This traditional recipe for Mexican oatmeal (avena) is near and dear to my heart because I was raised on it, and now my twin boys enjoy it on a weekly basis. It’s a simple breakfast dish that reheats well for leftovers the next day.
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Easy Mexican Oatmeal Recipe
It’s a wonder I didn’t publish this Mexican avena recipe sooner. It’s a breakfast dish I’ve been making on a weekly basis for years.
When my boys first started eating solid foods, it was one of the first dishes I introduced. Now, eight years later, they still request it regularly. In fact, one of my boys squeals with delight when I mention it’s on the menu for breakfast.
The oats are rich and creamy, and the warmth of the oatmeal porridge provides comfort for the heart and soul. This food also “sticks to the ribs” as they say, preventing hunger attacks later in the morning.
With two 9-year-olds at home, that’s a major bonus for me!
Tips for Getting Rich, Flavorful, and Creamy Mexican Oatmeal
I’ve learned a thing or two after making this recipe over and over again. Hopefully, you can benefit from my years of experimentation.
Tip #1: Use real cinnamon sticks for maximum flavor
Feel free to substitute a sprinkle of cinnamon if you can’t get your hands on the real deal. However, cinnamon sticks will lend a fuller flavor to the oatmeal.
Tip #2: Add plenty of evaporated milk
When I skimped on the milk in the past, the end result was a very dry texture. Some of the milk will boil off, so I use up to 3/4 of a 12-ounce can if not the whole can. (See tip #5 on what to do with any leftover milk.)
Tip #3: Let the oatmeal come to a full boil
If you allow the mixture to reach a full boil (monitoring it closely) and then reduce the heat to a low boil, the end result will be gooey and moist, which is ideal.
Tip #4: Sweeten the Mexican oatmeal with honey
While there are many options for sweetening avena (see the recipe notes below), I usually opt for honey. It provides just enough sweetness to balance the cinnamon and evaporated milk without overpowering the dish.
Tip #5: Reserve the remaining milk for leftovers
When reheating any leftover oatmeal in the microwave or on the stove, add the remaining evaporated milk to make the mixture soupy again.
Mexican Oatmeal Recipe Notes
- I use conventional old-fashioned oats for this recipe, but you can also substitute steel-cut oats, which provide extra fiber given their minimal processing.
- For mix-ins, consider adding raisins, granola, bananas, apples, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, walnuts, or pecans. Each of my boys prefers a different combination, which creates more variety from week to week.
- In place of honey, you can substitute any sweetener of choice. Consider adding brown sugar, maple syrup, cane sugar, or other artificial sweeteners depending on your taste. Some recipes call for adding piloncillo (Mexican brown sugar or pure cane sugar). However, piloncillo is not easy to break up in its typical conical form, and it would be very time-consuming to use this for a quick breakfast meal, in my view.
- My mother never added vanilla to our oatmeal growing up, but I find it adds just a touch of flavor that complements the cinnamon and honey.
- Please do not confuse evaporated milk with sweetened condensed milk. The former provides a creamy, slightly caramelized taste and has healthy nutrients similar to milk, while the latter is like syrup and is often used for baked goods.
For another traditional Mexican family recipe, try my pumpkin empanadas – a huge reader favorite that includes piloncillo and anise!
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Traditional Mexican Oatmeal Recipe
- 1 ¾ cup water
- 1-2 cinnamon sticks
- Dash of salt
- 1 cup old fashioned oats
- 1 cup evaporated milk (about 2/3 of 12-ounce can)
- ¼ cup honey (to taste)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Boil water and cinnamon sticks in a medium-size saucepan with a dash of salt. Alternatively, you can add ground cinnamon after cooking the oatmeal.
- Once water is boiling, turn the heat to medium-low and add oatmeal. Watch closely to make sure the water doesn’t boil over.
- When most of the water from the oatmeal has boiled off, add the evaporated milk. You may add more than the recipe suggests depending on the desired consistency. Cook at a low boil, stirring frequently until the mixture reaches a rolling boil and begins to thicken.
- After about 2-3 minutes of simmering, add honey and vanilla to the pot, and stir well. Cook for another 2-3 minutes and remove from heat.
- Refrigerate the remaining evaporated milk if you plan to reheat leftovers the next day. For reheating, add more milk to maintain a soupy consistency.
If you have any questions about how to make this Mexican oatmeal, don’t hesitate to comment below. I respond to each and every message!
Buen provecho! Enjoy!