Traditional Cracked Corn Moonshine Recipe

Traditional Cracked Corn Moonshine Recipe

Make whiskey the old-fashioned way with our cracked corn moonshine recipe

Are you wanting to find a traditional moonshine recipe to learn how to make a delicious whiskey? Well, look no further. We have a great cracked corn moonshine recipe that is perfect for those who want to capture the classic flavor of a traditional shine. 

Modern moonshine can be made out of almost anything (including bananas!) but many moonshiners are keen to also learn the more traditional recipes of the moonshine that their ancestors would have made. 

The Moonshine Tradition


At How to Moonshine, we believe it is important to keep the tradition of moonshining alive. While making your own spirits at home is not legal in all areas of the world, this was not always the case. In fact, many of the traditional moonshine recipes are made out of grain because that was what early farmers had on hand. 

In fact, fermenting excess grain was one way that early American settlers were able to use up their extra grain and enjoy a well-deserved drink at the end of a busy day. Farmers soon realized that whiskey was worth more than the corn it was made with and it would be used for trade. At one point it was even a form of currency. 

Brief History of Moonshine Production




Moonshine production, sometimes known as illicit distillation, has a rich and intriguing history deeply rooted in American culture. Dating back to the colonial era, moonshine has been closely associated with rebellion, Prohibition, and the rural regions of Appalachia.

Over the years, moonshine production evolved and became synonymous with craftmanship and innovation, as distillers found creative ways to improve the quality and potency of their homemade spirits.

While moonshine has often existed on the fringes of legality, it has continued to captivate popular imagination, inspiring folklore, movies, and a distinct cultural legacy that still resonates today.


Is Moonshine Illegal?




Of course, big government got involved (before the USA was even a country!) and decided to tax spirits as a way to offset the costs of the Revolutionary War (thanks Alexander Hamilton) and so moonshining became illegal. The act of making your own spirits is still considered illegal in many areas of the world and the country. 

However, there are ways to protect yourself and your craft. Check out Is Moonshine Illegal? For more information. 

Many moonshine recipes call for corn, but this is really not enough information if you are not a seasoned shiner. Do they mean field corn? Feed corn? Sweet corn? Many of the recipes out there seem to be written only for seasoned shiners and leave out all the important information. So let’s get back to basics. 

 Try our Cracked Corn Moonshine Recipe Kit

What Type of Corn Should I use in my Moonshine? 




Our favorite type of corn to be used in moonshine is cracked, dry yellow corn. This type of corn is considered field corn and it needs to be clean and food-grade.


It is recommended to use air dried corn rather than gas dried.


The reason for this is when corn is gas dried the corn can get stripped of its elements that are needed for good fermentation. You may want to take your cracked corn one step further and have it ground to make a corn meal. This is fine as long as the corn is a coarse grind. Of course, corn meal can be purchased ready-made, again, just make sure it isn’t too fine. 



It is also possible to make moonshine out of animal feed. Check out our sweet feed recipe. You can use chicken feed where the corn is a lot finer or horse feed. Just don’t use hog feed as it contains more than just corn. 

Importance of Cracked Corn in Moonshine Making




Cracked corn plays a crucial role in the process of making moonshine mash. It is a key ingredient that ensures the success of fermentation and ultimately contributes to the production of high-quality moonshine.


One of the main reasons cracked corn is important is because it aids in the gelatinization process.


When corn is cracked, it creates a large surface area, which allows the starch molecules to absorb water more easily. During the gelatinization process, the starch in the corn is heated and swells, breaking down its structure and releasing the stored sugars.


This step is essential as it transforms the corn's starch into fermentable sugars that can be consumed by yeast during the fermentation process.


The creation of fermentable sugars is vital for moonshine production. Without these sugars, the yeast would have nothing to feed on, and the fermentation process would not occur. The yeast converts the sugars into alcohol, resulting in the production of moonshine.

Cracked corn possesses specific characteristics that make it an indispensable ingredient in moonshine making.


Its high starch content and easily accessible sugars make it an excellent source of nutrients for the yeast.


Additionally, the presence of cracked corn adds body and flavor to the final product, enhancing its overall quality.

What is Cracked Corn?




Cracked corn, also commonly known as cracked maize, is a type of corn grain that has undergone a mechanical process to break it into smaller pieces.


With a coarse texture and a variable size, cracked corn is commonly used as animal feed due to its nutritional value and affordability.


Preparing the Corn for Mash


Before beginning the process of making mash, it is important to properly prepare the corn. Corn is the main ingredient in mash, acting as the primary source of fermentable sugars that will later be converted into alcohol.

  1. To prepare the corn, it is first necessary to remove any unwanted debris or foreign objects. This can be done by carefully sorting through the corn, discarding any damaged or discolored kernels.
  2. Next, the corn should be thoroughly washed to remove any dirt or dust.
  3. Once cleaned, the corn needs to be crushed or ground, which allows for easier access to the starches inside. This can be achieved using a grain mill or by grinding the corn in a blender or food processor. Grinding the corn into a flour-like consistency will maximize the surface area, making it easier for enzymes to break down the starches during fermentation.

Preparing the corn in this way ensures that it is primed and ready for its crucial role in the mash-making process.


Soaking the cracked corn in water




Soaking cracked corn in water before further processing is an essential step in enhancing the fermentation process and obtaining desirable results.

When corn kernels are cracked, their protective outer layer is compromised, making them susceptible to absorbing moisture.


Soaking the cracked corn in water addresses this issue and provides numerous benefits that contribute to the overall fermentation process.


One key advantage of soaking is that it softens the corn kernels. The absorbed water helps to rehydrate the kernels, resulting in a softer texture.


Softer corn kernels are easier to break down during the fermentation process, allowing for more efficient conversion of starches into sugars.


This softening effect also enables the corn to be easily milled or ground, enabling the extraction of more nutrients and facilitating the release of enzymes for fermentation.


Soaking makes the starches within the corn more accessible for fermentation.


The moisture absorbed during soaking activates enzymes naturally present in the corn, which break down the complex starch molecules into simpler sugars. This accessibility of starches promotes the growth of yeast and bacteria during fermentation, leading to the production of desirable byproducts such as alcohol or organic acids.


For optimal results, cracked corn should be soaked for approximately 24-48 hours at a temperature of around 70-80°F (21-27°C).


This duration allows for sufficient hydration of the kernels, ensuring adequate softening and starch accessibility. It is important to maintain a consistent temperature within this range to promote consistent fermentation and enzymatic activity.


Boiling the Cracked Corn to Break Down Starches into Sugar

Boiling cracked corn is a crucial step in the process of producing sugar from it. The high temperature of boiling water helps to break down the starches present in the corn into simpler sugar molecules, which can then be used in various culinary and industrial applications.

To begin, the cracked corn is added to a pot of water that is brought to a rolling boil. As the water heats up, the starch molecules in the corn start to unravel and break apart.

This process, known as gelatinization, occurs due to the high heat and agitation caused by boiling.


Enzymes naturally present in the corn are activated during this process, further aiding in the breakdown of starches into sugars.


The Resting Period

After boiling the cracked corn, the mixture is allowed to rest. This resting period plays a crucial role in breaking down the corn further and ensuring the temperature is suitable for introducing additional grains.

During the resting period, the residual heat from boiling continues to work on breaking down starches into sugars. Additionally, as the mixture cools down, enzymes become more active, facilitating this conversion process.

Temperature control is important during the resting period as it allows for the introduction of additional grains without risking their destruction. The cooled mixture, known as mash, forms an ideal environment for yeast to convert the released sugars into alcohol during fermentation.


Moonshine: a Three-Step Process





Making moonshine is not a simple process. However, at How to Moonshine, we believe it is an important tradition to keep alive. This is why we like to break down more complex recipes into a simpler three-step process: mash, fermentation and distilling. 

The first step to making moonshine is making a mash. Making a mash is the process of adding your moonshine ingredients and heating them up in order to convert your mash.


Many moonshine recipes are grain-based but they need to be converted from a grain into a fermentable sugar. In order for this process to be accomplished, you need to heat up your mash and cook it. Once you have completed making your mash you can check your mash for conversion using iodine. 


Equipment Needed for Making a Mash


Embark on your own moonshine journey with this all-inclusive kit. Includes everything needed to create a flavorful moonshine mash—a 5 gallon pot, thermometer, hydrometer, cheesecloth, mash paddle, and our How to Make Moonshine e-book. Let the adventure begin! 


When you are making a large recipe like this, it does require large equipment! We do suggest having specialty equipment for making your mash if you are making large recipes like this one.

For example, you are not likely to have a large enough pot for this recipe or a long enough spoon to properly stir your ingredients. Investing in the right equipment can make it easier to make your mash properly. 

For Making this Mash You Will Need: 





In order to make this mash you will need to start with clean equipment and a clean area. This is the best practice to avoid any possible contamination which will affect your final product. 

Once you have clean equipment, it is time to get started.

Pour six gallons of filtered water into your large pot and heat to 165°F. Once you have reached 165°F, turn off the heat and add your cracked corn. 

The reason that you need to have your corn ground is that it needs to release its starch. Once you have added your corn, stir it for about 20 seconds every 5 minutes. Monitor the temperature. Once it lowers to 150°F you can add the crushed barley. Stir so it is well incorporated. 

Malted barley is an important ingredient because its enzymes are necessary to convert your starches into sugar. After you have added your barley and stirred your mash you can turn off the heat. At this point, we want to cool our mash to room temperature or 70°F. 

How to Cool your Mash


immersion chiller for making moonshine


There are several different ways to cool your mash. Some moonshiners prefer to use an immersion chiller to cool their mash quickly. If you want to invest in an immersion chiller, we suggest this option by Homebrew Stuff.

While it is certainly not easy with a large pot like this recipe requires, you can also place your mash pot in ice water to bring the temperature down. Otherwise, you can simply wait. 

Strain your Mash



At this stage, it is not necessary to strain your mash. However, we find it easier to strain our mash using a cheesecloth and clean hands (to squeeze it out) once our mash is cool. Otherwise, you can strain your mash after fermentation using the same method. 


Pitching the Yeast  


Temperature plays an important role in making moonshine. Before adding your yeast, you need to make sure your mash has cooled to 70°F. As well as the correct temperature, your mash needs oxygen for the fermentation process.

The type of yeast you choose will also play a large role in your finished product. Many distillers prefer the final result achieved using Distiller's Yeast. Others prefer the speed of Turbo yeast.

Finding the perfect moonshine ingredients and equipment is easy thanks to How to Moonshine. Check out our large inventory of moonshine stills, ingredients and accessories. 


Aerate Your Mash




With a large recipe like this one, you will need to pour your mash between your fermentation bucket and your pot about 5-10 times in order to aerate it. This process will provide the oxygen necessary to help the yeast do its work.

Once you have aerated your mash (finish with the mash in your fermentation bucket) and add your yeast. Place an airtight lid and airlock in place. 

Let it ferment in an area with a constant temperature between 70°F and 75°F for about 10-14 days. Watch your airlock for a cease in activity for about two days before distilling. 




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