Ready made pinole isn’t difficult to find, but making it from scratch is a rather enjoyable experience.

Though blue corn is most popular for pinole, any dried corn suitable for popping can be used, no matter what the color. The steps for pinole are simple: toast and pop the corn, and grind to a fine powder. Sweeten and spice lightly if desired. This particular method, of popping before grinding, seems to be particular to the northern state of Sonora, or so my reading has lead me to believe. While not necessary, it does impart an lightness and sweetness to the corn that simply toasting and grinding does not.


Heirloom corn popcorn for pinole.


Nothing more than that; yet the process also requires some patience, as grinding to a fine powder does take some persistence.

Resist the urge to make this in a large quantity. The 1/4 cup or so of popping corn used for this recipe yielded approximately 4 cups of fluffy pinole, or more than I am likely to use quickly. The corn used was an heirloom popping variety purchased at my local farmers market. To find heirloom popping corn online, I would again point to Rancho Gordo, or to Native Seed Search.     


Heirloom corn pinole.


Though an air popper could be used to dry pop the corn, doing so would eliminate the wonderful toasted flavor gained during the process.

Enjoy this video of Señor Ricardo, producing pinole with his family, and donkey, in Huasabas, Sonora, Mexico.

Pinole - Toasted Corn Flour

  • 1/4 cup popping corn
  • 2 tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon


Place a 3 quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the corn kernels and cover the pan. Shake the pan occasionally while toasting. Once the corn begins popping, remove from the heat, and continue to shake the pan until the popping stops.

Once completely cooled, working in small batches, grind the popcorn using a blender (or if fortunate enough to have a grain mill at home), mixing in the brown sugar and ground cinnamon during the process.

Mix the ground corn well to evenly distribute the sugar and cinnamon. Store in an airtight container, refrigerating for longer shelf life.


Use your pinole to make an atole, or cookies.

4 Replies to “How To: Pinole from Scratch”

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