Capirotada: Easy & Delicious Mexican Bread Pudding

Mexican capirotada is a delicious dessert made with layers of fried bread, peanuts and cheese, all drizzled with a flavored piloncillo syrup.

This dish is one of the most representative and traditional desserts of the Mexican Lent. In this post, we tell you how to prepare the step by step recipe, so you can enjoy and serve it at your family table during this period.

Capirotada on a white baking dish.

What is capirotada?

Capirotada is a typical Mexican dessert that is consumed during the Lent period. This dish consists of fried or toasted bread slices that are used to form layers in a casserole along with other ingredients, drizzled with a piloncillo syrup and finally baked, obtaining some sort of bread pudding with a very particular flavor.

A portion of capirotada on a plate.

Origin and meaning

There is no certainty about the origin of Mexican Capirotada, although it is believed that this dessert was introduced with the arrival of the Spaniards to the country.

Being a dish that is consumed mainly in Lent, it is normal that popular belief has given Capirotada a religious meaning, although is not recognized by the Catholic Church.

Thus, it is said that the bread symbolizes the body of Christ and the syrup with which it is bathed, his blood. Spices like cloves and cinnamon represent the nails and the cross on which Jesus was crucified.

Side view of mexican bread pudding capirotada on a white baking dish.

The variations

The preparation of the dish has some variants that depend on the State where it is prepared, making use of ingredients that are easily found in that place.

For example, in Jalisco it is prepared with bolillo (the typical bread from there), while in Sinaloa guayaba fruit is added; in Colima the syrup is prepared with tomato and onion and in Chihuahua milk is added to the syrup.

Cheese is another of the ingredients that is most varied, ranging from old cheese to cheeses such as Chihuahua, Manchego, Parmesan or even queso fresco.

Other variations include banana slices, shredded coconut, rainbow sprinkles, almonds and any other nuts available.

Step by step recipe

Prepare the syrup

In a medium saucepan place the water, cinnamon, whole cloves and brown sugar (or molasses). Bring to a boil over medium heat then low the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the piloncillo has completely dissolved and an aromatic and light syrup has formed (about 10 minutes). Strain the syrup on a bowl and set aside.

Making syrup for capirotada.

Fry the bread

In a large frying pan heat about two tablespoons of lard or butter. Working in batches fry the bread until crispy and browned.

Frying bread on a white pan.

Place fried bread on a plate with kitchen paper to absorb the excess of oil. Keep frying the bread, adding more butter if necessary. Set aside.

NOTE: Once you have finished frying all the bread, also fry the tortillas to cover the bottom of the baking dish where you will prepare the Capirotada. The tortillas and this step are optional if you want to skip it I suggest to brushing the baking dish with butter instead.

Make the capirotada

In a 12×7″ (30x18cm) baking dish, arrange the tortillas on the bottom to cover it and prevent the bread from sticking. And then, arrange a layer of fried bread.

A layer of fried bread on a baking dish.

Top the bread with a bit of raisins, peanuts and pecans. Drizzle with piloncillo syrup making sure to soak the bread very well.

Drizzling with syrup.

Sprinkle with cheese, covering the ingredients a little.

Continue layering until you will place the last layer of bread, then add all the remaining syrup top with raisins, nuts and the remaining cheese. Finally, drizzle with melted butter.

Making a second layer of bread, covering the first one.

Cover the dish with aluminum foil and allow to rest while the oven heats up.

Bake

Heat the oven to 360°F / 180°C. Bake for about 40 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for 5 to 10 minutes or until the Capirotada has the top slightly crispy.

Baked capirotada on a cooling rack.

Substitutes

  • You can substitute the piloncillo for ⅔ cup of molasses.
  • You can also use other types of cheese like mozzarella, cheddar, provolone, Monterey jack, or feta.
  • The lard can be replaced with butter or oil if you wish.
  • I used a baguette instead bolillo rolls, which are the ones traditionally used for this recipe.

Light Version

If you want a lighter version of this Mexican Capirotada recipe, instead of frying the slices of bread you can brush them with melted butter and bake it for about 6-8 minutes at 360 °F (180 °C).

How to store

If you have leftovers, place them in a container with a tight lid and store it in the refrigerator where it will keep for up to 3 days. If you have made the Capirotada in a fridge-proof dish you can also cover it with cling film and store in the refrigerator.

To reheat it, pop the dish into the oven at 360 °F (180 °C) for about 5 minutes. Or you can also reheat small portions in the microwave.

Watch How To Make It

Mexican Capirotada

Mexican capirotada is a delicious dessert made with layers of fried bread, peanuts and cheese and drizzled with a flavored piloncillo syrup.
PREP 20 minutes
COOK 1 hour
TOTAL 1 hour 20 minutes
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Servings: 6
Author: Maricruz

Equipment

  • A 12×7" (30x18cm) baking dish

Ingredients 

For the capirotada

  • 1 baguette or 4 bolillo rolls (cut into  ⅓"/1cm thick slices)
  • 2 fried corn tortillas (optional)
  • cup (50g) raisins
  • ½ cup (70g) toasted peanuts
  • ½ cup (60g) pecans (roughly chopped)
  • cup (85g) queso añejo, queso fresco or Feta
  • lard or butter for frying (as needed)
  • 3 Tbsp butter (melted)

For the syrup

  • 10 oz (280g) piloncillo (or ⅔ cup of molasses)
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 3 cups (720ml) water

Instructions

PREPARE THE SYRUP

  • In a medium saucepan place the water, cinnamon, whole cloves and piloncillo (or molasses).
  • Let it simmer, stirring occasionally, until the piloncillo has completely dissolved and a light syrup has formed (about 10 minutes). Strain and set aside.

FRY THE BREAD

  • In a large frying pan heat about two tablespoons of lard or butter. Working in batches fry the bread until crispy and browned, adding more butter to the pan if needed.
  • Place bread onto a place with kitchen paper to absorb the excess of oil.

MAKE THE CAPIROTADA

  • In the baking dish, arrange the tortillas on the bottom to cover it.
  • Start by adding a layer of fried bread. Top with a bit of raisins, peanuts and pecans.
  • Drizzle with piloncillo syrup making sure to soak the bread very well.
  • And last, sprinkle with cheese.
  • Repeat the steps until you will place the last layer of bread, then add all the remaining syrup and top with cheese, raisins and nuts.
  • Drizzle with melted butter and cover the dish with aluminum foil.

BAKE

  • Heat the oven to 360 ° F / 180 ° C. Bake for 40 minutes.
  • Remove the foil and continue baking for 5 to 10 minutes or until the Capirotada has the top slightly crispy and browned.

NOTES

SUBSTITUTES
  • You can substitute the piloncillo for ⅔ cup of molasses.
  • You can also use other types of cheese like mozzarella, cheddar, provolone, Monterey jack, or feta.
  • The lard can be replaced with butter or oil if you wish.
LIGHT VERSION
If you want a lighter version of this Mexican Capirotada recipe, instead of frying the slices of bread you can brush them with melted butter and bake it for about 6-8 minutes at 360 °F (180 °C).
Nutrition
Calories: 650kcal
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