Mexican Atole

Mexican Atole - orange ceramic mug with cinnamon-cocoa drink. Cinnamon stick garnish and tamales in background.

Atole (“ah-toh-leh) is a popular beverage in Mexico, made with masa harina, cinnamon, brown sugar and milk or water. Folks enjoy it at breakfast, with an afternoon snack, lending a taste of tradition and comforting hominess to both every day and celebratory events like Day of the Dead and, with the Mascogos, Juneteenth.  

It’s usually made with piloncillo, big brown cones of sugar. Here we use substitutes in case you don’t have an easy source for it.


  • 5 cups combo of water/milk or unsweetened almond, oat, cashew milk 
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon 
  • 5 Tbsp sucanat panela, or combo of this and pitted medjool dates (sub 2 for each Tbsp panela) 
  • ½ cup masa harina 
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract 
  • Pinch of salt 
  • Optional: 1 –2 Tbsp Spicy Cocoa – like Equal Exchange 


  1. If using dates as part/all of sweetener, pit then soak 4 hours – overnight.
  2. Blend all ingredients except vanilla and salt in a blender until smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Note: If using Spicy Cocoa, lower the amount of other sweetener by 1-2 tsp per Tbsp used.
  3. Pour mixture into a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. 
  4. When mixture reaches a boil, lower the temperature and whisk steadily for five minutes as masa harina thickens. 
  5. Remove atole from heat, stir in vanilla and pinch of salt. Adjust sweetness using reserved water from soaking dates, stirring well between each addition. 
  6. Best served immediately. Can be stored in fridge for up to two days; it’ll thicken so add a little water/milk before reheating.