Easy Recipe for Atol De Elote Guatemalteco

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Atol de elote or atol de maiz is one of Guatemala’s most popular traditional drinks. If you are craving a sweet, comforting drink to warm you up during the holidays, Guatemalan corn atole is for you! This hot traditional Guatemalan drink is made with sweet corn and flavored with vanilla or cinnamon. It’s a popular Guatemalan street food sold in markets and festivals, especially during the colder months. It’s also a popular Christmas drink in Guatemala. Fairly quick and easy to make, atol de elote or sweet corn atole is a hot corn-based drink perfect for enjoying in winter. You can serve this traditional Guatemalan dish during Posadas Navideñas, Christmas holidays, or to take the chill off a cold December morning!

Guatemalan atol de elote recipe

Atol de Elote, A Creamy and Sweet Guatemalan Tradition

Served warm with a touch of cinnamon and a spoon, atol de elote is one of my favorite Guatemalan hot drinks. It is common to dish it out as a hearty breakfast, drink it at snack time, or buy it from a street vendor during town fairs. And it is often an important part of late-night celebrations like Posadas Navideñas and Christmas Eve!

atole de elote de Guatemala
Photo by Garrett Ziegler, Flickr. Creative Commons.

The smell of freshly ground corn and cinnamon always brings me back to my grandma’s kitchen. When the temperature dropped, she took out her large pot and made atol de elote for everyone to warm up our hearts as well as our tummies. She was very particular about making atol and believed that only one person could stir the pot, or the atole would become bitter and curdle.

It was a true joy to watch her pour her heart into every Guatemalan recipe. She used to tell us stories from her childhood as she cooked as we helped her in the kitchen. And now, with this super easy recipe for atol de elote or atol de maiz, you can share this heartwarming Guatemalan recipe with your kids!

What is Guatemalan Atol de Elote?

Atole is a corn-based drink made of freshly grounded kernels, milk, water, cinnamon, and sugar. It is a traditional Guatemalan beverage full of comforting flavors and served mainly during cold weather months.

Early in the morning, you will find street vendors selling this delicious Guatemalan traditional drink to people on their way to work. It takes the place of coffee since it is more filling. With its thick consistency, it almost counts as a full breakfast. And it is the perfect hot beverage for those late-night walks singing the cantos de posada or waiting for the traditional Cena de Nochebuena (Christmas Eve dinner).

best atol de elote recipes

 

Where Is Atole Originally From?

Atol de elote, atolli, or atole, is a traditional food native to Mexico and Central America. The word atole comes from the Nahuatl word “ātōlli,” referring to a sweet corn-based warm drink with a rich texture that comes from crushing corn against a grinding stone. Historians believe that the Aztecs were drinking atole centuries before the Spanish arrived.

In Guatemala, the Mayans believed corn was a sacred crop and was often a key element among their festivals and religious ceremonies. Nowadays, corn is still a huge part of traditional Guatemalan cuisine. When the weather gets cold, chapines (how Guatemalans refer to themselves) love to cook this delicious hot drink for special occasions like All Saints Day, las posadas, and around Christmas time. 

What are the Main Ingredients in Atol de Elote Guatemalteco?

As you might have guessed, the main ingredient in atol de maiz is corn. This traditional Guatemalan drink is made by grounding fresh corn kernels and turning them into a delicious “chowder-like” drink. The low heat simmering of water, milk, and sugar are simmered together in low heat, giving this delightful hot beverage its sweet taste and creamy consistency.

corn on the cob
Photo by Stephane Silva on Unsplash

Although the original version of atole has only water in it, today, you will find recipes with water, milk, or a combination of both, like mine. There are also different flavored atoles, like banana, anise, chocolate, and vanilla. 

What is the easiest way to remove corn from the cob?

Since this recipe needs grounded fresh corn to make this delicious hot drink, taking the kernels off the cob is the first step. Of course, you can always buy frozen corn kernels or use canned ones. But trust me, nothing compares to the taste of atol made from fresh corn. So here is a video to show you a clever way to remove corn from the cob.

 

Traditional Recipe for Atol de Elote Guatemalteco:

Ingredients

  • 6 medium-size yellow corn cobs (about 2 cups of kernels)
  • 2 1/2 cups of cold water
  • 2 cups of whole milk
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • Ground cinnamon for garnish (optional)
  • ¼ cup of cooked corn kernels for garnish (optional)

How to Make the best Atol de Elote Guatemalteco:

  1. Peel and wash the ears of corn thoroughly and cut the kernels off. Put them and their juices aside. Throw away the cobs. 
  2. Put the kernels and about 1 cup of water on a high-powered blender and blend until they are coarsely grounded. Add the rest of the water and keep blending until smooth.
  3. Pour the kernel mixture onto a large pot, add milk, cinnamon stick, sugar, and salt. Bring to a low boil on medium-low heat for about 20 minutes. 
  4. Stir constantly to avoid the mixture sticking to the bottom.
  5. Lower the heat and let it simmer for about 15 minutes until it thickens. Serve the atol warm and in cups, garnishing with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon, and top with a handful of cooked corn kernels.

recipe for Guatemalan atol de elote

Tips For Making the Best Atole De Elote

  • It’s all in the wrists! Do you want to know the trick for the perfect atole? First, whisking, and then, keep on whisking! Stirring it constantly not only gives this delicious drink its velvety texture but prevents it from sticking to the bottom of the pot and burning.
  • Is it too thin? Easy fix! If the beverage is too watery, mix three tablespoons of corn starch with about ½ cup of cold water and slowly add it to the pot. Give it a good stir to avoid lumps! Keep in mind that this sweet corn drink will thicken up when cooled, so don’t go overboard with the corn starch.
  • Fresh out of corn?  Although this traditional Guatemalan recipe calls for fresh corn, you might not have them at hand, especially in the middle of winter. So, replace the fresh corn with three 15-ounce cans of sweet corn. 

Atol de elote recipe Guatemalan traditional drink

Make Ahead of Time

You can easily make this delicious drink a couple of days ahead. Just keep in mind that the longer the atol sits on your fridge, the thicker it becomes. So, whisk it before reheating it over the stovetop on low heat. And if it is too thick, add a little bit of milk first and mix it well. 

You can also pop it in the microwave for a couple of minutes, stopping and stirring as necessary. This method is faster if you plan to serve just a couple of cups for you or your kids. But if it is for a larger crowd, better take out the pot and reheat it over the stove. But trust me, this heartwarming drink won’t last for long on your refrigerator… It is that good! 

Can You Freeze Atol?

Since this recipe has milk in it, I wouldn’t recommend it. Frozen milk is excellent for baking but not so much as a drink. Also, the atol can turn lumpy, and the fat can separate, giving it an unpleasant taste. However, here is something you can do: remove the corn kernels from the cob and freeze them in Ziploc bags. It will take up less space and last about six months.

Just remember, there are a few steps you need to take before freezing, like blanching the corn before putting it in your fridge. Nevertheless, this is a great way to store kernels and have them at hand for corn recipes, like this comforting hot beverage.

What To Serve with Traditional Atol de Elote de Guatemala?

You will find this warm, creamy Guatemalan drink served at breakfast or as part of the “refacción,” a mid-afternoon snack. Its rich consistency goes great with any sweet bread or the classic champurradas at any time of the day. 

As a kid, my family would always make a stop and eat tostadas de guacamol with a hot cup of atol de elote at San Lucas, Sacatepéquez on our way to Antigua Guatemala. The weather in that part of the country is always a little colder than the city, so the tostada-atol combo is a must! Atol de elote is also popular during traditional Guatemalan celebrations like All Saint’s Day and Christmas. 

Atol de elote and Chuchitos traditional Guatemalan foods
Francisso11, Creative Commons, via Wikimedia Commons

Traditional Guatemalan Food to Enjoy During Christmas: 

  • Tamales Colorados: Made with corn masa and a chicken or pork filling wrapped in fresh banana leaves, this Guatemalan food is based on my grandmother’s recipe. I have come up with the best recipe for Guatemalan tamales with some personal tweaks, including easy step-by-step instructions.

tamales guatemaltecos recipe

  • Chuchitos Guatemaltecos: Learn how to make these delicious traditional tamales at home! A smaller type of Guatemalan tamal is filled with pork or chicken and a tomato-based recado or sauce and wrapped in corn husks.
  • Jocotes en Miel: A traditional Guatemalan food commonly served around the Day of the Dead celebrations. These juicy jocotes (hog plums) are cooked in a bubbling sweet syrup and heavenly spices.
  • Ponche de Frutas: A hot drink traditionally served during the holiday season. It is made with different fruits such as pineapples, plums, apples, and many more. 
  • Champurradas: A super easy recipe that will surely be a total success with everyone in the family! A scrumptious giant cookie with the perfect level of crunch to dunk in your morning coffee!

Best recipe for Guatemalan champurradas, champurradas de Guatemala

Winter is here, and with it, some of my favorite things like Christmas, colder weather, and comfort food. Living in Florida, we welcome chilly days with open arms. And nothing compares to sitting by the Christmas tree with a hot cup of creamy atol de elote Guatemalteco and sharing stories from back home with my kids. I hope you enjoy this traditional Guatemalan hot drink recipe, perfect for a rainy day, a cold day, or any day of the week!

best atol de elote recipes

Atol De Elote Guatemalteco

Yield: 8 cups
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

A traditional Guatemalan hot corn-based drink perfect for cold weather

Ingredients

  • 6 medium-size yellow corn cobs (about 2 cups of kernels)
  • 2 1/2 cups of cold water
  • 2 cups of whole milk
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • Ground cinnamon for garnish (optional)
  • ¼ cup of cooked corn kernels for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Peel and wash the ears of corn thoroughly and cut the kernels off. Put them and their juices aside. Throw away the cobs.
  2. Put the kernels and about 1 cup of water on a high-powered blender and blend until they are coarsely grounded. Add the rest of the water and keep blending until smooth.
  3. Pour the kernel mixture onto a large pot, add milk, cinnamon stick, sugar, and salt. Bring to a low boil on medium-low heat for about 20 minutes.
  4. Stir constantly to avoid the mixture sticking to the bottom.
  5. Lower the heat and let it simmer for about 15 minutes until it thickens. Serve the atol warm and in cups, garnishing with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon, and top with a handful of cooked corn kernels.

Notes

If the beverage is too watery, mix three tablespoons of corn starch with about 1⁄2 cup of cold water and slowly add it to the pot. Give it a good stir to avoid lumps! Keep in mind that this sweet corn drink will thicken up when cooled, so don’t go overboard with the corn starch.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 160

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