How to make Atole at home! This warm Mexican drink combines cinnamon, piloncillo, and masa harina for a creamy warming cup of comfort. Use plant-based milk for a vegan alternative. Great for breakfast, a snack, or lovely way to wind down at the end of the day.
This time of year can be tough on a lot of us.
The continuing cold weather, the long gray days, the brown sludge of it all.
Here in Southern California the weather is pretty lovely all the time, but my years and years of living in cold climates has left a lasting memory of how tough the end of February and beginning of March can be.
Even if we aren’t suffering from winter fatigue, pandemic fatigue is prevalent everywhere.
Which is why this is the perfect time for a hug in a mug: a warm, creamy cup of Mexican atole.
what is atole?
In the US when we need a bit of coziness we turn to a steaming cup of hot cocoa. In Mexico and Central America, its atole that soothes the soul.
Atole (pronounced ah-TOL-eh) at it’s most basic, is a warm drink made of ground field corn.
Corn atoles have been enjoyed for thousands of years and there are lots of flavor variations from Mexican chocolate atole, called Champurrado, to fruit atoles, to ones sweetened with vanilla extract to even Atole de Galleta María, flavored with crushed vanilla cookies.
If you are interested in learning more about Atoles and other Mexican drinks, I highly recommend the book Beverages of Oaxaca by Salvador Cueva and Ricardo Bonilla.
It is a fascinating look at the traditional beverages made and enjoyed in this part of Mexico and features several atole recipes.
what you’ll need to make this atole recipe
Traditionally, atole is made by simmering dried field corn (the nutrient-dense type of corn used to make tortillas, pozole, tamales, etc.) in water, then grinding that corn.
This finely ground corn then gets simmered with water and other flavorings to make a creamy, rich drink.
We are going to make a much simpler version by using masa harina instead of the whole corn and flavor it with cinnamon sticks and piloncillo.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Plant-Based Milk. To make a nice creamy base (but keep it vegan) we are going to use a plant-based milk like almond milk or coconut milk mixed with water.
If you want to use regular whole milk that works too.
Piloncillo. Piloncillo is raw cane sugar that is formed into cone shapes. Look for the smaller 1/2 ounce cones at your local Latin market so you can add them whole to the atole.
Grating or chopping Piloncillo is nearly impossible. You can also substitute dark brown sugar is you can’t find it.
Canela. Canela are long sticks of Ceylon cinnamon. They are more floral and fragrant than Cassia cinnamon sticks which are more common.
Look for canela in the produce section of Latin markets. Use Cassia cinnamon sticks or ground cinnamon as a substitute.
Masa Harina. Finely ground corn flour used to make tortillas, tamales, and more. This is widely available in almost any grocery store now. It is not the same as cornmeal or corn starch.
Kosher Salt. Just a bit to bring out the corn flavor.
how to make it!
This is a very easy version that can be made in under 10 minutes. Here’s how:
- In a large saucepan combine almond milk, water, piloncillo, and canela. Bring to a boil over medium high heat.
- Reduce heat so the milk mixture is just simmering, and whisk to dissolve the piloncillo.
- Add masa harina a little at a time while whisking constantly. Continue whisking a minute or two until the atole is starting to thicken.
- Remove from heat and ladle into mugs.
- You can strain the atole if you want to get rid of the canela pieces or the masa harina has formed any lumps.
when to enjoy atole
No seriously, this hot corn drink is delicious whenever you need a pick-me-up but I really love it like Bricia Lopez suggested in her book, Oaxaca, with a shot of espresso for breakfast.
This recipe makes 4-6 cups so I like to make a batch on Sunday. Have a cup right away then let the mixture cool and stick in the refrigerator. All I have to do is warm some up whenever the urge hits.
The atole will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to a week.
more alcohol-free mexican drinks to try!
- Agua de Limón (Lime Agua Fresca)
- Toasted Coconut Cold Brew Horchata
- Strawberry Mandarin Agua Fresca
- Sunrise Smoothie
- Ginger Cardamom Rompope
- Agua de Jamaica
- Pink Chia Lemonade
keep calm and cozy
Ready to try a comforting cup of atole? When you do please let me know by snapping a pic and tagging me on Instagram @holajalapeno and #holajalapeno so I can see or leave me a comment below (don’t forget to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating) !
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