisine. In Mexico, masa is also mixed with water, milk, vanilla and cinnamon to make a hot beverage called atole; when flavored with chocolate, it’s called champurrado. At the grocery store, you’ll see it labelled as masa harina corn flour; this can be used to make masa cakes, tamales and corn dumplings. Hominy kernels also star in hearty soups such as posole, which also features pork, dried chiles and cilantro, and menudo, which is made with tripe, green chiles and other seasonings. Cracked hominy corn, also called maiz trillado, is made by coarsely grinding hominy and can be cooked in the same manner as dried, whole kernel hominy.

What Does Hominy Taste Like?

Since hominy comes from corn, it has a mild, earthy-sweet taste like corn does, but the nixtamalization process brings out its inherent nuttiness and gives it a distinctive fluffy-yet-chewy texture. Yellow hominy tends to be sweeter than white hominy.

White hominy in open can isolated on white and viewed from directly above

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White hominy in open can isolated on white and viewed from directly above

Photo by: cheche22/Getty Images

cheche22/Getty Images

How to Cook Dried Hominy

Treat dried hominy like you would dried beans by rinsing and soaking it in water for several hours (or up to overnight) before simmering on low heat until tender. For more flavor, you can opt to cook hominy in broth instead of water.

Ingredients:

  • One 14-ounce bag dried yellow or white hominy
  • 5 cups water or broth
  • Kosher salt

Instructions:

  1. Place the dried hominy in a large bowl and cover it with an inch of water. Let it soak overnight (if you skip this step, it’ll take longer for the hominy to cook).
  2. Drain the hominy, discarding the water, and add the hominy to a large stockpot. Add about 5 cups of water or broth and a generous amount of salt to the pot.
  3. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat; reduce the heat to low and cover the stockpot with a lid. Let the hominy gently simmer, keeping an eye on it to make sure the water level doesn’t dip too low, until the kernels are tender and chewy, about 2 hours.
  4. Once the hominy is done cooking, drain it, reserving the cooking liquid to store any leftover hominy so it doesn’t dry out, or to add to hominy-based soups and stews to thicken them nicely.

What to Do with Canned Hominy

Canned hominy is already cooked; it can be eaten as is like you would corn (try it with a little butter and salt and pepper), quickly sautéed with vegetables for an easy side or mixed into soups and stews.

How to Store Hominy

Cooked hominy is best enjoyed right away, but it can be stored in its cooking liquid in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Drained, cooked hominy can be stored in the freezer in an airtight container or freezer bag for 3 to 4 months. Be sure to label your containers with the contents and date hominy was prepared.

Hominy Recipes

Hominy is a key ingredient in posole, a hearty Mexican stew, and can also be used to bolster a variety of soups, such as Chicken Soup with Wild Rice and Hominy and Turkey Chili with Hominy. It’s a versatile ingredient that bears keeping on hand; canned hominy offers a pantry short-cut to whipping up sides such as hominy hash or succotash. You can also use it in baking applications or eat it for breakfast. Here are some of our favorite recipes to make with hominy.

This take on the classic pork-based Mexican posole is a hearty, nutritious stew to add to your fall-winter recipe rotation. Dried guajillo chiles impart a bright red color and mild heat that complements the smoked pork, while the tender kernels of canned white hominy lend texture and an earthy-sweet flavor counterpoint.

Cooking with dried hominy typically requires allotting extra time for soaking and simmering. But with the Instant Pot, dried hominy cooks up beautifully in a fraction of the time in a triple-chile-broth-base alongside boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Be sure to inspect and pick over the hominy kernels and rinse prior to using.

Food Network Kitchen’s Big Batch ChileChicken Pozole.

Food Network Kitchen’s Big Batch ChileChicken Pozole.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©Copyright 2015

Matt Armendariz, Copyright 2015

This hearty dish is a great feeds-a-crowd option, but it also freezes and thaws/reheats like a dream for those weeknight dinners when you need to get something on the table fast. Tender hominy kernels simmer in a cilantro-chile-based broth until it reaches a vibrant, green hue; seasoned chicken plus garnishes like avocado and sliced radishes complete the dish.

130522_ButternutPozole_330.tif

Photo by: Justin Walker

Justin Walker

This vegetarian posole recipe doubles down on hominy, calling for two cans of the cooked kernels. We love how the hominy’s earthy sweetness complements tender-sweet butternut squash, while acting as a thickening agent in this spicy stew.

FNM_April2014_Cover_89200.tif

Photo by: Steve Giralt

Steve Giralt

This slow cooker recipe is reason to always keep a can of hominy in your pantry. Drained and rinsed hominy kernels team up with zucchini, jalapenos and potatoes to add heft to the tomato-based broth; it’d be good as is, but you can’t knock the appeal of the cheese sauce and tortilla chips garnish.

This simple cornbread recipe is proof that hominy can star in baked goods, too. Canned hominy provides an added dimension of earthy-sweet corn flavor and a tender texture, while walnuts, pickled peppers and jalapenos deliver a one-two punch of crunch and heat.

Weeknight Cooking

Photo by: RYAN DAUSCH

RYAN DAUSCH

Although canned hominy can be eaten as is, it often benefits from a little bit of cooking time. Case in point: when simmered with salsa, water and aromatics and paired with sauteed kale and baked eggs, hominy lays the flavor foundation for a hearty breakfast or a nutritious breakfast-for-dinner option.

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