Peruvian Chicha Morada

The royal purple color of Peruvian Chicha Morada (purple corn drink) recipe captivates the artist in me, but its flavor and health benefits keep me interested. Chicha morada is the quintessential non-alcoholic drink of the Andes and an essential ingredients in cocktails, desserts, and more… Make it on your stove top or in your Instant Pot, grab an icy cold glass, and reserve the rest for future use!

2 glasses of Peruvian chicha morada, a bowl of cancha, on a wood cutting board with a dark background.

🥤What is it?

I submit that chicha morada (aka purple corn drink) is the representative non-alcoholic beverage of Peru (pisco sours being their alcoholic counterpart). The traditional Peruvian drink preparation combines dried purple corn with spices, and typically fruit including pineapple peels and cubed apple. Then the mixture is slow-simmered (think mulled apple cider), strained, and mixed with fresh lime juice and sweetened to taste.

As I started working on this drink recipe, it seemed the Instant Pot would be a perfect cooking method. I love the “set it and forget it” approach. You can simmer it on the stove, or use your Instant Pot. Both yield great results!

Health Benefits

The base ingredient in chicha morada is purple corn (culli, ckolli). While purple corn was once a sacred crop to the ancient Inca civilization, it is now grown and harvested in the Peruvian Andes in abundance, and consumed throughout Peru.

Historically, purple corn was valued as a natural colorant for foods and beverages. While the traditional uses continue, research into the health benefits of purple corn has made it a sought-after ingredient in supplements and “functional foods” (foods with boosted or added nutrients). According to the USDA and Manuel Villacorta, MS, RD (video below), purple corn provides many health benefits.

  • One of the most potent vegetable sources of antioxidant-rich color pigments called anthocyanins
  • Promotes healthy aging and heart health
  • Powerful antioxidants
  • Supports healthy lipid and glucose metabolism
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • It’s all natural

Do I have to Make It Myself?

Nope. While homemade chicha morada is clearly my preference (hence this post), I confess to using this packaged drink mix while I waited on my Amazon shipment of maiz morado (purple corn). It’s a powdered drink mix that compares about as well to homemade as instant powdered tea compares to brewed tea. NOT. THAT. GREAT. At any rate, since I was playing with flavors, it did give me a good idea of what direction to head with my recipes.

A tastier option IMHO is a natural concentrated chicha morada (includes the fruits and spices). However, neither short cut option has the complex (and delicious) flavors made the traditional way, nor does it have the health benefits!

NOTE: If you’re using a concentrate or packaged mix, be sure to follow instructions for diluting!

Ingredients for chicha morada: pineapple, maiz morado (dried purple corn), apple, limes, spices, on a wood cutting board.

📋 Ingredients Notes

Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.

  • dried maiz morado (purple corn) – This is a very unique Peruvian ingredient. However, it is available in many Latin markets outside Peru, and from Amazon.
  • pineapple peels – This is a great way to use the refuse from a fresh pineapple!
  • apple
  • cinnamon sticks
  • whole cloves
  • allspice berries – This ingredient is optional, but I always include it!
  • star anise
  • limes
  • sweetener – I prefer a liquid sweetener, especially ginger simple syrup. You can use honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, etc.

🔪 Instructions

Equipment

  • Instant Pot or deep pot for stove
  • cutting board
  • sharp knife
  • citrus squeezer

Steps

Peruvian Chicha Morada is so simple to make! On the stove, it requires about 50 minutes. My preferred method is to use my Instant Pot. SET. FORGET. I set the Instant Pot to 25 minutes, and let it naturally depressurize (though you can certainly open it sooner).

  1. Add ingredients to pot – Add corn, pineapple peels, cut up apple, spices, and water to the Instant Pot.
  2. Cook the ingredients – Lock lid. Set to 25 minutes high pressure. Release pressure after 10 minutes. If using the stove, simmer gently for 50-60 minutes. Be sure to cover the pot.
  3. Finish the drink – Strain the liquid, pressing the solids to remove as much liquid as possible. Add the fresh lime juice, and sweeten to taste. Serve over ice, and garnish with fresh fruit if desired.
A close up of Peruvian chicha morada (purple corn drink) in a tall pilsner glass with lime twist and pineapple wedge.

💭 Expert Tips

This Peruvian drink recipe requires pineapple peels (you can use the top as well). I always plan a use for the pineapple flesh as well. It always feels good to avoid waste! I’m planning a Pisco sangria, and some of the pineapple will go in the pitcher and glasses. A fruit salad is another good option. Not on pizza, okay? 😂

Chicha morada keeps well in the refrigerator for a few days, and you can freeze it for a couple of months. Consider making a large batch, and planning another Peruvian recipe like mazamorra morada or a pisco and chicha morada cocktail.

Add sweetener a little at a time to get the recipe just sweet enough!

❓ FAQ

Is there a substitute for purple corn in this recipe?

Unfortunately no. It is a unique flavor, and the color is an inherent part of its appeal.

How well does chicha morada keep?

I will keep it 4-5 days in the refrigerator in an airtight vessel. You can also keep it in the freezer for 1-2 months.

Peruvian Chicha Morada is a “stand alone” recipe, but also the foundation for cocktails and desserts. You know Peru holds my heart, right?

Signature in red and green with chiles and limes.

Chicha Morada, purple corn drink, is a Peruvian classic, healthy, vegan, gluten free. A tall pilsner glass of chicha morada with ice.

Peruvian Chicha Morada

Chicha morada is the quintessential drink of the Andes and an essential ingredients in cocktails, desserts, and more… Purple corn simmers with fruit and spices and the result is healthy and delicious!
4.67 from 6 votes
Print Recipe Pin Recipe Save Recipe
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Beverages
Cuisine Peruvian
Servings 6 cups
Calories 100 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 15-16 ounces maiz morado - purple corn
  • pineapple peels – refuse from one
  • 1 apple – cut in chunks
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 5 allspice berries - see notes
  • 2 star anise - see notes
  • 8 cups water
  • juice of 3-4 limes
  • sweetener - see notes

Instructions

Instant Pot

  • Add corn, pineapple peels, cut up apple, spices, and water to the Instant Pot.
  • Lock lid.
  • Set to 25 minutes high pressure
  • Release pressure after 10 minutes.

Stove top

  • Add corn, pineapple peels, cut up apple, spices, and water to a large pot.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer.
  • Simmer 50-60 minutes.

Finish

  • Strain into a pitcher or other appropriate container (I remove large pieces first).
  • Cool.
  • Add fresh lime juice.
  • Sweeten to taste (see notes).
  • Pour over ice, and garnish with fruit if desired.

Notes

I love to use ginger simple syrup to sweeten chicha morada! I definitely recommend a liquid (rather than granular sweetener) like honey or agave nectar. Sweeten to your taste. We prefer ours less sweet.
If you’re only using a portion of the recipe, you may wish to sweeten only the part you’re using. We reserve the leftover portion to add to cocktails or desserts, and prefer to sweeten separately.
Calories will vary according to amount and type of sweetener, size of serving, how much pineapple is left on the peels, etc. The entire bag of maiz morado has only about 90 calories. We use about 1 tablespoon simple syrup per serving, and I used 4 servings in calculation.

Nutrition

Serving: 12ounces | Calories: 100kcal

NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and/or star rating! Email us with any questions: tamara@beyondmeresustenance.com

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11 Comments

  1. Hi Tamara,
    My husband brought some Purple corn powder home from Peru. I want to try this recipe but have a pineapple intolerance, anything else I can substitute? Thanks!

    1. Hi Pam! This is a really good question since it’s just the outer “refuse” that is used traditionally in the recipe. I found this article on pineapple substitutes that might be helpful. I think the nectarine and kiwi combination is probably the closest. I don’t have a good feel for quantity because the pineapple skin and core are not where most of the flavor lies. If it were me, I’d use 2 to 3 of each fruit, and after washing them, slice in half, and put them in the pot seeds, skin, and all. Let me know how this works out if you try it!

  2. Can you use the same weight of corn powder instead of on the cob, as I’m thinking maybe use less powder? As it might be more potent ? Thank you

    1. Hi Jhon! If you’re making chicha morada with corn powder, you will want to mix the amount of powder recommended on the package for approximately 6 cups of water. You might go easy on it and add more after tasting if necessary. Good luck!

  3. I’ve never seen purple corn, but this drink is beautiful and I love pretty drinks!! I also love that it’s high in antioxidants!

  4. What an absolutely gorgeous drink! Bobby and I love these types of drinks throughout the summer. However, rather than get the ingredients to make chicha morada, I think I’ll be using Amazon. Have gotten lazy recently. 🙂 Can’t wait to be sipping on this beverage.

    1. Haha MJ! I can’t imagine you’d be lazy about anything. 🙂 I know New Mexico has been hot lately, so I really don’t blame you! Thanks for stopping by…