Natilla is a popular dessert in Colombia during the Christmas season. Every family has its own recipe and there are different variations in the country.
This is my grandmother's Natilla Colombiana recipe with coconut flavor and my favorite. Here is another Natilla recipe made with panela if you prefer the traditional one.
Coconut Natilla Recipe
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons of cornstarch
- 1 cup coconut milk
- ½ cup grated coconut
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 can 14 oz condensed milk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup sugar or to taste
- Pinch salt
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Cinnamon powder to taste
- Place 1 cup of milk in a small bowl, add the cornstarch and stir to dissolve it, then set aside.
- Place the coconut milk and grated coconut in the blender and blend until smooth and set aside.
- Place the rest of the milk and cinnamon sticks in a medium pot and bring the mixture to boil over medium-low heat. When the milk is a little warm, but not boiling, add the coconut mixture.
- When the milk starts boiling, add the condensed milk, sugar and salt. Stir well with a wooden spoon. Add the milk and cornstarch mixture and continue stirring constantly.
- Add the vanilla extract. Reduce the heat to low and continue stirring until the Natilla thickens, about 10 to 20 minutes. Add the butter, stir and remove from the heat. Discard the cinnamon sticks. Ladle into a serving dish or individual custard cups. Sprinkle cinnamon powder on top and let it cool at room temperature for at least 2 hours. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Natilla is a sweet custard that is traditionally served during Colombian Christmas gatherings. There are many variations of this dish throughout the country but this Natilla is my grandmother’s recipe and is very special to me.
I called my mom and one of my aunts for the recipe, but they didn’t have it because they don’t measure when they make it. So, I e-mailed my cousin Natalia in Colombia and asked her if she knew how to make it. Anyway, after calling her mom she got mamita’s recipe after my aunt Consuelo figured out the correct measurements. Here is my grandmother’s Natilla, with my own twist, of course. I’ve omitted the white cheese and powdered milk that mamita used in her recipe but the rest is the same. Thank you Natalia and Consuelo 🙂
The difference between Mamita’s Natilla and other traditional recipes that you’ll find for it is that she did not use panela, a sweet brown product made from sugar cane, she used condensed milk instead. That is the reason this Natilla is special and delicious. Some people add aguardiente to their natillas, but it in our family we don’t.
More Holidays Recipes to Try
Sabajón (Colombian -Style Eggnog)
Colombian Hojuelas or Hojaldras
Oh my gosh...this looks INCREDIBLE!
Great Natilla Recipe,
I was wondering how can I add coffee flavor to this recipe so it doesn't taste like coconut but coffee instead. I would appreciate your advise.
Substitute the coconut milk and grated coconut with full cream milk. Add instant coffee powder in milk before adding the corn starch.
That looks amazing Erica...I am a fan of custards, flans, blamange...so this definitely is in that catagory of deserts I love...! Thanks for the recipe...
oh yummy Jasmine would love this so happy you got the recipe
How exciting! Another delicious pudding different to anything I have had before! I look forward to trying this one!
Oh, this sounds delicious. I am curious about the Panela, is it a type of brown sugar?
LouAnn- It is similar, but hard and comes in blocks. I am going to write a post about panela next week.
Cuantas tazas de azúcar son equivalentes a una panela?
Con esta receta como hago para que quede de color café? Como es la Narilla normalmente.
Usas panela! O lo que en México llaman pilón;)
Oh wow Erica pls send me some Natilla! Hahaha
Coconut milk and condensed milk? Now that sounds incredible!
You may find panela in some mexican food stores.
Erica, this recipe looks so gooood. I will try it for the novena in my house this year.
Adriana- Thank you so much for your comment! Let me know if you like mamita's natilla 🙂
Natasha - 5 Star Foodie
This sounds amazing, I love the coconut flavor of this pudding!
I think rice pudding is the recipe made in almost all countries of the world. I love the addition of coconut in it and it sounds delicious.
The pudding looks delicious, such an interesting recipe. Thanks for sharing.
Oh, my... this sounds wonderful!
I know I will surely like this udding. You have my 2 favourite ingredients there....coconut milk ad condensed milk....mmmm. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you all for visiting my blog and for the wonderful comments!
im not much of a pudding person but wow!! this looks fantastic! love the ingredients
We had a Santa Fe style Christmas one year and I made this but accidentally used cornmeal instead of cornstarch! Big oooppps! Ladies this doesn't work with cornmeal:)
Me and my kids love sweet desserts and anything made with cinnamon and condensed milk and this pudding has all the ingredients we love...wonderful !
I have to say, coming over here in the morning makes me hungry! I love south american foods, and of course Indian too, but a special place in my heart since I am from Texas and have had many of these dishes 🙂 Happy Holidays Erica!
Erica--I love your recipes and share some of them regularly on my face book page.
I was looking for this recipe because I forgot some ingredients, but your recipe looks delicious. I'm going to try it right now. Thanks and Feliz Navidad!!!
HOLA ERIKA , SOY COLOMBIANA PERO VIVO EN ITALIA. HOY PREPARE UNOS BUNUELOS NO MUY BUENOS PORQUE POR ACA NO ENCUENTRO LAS HARINAS PARA HACERLOS. DE TODOS MODOS BUSCANDO UNA RECETA PARA HACER LA NATILLA ME ENCONTRE CON TU SITO Y ME SUSCRIBI INMEDIATAMENTE. PROBARE CON LA NATILLA , A PROPOSITO LA HARINA DE MAIZ NO SE ENCUENTRA , SABES SI PUEDO USAR LA DE TRIGO? Y LAS MEDIDAS "CUP" A QUE EQUIVALE EN GRAMOS? TE AGRADEZCO DE ANTEMANO LA AYUDA QUE ME DAS . GRACIAS Y FELIZ NAVIDAD PARA TI Y TODA TU FAMILIA !!!!
Claudia- Para la natilla tienes que usar maizena (cornstarch). La harina de trigo no sirve para esta receta. Trato de darte las medidas en kilos más tarde.
Claudia vos donde vives?? Si vives serca de Napoli ahi una Piazza (piazza Garibaldi) donde venden muchascosas colombianas!!!
This is an heirloom recipe. Very interesting use of coconut here. Does it have a coconut flavor? Looks very festive.
Hola Erica...anoche fue la noche de la novena en mi casa y preparamos la Natilla sin embargo no "cuajó" como debería. Mejor dicho no cogió la consistencia que esperaba. De sabor...fue un exito! Creo que al reducir la temperatura de coción a bajo para que espece deberia ser por mas tiempo para lograr una mejor consistencia (Reduce the heat to low and continue stirring until the Natilla thickens, about 2- 4 minutes. ). Sugerencias?
Para Claudia en Italia, Cup = Taza y el cornstarch como dice Erica es Maizena (Fecula de Maiz).
Adriana - Siento mucho que la natilla no te cuajo. A mi me cuajo perfecto con ese tiempo, pero puedes tratar de dejarla mas tiempo en el fuego, pero ten cuidado de que no se espese mucho. Normalmente cuando se deja enfriar es cuando se vuelve mas dura. Si tratas de nuevo cuentame como te fue.
GRACIAS POR LA SUGERENCIA DE LA MAIZENA HOY MISMO VOY A COMPRARLA PARA HACERLA EN NAVIDAD, ESPERO QUE ME QUEDE BIEN PORQUE SERIA LA PRIMERA VEZ QUE LA PREPARA A MIS HIJOS Y PARIENTES ACA EN ITALIA. VOY A USAR LA MITAD DE LOS INGREDIENTES ... ESPERO QUE ME CUAJE. TE LO HARE SABER, CHAO ERICA.
Panela is a brown sugar, but you can get it al the Mexican stores, they call Panela PILONCILLO
Maizena o fecula de maiz (1 cajita de 450 gramos) azucar morena dos tazas o pocillos, dos litros de leche, canela y clavos de olor al gusto, es todo lo que necesitas para una natilla estilo colombiano.
Mezclas todo en un recipiente, disolviendo bien la fecula de maiz, y colocas todo en una olla o recipiente que pondras a la estufa, a temperatura mediana. Tendras que estar revolviendo constantemente, para evitar que la mezcla se peqgue en el fondo del recipiente.
Toma mas o menos una hora, para que este lista. o espesa.
Para saber cuando esta lista, ( darle punto) al pasar el mecedor o espatula (con que estas revolviendo) por el fondo, debes verle el fondo a la olla.
Tambien puedes echar una cucharadita de natilla en un vaso con agua, y si no se disuelve, es que esta lista para vaciarla en recipientes, (platos) en donde se le deja enfriar. Despues de unas horas de estar fria, se puede partir en trozos o porciones para los invitados.
Algunos acostumbran a adicionarle a la mezcla (antes de poner al fuego) una copita de aguardiente. Es opcional.
Gil- Gracias por la receta.
Is white Natilla the same as Manjar?
Well, I laughed so hard reading your story of how you got the recipe because I had a similar problem this december trying to get my mom's recipes... she didn't use actual measuring cups so your story was so familiar to me. =)
I tried this a couple of weeks ago and the taste was great, but the texture and consistency was not as good as i would have liked. (kinda lumpy...more stirring maybe?) Can you post a recipe for postre de natas? Yum.... thanks for all your hard work, love the website!
Olga- It is hard to get the right consistency in natilla, you have to check every second to get the right texture.
Erika I would like to thank you for making such a phenomenal blog with such amazing recipes. I just made the natilla, omitting the sugar and butter to make it "healthier" and it is the most incredible pudding EVER. It tastes amazing right out of the pot still warm! I also made the tuna & shrimp cakes for lunch today and they were so so easy and delicious. I loved them! You do an excellent job I don't even use cookbooks anymore. Whenever I want to make something delicious I just come here now. 😀
howzit im doing an oral on your natilla pudding so thanks for all the info! this dessert looks delicious! i hope i can make it soon.
I live in a small city in Germany and finding ingredients can sometimes be difficult... this was a great recipe to compensate for the lack of panela (and I couldn´t find fresh coconut either). Thanks.
I dnt know if your mom did this but in my family we sometimes add uvas pasas or rasins. It gives it a really nice tangy taste to go with the coco.
Omg this so good. I am so happy I was able to find this recipe. Thank you so much for posting it!!!
Gracias Erica por esta receta tan deliciosa. La preparé el Diciembre pasado para la cena de navidad y todos quedaron encantados. El sabor es delicioso y la cantidad de dulce queda en su punto esto fué lo que más gusto.
This recipe tasted so much better than the boxed Natilla that I usually buy around Christmas. I have already made two batches and my husband is begging for another one. Thanks so much, Erica!
I made this today and everyone absolutely loved it! Thanks for sharing this recipe!
Claudia, con que leche de coco la haces la natilla. Usas de las que venden en lata? o tu la haces? Y si la haces como se prepara la leche de coco?
Angélica Zabala Benson
Thanks for the recipes! I live in Utah and its very difficult to find the Pre-packed mixes for traditional Colombian desserts. I wanted to make Natilla and Almojabanas For X-mas and now I can from scratch, thank goodness for this website!
I was looking forward to this, but what a disappointment! It was lumpy and runny. My fiancé who is from colombia was like 'What is that?!' I followed the recipe exactly as stated. I'll need to find another recipe. 🙁
Made this natilla last night for noche buena and it was delicious. thanks.
Cannot wait to try this!! Is the coconut milk canned? Thank you for posting such delicious Colombian recipes <3!
I made this natilla recipe last night and it was amazing. We all loved it! i used to hate the brown natilla, but this recipe is delicious. Thanks!
Hi Erica, thank you soo much for the recipe! I tryied and it was lovely however i did not use use the whole amount of sugar. But what i wanted to ask, is when i put the corn starch mixture i thickened quite quickly, do you think i should put lower temperature? And the revipe says between 10-20 min stirring. I had the consistence and a very nice flavour. Or maybe i should put less cornstarch, what would you think? Thanks in advance.
Every stove is different, so you can lower the heat next time and stir it OFTEN!!!Or use less corn starch and cook it longer over low heat.
Thank you Ericka, when I did it for second time I put the mixture on low heat and it turned amazing, thank you!!
Hi what's those brown balls called, on the side of the custard, and do you have a recipe for it
Buñuelos.Here is the recipe: https://www.mycolombianrecipes.com/bunuelos-colombianos-colombian-bunuelos/
From what part of Colombia does your family originate?
I read the natilla recipe and have never heard of using condensed milk . . .
Ours is from the Medellin, Antioquia region and pPanella is the ingredient of choice there!
My whole family is from Medellín. I was born and raised there. My grandmother didn't like natilla made with panela, this one is called natilla blanca or white natilla and it's very popular in some Colombian homes. The brown natilla made with panela is more traditional.
Hi Erica -
My wife is a Colombian from Pueblorrico and had a restaurant in "La Plaza Minorista." She laughed at me when I read your reply (as a good Colombian spouse will do) and said that she's sure I've never seen white Natilla because their family does not make it that way. Excuse my ignorance . . . Then the humiliation went further as she asked me o make the white natilla because she remembered how good it was.
When it is something special, I usually cook it here at home (i.e., Papa Rellenas, Carne en Polvo, La Natilla). ONLY because I found a book about 10 years ago in Denver, Colorado called "Secrets of Colombian Cooking" by Patricia McCausland-Gallo.
Like your Web site there are excellent examples of the best of Colombian cooking . . . which should be more broadly distributed here in the US.
As for me, I was the head cook in an Italian-american family restaurant when living in South Carolina many years ago. I grew up in the Chicago area where my wife, daughter, y un perrito loco live. We have a VERY small circle of Colombian friends (because Colombians typically live North of the city and we are to the South.)
I will visit your site more often now that I know it is here.
Thanks for your reply,
Michael Melone (The Gringolombiano de la familia)
Thank you for visiting the site, Michael! I understand.....my husband is American and He is learning about my traditions and culture.Merry Christmas 🙂
I'm thinking about making this for a party this weekend. It looks really good and pretty easy to make. But, is it really a whole cup plus 2 tablespoons of cornstarch? That seems like a lot! Thanks!
Could you give the recipe for those little donuts in the picture with the natilla? Thank you!
I can't get mine to thicken up what should I do
Hi Erica! I'm a big fan on your recipes (and so is my Colombian husband!) I've made this before, and it has turned out perfect! However, I made it for Christmas this year, and it was absolutely awful! I know it wasn't the recipe, of course, because it was amazing the other couple of times I've made it, but I was wondering if you knew what I might have done wrong this time? It turned out like a mix between play-doh and heavy duty glue..it was one big blob, and it got even worse in the fridge. the only thing I did different this time was make it in FL (I lived in CT when I made it the other times). Do you think the humidity could have had something to do with it? I have no idea, I just can't think of anything else, and I've really been craving this and wanted my daughter to have her first taste on Christmas! Thanks for any ideas you might have!!
We lived in Amaga back in the 1970s and our housekeeper made Natilla for Christmas. I never saw a recipe but I know we did not use coconut milk because it was not available to us at that time. It was so delicious and I always remember our Christmases in Amaga with so much love.
Is that a 'donut hole'??
I'd love to make this for my family but many cannot have milk. Would it be possible to replace the regular milk in this recipe with Almond Milk or anything else?
I don't know! I always make it this way!
Looking forward to making this natilla tomorrow!! Just one question, is the condensed milk sweetened or unsweetened?
You wrote: "When the milk is a little warm, but not boiling, add the coconut mixture." Do you mean that you remove the pan from the stove and let it cool down? Sorry, but it was a bit confusing to me... (We are entertaining some Colombian friends and I plan to make this and Torta Negra.)
Don't let the milk boil.