Catholic Culture Dedication
Catholic Culture Dedication

Catholic Recipe: Nixtamal


  • 1 gallon water
  • 1/3 cup unslaked lime
  • 2 quarts (8 cups) whole dry corn (maize) 


Prep Time: N/A

Difficulty:  N/A

Cost:  N/A

For Ages: n/a



Often Made With (2)


Feasts (1)

The Indians in New Spain taught the Spaniards and the padres how to make nixtamal and how to use it. This is the base of many mission foods as well as Mexican foods: tortillas, tamales and tacos.

One of the traditional foods eaten in the California Missions; a combination of Spanish/Mexican/Native American cultures. This would be a dish to serve in honor of Junipero Serra.


In a galvanized kettle, mix the water and lime stirring with a clean stick (just in case you were thinking of using that dirty one) or a wooden spoon. Add the corn and stir until the mixture no longer effervesces.

(Lime Water:

Quick, or unslaked, lime is used in making the nixtamal. The ratio is 1/3 cup lime to 1 gallon water. )

Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so that the mixture cooks but does not boil – stir frequently. When the skins can be easily rubbed from the kernels (after about one hour of cooking) and the corn is moist through, remove from the heat.

Drain and wash in several changes of cold water until all trace of lime is removed. Rub the kernels between the hands until free of hulls.

You will have a clean corn much like hominy but not so well cooked. This is nixtamal, ready to be ground into masa.

Recipe Source: California Missions: A Complete Pictorial History and Visitor's Guide, The by Sunset Editors, Sunset Books, 1979