Atole is a thick, corn based beverage made in Mexico that is served hot, warm or room temperature, at any time of the day.
It can be made from cornmeal, cornstarch or masa harina. Some people use rice flour.
When made from corn meal, the corn used can be white, yellow or blue.
The texture of Atole can vary depending on the starch used. Ideally, it will have a thick, creamy consistency (and shouldn’t be lumpy.)
Purists make Atole from corn dough (dough made from corn soaked in lime, boiled, then dried and ground), and then a small amount of the dough is taken and mixed into a liquid added. The liquid can be either water or milk. You then cook the liquid up, then strain out and discard any lumps.
Milk versions of Atole often have you cook it first water, then add milk at the end, and then basically just reheat slowly so that the milk doesn’t curdle or burn.
You sweeten Atole with sugar and honey, and can flavour it with fruit, chocolate, nuts ,vanilla, cinnamon, seeds. The flavourings can also be savoury ones, such as chile peppers, beans or corn kernels.
The chocolate version is so popular it has a separate name to itself, champurrado. You can buy chocolate Atole mix in packages that you add cold water or hot milk to.
You can whip Atole at the end to make it frothy and foamy. This is often done with the chocolate version. The traditional hand whip is called a “molinillo”, but Mexicans are just as likely to use a whisk or an electric hand blender these days.
|Atole de Árbol||Also known as “Quauhnexatolli”, “tree Atole.” Made with tree ashes (sic.)|
|Atole Agrio||Sour Atole, also known as “Xocoatolli.” Made by first making a dough using black corn. The dough is allowed to stand 4 or 5 days, and ferment. The dough is then used in Atole, the atole, with the fermentation lending it a sour flavour. It is further flavoured with salt and chile. Popular in the state of Tabasco.|
|Atole de Ayocote||Also known as “Ayocomollatolli.” Chillatolli (see Atole con Chile below) to which cooked beans and epazote are added.|
|Atole Blanco||White Atole, also known as “Yollatolli.” The cornmeal is white, made from white corn. Sweet.|
|Atole de Aguamiel||Corn is cooked in water first, then aquamiel juice is added and it’s simmered again to reheat.|
|Atole de cacahuate||Peanut Atole. With ground peanuts for flavouring.|
|Atole con Chía||Also known as “Chinatolli”, “Atole with sage.” Toasted, powdered sage is added. Ground chile may also be added.|
|Atole con Chile||Also known as “Chillatolli”, “Atole with chile.” Before making standard Atole, a chile is steeped in the water for taste, or ground chile stirred into water.|
|Atole de Fruta||Also known as Atole with fruit. Usually made with cornstarch rather than with masa harina. The fruit is puréed first.|
|Atole de Leche||Atole with milk. Indicates that the liquid was milk, or partly milk, as opposed to just water.|
|Atole de maiz||Corn Atole. Indicates that the starch was corn, as opposed to rice.|
|Atole de Mezquite||Atole made with milk, and flavoured with cinnamon, sugar and small pieces of cooked mesquite bark. Drunken mostly in Guanajuato, and even there rarely now.|
|Atole con Miel||Also known as “Nequatolli”, “Atole with honey.” Mead is added. Chile may also be added.|
|Atole de Olotes||Also known as “Ollontolli”, “fresh corn Atole.” Atole to which is added kernels of corn that have been toasted till almost black, then ground. Yellow chile such as Chilhuacle Chiles (amarillo type) may also be added.|
|Atole de pinole||Pine nut Atole. With ground pine nuts for flavouring.|
Literature & Lore
In Tarecuato, Michoacán, Mexico, an Atole Day Fair is held every 19 March, and over 40 different types of Atole are served and an Atole Queen is crowned.