Alternative namesAtol
TypeBeverage or Porridge
Place of originMexico
Region or stateMesoamerica
Serving temperatureHot
Main ingredientsMasa, water, piloncillo, cinnamon, vanilla

Atole (Spanish: [aˈtole] , believed to come from Nahuatl ātōlli [aːˈtoːlːi] or from Mayan),[1] also known as atolli, atol and atol de elote, is a traditional hot masa-based beverage of Mexican origin. Atole can have different flavors added such as vanilla, cinnamon, and guava.[2] Chocolate atole is known as champurrado or simply atole. It typically accompanies tamales and is very popular during Day of the Dead (observed November 2) and Las Posadas (Christmas holiday season).

Mayan origin

Many Classic Maya painted vessels feature a genre of inscriptions known as the “dedicatory formula” or the “primary standard sequence” (PSS) and the two main ingredients mentioned in the contents section of the PSS were cacao and atole.[3]

In Mexico

Atole served at the Atole Fair in Coacalco de Berriozábal, State of Mexico

In Mexico, the drink typically includes masa (corn hominy flour), water, piloncillo (unrefined cane sugar), cinnamon, vanilla, and optional chocolate or fruit. The mixture is blended and heated before serving. Atole is made by toasting masa on a comal (griddle), then adding water that was boiled with cinnamon sticks.[2]

In Central America

Atol de Elote in Guatemala

In Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, atol de elote (maize atol), or simply atole, is a popular beverage. Pineapple atol (atol de piña) is also consumed in El Salvador. Salvadoran varieties include atol shuco ("dirty" atol, a reference to its darker color), particularly popular in the Cabañas region.[4]


In Guatemala, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development provided funding to INCAP to carry out a community randomized trial to test the hypothesis that improved protein intakes lead to better child development test scores.[5] They were given a high-protein atole-like beverage made from INCAPARINA (a vegetable protein mixture developed by INCAP which mainly contains corn), dry skim milk, sugar, and a flavoring agent.[6]

In New Mexico

In many parts of Mexico and in the United States in communities with Indigenous, Hispanic and Mexican cultural roots, atole is a traditional comfort food. It is often eaten as a breakfast or an after dinner snack on cold days. In New Mexico, blue corn atole is finely ground cornmeal toasted for cooking, consumed as a grainy porridge-style drink served warm, usually sweetened with sugar and/or thinned with milk. It is usually served at breakfast like cream of wheat or oatmeal. Elders are said to have drunk atole because it gave them energy and if a mother is nursing it gives her more milk.[7] In New Mexico the Puebloan peoples sometimes call it chaquehue or chaquewa.[8] The Ancestral Puebloans began to cultivate corn around 2000 BCE, and advanced irrigation ditches in 205 CE. Later during the time of Spanish colonialization, blue corn was irrigated by Moorish-influenced acequia systems. The Hopi plant blue corn seeds in bundles of several seeds to one hole, sometimes quite deep to reach ground water.[9] Atole porridge is called mush by the Diné, and includes the addition of juniper ash. It is called wataca by the Hopi. Atole flour is used to create Hopi piki bread.[8][2]

Cultural references

The beverage is referenced in the Spanish idiom dar atole con el dedo ("to give atole with the thumb"), which means to placate with deception. It may originate from the idea of wet nurses using atole on their thumbs to placate infants; alternatively, it may refer to the practice of distributing tamales and atole during periods of drought in pre-Columbian Mexico.[10]

See also


  1. ^ Davidson, Alan; Jaine, Tom (2014-11-20), Jaine, Tom (ed.), "atole", The Oxford Companion to Food, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/acref/9780199677337.001.0001, ISBN 978-0-19-967733-7, retrieved 2023-03-03
  2. ^ a b c Blaser, Janet (2022-01-01). "Atole: beverage of champions". Mexico News Daily. Retrieved 2023-03-03.
  3. ^ Beliaev, Dmitri; Davletshin, Albert; Tokovinine, Alexandre (2010), Staller, John; Carrasco, Michael (eds.), "Sweet Cacao and Sour Atole: Mixed Drinks on Classic Maya Ceramic Vases", Pre-Columbian Foodways: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Food, Culture, and Markets in Ancient Mesoamerica, New York, NY: Springer, pp. 257–272, doi:10.1007/978-1-4419-0471-3_10, ISBN 978-1-4419-0471-3, retrieved 2023-03-03
  4. ^ Fiestas Cabañas Archived March 21, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, Guanaquín (in Spanish; includes recipe). Retrieved 2008-03-30.
  5. ^ Martorell, Reynaldo (April 1995). "History and Design of the INCAP Longitudinal Study (1969–77) and its Follow-Up (1988–89)". The Journal of Nutrition. 125 (4): 1027S–1041S. doi:10.1093/jn/125.suppl_4.1027S (inactive 31 January 2024). PMID 7536830.((cite journal)): CS1 maint: DOI inactive as of January 2024 (link)
  6. ^ Martorell, Reynaldo (24 January 2017). "Improved nutrition in the first 1000 days and adult human capital and health: MARTORELL". American Journal of Human Biology. 29 (2): e22952. doi:10.1002/ajhb.22952. PMC 5761352. PMID 28117514.
  7. ^ Mushulá & Atole de Maiz, 25 YEARS AGO ON AMBERGRIS CAYE BY ANGEL NUÑEZ Retrieved 2009-11-23.
  8. ^ a b Alters, Cheryl; Jamison, Bill (Spring 2012). "Tasting New Mexico: Breakfast Specialties". El Palacio. Retrieved 16 September 2023.
  9. ^ Tawase-Garcia, Cassidy A. "Love in a Cup: A Story of Blue Corn and Place". Edible New Mexico. Retrieved 16 September 2023.
  10. ^ "Por qué en México decimos "dar atole con el dedo"". infobae (in Spanish). 17 June 2022. Retrieved 8 June 2024.