Warming Mexican Atole
Atole (pronounced ah-TOH-leh) is a traditional beverage in Mexican cuisine made from masa harina, the type of corn flour that is traditionally used to make corn tortillas. (For atole made from rice, try the Guatemalan version, atolillo.)
It is a popular breakfast dish that dates back to the time of the Aztecs and Mayans.
Atole is traditionally drunk at celebrations of Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, a celebration that happens on November 1 and 2 to celebrate and remember those who have passed away.
The drink is often served for breakfast or as an after dinner snack. Its consistency reminds us of a thin cream of wheat, so it makes sense that it is often served for breakfast like cream of wheat or oatmeal.
Our Atole Recipe
Atole de Vainilla, the version we are sharing today, is flavored with vanilla and cinnamon. The warm, spicy fragrance of this Atole de Vainilla makes this beverage incredibly inviting and comforting, even before it is poured into the mugs.
It is a simple recipe, made with masa harina, liquid, and sweetener that is simmered with cinnamon and vanilla.
How To Make Atole de Vainilla
The process to make atole is incredibly simple and very similar to making cream of wheat.
- Mix masa harina, water, milk, piloncillo and cinnamon in a saucepan
- Simmer until fragrant and your desired thickness
- Add vanilla off of the heat
- Serve warm
The consistency of atole can vary from thick and porridge-like to thin and pour-able, depending on how much liquid you add.
Our recipe makes an atole that is thick, but still drinkable. However, if you prefer yours on the thinner side, just add a little more milk.
What Is Piloncillo?
Atole is traditionally sweetened with piloncillo (pronounced PIL-on-SE-yo). Piloncillo is unrefined cane sugar that is pressed into a cone shape. It has a flavor is similar to brown sugar, with a deep molasses punch.
You can typically find piloncillo at any Mexican grocery store and online.
If you have a hard time finding piloncillo or don’t live near a Mexican grocery, don’t worry. You can mimic the flavor of piloncillo in atole by using brown sugar.
Other Mexican Dia De Los Muertos Recipes
- ½ c masa harina, (not cornmeal)
- 3 c water
- 1 c milk, 2% or whole
- 1/4 c grated piloncillo, or brown sugar (more if desired)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- In a medium saucepan combine masa harina, water, milk, piloncillo (or brown sugar), and cinnamon. Whisk the mixture to combine. Bring it to a simmer over medium high heat, whisking often.
- Reduce the heat to medium and simmer the mixture for 5-10 minutes, whisking often, until your desired consistency is reached.
- Remove the atole from the heat and whisk in the vanilla.
- Serve hot or warm with a pinch of cinnamon to garnish.
This recipe from 2015 was updated in Feb 2017. We made the atole even better! Enjoy!
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Serving Size:8 oz
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 127Unsaturated Fat: 0g
This is one of the recipes from the early days of Curious Cuisiniere. We’ve updated our pictures since we first made it, but we’ve left the original images here as a fun throwback and shout out to how far we’ve come. Enjoy!
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Sarah is co-owner of Curious Cuisiniere and the chief researcher and recipe developer for the site. Her love for cultural cuisines was instilled early by her French Canadian Grandmother. Her experience in the kitchen and in recipe development comes from years working in professional kitchens. She has traveled extensively and enjoys bringing the flavors of her travels back to create easy-to-make recipes.