Atole de guayaba is a hot Mexican beverage typically thickened with dried corn kernels, masa harina (corn flour), masa (corn dough), or corn starch. It is flavored with fresh guava puree, which adds a tropical twist to this cold-weather drink.
WHAT IS ATOLE?
Atole is a popular cold-weather drink that dates back to the Aztecs, as corn was a vital part of their food system and diet. Before Spanish colonization, the Aztecs flavored their atole with chiles and sweetened it with honey. Since then, new ingredients such as sugar, piloncillo (raw Mexican cone sugar, somewhat similar in flavor to brown sugar), and cinnamon have been introduced and this corn-based beverage now ranges in flavors from Mexican chocolate (champurrado) and guava, to pumpkin, strawberry, pineapple, and hibiscus, to name a few. The process has been simplified and most people make it with corn flour, but I love the traditional method and recipe!
Atole can be flavored with just about anything, but the base of most Mexican atole is maíz (in some form), water, and sugar or piloncillo. Its consistency can range from thick and rich, to runny and light. This version of atole de guayaba is inspired by Oaxaca, where drinks like atole and champurrado are still made with dried corn kernels and are better than any recipes I’ve tried here in the U.S.
WHAT IS GUAYABA?
Guayaba, also known as guava in English, is a tropical fruit native to Central and South America. It has a sweet and fragrant flavor, often enjoyed fresh, juiced, or in jams and desserts. Guayaba is rich in vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants, contributing to its popularity in Mexico and beyond.
WHY I LOVE THIS RECIPE
- Inspired by Oaxaca: In many parts of Oaxaca, women still make atole using dried corn kernels to make atole. The señoras in Oaxaca wouldn’t hear of using a masa harina mixture! If they don’t have time to grind their own corn, they’ll buy freshly ground masa that day.
- Traditional recipe: I make my guava atole recipe by boiling dry corn kernels and then grinding and straining the natural liquid corn starch. I learned this recipe from a señora in the town of El Tule, Oaxaca.
- Fall fruit: While many people associate guava fruit with the tropical flavor and climate, it’s actually in season in California in the fall, which makes it perfect for both agua fresca as well as atole.
- Great texture: Using dry corn results in a smooth, non-grainy texture with subtle corn flavor. It’s the perfect base to make other flavored atoles.
- Holiday favorite: beginning November, with Day of the Dead, through December’s posadas, tamaleadas, and Christmas, and then January’s Three Kings’ celebrations, Mexicans love to drink atole in their homes, churches, and plazas.
INGREDIENTS YOU’LL NEED
- Dry corn: I used Masienda’s White Ocotillo corn for this atole recipe
- Guava fruit: I like using fresh Mexican (pink) guava fruit to make the puree for this recipe, but you can also use guava puree. Guava puree is available in the frozen section of Mexican grocery stores. Guava nectar is another option, just remember to reduce the liquid in this recipe if using nectar. Any guava variety works though.
- Sugar: I prefer pure cane sugar for all of my recipes, but any granulated sugar works.
- Cinnamon stick: I always opt for Mexican cinnamon sticks, but powdered cinnamon will work if you’re in a pinch.
- Milk: Milk adds richness. I use whole milk, but feel free to keep it vegan and substitute it for your favorite diary-free alternative or additional water.
- Red food coloring: optional, but gives this drink it’s fun pink hue.
RECOMMENDED FOR THIS RECIPE
NYLON NUT MILK BAG
Begin by bringing corn to a boil over medium heat in a medium sized pot for 45-60 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when it plumps up and is no longer crunchy when you bite into it. It shouldn’t be mushy and soft nor should it feel like dry crunchy corn. Think, “if corn could be al dente, this would be the texture.” Be sure to add water if necessary throughout this process just incase it absorbs when boiling.
In a blender, process corn with water from the pot and an additional 2 cups of water for 60 seconds.
Using a nut bag or piece of cheesecloth, strain the liquid cornstarch from this mixture back into the original pot.
Repeat step 2. Add the blended corn back into the blender and process with 4 more cups of water. Then strain the liquids back into the pot again. You’ll notice that the blended corn will come out a bit finer this time around.
Next, using a knife, remove the ends of the guavas and cut them in half.
Add fresh guavas to a blender and process with 1 cup of water.
Using a fine mesh sieve, over a bowl, strain guava mixture into a small bowl and compost or discard guava seeds into a bowl.
Add guava puree, sugar, cinnamon, milk, and food coloring to the pot and bring to a light boil over medium heat. Once boiling, lower to low-medium and stir the guava atole constantly to prevent the bottom from sticking or burning. This process should take anywhere from 30-45 minutes.
Once ready, serve hot in a large mug with your favorite Mexican pan dulce or tamales or any other traditional Mexican food!
LOOKING FOR MORE INSPIRATION?
- Atole Blanco (Inspired by Oaxaca)
- Be sure to check out my library of Mexican Drinks and Aguas Frescas and Mexican Cocktails!
Atole de Guayaba (Pink Guava Atole)
- Bring corn to a boil over medium heat in a medium pot for 45-60 minutes until it plumps up and is no longer crunchy when you bite into it. It shouldn’t be mushy and soft nor should it feel like dry crunchy corn – think, “if corn could be al dente, this would be the texture.” Be sure to add water if necessary throughout this process just incase it absorbs when boiling.
- In a blender, process corn with water from the pot and an additional 2 cups of water for 60 seconds.
- Using a nut bag or piece of cheesecloth, strain the liquids from this mixture (this is the cornstarch) back into the original pot.
- Repeat step 2 by adding the blended corn back into the blender and processing with 4 more cups of water and then straining the liquids back into the pot again.
- Add guavas to a blender and process with 1 cup of water.
- Using a fine mesh sieve, over a bowl, strain guava pulp and compost or discard guava seeds into a bowl.
- Add guava puree, sugar, cinnamon, milk and red food coloring to the pot and bring to a light boil over medium heat. Once boiling, lower to low-medium and stir constantly to prevent the bottom from sticking or burning. This process should take anywhere from 30-45 minutes.
- Once ready, serve hot in a large mug with your favorite Mexican pan dulce or tamales!
A Note from Lola
Lola Wiarco Dweck
Lola is a Mexican-American recipe developer, writer, and cooking instructor who loves sharing her culture with the world. Growing up in California and spending summers in Mexico, Lola celebrates her family’s Mexican recipes and vibrant culture through Lola’s Cocina.