Melado de panela

MelaoMelado is syrup that is popular in Colombia. It is used with some of our traditional desserts and it is made with panela.

What is panela? Okay, panela is a product that is made with sugarcane, it is sweet and brown, it is sold in blocks or grated and the flavor is similar to brown sugar. However, panela has a lot of vitamins and minerals and is supposed to be good for you. In Colombian it is used in a drink called “agua de panela”, which literally means “panela water”. It is also used to sweeten coffee, chocolate and to make desserts. Agua de panela with lime is used by a lot of grandmothers in Colombia to help with flu symptoms.

La panela is also popular in other countries and is known by many different names. In Central America it is known as (papelón), Mexico (Piloncillo), Ecuador, Perú and Bolivia (chancaca).

Here is the recipe for Melado:

1 cup (8oz) grated panela
2 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
Pinch ground cloves


  1. Place all the ingredients in a small pot and cook over medium-low heat until the panela is dissolve completely and has syrup consistency.
  2. Place in a serving dish and let it cool.
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  1. says

    Very interesting. Never heard of melado before but the word sounds very Greek to me. Melato is something very sweet and the word for honey is meli.

  2. Pilar says

    Erica, Remember Cuajada con Melado? And Agua de Panela con Queso? Or iced Agua de Panela with Lime Juice (Agua de Panela con Limon)? For those of you who are not Colombian: Cuajada is a very fresh cheese and it is delicious slightly warmed until chewy and covered with the thick melado. So good! Or you can heat Agua de Panela and pour it into a mug that has cubes of fresh cheese in it. The same as we, in Colombia, do with hot chocolate. The cheese cubes almost melt and you scoop them out of the cup or mug with a spoon during or after you drink either the Agua de Panela or Hot Chocolate. Agua de Panela is also great during the summer ice cold and with some lime juice in it to cut the sweetness with a little tartness.
    Congratulations Erica, you are doing a great job with this blog!

  3. Pilar says

    Hola Erica, Ahorita te puse un comentario y como que se perdio. Te felicito nuevamente por tu blog y tus recetas. Ya he hecho varias. Saludos desde Colombia.

  4. says

    nice syrup erica! very interesting!

    I don’t know the name “panela” but it looks like jaggery (it’s also called vellam in tamil) we use it in sweets and to sweeten teas too :)

  5. says

    Wow – it looks almost like a block of caramel. Sounds like a delicious syrup that I would be only more than happy to drink. It looks very warm and inviting.

  6. says

    Panela sounds very interesting and versatile. I’m doing a post of sugars and their different names around the world, as it can be a challenge sometimes to find a substitute when you get home for a recipe that calls for something different. Have you found any with your Columbian cooking trying to adapt to American ingredients?

    • Erica says

      Oyster culture- Yes- all the time, but I am lucky to have a Latin supermarket 30 minutes away from my house and they have good stuff. Some vegetables, fruits and cheese are really hard to find.

  7. says

    Erica, I thought I had found panela at the store, darn! I bought something similar, i think, it’s called Piloncillo. I’m excited to use it but will have to write down panela next time. I really want to try this 😀

  8. Felisha says

    I made this tonight to go in my recipe for “arepa de choclo” but it never turned into a syrup. It was still had a watery consistency…any idea what I did wrong? It still tasted delicious and I still used it :)

  9. Melissa says

    I love panela. My friend, whose family is from Colombia, brought me some panela as a treat when we all went to Quebec City this summer. They were having a heat wave, and I got very dehydrated. I cracked the panela and ate some chunks and immediately felt better.

  10. MC says

    I believe what most people have posted are other names for Panela. I was just telling a friend about this today. :)

  11. Isa says

    Hola Erica!
    La panela se conoce en Cuba como raspadura y tambien se usa para endulzar el cafe y los panes o panetelas (cakes) con sus mieles. Por su sabor sumamente dulce y concentrado, al punto de empalago, es que tenemos la frase (algo peyorativa) “ser mas dulce que la raspadura” para referirnos a las personas que se sobran en zalamerias o que muestran cariño muy ficticiamente. La raspadura tambien se usa para hacer barritas de mani. Se derrite a fuego lento y se mezcla con mani ya tostado y salado (en grano o molido depende del gusto), se deja enfriar y cuando endurece se corta en forma de barra o la pones en el molde que quieras.

  12. Jennifer says

    I have panela so want to try it. Could I use it instead of caramel to cover the bottom of the pan when making flan?


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