Have you been looking for a super easy mash recipe that isn't complicated and tastes amazing?

Well look no more!

I have been making moonshine for over two decades now and have tried all sorts of recipes and measurements. I have experimented with every type of ingredient imaginable, yet the smoothest mash I have ever made is so simple it will surprise you. 

It only takes two ingredients (not including the sugar and yeast) and you’ll have the smoothest whiskey run you’ve ever had. Hint: Sweet feed is the secret weapon.

In this article, I give you my top recipe to making the best mash along with easy to follow step-by-step instructions on how to make moonshine, along with some product recommendations.

Check out my podcast about how to make moonshine from the start to finish, along with selling tips!

Why is the mash recipe so important?

The mash is the most important factor when talking about the flavor of the whiskey. For example, let’s say you make a whiskey run that turns out to be 110 proof. This means that it’s 55% alcohol. So the other 45% is the water that came from the mash.

Therefore, the mash affects the final product in a huge way.

This recipe will make 30 gallons of mash by total volume including the grains.

Smoothest Mash Recipe Ingredients 


  • sweet feed (unpelletized)
  • Chopped corn
  • sugar
  • yeast
  • water
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    Now that you have your ingredients, you will need to calculate your batch size in gallons. 

    I have created the chart below for different size recipes for mash batches in gallons. To alter the batch size just insert numbers from the chart into the instructions that follow.

    Moonshine Batch Sizing Table

    Gallons

    Grains (gallons)

    Yeast (Tbsp)

    Sugar (lbs)

    30

    5

    6

    25

    20

    3.5

    4

    16

    10

    2

    2

    8

    5

    1

    1

    4

    2.5

    .5

    .5

    2

    Step-By-Step Guide To Making Moonshine

    Step One: Crack the grains

    Cracking the grains is a process to soften the grains to let the flaver out.

    In a large pot add five gallons of water, an outdoor turkey fryer pot works great. Bring this water to 160f. I use an outdoor propane burner.

    Image shows a 120 quart pot on a propane burner for heating up the water to 160f.

    Large pot for cooking the mash

    I recommend the Bayou Classics propane burner as it is very durable and has an adjustable regulator to control the temperature. It’s the only one I use. 

    propane-burner

    Order yours online at Hardware World. They’ll ship it directly to your house.

    While waiting for the water to come to temperature put one part sweet feed to 2 parts corn in a 5 gallon bucket until its full.

    Instead of weighing my grains, I use a ratio. For example, a 5 gallon bucket of grains would contain 66% corn (3.3 gallons) and 33% (1.66 gallons) sweet feed. 

    You can use weights instead if you like, but this method works well for my situation. 

    I use a one gallon scoop so it doesn’t take as long. Set aside until the water reaches 160f. 

    Image shows measured amounts of chopped corn and sweet feed

    1 part sweet feed to 2 parts chopped corn

    Now you can add the grains and reduce heat to maintain 160f for 45 minutes. Continuously stir the mash to avoid letting the grains scorch on the bottom of the pot. 

    Step Two: Mix the Mash

    Now dump the cracked grains into a 30 gallon container and stir in 25 lbs. of sugar. When the sugar is dissolved completely add 15 to 20 gallons of cold water until the mash mix reaches 30 gallons by total volume.

    Step Three: Add the Yeast

    When the temperature of the mash drops down to the recommended temperature  by the yeast manufacturer, you can go ahead and add the yeast. I have found that 1 tablespoon of yeast per 5 gallons of mash works well.

    A distiller’s yeast will produce the best results. I’ve found that the Red Star brand works really well and is very affordable.

    Red Star Yeast is hard to find locally, but you can buy it on Amazon here

    Step Four: Let the Mash Ferment

    Now all you have to do is wait. Let the mash do its thing for about a week. You’ll know when the mash is done when you can no longer see the bubbling produced by the yeast as it releases carbon dioxide.

    Once the fermentation is complete, strain the liquid to remove the spent solids and place the liquid into your still. This final liquid is called the wash. You only want to put the wash into the still. 

    And thats it! I told you it was easy!

    If you are interested in building your own DIY still on the cheap, check out my two-part video tutorial:

    You can also purchase this Vanell premade still kit for home use from Amazon.

    Get your mash started, order the still, and by the time your mash is ready, you will have your still at your doorstep! 

    Summary

    I hope you have enjoyed this article and will find the recipe easy and fun to make!

    You will really enjoy the extremely smooth whiskey that comes from this mash. 

    Just note that moonshine making is both an art and science, your first batch won't be perfect, and your second batch likely won't either. 

    However, if you stick to it and learn the nuances of your still, you can be a moonshining making pro in no time! 

    Please leave me a question or comment below in the comment section.

    Happy stilling!


    Tags

    corn mash, homemade moonshine, mash, mash recipe, moonshine mash, Whiskey mash


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      1. Hello!
        After the mash has completed fermenting & ready to be transferred into the still do you transfer the grains w/ the ferminted liquid into the still or separate the liquid from the grains?
        Take care,
        Arthur

        1. Arthur,
          Thank you for your comment and question. Yes, you want to separate the grains from the mash. This becomes what’s called the wash. You can separate the grains in any way you want really. Most people use a screen strainer to strain off the wash. I prefer to siphon off the wash after grains have settled to the bottom. Be sure to let your wash settle overnight to allow the light sediment sink to the bottom and avoid transferring the sediment to the still. Have fun and come back to let us know how your experience goes.
          Good luck,
          Cyrus

          1. Cyrus,,
            Thanks & I’ll get back to you. I’m thinking of spraying the inside bottom of my stainless fryer & still w/ Pam to minimize sticking what do you think?
            Take care,
            Arthur

            1. I’ve never tried it and haven’t heard of anyone trying it. My gut reaction says this won’t make much of a difference, but I’m a strong believer in experimentation. I think it would be a great thing to try.

      2. If no malted or sprouted grain is added the starches from all that corn are not converted to sugars….so pretty much all of that grain is just wasted and your really only using the sugar to ferment.

        1. You are right Garrett. The corn doesn’t add sugar, but it isn’t wasted because it does add flavor. and if you want to convert the starch you can also use amylase without the malted or sprouted grains. Great comment thank you for your contribution.

        1. Not all sweet feeds are the same. Some are manufactured by adding salt Selenium and other health additives. Make sure you read the ingredients of your sweet feed .I don’t believe all of those additives would be good for your mash. Please let me know if that is not true.

          1. I would start by saying, it’s always a good idea to check ingredients of the products you’re using and that it would be possible that a certain type of sweet feed may have an ingredient you wouldn’t want to use. To selenium specifically, It occurs naturally in many grains and in our bodies. I suggest that the amount to make it through the distillation process would be minimal if any and non-toxic to humans. I’m not an expert in this area and am just giving my own opinion.

      1. After the fermentation process the alcohol content will be less than 20 percent. It won’t be whiskey until you distill it. Distillation is when you heat the mash up to turn the alchol to steam then condensing it back to liquid. This process separates the alcohol from the mash leaving you with a much higher percentage of alcohol.

      1. I use sweet feed. This a mixture of various oats and molasas. I think it’s mostly used as horse feed. At my local farm store it’s called All Stock. The chopped corn is used as chicken feed and hog feed.

    1. I’m a little confused. You said Distillation is when you heat the mash up to turn the alcohol to steam then condensing it back to liquid. How do you trap the steamed off alcohol? Is there a utensil that I need to get? Thanks.

      1. David I’m really sorry. Maybe the confusion is that The article I wrote is just the recipe for the mash. Making the mash is just the first step in making whiskey. I am going to write an article on how to build a “still”. The still is how you heat the mash up, capture the alcohol steam and condense it back to liquid. You can go to my Pinterest board for moonshine and see many pics of different types of stills. here is the link https://pin.it/7ya55kk72sr2sf

      1. To make a 5 gallon batch with this recipe you keep the same ratios. 2 parts chopped corn to 1 part sweet feed. But instead of filling the 5 gallon bucket you just put about 6 inches of grain in the bucket. Then cook it in about 2 gallons of water. Then add the rest of the water in to cool it down. And just use 1 Tablespoon of yeast.

    2. My Sister an I are going to try this do you have to use Spring water or well water or can you just get it from home spout.

      1. I have used all of the different water sources you mentioned and they all worked. That being said I will say that the chlorinated tap water did seem to take longer to ferment and there was a different taste in the final product. The taste of the water that goes into the mash does affect the final taste. Good luck and let me know how it turns out. Thanks for the comment.

      1. I ferment the mash in a container with a loose lid. This will allow carbon dioxide to escape and it will keep critters and rodents out. I don’t use an airlock. Whiskey mash isn’t as sensitive as say wine or beer so airlock isn’t necessary at least that’s been my experience. Thanks for the comment.

    3. Hello. I don’t have a very large still so I was wondering can I make the 5 gallons of mash and just run a little bit then run some more of it later or do I need to run it all at the same time.

      1. You don’t have to run the entire mash batch at once, but there will be a slight loss in the amount of whiskey you will end up with. At those volumes though it will be almost negligible. Thanks for the comment.

      1. You can strain the mash, which is then called the wash. It is drinkable, but this recipe produces a somewhat sour tasting wash. The alcohol content at that point will be 40 proof or less. This is similar wine. This is also how beer is made, but the recipes are much different than the one I have shared in this article.

    4. I’m confused on portions, I’m a beginner and most recipes are in pounds instead of gallons, so I need a breakdown on the 3.5 gallon for a 20 gallon mash

      1. Keep in mind this recipe has large tolerances. So, 3.5 gallons of grains would be roughly 1.2 gallons of sweet feed and 2.3 gallons of chopped corn. You can use anything smaller than a half gallon container to measure out the portions to keep the ratio right. For example, use a #10 soup can and start scooping grains into a 1 gallon container. 2 scoops of corn to 1 scoop of sweet feed. Don’t over complicate the recipe process. if you miss the measurements by a little bit it won’t hurt anything. you’ll still get a great whiskey and you will most likely not be able to taste the difference between batches that are close to the same recipe but not exact. Good luck. Let me know how it turns out.

      1. I get my yeast from Amazon. There is a link in the article to the yeast I use. I’ve used bakers dry yeast, but I get best results from a distillers activated yeast.

      2. The use of cracked corn is practically useless without the use of malted barley to synthesize the corn starches into fructose. The use of sugar would be null if doing so you could add sugar to possibly up the alcohol content. Sweet feed has some barley but isn’t malted due to what it is a filler feed. Make the most of it you will thank me for the addition to the recipe it will round our the flavor as well.

        1. Thank you for the informative contribution. It’s always welcome here. I would like to give it a try. How much barley would you suggest I use in this recipe?

      1. Thank you for the comment. I haven’t heard back about the malted barley so I’m going to do my own research and give it a try. I will post the results.

    5. I’ve had my mash going for about 4 days now, my inside temperature in barrel is at 68 degrees, never tried during winter months before but wish me luck!

    6. Well I had a few problems but just ended up with a quart of 130 proof and that was the heads, but I didn’t even get to middle run before proof started dropping dramatically, cap blew off at 180 degrees due to thumper got plugged off but I was down already at 50 proof before i got to middle run, was wondering why it dropped so quick?….I guess it was a blessing because nothing caught fire!

      1. I’m sorry to hear it. A rapid drop in the proof during a run usually indicates low alcohol content. What size was your run (volume of the wash)? What type of still are you using. send a pic if you can.

        1. 10 gallon pot still, 10 gallon wash, only difference from your chart was I used 10 pounds sugar! Ive got it all apart cleaning it but I have a older pic I’ll try to dig up! Put about 9 gallon of wash in it!

        1. My email is the.offgrid.maker@gmail.com
          Still working on a gallery app for the website.
          It’s been my experience that the 2 main reasons for low alcohol content are 1. Not enough sugar for yeast to feed on and 2. Letting the temperature drop below threshold for yeast to thrive. I have also had a problem once where I think the yeast was bad, but even if you don’t put enough yeast in it should just take longer to ferment.

          1. That’s my problem I think, temperature up and down in the cabin, I tried to keep it above 70 but some nights it would get below 70 plus floor level is cooler than say 4 foot above the floor, my wall thermometer may say 75 but down lower it s 69, I also noticed when I dumped my grains outside I could smell the alcohol still in the grains, I should have let it go another week!

            1. I agree. It sounds like the fermentation process was slowed by the fluctuations in temperature. It probably would have been okay given enough time, unless the temp dropped to a level that killed the yeast.

              Your set-up looks reliable. I am surprised it puked under 180 degrees. There may yet still be a kink to iron out. How many runs have you made with this still?

    7. That was number 1 with it, the keg was a old charred aging keg that has seen its day, the black charred particles inside had came off the sides and made there way through my piping, they eventually plugged off my pipe causing cap to blow off, I’m working on trying to break all particles off inside so on next run I won’t have this problem, I could order a new keg non charred inside but that is expensive, I may find a big jar and replace it with but the keg gave it that traditional look, i put pea gravel inside and have been rolling it around breaking off any loose charred particles and washing it out,I don’t plan on doing anything till weather breaks and warms up, gives me plenty of time to get ready!

    8. I’ve been running this recipe for about 4 years now. It is easy, but I find that each batch has been different proofs. Ranges from 90-120 proof. The only thing different is the water. Sweet feed, distillers yeast and sugar are unchanged.
      This is the first run through a pot still. I can run it 2 more times and get a consistent 160 proof.

    9. I bought that workbook and a 5gal SS stil like what you have linked, together those have been incredibly helpful for a newby in the home distillery world. I’m definitely going to try this recipe this spring as it’s a bit too cold where i live now.

      What’s your take on the best type of sugar to use? I’ve been using dark brown sugar to give more of a molasses aroma to the finished product which i usually get at about 130-145 proof.

      Have you ever done a single malt recipe? If so, I’m wondering if that means literally just one kind of malted barley or white wheat malt. I’m not sure of the difference.

      Lastly, i also use the red star dady yeast and a bucket with a loose lid is it ok to leave it for week after it’s done bubbling? Does it loose alcohol content the longer it sits?

      Thank you for your time and THIS post/recipe!

      1. I’m glad you like the workbook. It’s a good one. I have used different types of sugar and found the difference is negligible, so I just use the least expensive at the time I’m ready to make the mash. You can let it sit after it’s done fermenting, but seal the lid. You will lose alcohol do to evaporation, especially in the hot days of summer. Thanks for the comment Brian.

      2. As far as the malt goes. It does mean that it’s made 100% from a single malted grain. I’ve never made a single malt whiskey before, but plan to this year. I’ll let everyone know how it goes.

    10. I found a 4 way mix locally which has rolled corn, cracked oats, rolled barley, and molasses in it. Do you think that will work as a replacement for the sweet feed you use? Just a newbe wanting to do it correctly. Thanks

        1. It turned out great but the alcohol level was not as high as I had expected. Ran it through the second time and the hearts ended up being 130 proof. But it sure tasted good. Thanks for the recipe. Off to mix up some mash, Thanks again

    11. First timer here and planning my still build. This mash recipe sounds like a great start (5 gallons). So mash -> ferment -> strain the wash -> distill (separate heads, hearts, tails)…..get a hydrometer to check the concentration….how do you get the amber coloring? toasted oak sticks in the jar (and wait a year)? I think I’ll get your book.

      1. Yes, you got it right. The book is not mine, but it is worth getting for sure. The description of the book is a note from the author. Good luck and let us know how it goes. Feel free to come back if you have any more questions.

      1. you need to heat up both the sweet feed and the corn to 160 degrees F and maintains the temp, for 45 minutes. This what is meant by cracking the grains. Thanks for the comment and good luck.

      1. The chemically theoretical max is 20% alcohol of the volume of wash. So, for example, a 5-gallon mash will produce about 4 gallons of wash to run through the still. The amount of alcohol you can extract from the wash will depend greatly on your particular still. Now you have to consider the proof of your hearts you can achieve with your still. you will also throw out heads and possibly tails depending on your preference for the tails. I say all this really to point out that there are a lot of variables to consider to answer your question. I can tell you this. I have consistently got about 3 gallons of 140 proof shine from 9 gallons of wash.

        1. I dont know why the feed store called it sweet cob when there is no corn in it, they said its the same as sweet feed, its for horses

            1. It sounds like the right stuff. I would just say to make sure it doesn’t have pellets of minerals and stuff. I just don’t know what they put in the pellets, but if it does have pellets it’s up to you whether to use it or not. It may work fine because it sounds like it has all the right stuff.

          1. It sounds like the right stuff. I would just say to make sure it doesn’t have pellets of minerals and stuff. I just don’t know what they put in the pellets, but if it does have pellets it’s up to you whether to use it or not. It may work fine because it sounds like it has all the right stuff.

      1. Not really. I get mine at a local farm supply store. I just recommend you get the kind that doesn’t have pellets in it. Some feed stores call it
        “all stock”.

        1. So we just followed your recipe. We are only getting 1.055 which is only 7 percent abv. Is this what you usually get? We have 30 gallons just like you said. This seems very low to me.

          1. That is a little bit low, but this recipe is meant to simple for the beginner and doesn’t have a high yield. If you’re looking for high abv you should find a recipe that uses malted grains or enzymes. You can add more sugar to the mash you have if you’ve maintained temp so the yeast isn’t dead. The more sugar you add to feed the yeast the higher the abv, but the flavor will get sharper and less smooth. Here is a list with several malted grain recipes https://offgridmaker.com/free-moonshine-mash-recipes/

    12. Is there a recipe for a 20 gallon still that does not use sugar? I understood you could use a malted grain and avoid the use of sugar? If so, what would be the ratio and amount needed for a 20 gallon pot still? Thank you!

        1. 4lbs Malted Barley
          (?) Corn
          (?) Yeast
          (?) Water
          Sorry if this is elementary. It seems the deeper I dig the more confusing online information can be. I also sent you an email if you’d like to chat. Thank you!!

          1. I’m really sorry about the confusion. For a straight corn whiskey batch, you will use 4 gallons of chopped corn, 4 tablespoons of yeast, and 4 lbs of malted barley. Wow, I didn’t realize until just now how easy those measurements are to remember. Just add water to get to a batch of 20 gallons by total volume, grains, and all. I think the reason for all the confusing info online is because there are so many different ways to make moonshine. Most of them work just fine, but newbies tend to overcomplicate the process, thinking that the process is very specific to achieve good results. In truth, variances in recipes mostly have a minor effect on the final product.

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    14. When running the still what temperature should it be run at? My still has a thermometer but I dont know what I should aim for keeping it at with a propane burner under it.

      1. This depends on your wash. Pure ethanol boils at 174F, but your wash isn’t 100% ethanol. A wash that is 20% alcohol will have a liquid boiling point at 190F. A wash that is 10% alcohol will have a boiling point of 197F. You can use a Hydrometer to determine the alcohol content of your mash, but if you don’t know the alcohol content then I suggest running up the temp of your still until it reaches 187F then slow it down until you get your first drips then maintain the temp of the still at that point and only slowly increasing the temp as you distill alcohol from the wash.

    15. I am about to buy a reflux still, would the corn and sweet feed come through once it’s distilled?

      Thanks for your time and expertise!

      1. The corn and the sweet feed is in the mash. Before you put it in the still for distillation you need to strain off all the liquid from the grains. This is called the wash, then you put it in the still. There shouldn’t be any grains in your still.

    16. Hi. I've always heard the rule of thumb is 2lbs of sugar per gallon of water. In that theres no malted grain to convert the starches, and your'e only using the grains for flavor here… wouldn't you want to use 60lbs of sugar for a 30 gallon mash to get a decent ABV? Or am I totally off base? Thanks so much!!

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