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

Atole (Spanish: [aˈtole] (listen), is believed to come from Nahuatl ātōlli [aːˈtoːlːi]), also known as atolli and atol de elote. However, it is also believed to come from Mayan origin.[1] It is a traditional hot corn- and 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 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] As other Maya vessels are looked over they find atole made with sweet potatoes.

In 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. The resulting blends vary in texture, ranging from a porridge to a very thin, liquid consistency. Atole can also be prepared with rice, wheat, or oatmeal in place of masa. In northern Mexico, a variation is also made using pinole (sweetened toasted corn meal). Although atole is one of the traditional drinks of the Mexican holidays Day of the Dead and Las Posadas, it is very common during breakfast and dinnertime at any time of year. It is usually sold as street food.

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

In many parts of Mexico and in the United States in communities with 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.[4]

In Central America

Atol de Elote in Guatemala
Atol de Elote in Guatemala

In Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, atol de elote (maize atol) 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.[5] A emblematic variation exists in Nicaragua, called pinolillo. In some parts of Honduras, fresh corn is ground and the expressed liquid is used as the base (instead of masa).


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.[6] They were given a high-protein drink called Atole. The Atole was made from INCAPARINA (a vegetable protein mixture developed by INCAP which mainly contains corn), dry skim milk, sugar, and a flavoring agent.[7]

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/acref-9780199677337-e-0109, ISBN 978-0-19-967733-7, retrieved 2023-03-03
  2. ^ 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#citeas, ISBN 978-1-4419-0471-3, retrieved 2023-03-03
  4. ^ Mushulá & Atole de Maiz, 25 YEARS AGO ON AMBERGRIS CAYE BY ANGEL NUÑEZ Retrieved 2009-11-23.
  5. ^ Fiestas Cabañas Archived March 21, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, Guanaquín (in Spanish; includes recipe). Retrieved 2008-03-30.
  6. ^ 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 – via Oxford Academic.
  7. ^ 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 – via Wiley Online Library.