Atole (ah-TOE-lay) is another common pre-Columbian drink, often served in the mornings or the evenings.  It is made of masa (corn processed with the mineral lime, and made into a paste) and flavored with a variety of ingredients.  It can be made simply sweetened (as in this recipe), with fruit, chocolate (champurrado) or made savory with chiles (chileatole).

The below recipe comes from Rick Bayless’ Authentic Mexican cookbook.


  • 1/2 cup masa (or ~1/2 cup masa harina [ie. MaSeCa flour] reconstituted with ~1/4 cup water)
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 1/2 ounces piloncillo, chopped (~1/3 of a large piloncillo cone, or use 1/3 cup brown sugar along with a spoonful of molasses)
  1. If using masa harina reconstitute with hot tap water in a bowl.
  2. Add masa and 1 3/4 cup water to blender jar and blend to combine.  (Feel free to add ~1 1/2 cups fruit in this step.  Pineapple and strawberry are traditional, but be creative!  If you do, reduce water by 1/4 cup.)
  3. Combine in a saucepan blended masa/water, sugar and milk. Heat over medium-low, stirring occasionally, until sugar is melted and atole is warm and begins to thicken slightly.
  4. Serve in a mug.  Embellish with a dash of cinnamon or a small splash of vanilla.

Having never had atole before this trial, I was expecting something thick, and almost porridge like.  This recipe came out more akin to hot chocolate; just slightly thicker than milk.  The corn flavor, along with the cinnamon are what stands out here, and am curious to try it with fruit.

It’s quite delicious, and easy to make.  It’s pretty quick to make as well, so if you’re in the habit of making chocolate milk on the stove using cocoa powder (vs. microwave, instant), I’d recommend giving this a try.  Though considering the consistency was different than I expected, I might have to hunt around for other atole recipes to see if my expectations are off the mark.

9 comments to Atole

  • Do we get a review? Worth the time or would it just be better to stick with Ovaltine?

  • I didn’t try this version, but did have the chocolate version the next night. It was good, but almost too rich and sweet, and I could only have a few spoonfuls at a time! I would like to try this basic version without the chocolate, and with perhaps less sugar and more milk.

  • […] is a simple drink and similar to atole in consistency and flavor.  Unlike atole, which I believe is only served hot, drinking this cold […]

  • Ann

    Hi, Even–I just made the recipe you have published for Atole. In your comments you said that you were expecting something thick . . .

    When I made the Atole, I put the reconstituted masa in the blender with 1-3/4 cups of water, blended it for a minute or so and then put the masa and water mixture in a heavy sauce pan, added the brown sugar and molasses and cooked it on medium heat until it got pretty thick. THEN I added the milk to thin it to my desired thickness. (I like thicker Atole, too). I added about a 1-1/2 cups or so of milk. I continued to heat the Atole until it was quite warm but not so hot that I couldn’t drink it right away. The cinnamon sprinkled on top was just right, too.

    Yummy. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Evan S.

      Ann! Thanks so much for your helpful tips! That would be the perfect way to get the appropriate thickness. Since this was my first try, I was making it blind. I’ve since found a few wonderful street vendors selling atole in NYC and greatly appreciate their thicker consistency. I pretty much nailed the consistency when I made the champurrado recipe.

  • Lady Rowesinger

    And for those who want a simple approach, you can get the “just add milk” packets in the “ethnic” section of your local supermarket in a variety of flavors (and you don’t have to store a big bag of Masa). It still takes a while to simmer down, though.


    Atole should be quite thick–like pudding-that-is-still-warm-but-definitely-pudding-and-not-cocoa thick. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bayless updated his recipe to suit a norteno palate.

  • jennifer

    Just made this. It came out really good. Added 1 1/2 cups fresh persimmons and a 1/2 cup of extra milk. Great recipe. Thanks.

  • Los aztecas preparaban el atole simplemente hirviendo masa de maiz hasta espesar, condimentada con cacao, chiles y miel de abeja, ya que para la epoca no conocian otro endulzante. Hernan Cortes en sus

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