Champurrado is a thick chocolate drink from Mexico. It’s a hearty drink made with chocolate, canela or Mexican cinnamon, piloncillo and thickened with masa. This Champurrado recipe is going to become your favorite cold weather drink!
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What is Champurrado
Champurrado is a warm chocolate drink. This traditional Mexican drink has a very long history. The peoples of what is modern day Mexico were enjoying it way before the arrival of the Spanish.
As you may know, chocolate was used in rituals and ceremonies by the Aztecs, Maya and Olmec people of Mexico.
Traditionally this hearty drink is made with Mexican chocolate, Mexican canela or Ceylon cinnamon, piloncillo (or brown sugar) and water. It’s then thickened with masa flour which is mixed with water to make a thickening ground corn puree.
The most traditional champurrado recipes only use water and no milk. But after the introduction of dairy by the Spanish, milk was added to the drink. Some people still prefer the water only version, while others enjoy the addition of milk.
Champurrado is a smooth, creamy, thick and chocolately drink you must try.
Mexican Chocolate Drink
Champurrado is a very popular drink during the cooler months of the year. Mexican people love drinking it because they say “te calienta los huesos” or that it warms you up right down to your bones.
I have memories of being a little warn and going on cold winter mornings with my dad to get some tamales and having a steaming mug of champurrado to wash down the tamales. It was such a delicious combination and beautiful memory I’ll cherish for ever.
In Mexico champurrado is commonly sold by street vendors, restaurants and cafes or the smaller bakeries will often sell a warm mug of chocolate or champurrado to enjoy with your pan dulce (Mexican sweet bread) or Mexican buñuelos. So delicious!
This is an specially popular combination during the holiday season. It’s a must try if you get a chance to try it while visiting Mexico or some Mexican restaurants in the U.S.
Atole vs Champurrado
If you’re familiar with Mexican atole drinks, you may be thinking well this chocolate drink is actually an atole.
No amigos, this is champurrado. Chocolate atole is slightly different.
Contrary to what you may read elsewhere, atole recipes do include chocolate — that is if you’re making chocolate flavored atole.
What sets the two, champurrado and atole, apart is simply the type of thickeners used.
Champurrado uses masa (or corn dough) and chocolate-based atole uses corn starch. It’s that simple.
Ok there may be slight differences in people’s champurrado recipes using additional different flavorings, but the thickeners are what sets them apart.
Here’s a great atole de chocolate recipe for you to try by my dear amiga Maggie.
The ingredients in champurrado are actually quite basic ones you may already have in your pantry at all times. If not they’re easy to buy at Mexican food stores or ethnic markets, and of course there’s always Amazon too.
- Chocolate: Mexican chocolate tablets are what you need. Any brand you like is fine. The most popular brands of Mexican chocolate are Ibarra and Abuelita. I’ve used Abuelita this time.
- Canela: The best cinnamon to use is Ceylon and you want cinnamon sticks.
- Piloncillo: This is unrefined brown sugar with a touch of molasses taste. You can get it in cones or granulated. In a pinch dark brown sugar may be used instead. You can add some molasses to the brown sugar to give it more similar taste to piloncillo, if you’d like.
- Water and or Milk: The traditional champurrado recipe only uses water but many people now add a mix of both. You can use regular milk — whole milk or 2%. Plant milks also work great for a vegan version, I like almond milk and have also used soy milk.
(I wouldn’t suggest using skim milk as it will feel too thinned down.)
- Masa or Masa harina: If you live by a tortilleria you can use fresh masa. You would use 1/2 cup fresh masa with 1 cup of water. If you don’t have fresh masa, then masa harina will do and you can get it large grocery stores or your local Hispanic store.
It’s very important that you use masa harina for corn tortillas, not for tamales. The tamales flour has a coarser texture and your champurrado will turn out grainy. It’ll still taste good but the texture will be off.
Additional Champurrado Ingredients
Those five or six ingredients are the most basic ones to use. But you can add additional seasonings to give an extra touch of flavor.
- Vanilla Extract: I also like to add a splash of good quality vanilla extract. This is a great pairing for chocolate.
- Salt: A pinch of salt is also a great addition. Salt helps bring out the chocolate and intensify overall flavors.
- Spices: Some people like to add additional spices like cloves or star anise. I’ve never added them but you can experiment if desired.
How to Make Champurrado
Making champurrado is incredibly easy and deliciously rewarding!
I know many people don’t have access to fresh masa, so we’ll be using masa harina for my champurrado recipe.
First we mix the 2/3 cup masa harina with water to rehydrate it in a large bowl or large enough to comfortably mix the ingredients well. Then set it aside. (If using fresh masa then you can blend it in a blender with one cup of water until smooth.)
Next we place the Abuelita chocolate tablets (or Ibarra chocolate or whatever you’re using) and cinnamon stick in a pot with cups of water. Over medium heat we allow the pot to simmer. Making sure to stir and help break up the chocolate tablets.
Once the chocolate is completely broken down (you could also use a wire whisk to help break it down), cover the pot and allow to simmer for 15 minutes on low heat.
Once the chocolate melts, the cinnamon sticks are removed and discarded. Then we add the granulated piloncillo. (or if you want to use a cone for a sweeter taste, go ahead.) Add the vanilla extract if using and mix well. Simmer for 5 minutes to allow the piloncillo to melt.
The 2 cups milk is mixed in next. Then give the masa mixture a good stir before pouring it into the the pot. Mix until well combined.
Now we allow the champurrado to simmer for low heat 20 minutes. Stirring frequently.
We want to allow the masa to not only thicken the champurrado, but to also cook. We don’t want the masa raw and our drink to taste like raw masa.
You’ll know the champurrado is ready when it reaches a thick consistency, like that of thick gravy or pancake batter. Some people like to cook longer and into a much thicker consistency. This is your choice. Do remember that it will thicken even more as it cools.
Serve in a mug and you can sprinkle with extra ground cinnamon if desired.
Champurrado is naturally a gluten free and vegan recipe. But when people add milk, it of course isn’t.
So to simply make champurrado 100% vegan use either soy or almond milk. The only difference will be that the color may be darker than what you see in my images. But it’ll still taste delicious!
What Does Champurrado Taste Like
Amigos, I truly hope you give this champurrado a try sometime. As you can see it’s so easy to make.
The taste of champurrado is sweet, chocolatey heaven with burst of cinnamon and a touch of vanilla. The thickness is just right!
Storing Champurrado Leftovers
You can store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Make sure to store in an airtight container.
Do notice that it may settle a bit, so give it a stir before pouring into mug or pot to reheat. Also as the champurrado sits longer it may thicken up more. If you’d like you can add another splash of milk or hot water to thin down — but not too much, otherwise the flavors will be watered down.
Reheating Champurrado Leftovers
You can reheat on the stove top until warm or or in the microwave for a minute or so. Careful handling a hot drink!
Champurrado Recipe | How to Make Champurrado with Abuelita Chocolate
Below is my printable champurrado recipe. Do give it a try, I think you’ll love it!
Do remember to give a star rating down below in the recipe card, it’ really helps me out. And if you post an image to social media be sure to tag me @MexicanMadeMeatless
- 2/3 cups masa harina
- 1.5 cups water
- 5 cups of water
- two 6.35oz Mexican chocolate tablets disks, I used Ibarra
- 1 whole ceylon cinnamon stick
- pinch of sea salt optional but adds flavor
- ¼ cup grated piloncillo use more for sweeter taste
- ½ to 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups whole milk or plant milk
- Mix the masa harina with the 1.5 cups of water until well combined, and there aren’t any lumps. Set aside.
- In a large heavy pot add the chocolate, cinnamon, salt and water. Simmer under low heat until the chocolate breaks down. Stir now and then to help it break up. Place the lid on the pot and simmer for 15 mutes over low heat.
- Next, remove the cinnamon stick and discard. Then pour in the piloncillo and vanilla. Mix well and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour in the milk, give the masa mixture as stir then pour into the pot. Stir until well combined.
- Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes or until the champurrado is as thick as you like it. Taste to make sure the masa has cooked, and there’s no raw masa taste.
- Serve along side some pan dulce, tamales or as a morning drink or dessert. Enjoy!
- The calories and nutritional information will be different based on the chocolate brand you use. Please only use this as a guide.
- For the masa harina make sure to use the kind for tortillas, NOT the tamales kind. The tortillas masa is finer and tamales grainer. You want the finer.
- I don’t use a lot of piloncillo because I don’t like my champurrado too sweet. You can use more if you’d like.
- Instead of whole cow milk you can use either almond or soy milk instead.
More Warm Mexican Drinks
Amigos, here are some more warm Mexican drinks you can try today.
- Chocolate Caliente | Mexican Hot Chocolate (vegan and milk option)
- Atole de Guayaba | Guava Atole
- Atole de Fresas | Strawberry Atole
- Ponche Navideño | Mexican Christmas Punch
Where Can I find Mexican Chocolate?
In Mexican food stores or in the Hispanic food aisle of your local grocery stores. Online Amazon is a great option. You can find piloncillo and masa harina in the same places to
What if I Don’t Have Piloncillo?
No worries, you can use 1/3 to ½ cup dark brown sugar (like muscovado sugar) and a drizzle of molasses to give it that similar taste to piloncillo
How Can I Make Champurrado Dairy Free?
You can use almond milk, or soy milk instead of dairy milk.
How Can I Make Vegan Champurrado?
Abuelita chocolate is a PETA vegan approved product. Ibarra is unclear if it’s vegan. Taza and Hernan brands are both vegan as well. Additionally make sure to use almond milk or soy milk.
Did You Get a Grainy Champurrado?
Make sure to use the masa harina (Maseca brand) for tortillas, do not use the one specifically for tamales. The tamales one has a coarser texture so will yield a grainy champurrado.
If you only have tamales masa, or want to make sure you get a smoother champurrado, then you can strain the masa and water mixture to remove any small bits that may remain.
Nancy Lopez is a food blogger and author of the cookbook Mexican Tamales Made Meatless. Born in Mexico, raised in the US, and currently living in Southern Mexico, she has followed a meatless diet for almost 10 years. It is her passion and mission to share all she has learned about vegan Mexican cooking and vegetarian Mexican recipes. Mexican Made Meatless is a blog dedicated to preserving the authentic flavors of Mexican cuisine just without the meat. It’s a place to celebrate Mexican culture and all it’s delightfully delicious traditional foods. Read more…