Colombian Natilla is a sweet custard that is traditionally served during Colombian Christmas gatherings with buñuelos and hojuelas.
This traditional Colombian Natilla recipe is made with panela, a sweet brown product made from sugar cane, also known as piloncillo in Mexico. Panela is the key ingredient to make a traditional Colombian Natilla and gives this dessert a beautiful caramel color and special flavor. If you don’t find panela for this traditional recipe, just replace it with brown sugar.
Some people in Colombia add Aguardiente (anise flavor liquor) to their Natilla, feel free to add a couple of tablespoons of this drink if you want. I also have friends that like to add cheese to their Colombian Natilla recipe.
Natilla Tradicional Colombiana (Colombian Christmas Sweet Custard)
- 5 cups of milk divided
- ½ cup of sugar
- ½ cup of grated panela or brown sugar
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1 and ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- Ground cinnamon for serving
- Pour 4 cups of milk into a big pot. Then add the sugar, panela and cinnamon sticks. Stir all ingredients with a wooden spoon and bring milk to a boil over medium low heat.
- When the milk comes to a boil, remove from the stove and let it sit for about 2 minutes.
- Meanwhile, mix the cornstarch with the remaining milk until dissolved.
- Put the pot back on the stove over medium low heat. Remove the cinnamon sticks and pour the dissolved cornstarch into the hot milk and butter. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until it thickens and you can see the bottom of the pot.
- Pour immediately into a serving dish and let it cool for at least an hour. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon.
There are many variations of Natilla in Colombia. If you’re looking for a twist to traditional Colombian Natilla, you can find my grandmother’s recipe here, which is made with sweet condensed milk, coconut milk and shredded coconut. The difference between Mamita’s Natilla and traditional Natilla, is that hers does not contain panela instead she uses sweet condensed milk and coconut. That is why Mamita’s Natilla is so special and delicious!
Buen provecho and Happy Holidays!
Other Colombian recipes to make during the holidays:
Buñuelos Colombianos (Colombian Buñuelos)
Hola Erica, muchas gracias por tus recetas, todas las que he tratado han sido muy ricas. Quisiera preguntarte algo, quiero agregarle coco rallado, en que momento de la receta debo hacerlo? Muchas gracias
Hola! Me facina la Natilla, me acuerda a cuando era chiquita y mi abuela la cocinaba solo para mi.
Me invitaron a una cena de Navidad, y quisiera traer Natilla. Pero la familia donde voy es vegana. Cual leche vegana me recomiendas para la receta? Estaba pensando entre leche de almendas o leche de avena. Pero no se cual podria hacerle justicia a la Natilla
No soy una experta en el tema pero creo que la leche de coco serviría para esta receta y además le daría un toque muy especial.
Just a tip, you could sift the cornstarch and add little bits to the milk to slowly dissolve. You want to do that step in a large bowl, don't be lazy and try to do it in a measuring cup like I did, that did not work at all! Also watch it like a hawk once you add the cornstarch milk to the hot milk because it can curdle really fast if you're not watching it. Mine curdled and I took it off the heat and furiously whisked it, I added coconut flakes that helped to hide the texture issues lol. I have always made the natilla from the box but this recipe was excellent!
Coco in the Kitchen
Giiiiiiiiiiirl, this looks divine! I've gotta give it a try!
My boyfriend is from Cali, has not had Natilla in about 16 years...I am going to make this for him. Wish me luck!
Seguro esta muy sabrosa la natilla!
Do you have to refrigerate or anything if you are saving it for the next day? I know you said to cover it but I want to make sure it doesn’t need refrigerated.
I usually keep it in the fridge.