Chochoyones – Mexican Corn Dumplings

Chochoyones or Chochoyotes are traditional Mexican corn dumplings made with masa dough and various cooking herbs. They are typically eaten with soups and stews, adding not only flavor but also a thick consistency to the dish.

Chochoyones placed on a wooden surface.

What are chochoyones?

Also known as chochoyotes, these delicious corn masa dumplings are the main ingredient in many stews and soups. They are of pre-Hispanic origin and are popular in Central and Southern Mexico.

As with most dumplings, their measure is around 1-inch. To give them their shape, the dough is rolled into a ball, like an ordinary dumpling, then the center is pressed to form a small crate.

Mexican dumplings chochoyones.

Chochoyones are used to give a thicker consistency to the dish while adding flavor and nutrients. The basic and traditional ingredients are corn masa, lard, and salt. Using corn masa makes them naturally gluten-free, a perfect option for people who can’t or won’t eat gluten.

Variants

Besides the traditional recipe, in different regions, different spices and dumpling fillings are used to make those dumplings.

  • In the Chiapas region, there are recipes in which these corn dumplings are filled with cheese or chicharrones (crispy pork rinds), while garlic, cilantro or chepil are used as condiments.
  • In the Oaxaca region, chopped avocado leaves are added to the traditional recipe.
  • In Veracruz is customary to add hoja santa to the preparation.
A bunch of fresh epazote on a wooden surface.
Fresh epazote.

The name variations

The dish has so many name variations that depend on the region or city they are made, lets take a look at some:

  • Oaxaca: chochoyones, chochoyotes, chochollones, chochollotes, and ombligos de masa (masa belly buttons).
  • Puebla and Tlaxcala: testales or textales, textlales, tesclales, texclales.
  • Campeche: jarochitos.
  • Veracruz: ombligos (belly buttons), orejas (ears), and xoxolos.
  • Yucatan: pibitos, from the mayan word pib.
  • Other regions: chocholos, bolitas de masa.

Font: Diccionario enciclopédico de la Gastronomía Mexicana

Uses

While there are many dishes that include chochoyones as part of their traditional recipe, there are some others that depending on the cook or the region, may or may not include them. Let’s start with some dishes that DO use chochoyones in most of their recipes.

  • Tesmole: Tesmole is a dish made with vegetables, meat and dried chilies. There are many tesmole recipes. Most of them include chochoyotes, like our recipe for chicken tesmole.
  • Caldo de chipilin: This dish usually has chochoyones stuffed with cheese, it is seasoned with chipilin, a cooking herb used in Chiapas, Tabasco, and Oaxaca.
  • Oaxacan Black Beans Soup: Ticondichi is the name of this bean-based dish that features chochoyotes seasoned with avocado leaves. Garlic and red chili are included in the recipe too.
Mexican chicken tesmole served on a turquoise deep plate.
Tesmole with chochoyones.

And now let’s take a look at some dishes where our Mexican corn dumplings are added only in some versions:

  • Mole de olla con bolitas de masa: Mole de olla is one of the most versatile dishes in Mexican cuisine and can include several types of meat and vegetables. Our well-known Mexican dumplings are an important ingredient in some mole de olla recipes. Check out our recipe for mole de olla and bring it to the next level adding our homemade corn dumplings.
  • Caldo de tasajo de res: Also known as chilposo, this beef stew is often confused with mole de olla, but is not same as its made using different types of chilies. The Mexican dumplings are added as a delicious complement.
Chochoyones - chochoyotes closeup.

Adding chochoyotes to your stews creates the thickness you want in any stew. As we saw, these Mexican corn doughs work with different recipes. But hey, who says you can’t create your very own special dish? I love adding those tiny corn dumplings in my caldo de albondigas!

Let your creativity run wild and experiment! Try cooking different dishes with and without chochoyones, surely, you will have delicious and varied results.

The Ingredients

For our recipe we are using masa harina and water to make the dough, then we flavored it with cilantro and lard. Feel free to add other types of herbs and spices, such as epazote, chipilin, parsley, or even chili powder! If you don’t feel like adding lard to your recipe, use olive oil.

The ingredients for chochoyones labeled with names and displayed on a marble surface.

How To Make – Step By Step

Place masa harina in a bowl, add salt, cilantro, and lard. You can also use olive oil instead of lard.

Masa harina, chopped cilantro, salt, and lard in a medium bowl.

Add water little by little until all ingredients are combined. Knead for 1 minute until a soft dough forms.

The chochoyones dough ready in a bowl.

Form the corn dumplings

First, wet the tips of your fingers with a little bit of water, then spread the moisture on the palms of your hands, and last, pinch a bit off the dough.

A bit of the dough on the palm of a hand.

Now, using the palms of your hands, make a small ball about 1-inch (2.5cm) in diameter.

A small ball of masa dough on a hand.

Now, lightly press your thumb in the center of the ball to form a small crate.

A hand holding a masa ball and another hand pressing the ball with the thumb.

Don’t press too hard or you’ll make a mini-donut, you need some sort of “bowl” shape, like the one in the photo below.

A shaped chochoyon placed on the palm of a hand.

Place the raw masa dumpling on a plate and repeat the steps until all masa dough is used.

Raw chochoyones placed on a white plate.

How To cook

Once all chochoyones are shaped is time to cook them. So, make sure first that your soup or broth is gently boiling. Then, carefully add them one by one, but don’t stir immediately or they will fall apart.

Added raw corn dumplings on tesmole.

Bath them with the hot broth and then gently stir them to cook. The Mexican dumplings will need to simmer for 15 minutes to be fully cooked.

Notes

  • Lard should be soft before adding it to the bowl, so it will be easier to combine with the rest of the ingredients.
  • Add water gradually. Some masa harina brands need less water or more to create the dough. So pay attention to this when kneading the dough and add water as the flour “calls” for it.
  • Don’t be discouraged if the dumplings don’t come out perfectly shaped, just keep practicing and you’ll see you will get better and better.
  • Don’t worry if one or two pieces fall apart, this can happen, to prevent this read our suggestions below.
Chochoyones in a corn floured wooden surface.

Troubleshooting

If your chochoyotes are falling apart as soon as you add them to the broth, this can be for a few reasons:

  • Too soft dough: Masa dough should have a firm texture, not too dry, neither too soft or sticky.
  • Fat is needed: Don’t skip the lard or oil, some fat is needed to keep the masa together. Think of those dumplings as some sort of tiny tamales cooked in broth.
  • Boiling broth: If the soup where you add chochoyones is boiling vigorously, chances are the dumplings will fall apart, so make sure the broth boils gently.
  • Not enough hot: On the contrary, if you don’t allow the broth to reach a boiling point and is not hot enough, the dumplings won’t cook quickly enough.

Watch How To Make This Recipe

More Mexican prehispanic recipes:

How To Make Chochoyones Recipe.

Chochoyones – Mexican Corn Dumplings

Those little corn dumplings are perfect to simmer in many Mexican soups and stews and add so much flavor and texture to your dishes.
PREP 10 minutes
COOK 15 minutes
TOTAL 25 minutes
Print Pin Rate
Servings: 16 chochoyones
Author: Maricruz

Ingredients 

  • 1 ½ cup masa harina
  • 1 ½ Tbsp lard (or olive oil)
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro (chopped)
  • 1 cup lukewarm water (read notes)
  • ½ tsp salt

Instructions

Make the dough

  • Place masa harina in a bowl, add salt, cilantro, and lard (or oil).
  • Add water little by little and mix with your hands until all ingredients are combined.
  • Knead for 1 minute until a soft dough forms.

Shape the dumplings

  • Wet the tips of your fingers with a little bit of water, then spread the moisture on the palms of your hands.
  • Pinch a bit off the dough and using the palms of your hands, make a small ball about 1-inch (2.5cm) in diameter.
  • Lightly press your thumb in the center of the ball to form a small crate.
  • Place the raw dumpling on a plate and repeat the steps until all masa dough is used.

How To cook

  • Carefully add chochoyones one by one into the simmering broth of your choice. Don’t stir immediately or they will fall apart.
  • Bath them with the hot broth and then gently stir them to cook.
  • Chochoyones will be ready after 15 minutes.

NOTES

  • Lard should be soft before adding it to the bowl, so it will be easier to combine with the rest of the ingredients.
  • Add water gradually. Some masa harina brands need less water or more to create the dough. So pay attention to this when kneading the dough and add water as the flour “calls” for it.
  • Don’t be discouraged if the dumplings don’t come out perfectly shaped, just keep practicing and you’ll see you will get better and better.
  • Don’t worry if one or two pieces fall apart, this can happen, to prevent this read our suggestions below.
Nutrition
Calories: 50kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 73mg | Potassium: 28mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 26IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 15mg | Iron: 1mg
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