chicos in a bowl


Pronounced [chee-KOHs] this kiln dried corn is a specialty of the northern part of the Southwest. The word "chico" in Spanish means little boy. These little corn kernels are used in a variety of dishes including beans (frijoles) and chicos and as well as preparations with pork and chiles.

History And Lore

Blue Corn Production and Marketing in New Mexico
Guide H-226. George W. Dickerson, Extension Horticulture Specialist

"Chicos are corn in the soft dough stage that has been steamed in the husk and dried. Traditionally, a pit was dug in the ground and the soil heated by burning wood in it for 1 to 2 days. The fire is removed an green ears in the husks are then placed in the pit and covered with soil.. the partially roasted ears are removed, the husks stripped back, and the ears tied together in pairs and hung out to dry. The kernels were roasted to kill the grains, and to help them dry faster to preserve their food value. Chicos are generally cooked with chile and green onions, or in stews".

Buy And Store

Chicos can be difficult to find outside of the Southwest.  Normally they are available at specialty food shops. Dried corn should be stored in a cool, dry location such as your pantry. You can place the corn in large jars with tight fitting lids. The corn can be stored for several months.

Buy Chicos At GourmetSleuth


Featured Recipes

Chicos con Frijoles

  • 1 cup chicos
  • 4 cups pinto beans
  • 2-1/2 quarts hot water
  • ¼ lb. salt pork (cubed)
Wash chicos and beans until clean, put into a large pot with water. Bring to a boil, add salt pork. Simmer slowly for about 3-4 hours or until beans are tender, stirring occasionally and adding water when needed. Salt to taste. Serves 8.

Bone Stew (Posole)

Recipe by Coleen Montoya

  • 7 pounds bones with meat (pork ribs, neck bones and ox tails
  • 2 cups blended dry red chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 cup dried roasted corn (chicos)
In a large pot put bones, chile and corn. Cover with water to the top of the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook for 3 hours. Keep adding liquid as it evaporates to keep the bones covered.

Barbara Bowman graduated with degree in Foods and Nutrition from San Jose State University. As CEO of she spends most waking hours writing, cooking, eating, gardening and traveling.