Capirotada (or Mexican bread pudding) is a popular Mexican dessert filled with layers of toasty bread, fruits, nuts, raisins, and cheese before being bathed in a sweet piloncillo syrup.
Try this 100% plant-based version for an equally tasty treat!
This vegan capirotada recipe is quick and so easy to make. Plus, it's one of those foods that can easily be customized to your preferences or pantry supply. Seriously, don't let your extra coconut shreds or dried fruits go to waste!
What is capirotada?
This traditional dish is very similar to bread pudding (hence the name Mexican bread pudding). It's typically eaten during Lent and is commonly served on Good Friday.
Capirotada is both a sweet and savoury recipe that starts with French-style rolls (bolillo, telera, baguette, etc.). The slices are toasted or fried with butter, then soaked in a spice-infused syrup made of piloncillo.
But that's not all! Mix-ins like chopped nuts, melty cheese (yes, cheese), and fresh or dried fruits are dispersed throughout the layers of bread and syrup.
Once all of the ingredients are piled into a baking dish, it's cooked until golden brown. In the end, you have a melting pot of flavors that work extremely well together (yes, even the cheese!).
This is just our take on capirotada and a popular presentation, but there are many different serving styles depending on the region of Mexico it's prepared in.
The choices of cheese also differ, ranging from melty Chihuahua to crumbled queso fresco and everything in between. There is no wrong answer here!
In the state of Jalisco, bolillo bread is used since it's typical in the area. In other areas like Colima, tomatoes and onions are added in for a more savoury rendition of capirotada.
Nowadays, you can find ingredients like banana, guava, shredded coconut, mango, and even rainbow-colored sprinkles in capirotada recipes.
Is capirotada vegan?
Capirotada is almost vegan, but there are a few items to watch out for. In most recipes, butter, cheese, and milk are called for.
To replace these ingredients, use vegan butter or vegetable oils (like olive or avocado). For the cheese, we love either vegan queso fresco or mozzarella — it depends on the day!
It's surprisingly easy to make a dairy-free version of this scrumptious treat. And the best part is no one will even be able to tell!
Although the origin story of capirotada is largely unknown, it's believed to have been introduced to Mexico by Spaniards during their conquest of the area.
Much like the origins of arroz con leche, also popular in Spain and Mexico, capirotada recipes seem to have made their way to Spain when the Moors reigned the Iberian Peninsula (now Spain and Portugal).
Early capirotada recipes were originally intended as an easy and convenient way to use up stale bread. As we mentioned earlier, it was a popular item during the Lent season.
The entire dish is supposed to serve as a symbol of Christ — the bread as the body of Christ, the syrup as his blood, cinnamon sticks as the cross, and cloves as the nails.
As with many Mexican desserts, capirotada recipes have become much sweeter nowadays, but are still enjoyed throughout most of the country.
Once your capirotada is out of the oven, you're free to dive in spoon first! This sweet treat can be enjoyed warm or cold, so try it both ways to see what you prefer.
Capirotada is a perfect dish to serve over the holidays with a glass of plant milk, rompope, or champurrado.
So, what are you waiting for?!
🍲 Key ingredients
For a complete ingredient list and step-by-step guide, scroll down to our recipe card.
- Bread: Forming the base of this capirotada recipe is stale bolillo rolls. Feel free to use any French-style bread or even your favorite gluten-free variety. Just make sure it's a few days old (or toast it longer) so you don't end up with a soggy mess.
- Piloncillo: This unrefined cane sugar adds a characteristic caramel and molasses-infused flavor. It can be replaced with brown sugar if you're in a bind. If that's the case, mix in a bit of molasses to emulate the rich taste of piloncillo.
- Cinnamon, cloves: Use these spices to add sweet, warming, and festive flavors to the syrup. Other spice options include star anise or nutmeg.
- Vegan butter: Vegan butter adds a soft, creamy, and rich flavor to the dish, giving similar flavors to a traditional capirotada made with dairy butter. We've also made this with olive oil and think it's delicious that way too.
- Pecans, almonds: We love almonds and pecans to add a crunchy element, some sweetness, and important health benefits. In fact, pecans are filled with calcium, potassium, and magnesium, which play a critical role in lowering blood pressure.
- Raisins: We use juicy raisins to add bursts of sweetness throughout the dish. Cranberries, prunes, dates, or even dried mangoes would also work well here.
- Bananas: Layering banana slices throughout the capirotada adds a dense, sweet, and tender element. You could also use ripe plantains in their place.
- Vegan cheese: Vegan mozzarella works well in this recipe to hold everything together and add a mild, creamy component. Some other top choices inlcude vegan cheddar, feta, cotija, or queso fresco.
If you have questions about this plant-based capirotada recipe, don't forget to check out our FAQ section at the bottom of this post.
Step 1: Add cloves, cinnamon, piloncillo, and water to a saucepan. Simmer until the piloncillo has dissolved and the syrup is slightly thickened. Strain into a bowl, and set aside.
Step 2: Slice bolillo rolls into about ½-inch thick slices, spread out evenly on a baking sheet, and lightly brush each side with vegan butter or olive oil (or a combination of both).
Step 3: Bake for 5 minutes, then flip and bake another 5-7 minutes on the second side, or until the bread is a light golden color.
Step 4: Dip each slice of bread in the piloncillo syrup, then spread a layer out on the bottom of a casserole dish. Layer in some mix-ins (pecans, almonds, raisins, banana slices, vegan cheese).
Step 5: Ladle more syrup over top, then keep layering bread slices and mix-ins until all ingredients are used up. Pour the rest of the syrup on top and add a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Step 6: Cover the dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until the syrup has absorbed and the top is golden brown.
Step 7: Let stand for 10-15 minutes, then top with sprinkles or powdered sugar if you'd like. Happy eating!
To get the most out of your hard work, you'll want to have a storage plan. Keeping your capirotada fresh is easy with these simple tips.
Let your capirotada cool completely. Then, cover your baking dish with plastic wrap or transfer it to an airtight container for up to 5 days in the fridge.
This dessert can be served cold or warm again. If you'd prefer the latter, add your baking dish of capirotada back into the oven for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees F until it's warmed to your liking.
💭 Tips & variations
We'd like to share some tips and variations we learned while experimenting with this capirotada recipe:
- Change the fruit. Feel free to add in your favorite fruits like apples, plantains, guavas, cranberries, or blueberries.
- Swap the nuts. Try using nuts like peanuts, walnuts, pistachios, or even cashews for a different take on this bread pudding.
- Make it extra creamy. Many people add milk to their capirotada. If you'd like to test it out this way, use soy milk or coconut milk for an extra creamy texture.
- Dip the bread. Dipping the bread slices in syrup will ensure a more even consistency throughout the dish.
- Make it ahead. If you're making capirotada for a gathering, it can be made ahead of time and kept in your fridge to save time.
🍴 Tasting notes
Try this take on capirotada for an extra delicious way to celebrate with your friends and family. It's:
If you try this capirotada recipe, please rate it and leave us a comment below! Want to stay up-to-date with new recipes? Subscribe to our newsletter or connect with Broke Bank Vegan on social media. Happy eating!
- Casserole dish
- Mesh Strainer
- Knife & cutting board
- Cheese grater
- 8 ounces piloncillo ($0.35)
- 1 cinnamon stick ($0.05)
- 2 whole cloves ($0.01)
- 1 ½ cups water ($0.01)
- ¼ cup melted vegan butter or olive oil ($0.44)
- 3-4 stale bolillo rolls or 1 baguette ($0.48)
- ⅓ cup pecans, chopped ($0.36)
- ⅓ cup slivered almonds ($0.32)
- ½ cup raisins ($0.34)
- 2 bananas, sliced ($0.32)
- ⅔ cup vegan mozzarella or queso fresco ($0.83)
Extra toppings optional
- Powdered cinnamon
- Rainbow sprinkles
- Powdered sugar
- First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a medium saucepan, add cloves, cinnamon, piloncillo, and water. Simmer until the piloncillo has dissolved and the syrup is slightly thickened, about 15-20 minutes.
- Remove from heat, strain into a bowl, and set aside.
- Cut bolillo rolls into ~½-inch thick slices, spread out evenly on a baking sheet, and lightly brush each side with vegan butter or olive oil.
- Bake for 5 minutes, then flip and bake another 5-7 minutes on the second side, or until the bread is a light golden color.
- Dip each slice of bread in the piloncillo syrup, then spread a layer out on the bottom of a casserole dish. Layer in some mix-ins (pecans, almonds, raisins, banana slices, vegan cheese).
- Ladle a little more syrup over top, then keep layering bread slices and mix-ins until all ingredients are used up. Pour the rest of the syrup on top and add a sprinkle of cinnamon.
- Cover the dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until the syrup has absorbed and the top is golden brown.
- Let stand for 10-15 minutes, then top with sprinkles or powdered sugar (optional). Serve warm or cold. Happy eating!
- Optional ingredients are not reflected in the price or calories of our recipes.
- We calculate nutritional information for our recipes with Cronometer.
- Recipe cost calculations are based on ingredients local to us and may vary from recipe-to-recipe.
- All prices are in USD.
♻️ Similar recipes
For more tasty Mexican desserts, check out our:
- Arroz con leche for a dairy-free version of traditional Mexican rice pudding infused with cinnamon and citrus.
- Fresas con crema to enjoy the fresh, juicy flavors of strawberries covered in sweet vegan cream. Who said simple can't be delicious?!
- Carlota de limón for a 5-ingredient dessert filled with layers of Maria cookies, tangy limes, and rich cashew cream.
- Gorditas de piloncillo to try sweet fried corn cakes covered in a sticky, spice-infused piloncillo syrup.
Because capirotada is made with bolillo or baguette-style bread, this recipe is not gluten-free. However, you can replace it with your favorite gluten-free bread instead.
Although vegan butter adds a rich flavor, it's absolutely not necessary. We've also made this capirotada recipe with olive oil and avocado oil, which are both great too.