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What Are Corn Nuts

Corn nuts, or quicos, are a totally addicting crunchy snack from the heights of Peru. This version, seasoned with chile flakes, is perfect for happy hour!

Though I’ve had corn nuts straight out of the bag, I’ve never had them doctored up with chile flakes. Yes, that does kind of lift them  to Peruvian heights. A great snack in Peru, they are also quite popular here.  Made with a hybrid corn grown in California, they were first introduced into the US in 1936.

Perfect with cocktails or beer these crunchy snacks can be made in 15 minutes and are quite addicting. Chile’d up, so to speak, these giant corn nuts are growing on me. And for some strange reason, they taste better to me a few days after they were made, then the day of. After you try them, you will have to tell me what you prefer. 

Chili Corn Nuts

What are corn nuts?

Corn nuts have a similar taste to Fritos, and go figure, Fritos are made with corn! Corn nuts or quicos are made from a variety of Peruvian corn that has big kernels. More like giant kernels. They are first soaked in water for a few days, to plump up before they are fried until hard and crunchy. The texture is totally crunchy and it’s kind of fun crunching on a giant corn kernel.

Tossed with chile flakes and nutritional yeast, these quicos or corn nuts, were pronounced a success by Manservant who would not let me throw the last three away. He even suggested I save the last of the seasoning mixture to toss with popcorn, which isn’t a bad idea. 

It only takes three ingredients, minus the chile flakes to make these crunchy nuggets. I buy my corn nuts at Sprouts or Trader Joe’s but I think they are found most everywhere. Another key component is nutritional yeast which gives flavor and more texture to the corn nuts.

Corn Nuts with Chile (Quicos)

Have you ever used nutritional yeast before? Nutritional yeast is made with the same type of yeast that is used to make bread, however the yeast cells are killed so it can be used as a food product. Tasting kind of cheesy and savory, it is full of umami flavor.

Nutritional yeast is a complete protein which makes it perfect for vegans and has 2 g of protein in each tablespoon. Loaded with B vitamins, it is a great way to add antioxidants to your diet. 

Found in the spice aisle of the grocery, nutritional yeast can be sprinkled in soup, over popcorn, and I have even used it for flavoring potato chips. It keeps well and can even be added to dog food. I have to try that!

I don’t know about you, and even though it’s only Monday, I ‘m already planning for the weekend. These chile corn nuts would be a great way to start!

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Corn Nuts with Chile

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These corn nuts can be used to make chile corn nuts. I much prefer them with chile! 

Nutritional Yeast:

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Chile Corn Nuts

What Are Corn Nuts

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 3 reviews
  • Author: Abbe Odenwalder
  • Prep Time: 5 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 Minutes
  • Total Time: 15 Minutes
  • Yield: 4 - 8 Servings 1x
  • Category: Snacks
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American


Corn nuts with chile are the perfect snack. Well, that is if you like addicting snacks!



4 c large corn nuts (quicos)

3 T vegetable oil

Kosher Salt and Fresh Pepper

1 T Aleppo pepper flakes

1 T Urfa chile flakes

OR instead of the above – 2 T of your favorite chile flakes

1/3 c nutritional yeast


Preheat oven to 325.

On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the corn nuts with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast, tossing here and there, until the corn is toasted and smelling good. The corn should also be deep golden brown and takes about 10 minutes in a normal oven.

Remove from oven and transfer to a large bowl. Toss with chile flakes and nutritional yeast.

Can be made 5 days ahead of time.


Another great one from Alison Roman

A Few More Good Snacks:

Glazed Pecans

Maple Glazed Pecans

Saigon Style Crunchy Chex Mix

Saigon Style Crunchy Chex Mix

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star


Wednesday 11th of March 2020

I can see that these would be very addicting. As a kid I loved corn nuts but haven't had them in many, many moons. These look awesome and I can just taste them by looking at the pics.

Healthy World Cuisine

Thursday 5th of March 2020

What a fantastic flash back. Almost forgot all about the humble corn nut. I really like your addition of nutritional yeast, fabulous for those with dairy sensitivities. Sharing to our favorite boards.


Wednesday 11th of March 2020

Nutritional yeast is an interesting ingredient. Totally works with these and once you try it you think of all the other things it would work well with! Really dresses up this humble "nut".

Jeff the Chef

Wednesday 4th of March 2020

I haven't had corn nuts in years! This sounds great!


Wednesday 11th of March 2020

Well worth trying Jeff!


Wednesday 4th of March 2020

Yum! I haven't had corn nuts in YEARS!! They used to be lunch for me when I worked with some girlfriends as a groundskeeper at the University hospital while in college. Probably with a Diet Coke, LOL. Love making them into an easy appetizer!


Tuesday 3rd of March 2020

I have never heard of corn nuts, let alone tasted some! I love this spiced up version. YUMMY!