The present invention is directed to a process for purifying natural gas to provide a liquified natural gas product which is substantially pure methane. In the process, a natural gas feed stream is introduced into indirect countercurrent heat exchange in a first heat exchanger to cool the natural gas to below the dew point of ethane and higher hydrocarbons so as to separate the feed stream into a gas which is substantially pure methane and liquid which contains the ethane and higher hydrocarbons. The liquid/gas mixture is transferred to a separator where the gas occupies the head space of the separator and the liquid occupies the bottom of the separator. A gas fraction is removed from the top of the separator and is introduced into countercurrent heat exchange with liquid nitrogen in a second heat exchanger so as to liquefy the substantially pure methane gas. Liquid nitrogen is introduced into a third heat exchanger where the liquid nitrogen is mixed with a recycled portion of nitrogen vapor is mixed with a recycled portion of nitrogen vapor exiting from the second heat exchanger to provide a liquid nitrogen feed stream for the second heat exchanger.