Champurrado: An ancient, traditional drink.

This traditional champurrado recipe will give a special touch to your breakfast. Making this Mexican beverage is fast and easy and it’s the perfect hot drink for your mornings, evenings or just to warm you up on a cold day.

Mexican champurrado in a enamel mug.

What is champurrado?

Imagine a thick, hot, Mexican sweet drink where the chocolate creates a delicious aroma… but don’t be fooled! this is not the typical chocolate drink that you are used to! Champurrado is a delicious and curious beverage because of its ingredients – corn flour – and because of its history.

Lets start by saying that this ancient recipe was common among Aztecs. Originally, the Aztecs would drink a beverage called atole. The champurrado is a variant which contained cocoa beans to sweeten it.

Closeup on champurrado in a mug.

When the Spanish arrived in the capital of the Aztec empire they were fascinated by this delicious drink. The cocoa beans were unknown in the old world and after the conquest they transported them to Spain, soon becoming popular among the nations of Europe.

A drink for Día de los Muertos

While this hot beverage is a staple in the Mexican cuisine and served all year long, we can say that it takes a special meaning during Day of The Dead celebration when it becomes the traditional drink for the living and the dead. The altars will always include champurrado served in clay mugs, alongside with pan de muerto, calabaza en tacha, mole, tamales rojos, and many other Mexican ancient recipes.

Altar de muertos.

What is champurrado made of?

The traditional recipe uses chocolate, cinnamon, water, piloncillo (pure cane sugar) and of course, nixtamalized corn dough. Because the last is difficult to find outside Mexico, we are using masa harina in our recipe mixed with water to make the dough that gives this drink its unique flavor and thick consistency.

The masa harina is made from corn but unlike the polenta (yellow cornmeal) the white maize flour is preserved with an alkaline solution. It is available in many parts of the world through online stores with various brands such as Maseca, Naturello, Minsa, Maza Real, etc.

Various masa harina brands.

Are there different ways to make it?

Although the traditional recipe is one of the most popular, there are other variants. For example, you can use milk instead of water, or maybe you can add extra ingredients like evaporated milk, whole cloves, orange peel, or vanilla. Experimenting with the different variants is the best way to find your favorite recipe for this Mexican hot drink.

Champurrado ingredients labeled and displayed in a marble surface.

Atole vs Champurrado

Atole is the hot drink that preceded champurrado. The biggest difference between those two are the ingredients. Nowadays most variants of atole are made with “maizena” (corn starch), instead of the corn flour – Masa Harina – used in champurrado.

Also, atole can be made of different flavors, like oatmeal atole. It can include fruits, seeds and spices for variety, while the champurrado always includes chocolate.

A collage showing champurrado and atole side to side.

How To Drink It

As a breakfast beverage, there is nothing like bolillos to eat with this delicious recipe. Take a good chunk of the bread and dip it into the cup. The salty Mexican rolls complements too nice with the sweetness of the hot drink.

Or, if you want to try a typical Mexican breakfast, tamales are the perfect pairing too. In Mexico, champurrado is so associated with tamales that they are usually sold in the same street stalls.

Showing the thickness of champurrado.

Whether you decide to eat it with a snack or just by itself, this easy recipe is a delightful addition to anyone’s diet. So, surprise your family and friends with its unique consistency and flavor and… ¡Buen provecho!

Step By Step Recipe

Place the piloncillo (or brown sugar), cinnamon stick and chocolate in a medium pot. Add 4 ½ cups of water and bring to a boil over medium-low heat.

Chocolate, piloncillo and cinnamon added to a pot with water.

Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for about 5-7 minutes while stirring constantly to help dissolve piloncillo and chocolate.

Stirring chocolate and piloncillo in the pot.

Add masa harina in the remaining 2 cups of water and whisk to dissolve well. Make sure there are not lumps in the mixture.

Dissolving mada harina in a cup with water.

Now, slowly and while stirring, pour in the masa harina mixture into the pot.

Adding dissolved masa harina to the pot.

Keep simmering for 10 minutes while mixing with a wooden spoon. You’ll end with a slightly thick drink.

Stirring champurrado with a wooden spoon.

Taste sugar and adjust to taste if needed, then serve hot in cups.

Useful Notes

  • Never leave the pot unattended. When boiling, the mixture can easily overflow and spill all over your stove (see photo below).
  • Use dark chocolate, sweetened chocolate can change the taste of this recipe. Also, avoid using milk chocolate.
  • If you can’t find piloncillo where you live, use packed brown sugar or molasses. Molasses have the closest taste to piloncillo and is the perfect substitute.
  • Since the traditional recipe doesn’t include any animal products, you can say for sure that is the perfect vegan hot drink to start your day!
Champurrado recipe all spilled out on the stove.

How To Store It

Take in mind that the recipe contains corn flour (masa harina), this ingredient is know for spoiling fast, specially in a warm environment. So, despite the room temperature, place the leftovers in the fridge where it can last for up to 3 days. I do not recommend freezing, as it will become very watery after thawing.

How To Reheat

Place leftovers in a pot over low heat, give it a mix from time to time to prevent the mixture from sticking on the bottom. If using a microwave, heat it up in 1 minute intervals.

Champurrado recipe.

Champurrado

A quick and delicious Mexican traditional hot drink made with chocolate, piloncillo and masa harina. The perfect beverage to start your days!
PREP 5 minutes
COOK 20 minutes
TOTAL 25 minutes
Print Pin Rate
Servings: 6
Author: Maricruz

Ingredients 

  • 1 mexican chocolate tablet (about 3 oz)
  • ½ cup masa harina
  • 4 oz piloncillo (or ½ cup brown sugar)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 6 ½ cups water

Instructions

  • In a pot place piloncillo or brown sugar, chocolate, and cinnamon stick.
  • Add 4 ½ cups of water and bring to a boil over medium-low heat.
  • Simmer for about 7 minutes while stirring constantly to dissolve chocolate and piloncillo.
  • Add masa harina to the remaining water in a cup and mix to combine.
  • Slowly and while stirring, pour in the masa harina mixture into the pot.
  • Allow to simmer for 10 minutes while mixing with a wooden spoon. Do not leave the pot unattended.
  • Once the mixture has thickened, taste for sweetness and add more sugar/piloncillo if you want.
  • Remove from heat and serve.

NOTES

  • Never leave the pot unattended. When boiling, the mixture can easily overflow and spill all over your stove (see photo below).
  • Use dark chocolate, sweetened chocolate can change the taste of this recipe. Also, avoid using milk chocolate.
  • If you can’t find piloncillo where you live, use packed brown sugar or molasses. Molasses have the closest taste to piloncillo and is the perfect substitute.
Nutrition
Calories: 188kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 16mg | Potassium: 129mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 28IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 42mg | Iron: 3mg
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