Guatemalan Canillitas de Leche Recipe: A Easy and Quick 10-Minute Dessert

Canillitas de leche is my favorite Guatemalan candy. For this Guatemalan canillitas de leche recipe I took a few shortcuts turning the traditional, time-consuming recipe, into a simple and easy no-bake dessert that has all the flavor of the authentic canillitas de leche without the hard work! In this post, you will find a quick recipe for Guatemalan canillitas de leche, a delicious 10-minute dessert using only 3 ingredients you probably already have in your pantry: powdered sugar, condensed milk, and powdered milk!

The best recipe for Guatemalan canillitas de leche, easy and quick Guatemalan dessert recipe

I have a sweet tooth for traditional Guatemalan candy, and Guatemalan sweets and desserts are always one of the things I miss the most about living in the USA. From colochos de guayaba and cocadas to chilacayotes, nuegados and pepitoria, Guatemalan candy is as varied as the regions they come from. When I travel to Guatemala, one of my first stops is usually Antigua Guatemala, where I always visit my favorite traditional candy store, Doña Marilla Gordillo to buy all my favorite Guatemalan candy including canillitas de leche.

Guatemalan traditional candy recipe

I recommend adding Antigua to your must-do list when visiting Guatemala. It is one of the best tourist destinations in the country, not only for its magnificent colonial architecture, and beautiful cobblestoned streets, but also for its famous artisanal Guatemalan candy. 

Because I love Guatemalan candy so much, I have always wanted to make them at home. However, when I looked for the traditional recipe to make canillitas de leche and realized that it took 2-3 hours of cooking I was a bit discouraged. But after some research, I found this recipe which takes a few shortcuts and tweaked it a bit to create this easy 10-minute dessert recipe for canillitas de leche that my kids love to make. I hope you enjoy this flavorful piece of Guatemalan culture as much as I do!

What is a Guatemalan Canillita de Leche?

The classic Guatemalan canillitas de leche is a traditional candy made with milk and sugar. Slightly harder on the outside, canillitas de leche are smooth and soft in the inside. When you pop them in your mouth, they melt effortlessly like magic. 

Besides their sweet flavor that will leave your taste buds wanting more, I love that canillitas de leche are artisan candies homemade from scratch using simple ingredients. They are so different from modern candy usually filled with preservatives and lots of ingredients you don’t know. Instead, these lip-smacking sweets are handmade, and often the recipe has been passed down in a family for generations.

Guatemalan canillitas de leche recipe

Why are They Called Canillas de Leche?

They are called canillitas de leche due to their elongated shapes that resemble skinny legs. Canillita is the diminutive of canilla, a Guatemalan slang word referring to leg shins. Leche is milk in English, so the literal translation for canillitas de leche is “little milk legs” or  “leg-shaped milk candies”. 

What Are the Ingredients for making Guatemalan Canillitas Recipe?

This traditional Guatemalan candy recipe is made with whole milk, granulated sugar, and cinnamon sticks.  Typically, the milk and sugar are cooked for hours to reach the desired consistency. That is why I decided to make some changes and take a few shortcuts to create a quick and easy canillitas de leche recipe. This recipe for canillitas de leche is ready in ten minutes and uses ingredients you probably already have in your pantry (or can easily get them at the grocery store):

  • condensed milk 
  • powdered sugar
  • powdered milk

Ingredients for Guatemalan canillitas de leche recipe

What Is the Difference Between Traditional Canillitas de Leche and my 10-minute dessert recipe?

There are a few differences between the traditional canillitas de leche recipe and this one, however, the taste and texture are almost the same. The traditional recipe is made from granulated sugar and whole milk with a longer cooking process. Although it has few ingredients, its cooking time ranges from 2-3 hours and involves constant stirring to reach the desired consistency. 

Canillitas de leche no cook, 10-min Guatemalan dessert recipe

This 10-minute recipe uses condensed milk, powdered milk, and powdered sugar and with no cooking or baking involved. Instead, you throw everything together and use your hands to mix it into a soft dough. And since there is no actual baking or cooking in this Guatemalan candy recipe, it’s easy and safe to make with kids. 

Quick and Easy Guatemalan Canillitas de Leche Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of powdered milk 
  • 2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 2/3 of 8 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk

Directions:

  • On a clean surface, form a volcano with the powdered milk and powdered sugar. Open a hole in the center of the volcano. Gradually add the condensed milk while stirring to form a dough that is easy to manage. 

How to make Guatemalan canillitas de leche

  • Add the condensed milk very slowly so that the dough does not get too thin. Use approximately 2/3 of the can, but, if necessary, add a little more until the dough is hard enough soft.

How to make Guatemalan canillitas de leche

  • Using your hands, start forming the canillitas. Place them on a wooden board and cut them into sticks like the traditional Guatemalan recipe. You can also use cookie cutters to give them different shapes or braid them, as I did in this case.

Easy recipe for making Guatemalan canillitas de leche

  • Store the milk candy in a sealed container and put them in the refrigerator.      

Make Ahead of Time

This version of the classic recipe is one you can make ahead of time. My recipe for Guatemalan canillitas de leche is a 10-minute dessert so simple to make that it will surely become one of your new favorite Guatemalan recipes.  Saving time in the cooking process means that you can spend more time with your family and friends enjoying this traditional Guatemalan candy.

You can make this Guatemalan candy the same day or prepare them beforehand. I like making them a day or two in advance to avoid running around last minute, especially when I am making other Guatemalan dishes like traditional Guatemalan Enchiladas. When shaping the canillas de leche you can get creative. My kids love to braid them or simply roll them into bite-size balls, you can let your imagination run wild and make them in any shape that you wish. 

Tips on How to Make Canillitas de Leche

  • Take it easy with the condensed milk: It is crucial to lay down all the dry ingredients first and then add the condensed milk little by little. You don’t want to go overboard and end up with a thin dough that you won’t be able to shape.
  • Minor tweaks go a long way: Adding one teaspoon of vanilla extract or a little powdered cinnamon will give the recipe a creamier flavor. If you are feeling creative, make two or three separate batches, adding a few drops of food coloring to each one. Playing around with different colors can make this recipe pop and will go along great with your Hispanic Heritage month theme party.
  • Tips for shaping your canillitas de leche: This recipe could get a little sticky, especially since you will use your hands to shape the candy. To help prevent the mixture from sticking, pour a little cornstarch on your work surface and hands for kneading. Be careful not to add too much cornstarch as this can change the flavor of the canillitas. 

How to make Guatemalan canillitas de leche

Can You Freeze the Canillas?

I don’t recommend freezing them. As with most milk products, you risk them separating when frozen and thawed. If you want to try it, put them in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag. 

When it is time to defrost them, move the canillitas to the fridge rather than defrosting at room temperature to prevent harboring bacteria. Take into account that when thawed the candy most likely won’t have the same consistency as before freezing.

Where can I find these Guatemalan treats when I visit Guatemala?

Canillitas are usually sold by street food vendors at fair regional fairs and markets and outside churches during religious celebrations like Holy Week. You can also find them at tiendas de dulces tipicos, stores that sell traditional Guatemalan candy, like Dona Marillo Gorillo located in Antigua Guatemala. But with this quick and easy 10-minute recipe, you can make them at home and enjoy them anytime! 

Dulces tipicos Guatemala Doña Maria Gordillo
This is the tienda de dulces típicos, (traditional Guatemalan candy store) at Antigua Guatemala, Doña Mariall Gordillo. 

Other Traditional Guatemalan Recipes

  • Traditional Guatemalan Tostadas: The tostadas are a traditional Guatemalan food often served as snacks or appetizers during holiday festivities. 
  • Guatemalan Cocido: This slow cooker version of my grandma’s traditional Guatemalan cocido recipe is an easy-to-make vegetable and beef stew that is sure to become your new favorite cold-weather comfort food! 
  • Guatemalan Torrejas: Very popular during Christmas and Lent, Torrejas is a traditional Guatemalan dessert made with manjar filled panes dulces (sweet bread) as the main ingredient and is dipped in delicious syrup.
  • Guatemalan Rellenitos: Rellenitos are made with ripe plantains, filled with beans, and covered in sugar. This sweet plantain recipe is one of my favorite Guatemalan dishes.  
Rellenitos de platano recipe
Guatemalan rellenitos de platano.

I hope you will love this easy and quick canillitas de leche Guatemalan candy recipe as much I do. Every time I make them with my kiddos and we have such a great time, rolling, braiding, and eating the Canillitas even before we started shaping them! This traditional Guatemalan dish is sure to be a huge hit for everyone in the family. It’s the perfect recipe to make with kids for Hispanic Heritage Month or to celebrate Guatemalan Independence Day at home on 15 de Septiembre. 

The best recipe for Guatemalan canillitas de leche, easy and quick Guatemalan dessert recipe

Best Canillitas de Leche Recipe from Guatemala, quick and easy no-bake Guatemalan candy

Guatemalan Canillitas de Leche

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

A quick recipe for Guatemalan canillitas de leche, a delicious 10-minute dessert using only 3 ingredients you probably already have in your pantry: powdered sugar, condensed milk, and powdered milk!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of powdered milk
  • 2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 2/3 of 8 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk

Instructions

    1. On a clean surface, form a volcano with the powdered milk and powdered sugar. Open a hole in the center of the volcano. Gradually add the condensed milk while stirring to form a dough that is easy to manage. 
    2. Add the condensed milk very slowly so that the dough does not get too thin. Use approximately 2/3 of the can, but, if necessary, add a little more until the dough is hard enough soft.
    3. Using your hands, start forming the canillitas. Place them on a wooden board and cut them into sticks like the traditional Guatemalan recipe. You can also use cookie cutters to give them different shapes or braid them, as I did in this case.
    4. Store the milk candy in a sealed container and put them in the refrigerator.      





    Notes

    This recipe could get a little sticky, especially since you will use your hands to shape the candy. To help prevent the mixture from sticking, pour a little cornstarch on your work surface and hands for kneading. Be careful not to add too much cornstarch as this can change the flavor of the canillitas. 

    Easy Guatemalan Canillitas de Leche Recipe

     

     

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