Piloncillo is the rawest form of sugar cane. The same thing as cane juice but in a solid form. It typically comes in a block, with the shape of a cone, square or round.

It can be substituted for brown sugar. However, the flavor of piloncillo is more rustic. Reminds me of foods eaten in small villages or pueblos, it is homey. It adds that extra “something”, be it depth, color, aroma, that is hard to define but amazing to taste.

It can be grated or dissolved in hot or simmering liquid.


  • Cool! I have seen this numerous times in the Mexican stores but was too freaked out. Will definately be using it now. I have been to some small mountain villages near Casa Grandes and will imagine myself back there as I cook with piloncillo. Thank you!

  • Ann

    Can you put in print the pronunciation of piloncillo? Thanks

    • Pati Jinich

      Hola Ann, The pronunciation for piloncillo is [pee-lawn-SEE-yoh].

  • I love all Pati’s recipes! And her culture! I will definitely be purchasing piloncillo soon and using it!

    • Pati Jinich

      Thank you, Kerri! YES, get the pilconcillo. You will love it!!

  • Veronica campos

    I can’t wait to use piloncillo to make cafe de olla! Thank you for teaching us how to use it. I too have seen it in the grocery store but never knew exactly what it was or how it was used. I must admit that I am ashamed that as a Mexican American living in Texas, I am still very unfamiliar with many Mexican ingredients. Because my mother is American and the cook when i was growing up, my sisters and I really missed out on learning to cook traditional Mexican food. I can’t wait to buy your new cook book so that I can start learning!

    I love watching the show on PBS and I think this blog is awesome! Thank you.

  • Laurie Anderson

    Thank you for the information. I guess I will have to use regular sugar and then piloncillo instead of brown sugar. I assume it is 1 cup to 1 cup in a receipe. I have found what looks like piloncillo but is actually brown sugar and molasses in a cone shape and labeled piloncillo. Need to look at the ingredient list.

    Thank you again.


  • Thank you for clearing up this mystery. Since I was a kid, we bought these sugary ‘dolce’ cones at Mexican candy stores, and boy, were they rich! And perfect, to munch on for awhile and come back to many times. Candy isn’t like that in the States. But I always wondered why it was called brown sugar here, and tasted distinctly different. It is different!

  • Alice

    Hello, I made a dish last night that called for 3/4 cup grated piloncillo but I think I put too much because I didn’t know what the weight is supposed to be. Do you know how much 1 cup of piloncillo in grams or ounces will weigh? If not, when you measure the grated piloncillo, do you pack the sugar or is it loose in the measuring spoon or cup. Thank you for you help.

    • Pati

      Hi Alice, I pack it up!

  • How do u dissolve it piloncillo

    • Pati

      Just put it in a small sauce pan with a splash of water, over low heat and cover…

  • Yolanda Kyle

    Hello Pati,
    Does piloncillo go bad? I usually use it as soon as I get it but this time I got a bunch and stored it in Mason jar. It looks a little dry with white patches. Who better to ask than you!

    • Pati

      Seal it tight and store in a cool place, and it should be ok for up to 6 months!