Champurrado is a rich, creamy, and sweet Mexican drink bursting with flavor thanks to Mexican chocolate, masa harina, and piloncillo. This recipe is perfect for the holidays, special occasions, or as a way to warm up on a rainy day!
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An ancient recipe turned household favorite — champurrado Mexicano is sure to steal your heart. If you're a fan of creamy, chocolatey, and delicious drinks, boy do we have a treat for you.
Cultivated in Mexico, cacao beans (and chocolate) were a huge part of the Mayan and Aztec cultures. They were utilized in various ways such as ceremonial drinks or as a means of payment and trade.
One of the ceremonial drinks they consumed consisted of unsweetened cacao, masa, water, and an assortment of spices.
During the Spanish colonization of the Americas, Spaniards took chocolate from the Indigenous people and brought it home with them where they heated it and drank it on its own.
Over time, early colonists experimented with mixing chocolate, sugar, and milk into a well-known Aztec drink of masa harina and water. This became what is now known as champurrado.
Nowadays, you can find various champurrado recipes across Mexico — each made with slight differences unique to specific families and regions.
What is it?
As we mentioned above, champurrado is a thick, warm, and sweet corn drink mixed with Mexican chocolate.
It's often consumed on special holidays like Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) or Las Posadas (Christmas season). It’s also extremely popular to serve during the colder months of the year.
To make this delicious drink, you really only need a few simple ingredients: Mexican chocolate, masa, water, piloncillo, and cinnamon. We've added a few others to make this recipe extra special.
Atole vs champurrado
Many people don't know what makes these two drinks different, so let us clarify.
Atole is a corn-based drink that typically consists of masa, water, cinnamon, piloncillo, and vanilla. Some people add milk and other spices, but you get the drift.
Champurrado is a chocolate-based atole (atole de chocolate). So, what do you get when you add chocolate to the above atole recipe?
Mexican hot chocolate vs champurrado
Mexican hot chocolate is very similar to Mexican champurrado, but the main difference is that it's made without masa harina. This gives it a much thinner consistency compared to atole or champurrado.
Some people make Mexican hot chocolate with unsweetened cocoa powder instead of Mexican chocolate, while others add in spice from hot chiles. There are lots of customizations when it comes to these drinks.
Is it vegan?
Traditionally, a champurrado recipe is vegan-friendly. However, many people like to add dairy to their drinks nowadays (think whole or condensed milk).
We've added plant-based milk to make this drink a little creamier, but it's not totally necessary. You can rest assured that this recipe is 100% vegan and gluten-free.
These tasty drinks are sometimes whipped up with a special wooden whisk called a molinillo. By rolling the molinillo back and forth between the palms of your hands, it makes the drink frothy (yum)!
If you don't own a molinillo, don't fret! You can throw your champurrado in a blender to create a similar effect (a Vitamix is great for this).
We enjoy ours hot off the stovetop paired with antojitos and treats like:
We hope you enjoy learning how to make champurrado because it will blow your tastebuds away!
🍲 Key ingredients
For a complete ingredient list and step-by-step guide, scroll down to our recipe card.
What it is: Mexican chocolate is made from ground cacao nibs, sugar, and cinnamon. Since it contains a higher sugar content, this type of chocolate has a rougher texture than the creamy chocolate you're probably used to. It carries a very different purpose from milk chocolate and is most commonly used in cooking rather than as a treat.
Taste: Mexican chocolate has a distinct bitter flavor thanks to the roasted cacao nibs, with hints of spice from the cinnamon. You may find certain brands add different spices, but cinnamon is the most common.
Health: fortunately, Mexican chocolate is generally vegan-friendly because it doesn't contain dairy. Disclaimer: some brands don't market themselves as vegan-friendly (possibly because of the sugar or processing facility), so keep that in mind if you're unsure.
Where to buy: you can find Mexican chocolate in most supermarkets in the international or Latin aisles. If you can't find it there, try ordering some online. The most widely available brand is Abuelita, but there are more natural brands.
For more information, check out our detailed guide on Mexican chocolate.
What is it: translated directly to "dough flour," masa harina is the gluten-free flour used in recipes like corn tortillas and tamales. It's different than cornflour and cornmeal since the corn is soaked in an alkaline solution (like lime water). This process adds in vitamins and minerals to make it easier for your digestion.
Taste: cooking masa harina brings out the nutty and slightly tangy flavors of this otherwise mild flour. It gives a thick and creamy texture to champurrado when mixed into the hot liquid.
Health: masa harina is filled with vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, zinc, calcium, and iron. It's also higher in fiber compared to its wheat counterpart.
Where to buy: you can find masa harina at most supermarkets or a Latin grocery store if you have one near where you live. The most widely available brand is Maseca, but there are also more natural brands like Bob's Red Mill.
For more information, check out our detailed guide on masa harina.
What it is: piloncillo is an unrefined version of cane sugar found in Latin American cuisine. It is made through a process of cooking down pure cane juice and pouring it into molds that are usually cone-shaped.
Taste: the process through which piloncillo is made gives it a deep, caramelized flavor with hints of smoke. It is like molasses, just sweeter! Piloncillo provides a very unique and complex flavor to any recipe it's in.
Health: while sweeteners aren't generally in the "health food" category, piloncillo is in the unrefined club. So if a sweetener is required, we'll take this over white sugar any day (plus, it tastes better).
Where to buy: piloncillo can be found at most Mexican or Latin grocery stores. We've also seen it in the ethnic aisle of larger supermarkets. If you still can't find some, try ordering online. It's also known as panela around the world, so keep your eyes peeled for both labels.
For more information, check out our detailed guide on piloncillo.
Taste: when it comes to cinnamon, we always opt for Ceylon because of the soft and delicate taste. It carries a subtly spiced flavor with a warming sensation that works perfectly in this champurrado recipe.
Health: cinnamon is loaded with antioxidants. In fact, one study found cinnamon even outranks superfoods like garlic and oregano in relation to antioxidant capacity.
If you have questions about how to make champurrado, don't forget to check out our FAQ section at the bottom of this post.
Step 1: bring your cinnamon stick, star anise pod, and 2 ½ cups of water to boil in a medium-large pot. Then, lower the heat down and simmer until your kitchen smells amazing. Strain the water to remove any straggling pieces, then add it back to the same pot.
Step 2: while the water steeps, whisk the masa harina, salt, and a cup of piping hot water together in a bowl. Stir vigorously to remove as many clumps as you can (you can use your hands or even an electric beater to go the extra mile).
Step 3: grate or finely chop the piloncillo and chocolate, then add both to the pot of steeped water with the soy milk (or any plant milk). Continue simmering for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and piloncillo have dissolved.
Step 4: pour in the masa harina mixture while whisking continuously. Turn the heat up to medium-high until it comes to a low boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until no clumps remain and the mixture is thickened.
We love making a big batch of champurrado because it tastes so delicious and stores super well!
Your champurrado recipe will keep in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. We like to keep ours in a glass mason jar to keep it tasting fresh for longer.
The longer champurrado sits, the thicker it becomes. Reheat your drink on the stovetop over medium-low, and whisk vigorously to re-incorporate all the ingredients. Note: we also love to serve this drink cold too!
💭 Pro tips
Time to share our tips and tricks we learned while perfecting this recipe for you:
- Whisk first. To limit clumps in your champurrado, make sure you whisk the masa in hot water before adding it to the pot.
- Add more flavor. Try any combination of cloves, aniseed, all-spice, or vanilla to enhance the flavor of this drink.
- Chop beforehand. Make sure to chop or grate the chocolate and piloncillo if you want to reduce the amount of time it takes to dissolve.
- Froth it up. Most people don't have a molinillo handy, so try using a blender (especially a high-speed one) to froth up your drink.
- Taste and adjust. Use more piloncillo if you want a sweeter champurrado, and add more masa if you prefer it thicker! This recipe is easily adjustable.
🍴 Tasting notes
We love making this amazing Mexican chocolate drink for any occasion, and we have a feeling you will too. It's:
If you try this champurrado 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!
- Knife or grater
- 1 whole cinnamon stick ($0.05)
- 1 whole star anise pod ($0.01)
- 2 ½ cups room temperature water ($0.01)
- 1 cup hot water ($0.01)
- ⅓ cup masa harina ($0.05)
- ⅛ teaspoon salt ($0.01)
- 1 oz piloncillo ($0.05)
- 4 oz Mexican chocolate ($0.88)
- 2 cups soy milk ($0.85)
- First, bring the cinnamon stick, star anise, and 2 ½ cups of water to a low boil in a medium-large pot. Once boiling, lower the heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes. Strain the water to remove any chunks of cinnamon or anise, then add it back to the same pot.
- In the meantime, whisk the masa harina, salt, and 1 cup of very hot water together in a bowl or container. Stir vigorously to remove as many clumps as you can. Set aside.
- Grate or finely chop the piloncillo and chocolate, then add both to the pot of steeped water with the soy milk. Continue simmering, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and piloncillo have dissolved, about 5 minutes.
- Next, pour in the masa harina mixture while whisking continuously. Turn the heat up to medium-high until the mixture comes to a low boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes, or until thickened.
- Serve your champurrado on its own as a breakfast drink, a dessert, or alongside snacks like churros, tamales, etc. Happy drinking!
- If you prefer a thicker champurrado consistency, use ½ cup of masa harina instead.
- 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
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Yes, champurrado is traditionally vegan. However, many recipes call for dairy products like evaporated milk, whole milk, or cream. This recipe is 100% dairy-free.
Champurrado is type of atole. When chocolate is added to an atole recipe, it becomes champurrado.
No, plant milk is not necessary. It just provides an extra creamy texture that water can't accomplish on its own.
Instead of piloncillo, you can use brown sugar in equal portions. Add in a touch of molasses for extra flavor.