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.


29comments inPiloncillo

  1. Michelle

    Oct 15

    I see it in the market, in the shape of a cone. I’ve never cooked with it. This was a great episode. That sauce with the pork looked so delicious !

    1. Pati Jinich

      Oct 24

      You must start cooking with piloncillo Michelle, you are going to love it!

  2. Adriana

    Oct 13

    Querida Pati
    Is there a brand of piloncillo we can get in the US THAT YOU LIKE?

    1. Pati Jinich

      Oct 29

      Hola Adriana, they sell piloncillo in every single Latin or Hispanic Market and even in some mainstream grocery stores, any brand will work! Un abrazo 😉

  3. Victor Galindo

    Oct 23

    Is panela similar to piloncillo? Do you have any recipes using panela?

    1. Pati Jinich

      Oct 27

      Piloncillo is how we call it in Mexico Victor (Panela is actually a kind of cheese) but many other Latin-American countries call it panela, so it is basically the same thing. Here two of my favorite recipes using Piloncillo / Panela, one sweet and one savory for you: http://patijinich.com/pati_2020/piggies-cinnamon-and-piloncillo-cookies/ and http://patijinich.com/pati_2020/pierna-de-cerdo-adobada/

      1. Anonymous

        Nov 24

        Wow, thank you Pati! I’ll try these recipes over the Thanksgiving holiday!

  4. Ken Braybrook

    Dec 08

    Hi pretty Pati,

    I have noticed that some sweet things are better when they are either hot or cold. Do you know if this is the same with this type of sugar?


    1. Pati

      Dec 20

      Piloncillo is good any way! But when it is cold you have to grate it.

      1. Ken

        Dec 29

        Thank you, Pati!

  5. Teri

    Oct 29

    I wonder what it would taste like to use in chocolate chip cookies? Pati, have you ever done this?

    1. Pati

      Oct 30

  6. Alicia

    Oct 29

    I had the most delicious butternut squash soup with piloncillo in Chicago at Latinicity. Would you happen to have a recipe for a Mexican cream of butternut squash soup with piloncillo?

    1. Pati

      Nov 08

      I don’t have a recipe for that yet….

  7. Yolanda Kyle

    Dec 24

    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!

    1. Pati

      Dec 28

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

  8. Richard

    Oct 16

    How do u dissolve it piloncillo

    1. Pati

      Oct 17

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

    2. Alicia

      Oct 29

      You can also grate piloncillo.

  9. Alice

    Jun 17

    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.

    1. Pati

      Jun 21

      Hi Alice, I pack it up!

  10. Lorelle Knox

    Apr 28

    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!

  11. Laurie Anderson

    Jun 17

    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.


  12. Veronica campos

    Dec 22

    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.

  13. Kerri Kaye Sharp

    Dec 16

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

    1. Pati Jinich

      Dec 19

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

  14. Ann

    Feb 04

    Can you put in print the pronunciation of piloncillo? Thanks

    1. Pati Jinich

      Feb 07

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

  15. Kakie

    Jun 30

    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!

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