Aguapanela (Sugar Cane Drink)

This post is also available in Spanish

Aguapanela receta

Aguapanela or Agua de Panela tanslates to “panela water” and is a traditional and popular Colombian drink. It can be served hot or cold. Aguapanela is used as a base for coffee, hot chocolate and mixed with lime juice as medicine for the flu :-) Cold Aguapanela with lime juice is great for hot summer days.


Panela is a product that is made with sugarcane, it is sweet and brown, is sold in blocks or grated and the flavor is similar to that of brown sugar. Panela is also popular in other countries and is known by many different names. In Central America it is known as papelón, in Mexico as piloncillo, and in Ecuador, Perú and Bolivia as chancaca.

To buy panela click here



  • 5 cups water,or to your taste
  • 2 cups or 16 oz, panela grated or in chunks



Place the water and panela in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.

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  1. says

    I used to have this when i was a kid, during mother marys feast in church in India….
    Memories!!!!looks so yummy!!!
    I think Kerala food have a lot in common with ur food…

  2. says

    Piloncillo is one of my favorite sugar-y type things to use. I’ve never tried it like this. But sugar-water has to be good…it’s on my to-try list :)

  3. says

    I have seen the panela in our store and I always wanted to try it, but wasn’t sure what to do with it. So I’m thrilled that you posted this. I’ll have to buy some tomorrow. Maybe when I see something unfamiliar to me, next time I’ll just ask you what to do with it 😀

  4. says

    I used to see panela at fields in the village as a child, but never seen it since then. The drinks sounds like a great refreshing beverage for summer days.

  5. says

    i’ll tell ya, erica, you’re just full of useful and new info! thanks for the education and for introducing me to panela and this drink. :)

  6. Francijoe says

    We just had this for lunch yesterday… Do you have one where you can make juice from the sugar cane it self. In my home town the have a sugar cane field. I love to make this for my family….:)

  7. says

    Erica! Funny how things happen…last night I was in the kitchen talking to my husband about piloncillo. He told me about this drink his mom used to make with water and piloncillo…hmmmm. I told him how I’d just read about the same drink from a gal in Columbia!! Such a small world…I’ll be making this soon =) Thanks Erica!

  8. says

    I desperately miss the fresh squeezed sugar cane juice from back home in India. it is a popular street food esp. during the summer months and is served with lime (as u mentioned) and salt and sugar.

    What you call Panella, we call Gur/jaggery and use it a lot for indian desserts, even to make rice pudding. love the flavor it imparts and cannot be substituted with anything else in the world.

  9. Regina B says

    I do this and add fresh lemon juice for a coulmbian lemonade. My favorite comlubian cafe let me in on the secret to thier awsome lemonade. Muy bueno!!

  10. Esther W says

    Friends who had an Argentinian restaurant used to feed me this this when pregnant 30 years ago. It was so delicious, warmed up with a hint of cinnamon. Enjoy!

  11. Sonia says

    Mi grandma use to make this but instead of water she used milk, soooo delicious, this replace your coffee in the morning

  12. Oscar says

    Great drink. When my mom made the hot version, she would usually add cheese but omitting the lemon (and vice versa), and on the cold versions she always added lemon.

    Btw, for those of you looking for fresh sugar cane juice, you can try looking for places that serve “Guarapo”. I lived in Miami before (I live in Houston, TX now), so the only places that I knew of that served guarapo were cuban and colombian, so I’ve really no idea what other types of businesses might serve it.

  13. Tania says

    My husband is Colombian, and when I had morning sickness during my pregnancies, he would make me agua panela con limon, and it worked like a charm. I used to fill my water bottles with it and take it to work, sipping from it when I got nauseated. I just recommended it to a pregnant friend, and it worked for her, too. We also drink it in the summer, always iced. I’ve described it to Americans as “brown sugar lemonade.”

    I’ve visited Peru many times (my father is Peruvian), and I never saw it there, so it was interesting to learn that it is available there, too. I live in Miami now, and you can get guarapo all over the place, but it’s different from agua panela. I recently saw a bottled version of agua panela (looked like a Snapple at first). Wonder if it will take off.

  14. says

    I just found your blog, and am anticipating many happy memories and remembrances reading it! :)

    Had to run and make myself a mug of agua de panela as soon as I saw this post! :) I found out by experimenting that I can make agua de panela with the Sucanat I always have on hand (just evaporated cane juice I buy @ my local health food store). Piloncillo around here is made with corn syrup. :(

    Funny story: the first time I ever had this drink, we were at a retreat outside Bogotá. They served us pitcher after pitcher of agua de panela and te de manzanilla but gave us “sandwiches” for breakfast . . . because they’d heard that Americans liked sandwiches! lol Personally, I would have MUCH preferred a good Chocolate Santafereño!

  15. Patty says

    Hello Erica, I love your blog! You have so many wonderful recipes. I found this one of aguapanela that I was looking for, I used to enjoy this when I was little, I’ll make it now for my daughters.
    Have you ever made aplanchados? If you have, could you please post the recipe?

  16. Emily Renate says

    Hey Erica- When I was at my husband’s family home in colombia we had the aguapanela served with a large chunk of cheese. I am wondering if you know what kind of cheese I could use for that? I found colombian sugarcane and would like to surprise him…

  17. Anonymous says

    My grandmother used to make me this every time I would come over. I miss her and now I make it to feel her close again. Her lengua recipe was phenomenal.


  1. […] 2. Endulza el café con panela. Ese tinto mañanero no tiene por qué ser amargo. La panela se convierte en una muy buena opción a la hora de reemplazar el azúcar refinado. Ademas de tener un rico sabor, le otorga al organismo una gran cantidad de nutrientes y beneficios para un buen comienzo del día. Y si por alguna razón no tomas tinto o café con leche, simplemente prepara una aguapanela. […]

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