Mexican avena is the ultimate oatmeal breakfast! Comforting, sweet, and amazingly aromatic. It can be made ahead and store in the fridge for a quick breakfast on the go.
Mexican oatmeal, known as Avena is a popular variation of oatmeal commonly enjoyed in Mexico. It is a creamy and sweet porridge made with oats, milk or water, cinnamon, and piloncillo. It is like atole de avena but with a pudding texture!
To make Mexican oatmeal, the oats are typically cooked with water or milk and sweetened with ingredients such as brown sugar, piloncillo, or agave syrup.
Cinnamon, vanilla extract, and sometimes condensed milk can be used for added richness. The result is a smooth and comforting breakfast with a distinctive oat flavor.
Oats are appreciated for their nutritional value and are a good source of dietary fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals, we like to enjoy them often not only in beverages like agua de avena but also as cookies like galletas de avena!
- Avena (oats): I recommend rolled oats. Instant oats get too mushy when cooked in water or milk.
- Milk: Use whole milk or your favorite plant-based beverages such as rice or almond milk. If you want to make it creamier, add 1 1/2 cups of evaporated milk.
- Sweetener: My preferred sweetener is agave syrup and a bit of brown sugar, but other sweeteners work fine in this recipe.
- Cinnamon: You will need cinnamon sticks (canela) for cooking the oats, and some ground cinnamon for topping.
- Optional toppings: You can use your favorite seasonal fruits and/or nuts to top your bowl of Mexican oatmeal. I like topping mine with sliced apples, bananas, and a drizzle of syrup.
How To Make Avena
Place water and cinnamon sticks in a medium pot. Bring to a simmer and add the rolled oats.
Cook for 4 minutes stirring constantly to allow the oats to soften and absorb the infused cinnamon water.
Pour the milk, add the brown sugar, and mix to combine.
Once the mixture starts to boil again, set the heat to medium-low and keep cooking for 4-5 minutes.
TOP TIP: Stir the mixture often to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
Keep cooking until the oatmeal mixture has thickened to your liking. I like mine with a little bit of liquid left on.
Turn off the heat and remove the pot from the stove.
Let the oatmeal sit for 5 minutes then serve with a drizzle of agave syrup and your favorite toppings. See below our tips for how to serve this Mexican breakfast.
- Choose the right type of oats: Rolled oats are quicker to prepare while steel-cut oats have a chewier texture and take longer to cook.
- Cook on the stovetop: Cooking the oats on the stovetop will yield a better creamy texture compared to microwave preparation.
- Overnight oats: Soak oats in liquids (water or milk) and cinnamon stick the night before, the cereal will soften and become quicker to cook and will infuse better with cinnamon flavor.
- Stir often: To prevent the mixture from forming foam on top and spilling out, or sticking on the bottom and burn.
How To Serve Mexican Oatmeal
Scoop the cooked oatmeal into a bowl and enjoy with a sprinkle of cinnamon, drizzle honey or maple syrup, and add a handful of fresh berries, sliced bananas, or apples on top.
Add a combination of dried fruits like raisins and a sprinkle of toasted almonds, walnuts, shredded coconut, or pecans for added crunch and flavor.
Boost the protein content of your oatmeal by stirring in a dollop of Greek yogurt, or your favorite protein powder. Chia seeds, hemp seeds, or flaxseeds add also an extra nutritional punch.
Store & Reheat
Mexican oatmeal is a favorite at my house and I often make a large batch and store it to enjoy throughout the week.
Proper storage is important to maintain the oatmeal freshness! So here are my recommendations for you:
Fridge: Allow oatmeal leftovers to cool to room temperature then place in a glass container or mason jars, then store in the fridge for up to 4-5 days.
Freezer: You can also place the oatmeal in resealable bags and freeze it for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight and reheat the next morning for a quick breakfast.
Reheating: Place oatmeal in a pot or saucepan, add a splash of milk or water to loosen it up, and reheat stirring constantly over medium heat.
Dried oats: Store the container of oats in a cool, dry pantry or cupboard away from direct sunlight and sources of heat. Avoid storing it near the stove, oven, or other appliances that generate heat, as it can cause the oats to spoil more quickly.
Is avena the same as oatmeal?
In summary, avena is a broader term that encompasses oats in different forms, and can be used to refer to oats in various forms, such as whole oats, rolled oats, oat groats, or even oat flour.
While oatmeal is a specific preparation of oats as a hot cereal dish.
Is this recipe gluten-free?
Pure oats are gluten-free. However, oats can often be contaminated with gluten-containing grains during growing, harvesting, or packaging. If you have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, it is recommended to choose oats that are labeled as certified gluten-free to ensure they are safe for consumption.
Are oats good for you?
Yes. Oats are packed with essential nutrients and have many health benefits, including reducing LDL cholesterol levels. They are a good source of complex carbohydrates, antioxidants, proteins, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals.
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Avena (Mexican Oatmeal)
- 1 medium pot
- 1 ¼ cups rolled oats
- 2 cups whole milk (or your preferred milk)
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 cups water
- ground cinnamon
- fresh fruits (bananas, berries, apples)
- nuts & seeds (walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.)
- agave syrup (or your favorite syrup)
- Place water and the cinnamon stick in a medium pot. Bring to a simmer and add the rolled oats.
- Cook for 4 minutes stirring constantly to allow the oats to soften and absorb the infused cinnamon water.
- Pour the milk, add the brown sugar, then mix to combine.
- Once the mixture starts to boil again, set the heat to medium-low and keep cooking for 4-5 minutes or until the avena mixture has thickened to your liking.
- Turn off the heat and remove the pot from the stove.
- Let the oatmeal sit for 5 minutes then serve with a drizzle of agave syrup and your favorite toppings.
- Use rolled oats, they are quicker to prepare while steel-cut oats have a chewier texture and take longer to cook.
- You can also soak oats in water or milk with the cinnamon stick the night before, the avena will soften and become quicker to cook and will infuse better with cinnamon flavor.
- Don’t leave the pot unattended or the mixture will form foam on top and spill out all over your stovetop.