Sliced bread brushed with melted butter, toasted until golden, layered with handfuls of nuts and dried fruits, drenched in piloncillo syrup, topped with crumbled salty cheese and baked until it all comes together…. Once out of the oven, it tastes like a cross between French toast and bread pudding. Crisp-on-the-top and moist-in-the-center, every spoonful a delightful mess.
That is Mexico’s most well known version of Capirotada. Being a lover of delicious Mexican style food messes, I am one big fan of it. But some newcomers to the dish are taken aback by the salty cheese on top. What – you may ask like many do – is the need for the cheese on top? Well, that salty tease makes the thick feel and sweet taste of the dish come out in bold strokes in your mouth.
It reminds me of how my father loves to slice sweet bananas over his savory lentil soup; or how my family goes crazy over piling ates (fruit pastes) with Manchego cheese, as so many Mexicans do; or how I used to love eating a handful of chocolate covered raisins right after a handful salty pop corn, and then repeat it again and again at the movies growing up, as long as the movie lasted. Capirotada has that same wild mix.
Once you finish your piece, I bet you will beg for a bit more of that addicting combination. That’s probably why I have received so many requests for a recipe.
That is also why, although capirotada is traditionally made for Lent and we are no way near Easter, I’ve had such a big craving for it in this cold weather. No. I am not waiting until Spring. And I am making it again this Thanksgiving to share with friends.
As it is baked casserole style and it has such a sweet warmness to it, it is perfect for the holidays and for making ahead and just popping in the oven.
There are, as all popular dishes, many versions of capirotada.
All capirotadas call for sliced and toasted bread. Some versions fry the bread in oil or lard to make it crisp and some brush it with melted butter and bake it. I go for the baked.
Also, some versions call for a crusty bread, like a baguette, bolillo or telera, while others call for pan de huevo, an egg and yeast based bread similar to the brioche or challah. Again, I go for the later….
Aside from which kind of bread and how to make it crisp, there seem to be two main camps where capirotada has fallen in the last couple centuries. The capirotada de agua (water based) and the capirotada de leche (milk based). De agua is baked in a piloncillo syrup while de leche goes in a custardy style sauce, with sweetened milk and yolks. Yet, the most traditional is the agua.
Yet the most common, and the one I’ve been asked for the most is de agua. The syrup tends to have the rich tasting piloncillo, true cinnamon and many times whole cloves.
There are many variations as to the additions. Most versions call for peanuts and raisins. So if you are looking for the most traditional capirotada, no need to add anything else. But there are many versions that add other kinds of nuts, fresh fruits like oranges, bananas, plantains, guavas, and grapes and dried fruits like candied figs and acitrón (the oldest recipes I researched about from a couple centuries ago even call for cooked onions, tomatoes and ground meat…)
After trying one too many versions, what I like to combine the most, are pecans and prunes. And I can’t resist adding a full blown layer of bananas, like many cooks in Central Mexico. I am very fond of these three ingredients, and they seem to mingle so happily together, especially tugged between pieces of buttered and toasted slices of bread drenched in syrup…
After the first layer of bread, in go the bananas, prunes, pecans and a bath of syrup.
Then goes another layer of the bread…. with the rest of the syrup poured on top.
As for the question of the cheese…. de leche camp of the capirotadas don’t have cheese, while de agua ones do.
And again…there are many options. While in Michoacán, they tend to sprinkle a dried and crumbly cotija cheese or a queso fresco, in other regions they use melty stronger cheeses like a Mexican Manchego. So you could go for a cheddar, a Monterey Jack or a muenster. You have the chance to play with your taste buds. But as funny as it may sound if it is the first time you try it, don’t skip the cheese…
Capirotada is filling, satisfying and sweet. And that cheese…. really does it’s thing…
Capirotada with Bananas, Pecans and Prunes
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- 8 cups water
- 1 pound grated piloncillo or about 2 cups packed dark brown sugar
- 1 ceylon or true cinammon stick
- 3 whole cloves
- 1 loaf challah or brioche bread cut into 1/2-inch slices (preferably a couple days old)
- 1/4 cup melted unsalted butter to brush bread, plus more to grease baking dish
- 2 ripe bananas peeled and sliced
- 2/3 cup pitted prunes chopped
- 1 cup pecans roughly chopped and toasted
- 4 ounces (about 1 cup) crumbled queso fresco or añejo or cotija
- Pinch ground cinnamon to sprinkle on top (optional)
- In a medium sauce pan, pour the water and set it over medium high heat. Once it comes to a simmer, add the grated piloncillo, cinnamon and cloves, reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 25 minutes, until it has all dissolved and has a light syrup consistency. Turn off the heat and remove the cinnamon and cloves.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush the bread slices with unsalted butter. Place in a baking sheet and into the oven. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden.
- Butter a 9x13 casserole or baking dish. Place a layer of bread in the bottom covering the entire surface. Cover with the banana slices, prunes and pecans. Pour half the syrup on top. Add another layer of bread, pour the remaining syrup on top and sprinkle the crumbled cheese. Sprinkle with cinnamon if desired.
- Cover with aluminum foil and place in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the syrup has been absorbed. Remove from the oven. Let it sit for at least 20 minutes for the Capirotada to settle and for the entire syrup to be soaked up, then serve. You can also serve it lukewarm or cold. It can also be reheated.
96comments inGoing Nuts and Bananas for Capirotada
Just wonderful add apples too and longhorn cheese yumm
Yum, que rico Delores!
Nunca he hecho capirotada pero me estoy inspirando a hacerla gracias a ti. Mi mama le agregaba queso Monterey jack y chispas de colores o sprinkles para decorar. Ah, también cacahuates y ciruela pasa.
Ah que rico!
Karen Santillana ( love you Pati)
We made our capirotada with raisins, brown sugar, lots of shredded sharp cheddar cheese, and layered wheat bread. You start with bread put all the other ingredients then layer again then at the top layered with bread and cook covered over in the oven on 300° for 1 1/2 hours maybe a bit longer. Then get ready to serve with sprinkled confectionery sugar.
Yum! Thanks for sharing your recipe Karen 😉
Juan de Dallas Texas
“dame, dame, dame tu chocolate….” hola pati, gracias por todo, suena rricisimo lo voy a preparar. I’m gonna top it off with goat cheese & broil it, que opinas? Des pues te aviso. Te quiero mucho.
Que deliciosa idea Juan, cuentame como te quedo 😉
Thank you for this recipe. I remember eating this with peanuts and cheese when I was young. My mom who is 96yrs now has many wonderful memories of her mother making Capirotada. Cooking in the kitchen with the smells of the piloncillo and cinnamon. The memories make us smile with good memories. I am making your version for Mother’s Day.
Love it when my recipes bring back sweet memories to you guys, I hope you made the Capirotada and enjoyed it Laura, un abrazo!
It looks fabulous. I can’t wait to make it.
Thanks David, let me know if you liked it!
My Mom always made capirotada for Pascua when I was growing up. Now that I am older I followed your recipe and she no longer makes it because she wants me to make this recipe instead. Thank you!!
Yay Mayra! If Mom approved, it must have been really good, thanks
Can you provide the recipe that has mangos in it and plantains instead of the bananas? I saw it on TV today, Jan. 11, 2020
I looked delicious. Great show,
Here you go, Cecile: http://patijinich.com/pati_2020/traditional-capirotada-with-mango-and-plantains/
This is not the version that was on your latest show! The recipie here calls for the bread to be cut in 1/2 in cubes you used slices toasted in the oven. Also you used plantains which were cooked, How? Where can I find the newer recipie??
Here’s the recipe from the show: http://patijinich.com/pati_2020/traditional-capirotada-with-mango-and-plantains/ Enjoy, Robert.
Robert Macias aka Thought dancer
I have made this a few times now and it is good on an autumn night. Sharing this link now on NY Times Facebook group.
Thanks for sharing it, Robert!
Me encanta como cocina
Mil gracias, Maria!
Jo Elaine Garza
Hi Pati, my mother in law and sister in law made this. Toast the white bread. Meanwhile bring together in saucepan raisins, cinnamon sticks and sugar with approximately 2-3 Cup of water. Bring to a boil until you smell the cinnamon and raisins are plump. Remove cinnamon sticks. In glass dish layer toasted bread
pour the cinnamon and raisins water mixture over it, then lay slices of American cheese on top and repeat until dish is full. Ending up with cheese on top. It’s delicious. I make it every now and then. I also use whole wheat bread and Splenda in mine because I’m a diabetic. It’s still very delicious.
There are so many yum versions of Capirotada…and all of your versions sound super yum, Jo!
In my house they use onion 😀
That version is super yum also, Ivan!
My mom & my best friend’s mom have passed away a long time ago. But we started reminiscing about their recipes. So we sat down & started writing down all the ingredients & they way each “mamacita” made her recipe. We were able to each come up w/ our mom’s recipe. Love your recipes!!! But their are so many variations of Capirotada according to the area of where our mom’s came from!😘
Oh what a lovely way to remember your moms, Isabel!
My mom would also put a pinch of anise in the syrup sauce! Yum! Yum! It adds extra flavor! But I know so many different variations according to our mom’s recipe! But it doesn’t matter because they are all made w/ mom’s love!😜
Juan R. Palomo
Gracias, Pati. My mother’s recipe was much simpler, using only raisins and pecans and cheddar cheese. And she never baked it, she just let the bread and fruit and nuts soak in the piloncillo/cinnamon syrup. I like to try different fruits and nuts, and I also bake it because I like the crusty top. I need to try it with caramelized onions. This was a must for Good Friday.
There are so many yum versions out there…I hope you love this one too, Juan!
My mother add cilantro to her
Oh there are so many ways to make capirotada…and that sounds like a yum addition, Jean!
I am a huge fan of both French Toast and Bread Pudding so you can imagine that this could just turn out to be my latest and greatest favorite. Breakfast or Dessert? I get to pick! Can’t wait to try it. Thanks Pati!! Buen Provecho!!
Mary Sanchez Martin
About the cheese? Do we bake the Capirotada, with cheese in it? Or we sprinkle the crumble cheese till is done baking? Also Wich cheese did you exactly used on yours looks yammmmy
Crumble the cheese on top before you put it in the oven…but make sure you cover the dish with foil. I’ve used queso fresco, queso añejo and cotija, and all are delicious. You can also use cheddar, muenster, or Monterey jack….really anything you have on hand 🙂
I am so excited to find this recipe. My Mom use to make this for us when we were kids, and now I can make it. It’s been years since I’ve had it. Wish me luck.
Good luck CE!
Thanks so much Pati for posting this recipe of capirotada it is one of my all time favorite desserts! Never had it with bananas sounds delicious…can’t wait to try it out!
Oh I hope you enjoy the bananas with it, Hope.
This looks so good and I plan on making this weekend. However, I don’t like cheese, any kind of cheese. Since cheese is not an option for me what else can I use in place of cheese?
I hope you had a great Easter! You can leave the cheese out or add more nuts for that salty/sweet contrast.
Thank you pati, I was just thinking about making this a hour ago. My mother makes it but. IN a home in montebello ca. So now I have to make it and take it to her on sat. Thank you so much for posting it.
I hope you and your mother enjoy it Lupe!
i’m excited to try this for easter this year. question – can i prep everything, layer it in the baking dish and then let it sit until i’m ready to bake it? cover and refrigerate? or is it important to bake right away, in which case i’d have to reheat it and risk drying it out before serving… just trying to avoid a mess in the kitchen while company is over. thanks!
Absolutely! You can prep, later and refrigerate. Just try to bring to room temperature before putting it in the oven.
hi pati – thanks for the recipe. my friend is having an “easter around the world” menu this year, and i am going to make this for dessert. i’m not sure if our crowd will enjoy the prunes, so i may use raisins instead. anyway… i have a question for you. since i don’t want to be making a mess in the kitchen while guests are over, what is the best way to prepare this ahead and still serve it warm? can i layer it, cover and set aside (or refrigerate) until baking? or do i need to bake it right away and reheat it? it just never seems to get as warm that way, and i don’t want to dry it out by reheating. thanks in advance!
Hello, my grandmas recipe included tortillas coated in Manteca lining the bottom of the casuela or cazo. Then you would add the layers of old bolillo bathed in a syrup made out of piloncillo, cloves, chopped tomatoes, and chopped onions. Then you would top it with cheese, peanuts, raisins, sugar, colaciones ( small hard Mexican candies that resemble stars usually found around Xmas time ) keep adding layers of bolillo, syrup, cheese, peanuts, raisins, sugar, colasiones. Bake in the oven until toasted. This is how she made it. My grandma was from Zacatecas, Mexico. She was born in 1908. I follow her recipe except I omit the tortillas, the tomatoes and the onions. The colaciones candies are hard to find.
I forgot to mention that cinnamon was also added to the syrup.
Amazon has the colaciones, though not star-shaped. I have written down your recipe for Capirotada to make this Easter. I love the comments on this recipe, those I could read in English and want to also try the lady’s grandmother’s recipe using tortillas, bolillo and with tomatoes and onions in the syrup. Love your program. Happy Easter and happy eating.
Happy Easter to you too Marilyn, and enjoy the Capirotada!
This is exactly the way my grandmother made hers too. She was from Jalisco. She added tomatoes,onions and tortillas just like that. It was delicious too yummm thanku for sharing that recipe.
Mi mamá era de un pueblo en Jalisco. La Capirotada que ella hacía era muy rica. También le ponía rodajas de plátano pero los salteaba en mantequilla. En cuanto al pan; usaba mitad bolillo y mitad picones. Freía una parte del pan y la otra la tostaba en el horno. También le ponía coco, nueces y ciruelas. ¿Cuál será el origen de esta versión?
Me fascina tu programa, lo veo cada sabado. De hecho estuve en San Miguel de Allende inspirada por tus vacaciones. Eres una pionera en el campo culinario de la gastronomía mexicana. En buena hora y felicidades por tu éxito. Espero tu libro nuevo ansiosamente.
Rosa del Carmen
My Grandmother who was from northern Jalisco, raised in Southern Zacatecas after the revolution, would make capirotada. The version from that area is a sweet and savory, as they make the caldillo with piloncillo but also caramalized onions and tomatillo ( the latter two are removed before pouring on bread)I don’t have her recipe written down , but my mom taught me how to do it. Brings back memories of celebrating Dias Santos in the small town of Momax, Zacatecas.
Buenos Dias Pati! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! I left some capirotada at my Sister’s house so she could taste it – she texted me and wrote, “It smells like Mom’s…”,”…it looks like Mom’s…”,”…and it tastes like Mom’s!!!! It’s right on and delicious!”
In my original recipe, I WAS MISSING THE CLOVES!. I will never lose this and will always be grateful!
Thanks again, Love Always, Ruben
recently been watching your show. love the accent! my mom passed away many moons ago and all her traditional mexican dishes have gone with her. I remember her capirotada and how it tasted, I was always so close, but I think your recipe has the one ingredient I have been missing. Going to try and make it this friday for my dad and sisters…let you know how it comes out.
Hola Ruben, So happy you are going to try my capirotada recipe for your family!! Yes, please let me know what you think of it…
Love your book Pati! A pound of piloncillo seems like a lot of work to grate. Is there an easiest way to do it?
Yes, Brian, it is hard work to grate! A much easier way for this recipe, since you are making a syrup, is to put the piloncillo in a pan with a little water. Set it over low heat and let it slowly melt down, occasionally breaking it up with a wooden spoon and stirring. Once it melts down, add the water, cinnamon and cloves and simmer as directed in the recipe to make your syrup for the capirotada.
Hola Pati, this is very similar to the one my family makes, apart from adding bananas or plantains, we also add thinly sliced red apples….yum!
Love it with apples!
You are wonderful, going to try some of your recipes or u can just come live with us lol looking for the rope cookie recipe pls.
Char, You are making me laugh so hard! I hope you try many of my recipes. Here is the sweet anise ropes recipe: http://patijinich.com/pati_2020/2011/04/sweet_anise_ropes_or_rosquitas/
I tried this recipe. Overall flavour was good, but bananas turned grey and rubbery. Is this normal, or did I overcook it?
Hmmm… wondering what may have happened. May have happened if they were too green…
Ah- that is possible. They had just turned yellow, so they weren’t very ripe. I’ll try again with baking bananas. Thank you for getting back so quickly! I’m trying this as a surprise gift for friends with a new baby 🙂
Another “I remember this” recipe! Of course I came to your site to find it.
The original capirotada version I knew in Mexico city since I was a child was very lame and frankly just tasted like sugary mushy bread. This recipe brings brings the banana flavor and crunchiness of nuts. I am for Capirotada now!
Gracias por ser tan authentica maryelena.
Gracias,por ser tan authentica, me encanta todas tus recetas y tu blog. Maryelena
THANK YOU!!! My Mom made her version during lent and Christmas and I will give your recipe a try. I ran across your TV show by accident, what a good accident!!
I love this!
Que felicidad que ya casi sale tu libro Pati!! Ya hace tiempo que lo estoy esperando. Sere una de las primeras en comprar lo!!
Gracias por compartir tu arte y tu energia y por llevar la cocina Mexicana en lo alto!!
Muchas gracias Carmen! 🙂
These type of sweets make me think of my mother. She used to make this for us during cuaresma I think. It’s been so long since I’ve had some, and your version looks like the kind she used to make. I’ll have to try and make some for my dad. He loves sweets made with piloncillo. One of his favorites is camotes en piloncillo-in a big bowl so he can pour some cold milk on top them.
Pati buenas dias como estas felicidades en tu exito.No mas quiero saber que es challah o brioche…Gracias.Lisa
Pan Challah o Brioche, son dos tipos de panes, parecidos a los “Panes de Huevo o de Yema” que hay en México. Son panes suavecitos que estÃ¡n hechos a base de levadura y huevo. Pero puedes probar la receta con cualquier pan que a ti te guste!
It is so wonderful to find this recipe here. I have fond memories of my mother making capirotada, and I have attempted it many times, but I have not been so successful. Thank you! I feel so grateful to find someone here online that is so committed and passionate to our Mexican customs and traditions. Thank you for sharing out nation’s treasures.
Thank you for your lovely comments Ari! It is my pleasure to share my recipes. I am so happy that my blog can remind you of memories of your mother’s cooking and our Mexican culture. I hope you enjoy the capirotada! 🙂
Hi Pati, I also could not find your show on my guide.
I googled you and now I am happy to know that you have this
blog. My mother makes this Capirotada for Lent and Christmas.
She makes a huge stockpot, she propably has 10 layers and it’s always been the agua with tomatoes,onions,cloves,piloncillo,and
cinnamon. You know, my mother uses plantains instead of bananas, they hold their shape wonderfully. She learned it from her aunts and grandmother who were born in the early 1900’s in Michoacan.
Anyway, I am thrilled to see this recipe and your blog, you have
a new follower! P.S. Is there a cookbook in the works?
Thank you for your comments Eli! I am so happy you are excited by this recipe. I like using plantains sometimes too, and it is also delicious. Yes, there is a cookbook on the way. The manuscript is finished and just waiting for a release date from the publishers. I will keep you updated! 🙂
Hi Patty, Thanks for sharing your secrets. I don’t get the TV station any more you were on because they moved in to a digital stations. Are you on you tube . . or Hulu? Happy Holidays, I miss you.
Hola Eric, I have a few clips now on You Tube, but I am looking into more ways to make the whole episodes accessible. I will let you know once I figure this out! 🙂
Made this today… Husband and kids LOVED it!
So glad they all loved it Sandra! I wish I could get my kids to eat more capirotada!
Oh wow, that looks amazing! My husband loves anything that resembles bread pudding, so I think we’ll have to try this.
I hope you and your husband enjoy the recipe Kari! 🙂
Thank you for this rich version of capirotada. My grandmother was from a little mountain town in Sonora called, “Aconchi”. THat’s where they have the two versions of flour tortillas….the gorditas of which my mother taught me to make and, the large one made without the rolling pin. THere is an art to waving it and stretching it out….and cooking it on the large outdoor comals.
ANyway, capirotada….my Nana taught my mom and my mom taught me. Both are gone now but I continue to make it each year as a tradition to remember them and to continue the cultural influences that I share with my family and friends.
It is almost a lost art, or recipe. When I make a tray for home, I make one for work and the ‘old timers’ thank me and remember their mothers who used to make it when they were young.
I use peanuts, bananas, mild cheddar cheese, and raisins in the piloncillo syrup with 3 whole cloves. The cloves came from my kids’ babysitter , who was from Aguascalientes. Sometimes, I have added shredded coconut.
Thank you, Pati, for sharing this version. I love your show! My husband is from Puerto Rico and I am a “Chicana from BOyle Heights, California which today is referred to as East L.A. What perked my interest on one of your shows was when you made the empanadas with plantain bananas. That’s because in my husband’s culture they use the green ones for fritters called ‘tostones’ and the yellow maduros for soups, and desserts. I did not realize that Mexico uses them also. Then I realized that Mexico also has a Caribbean side and menu. My family loved them!
THanks I love your enthusiams and excitement in sharing your recipes on your show!
Hola Irene, I’m so happy you use bananas in your capirotada too! I have made it with plantains before and it is also delicious. I love hearing stories and thank you so much for sharing yours! 🙂