You are going to be shocked when you take your first bite of gorditas de piloncillo. They are perfectly crispy corn cakes infused with unrefined cane sugar and cinnamon.
Don't forget to drizzle them with a mouthwatering piloncillo syrup for the perfect afternoon snack!
This gorditas recipe is one for the record books, folks. It's an easy-to-make dessert filled with delicious and warming Mexican flavors (think gingerbread cookie meets Mexican pancake).
Seriously, you truly need to taste this treat in order to understand the amazing and unique flavors of Mexico!
What is it?
A gordita is a traditional Mexican anotojito (or snack) that looks like a thicker, fatter tortilla (hence gordita, which means chubby).
Some gorditas recipes are made a little larger, cut open, and stuffed with various fillings like meat, veggies, cheese, and salsas.
However, like most Mexican food, exact recipes vary depending on the region they're made in. Some places heat gorditas on a comal without oil, while others fry them until crispy and stuff them.
We decided to make a smaller, sweeter version of this snack called gorditas de piloncillo. Piloncillo is a raw form of cane sugar (find more details in our key ingredients section).
The end result is a thick corn cake infused with cinnamon and sweet molasses flavors. And don't forget to drizzle extra piloncillo syrup on top!
Are you starting to see why we love this recipe so much?!
Although the exact origin of the first gorditas recipe is a little unclear, it's worth mentioning that many cultures create similar dishes to one another and give them different names.
A pupusa is a Salvadorian snack that is similar to a gordita, but it's sealed and served with pickled cabbage.
In Venezuela and Colombia, you can find arepas, which are usually smaller and thinner (but also stuffed).
And all of these variations look very similar to roujiamo, which originated in China. Fun fact: roujiamo is considered the oldest type of "hamburger" since the bread dates all the way back to 220 BC.
So wherever gorditas fit into that timeline, it's safe to say humans have been stuffing foods into or onto dough for a loooong time.
Gorditas de piloncillo are best served immediately after frying with a side of sweet piloncillo sauce.
We love to pair ours with freshly brewed coffee (we're currently enjoying one from the Chiapas region), but you can also try serving your sweet gorditas with a champurrado or Mexican hot chocolate.
Just in case you were wondering, this gorditas recipe is 100% vegan and gluten-free!
🍲 Key ingredients
For a complete ingredient list and step-by-step guide, scroll down to our recipe card.
What it is: also known as nixtamalized maize flour, masa harina comes from a type of corn that's been soaked in calcium-rich lime water and then ground into powder. This process makes masa easier to digest and allows it to stick together to make corn tortillas or gorditas, which traditional corn flour couldn't possibly make.
Taste: cooked masa gives off a sweet corn flavor (obviously) and provides a soft, almost melt-in-your-mouth consistency. We use the brand Maseca because it's the most popular kind where we live, but there are tons of brands online.
Health: we prefer masa to regular wheat flour for its natural gluten-free properties and overall lower calorie content. It's also a great source of iron, zinc, and vitamin A.
Where to buy: you can buy masa harina at most large grocery stores in the international aisle. You may also have a local Mexican or Latin market where it's sure to be found. If you're still having trouble finding some, try looking online.
What it is: piloncillo (pronounced pee-lohn-see-yoh) is the raw form of cane sugar often found in Latin American cuisine. It's made by boiling cane juice, then pouring it into cone-shaped molds. The best part is this process contains zero additives or preservatives!
Taste: piloncillo is often compared to brown sugar, but there are some unmistakable differences. Piloncillo has a rich molasses flavor with notes of caramel and smoke.
Where to buy: larger supermarkets around the world usually carry piloncillo. It's also known as panela, so look for it under that name if you can't find piloncillo. You can always purchase some online if you aren't in a rush.
Taste: with a sweet, mild, and delicate flavor, Ceylon cinnamon is a must-have ingredient for any kitchen. It lends subtle hints of warmth to this recipe we just can't get enough of!
Health: as a carminative, cinnamon has a well-documented positive effect on alleviating gastrointestinal problems. It's been used in Eastern and Western medicine for many years.
If you have questions about this gorditas recipe, don't forget to check out our FAQ section at the bottom of this post.
Step 1: simmer the piloncillo, cinnamon stick, and water in a small saucepan until the sugar is melted and the sauce is honey-like. While the sauce is simmering, whisk the masa harina, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon together in a large mixing bowl.
Step 2: add in about ¾ cup of piloncillo sauce to your bowl of dry ingredients. Add in the plain water and knead the dough with your hands. Continue adding in water small amounts at a time until the dough is very moist (it will also be slightly sticky from the sugar).
Step 3: lightly coat your hands with water or oil and start breaking off pieces of the masa dough (about 50-55g each). Roll and flatten each piece between your palms while smoothing the edges. The gorditas should be about ¼-inch thick.
Step 4: heat some oil in a frying pan over medium or medium-low. Shallow fry the gorditas on both sides for a few minutes, or until they appear a golden-brown color. Transfer the cooked gorditas to a paper towel-lined plate to get rid of any excess oil.
Step 5: serve your gorditas de piloncillo immediately with a drizzle of extra syrup and a café or champurrado. Happy eating!
Although we think gorditas de piloncillo are best served hot and crispy, they also store well to make a great midnight snack.
Once fried, this sweet snack will keep in the fridge for up to 2-3 days in an airtight container. You can also make the gorditas ahead of time and keep them wrapped in the fridge for up to 2 days before frying them.
If you want to freeze your gorditas recipe, it's best to do so before frying. Stored in a freezer-safe container or bag, they will last for up to 6-8 months. Thaw them in your fridge overnight and cook as you normally would.
💭 Pro tips
Time to share our tips and tricks we learned while perfecting these sweet gorditas for you:
- Spice things up. If you want to take this gorditas recipe up a notch, try adding whole aniseed or star anise to the syrup before simmering.
- Grease your hands. Lightly coat your hands with either water or oil to make things easier when shaping the gorditas.
- Try an oil-free version. If you want to reduce your oil consumption, just fry the gorditas like you would pancakes.
- Change the shape. We like a smaller, snack-sized gordita, but feel free to make yours bigger or smaller based on your preferences.
- Reduce the pilloncillo. If your syrup looks like it isn't thickening, just be patient! You need to let it reduce a little longer.
🍴 Tasting notes
We love making gorditas de piloncillo for an afternoon treat with a fresh brew of coffee. They're:
- Perfectly crispy
If you try this gorditas 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!
Gorditas de Piloncillo
- Large mixing bowl
- Frying pan
- 2 7 oz piloncillo cones ($0.70)
- 1 whole cinnamon stick ($0.05)
- ¾ cup water ($0.01)
- 250 g (~2 cups) masa harina ($0.25)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder ($0.01)
- ¼ teaspoon salt ($0.01)
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon ($0.01)
- 1 cup water, plus more as needed ($0.01)
- 1-2 cups cooking oil
- Add both piloncillo cones, the cinnamon stick, and water to a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a low boil, then turn the heat down to simmer until the piloncillo is melted and the sauce is honey-like. Remove from heat and set aside.
- While the sauce is simmering, whisk the masa harina, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon together in a large mixing bowl.
- Add in ¾ cup of the piloncillo syrup to the bowl of dry ingredients. Combine the dough with a spatula, then add in the plain water and continue mixing and kneading with your hands. The dough will be somewhat sticky from the sugar, but it shouldn’t be so mushy you can't handle it.
- Next, coat your hands with water or oil and start breaking off pieces of the masa dough (about 50-55g each). Roll each piece between your palms, then press it into a flattened disc (about ¼-inch thick) while smoothing the edges. Store the uncooked gorditas on a plate or baking sheet while you make the rest.
- Heat about 1-2 cups of oil for frying in a pan over medium or medium-low (depending on your stove). Shallow fry the gorditas on both sides for about 2-3 minutes, or until they appear a golden-brown color. Remove from heat and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to get rid of any excess oil.
- Serve your gorditas de piloncillo immediately with a drizzle of extra syrup and a café or champurrado. Happy eating!
- Optional ingredients are not reflected in the price or calories of our recipes.
- We calculate nutritional information for our recipes with Cronometer. Calories do not include extra syrup for dipping.
- Recipe cost calculations are based on ingredients local to us and may vary from recipe-to-recipe. The price of the frying oil is not included in our cost since we reuse it.
- All prices are in USD.
♻️ Similar recipes
For more mouthwatering Mexican desserts, check out our:
- Buñuelos for a crispy, golden, and cinnamon sugar-coated treat.
- Vegan churros to see why you don't need dairy for this irresistible Mexican classic.
- Peanut butter candy for a rich, creamy, 2-ingredient dessert that takes just 15 minutes to put together.
- Fresas con crema if you want a Mexican take on strawberries and cream that's creamy, tangy, and juicy!
If you can't find piloncillo, brown sugar is the next best thing to use. However, just be aware that these two ingredients are unique in their overall taste.
If your gorditas are cracking, they need more liquid. Try adding 1 tablespoon of water at a time until the desired consistency is reached. You can also add a touch of oil to help prevent cracks.
No, masa harina and cornflour are not the same things. Masa goes through a process called nixtamalization to make the flour more digestible and increase the number of nutrients in the end-product.
Yes, this gorditas recipe is gluten-free due to the use of masa harina and not wheat flour.