Capirotada (Mexican Bread Pudding)

Today is Ash Wednesday, and so begins Lent. Lent is the 40-day (excluding Sundays) season that precedes Easter. On Ash Wednesday and all Fridays throughout Lent, most people fast and abstain from eating meat.

The most popular food we eat during Lent is capirotada. Capirotada is a Mexican bread pudding made with cinnamon, piloncillo, cloves, raisins, bread, and cheese. I can smell and taste the sweet warm melted cheese as I type this. Yes, you read it right…cheese. The combination of these ingredients is sure to awaken your taste buds.

While working in our family’s neighborhood grocery store (Soza’s Grocery) friends and neighbors would share their capirotada dish. I remember some were quite interesting with the addition of peanuts, coconut, bananas, and sprinkles. I politely tried their recipe as they stood there waiting for my reaction. I couldn’t possibly tell them I didn’t like it, besides that, my mother would have killed me if I uttered an unkind word to one of our neighbors or customers. Instead I just stood there and thanked them. We are such creatures of habit, and any capirotada that didn’t taste like our recipe just didn’t cut it for me.

Both my mom and grandma used the most basic of ingredients to make this old world and traditional dish.

Many Mexican and Mexican-American families view this dish as a reminder of the suffering of Christ on the cross. The ingredients in this recipe carry a rich and symbolic representation. The bread is for the Body of Christ, the syrup is his blood, the cloves are the nails on the cross, the cinnamon sticks symbolize the wooden cross, and the melted cheese stands for the Holy Shroud.

This is our heavenly family recipe. Try very hard not to eat the entire dish of capirotada at one sitting. Sabroso!

Capirotada (Mexican Bread Pudding)

Yield: 8 to 10 servings


4 bolillo rolls or French rolls
4 1/2 cups water
12 ounces piloncillo or 1½ cups packed dark brown sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
3 cups cheese (Longhorn Cheddar or Colby), shredded
1 cup raisins
4 tablespoons butter or spay butter


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut rolls in ½ inch slices and butter both sides, layer on a baking sheet and bake for 3 minutes on each side, until lightly toasted and dry. Remove and cool.

Combine water, piloncillo, cinnamon sticks, and cloves in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, creating a syrup. Simmer syrup uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep, covered for 2 hours. Pour through a strainer and discard cinnamon sticks and cloves. Set syrup aside.

Spray 8 x 10 ½” baking dish with non-stick spray, layer ingredients in the following order: a third of the toasted bread, third of the raisins, third of the cheese, and 1 1/2 cups syrup evenly over cheese. Wait 15 minutes and layer another third of the bread, raisins, cheese, and 1 1/2 cups syrup evenly over cheese. Let soak for another 15 minutes, and again top with the remaining bread, raisins, cheese, and syrup evenly over bread. Before baking let set for another 15 minutes.

Cover the dish with aluminum foil that has been sprayed with nonstick spray and bake 40 minutes, uncover and bake until cheese is golden brown about 10 to 15 minutes more. Serve warm.

Photography by Jeanine Thurston

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  1. Hola, I wrote you a few days ago to ask your advice because I’d gone to the store to buy the ingredients to make your wonderful recipe for capirotada. I couldn’t find the piloncillo or cinnamon sticks. I just wanted to let you know that your suggestions were perfect. Thank you so much! The capirotada tuned out so good! Many blessings to you and your family.?

    • So glad it worked out Margo. Our cookbook (available in the fall) will have lots of substitution solutions which makes cooking Mexican food EASY. Thank you for letting me know it was just as yummy!

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  3. Rosalina Salazar Reply

    Yes…it is called sopa in northern New Mexico. That makes sense since the bread sops up the syrup. My brother-in-law’s family was originally from Mexico and they also called it migas (bread crumbs).

  4. Rosalina Salazar Reply

    Also forgot to say that in northern NM we used pinion.

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  7. When you say cloves,is that garlic? Ive been trying to work up the courage to tackel a dish of capirotada. Thanks!!

    • Thanks for wanting to make capirotada and in response to your question the cloves we are referring to is a spice. You can find whole cloves in the spices section of most grocery stores.

      Have fun with the recipe and leg us know how it turns out.

  8. I love this recipe, this was handed down by my grandmother I just can’t believe I found it so fast. My grandma would make this for us all the time it’s so delicious. Thank you for bringing it back

  9. I love this recipe, my grandmother made this for all the time. She used to tell us in spanish what it was but our spanish was terrible so we just called it bread pudding with cheese… It was the best thing in the world! Thank you for having it…

  10. Oh yeah, I was reading, I saw one person say that they used to call it migas also. How funny…. she used to tell us it was ormigas.. little ants (the raisins) we used to laugh so much, but it was delicious

  11. I am so excited to find this recipe, It brought tears to my eyes. My gandmother died when I was 11 yrs old, this recipe is the way I remember her making it. 27 yrs later I am so happy to have found this so I can make it for my children. Thank you so much.


    My usual recipe comes from my mom who uses bread that hasn’t been used as a way to “use” it before the bread goes bad. It has everything in it except the cheese, the syrup, cloves, raisins, etc. The cinnamon and cloves as well as nutmeg is powdered, and raisins could be put in it but she usually doesn’t do that. She has taught me this recipe for years but with my family ties to Mexico I want to mix things up and make something different. That is why I love coming across websites like these that educate me “la huella” haha yeah cause I’m so white it ain’t funny :p

    Great website! Keep up the good work, I’ll be checking in often checking out the other stuff you gals have on here! :)

  13. Does anyone know where I can get some colaciones? My mom used to put them in her capirotada when I was a child. I live in Thornton, CO I tried to get some from Corona Real, but they were always out and now I don’t even see them there anymore. Please help!! :) Thanks!

    • Howdy Coloradoan 😉 I live in HIghlands Ranch!!!

      I’m sorry I do not know where they sell colaciones. Have you tried Liborio Market in Commerce City? Although I think they may closed down. You might have some luck at some stores on Federal. Best of luck.

      Hope to meet you in Denver this Friday for our book signing 😉


  14. I too, grew up with this traditional treat. However through the years I have mixed and match recipes from friends using there families version. I have managed to come up with some very tastey variations. Although his one recipe in paricular was not a mix & match, it remains to be my all time favorite. It was given to me by my neighbor in California. Apparently this was her families version. She added hard boiled eggs crumbled, chopped green onion, and cilantro(Coriander) seeds that were coated in a hardened icing.( I have never been able to find them anywhere anymore) so I just use the dried cilantro seeds to accomplish the flavor. The egg & onion are added as part of the layers, raisins, chopped walnuts, cheese etc. After all has been baked, and the cheese nicely melted, the combinaion of all the ingredience comes to life! The smell and taste are just heavenly! As strange as this version might sound, it has actually been the one I have had more requests for! Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it! Yummy!

  15. This is just like my mother used to make, I can’t wait to make it!

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  17. Katherine Johnston Reply

    I wish I would of learned how my grandmother made capirotada. I found your receipe last year. I made it and had my mom taste it and she said it was delicious. She just asked me if I was going to make it again, I’m back for your receipe. Thank you all for brining it on line for us that showed of held on to our hispanic tradition. God Bless :)

  18. Mr. G. G./ Garcia Reply

    Marti Olson: We live in Amboy, IL. I wracked my brain to come up with a substitute for colaciones. It finally dawned on me that the wedding mints is exactly the same taste as colaciones. We can get colaciones from Mexico. All I have to do is ask either of my two sisters to get them for me and they will. They live in the Rio Grande Valley on this side of the border (USA). But I bought a huge bag and froze the rest.

    We can get piloncillo in IL, no problem. I use raisins and bananas, peanuts or pecans, various kinds of cheeses, but definitely Spanish import Manchego.

  19. Thank you so much for printing this recipe, I was born in Texas, and remember my aunts making it this way. When I moved to AZ my husband’s family made it but no cheese and filled with nuts, apples, bananas and it tasted soooo different than what I was use to, I can’t wait to try this version.

  20. I’m actually eating some capirotada right now. My abuelita makes hers for lent as well. I still can’t get past the cheese though. I can only eat the cheese when the dish comes right out of the oven, yet once it cools, the cheese cools and becomes too hard for me to like (I end up pushing the cheese to the side in order to eat the deliciousness of bread and syrup).

  21. Finally! I have been craving and searching and asking people for a receipe for Capriotada. After searching so many reciepes I found yours to be the best one. This is exactly how my mama used to make it. Same ingredients. She passed away, and I never got the receipe, I just always knew we were going to have this come Lent. I have tried others but they just were not as good as I remember and had ingredients, well I just found weird. This is the simple way…. I am so glad I found this. I’m originally from Arizona, and would get the Capriotada like you have here then I moved to New Mexico and I can’t find it like this. Thank you! Thank you! I have printed your receipe and can’t wait to make it! Happy Easter to your family!

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  23. Thank you so much for the receipe. I would also like the receipe for Tortitas de camaron’ My Mother would also fix these during lent as well as nopalitos con camaron. My great-granfather was a miner in Globe,Arizona and his family came from Zacatecas Fresnillo. con carino Isabel

  24. Hello and Happy Easter. I’ll first say I’d bet that since this sweet/savory bread is popular at Lent, it’s probably a happy treat for some during this Christian holiday too ; D. I am an African American so I made this for the first time yesterday. I have two questions because I probably could have had it turn out much better. Would 8 bolillo rolls sometimes be necessary instead of 4? Maybe in mainstream American stores they are a little smaller, because there was too much flavoring syrup for the bread to absorb. A puddle was in the pan, and the bread was kind of soggy after I baked it. I also wanted to know if the syrup was supposed to be thin and watery. I followed every instruction down to using piloncillo from Wal Mart. I used cloves and cinnamon sticks too. It was more like aromatic water than thick sticky syrup though. Was something missed by me you think? Anyway I still appreciate your sharing this special recipe with the world, and it was still a joy to try it. I just want to know if anything better could be done if I made it again. Thanks and take care.

    • Hi Sierra,

      Sooooo sorry for my delay. Thanks so much for trying out this recipe and leaving us your feedback. The amount of bolillos is up to your preference. If your baking dish is bigger then more bread might be needed. Also, the syrup is supposed to be a thin aromatic liquid. It doesn’t thicken up but it is important to let each layer soak up the liquid for best results. I hope you have fun making it again and making it an annual tradition.

      Thank you and keep in touch.

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  26. So yummy! I made it as written except my bread was cubed instead of sliced. The resting inbetween layers is important; the bread soaks up the syrup like a sponge and you end up with a nice, creamy sweet middle. I was surprised at how domed and puffy it got in the oven despite having no eggs! :)

  27. I’m so happy to have found your website! I currently live in Germany and miss daily my mother’s dishes and the freshness of Mexican food.
    I love capirotada, mi Abuelita y mi Tia used to make a delicious capirotada but I never got around to learning the recipe. I cannot wait to try this out.
    Do you have any suggestions to substitute the piloncillo? I have yet to find a store where I can buy Mexican ingredients… though my mom does a good job of spoiling me every now and then with a couple of things :)

    PS Its amazing that there are so many people on this page who come from Texas, I come from El Campo, about an hour south of Houston.
    Also I noticed on your descriptions that you also live in Germany Veronica. That is just a wonderful coincidence. I would love to know where you get your ingredients from. I have been trying to find some Masa to no avail. I found a couple of corn flour substitutes that were just not right. I also found Maseca on Amazon but got a response that they were no longer keeping it in stock. I miss corn tortillas!

  28. I just made it and it may be a family Sunday funday bring thanks cause I member this as a child when my dad was a live…

  29. @ROSALINA SALAZAR Do you mean capriotada is called sopa? Growing up, sopa always meant the poor stew we made with ground beef and whatever little odds and ends we found in the kitchen toward the lean end of the month. My grandmother use to joke “Your little friend is going to eat with us? No problem, I’ll just put more water in the sopa.”

    @MuyBueno Migas (my family is from Corpus Christi) always meant fried tortilla with eggs scrambled in. Like juevos rancherso without all the fancy stuff on them. I understood the literal meaning of the word to mean “crumbs.” Are you saying that some people call capirotada ‘migas’ too or am I completely misunderstanding?

  30. My mom taught me how to make capirotada and the basic recipe is very similar to yours, however, we use a different cheese and have more ingredients.

    Instead of the cheddar or colby cheese, we use queso panela or queso canasta. The additional ingredients are bananas, apples, pecans, peanuts, shredded coconut and baking sprinkles although I think this is more for decoration than for flavor. The bananas and apples are sliced and everything is layered as your recipes states.

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  32. After reading your recipe , I think perhaps my parents recipe was short cut version. The syrup was water, raises, cinnamon and white sugar. Bread, cheddar cheese, . Very simple, but muy bueno! We started saving and refrigerating the bread ends, bread crust left over from making party sandwiches, from Fall to Lent for our capidotarda! But egar to try your recipe . We never shredded the cheese but had it sliced in the market. Capidotarda can be a dessert or meal! Lots of protein from cheese , carbs, and fruit . Thank you.

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  34. Loved the recipe! I live in Spring just north of Houston but originally ( 2yrs old) from the state of Chihuahua. My family makes capirotada exactly this way. My family makes a dish call migas but instead of bread they use sopaipillas. And it is delicious also. My sister for a quick breakfast she cuts up squares of corn tortillas & fries them with scrambles eggs & this is really good too.

  35. Instead of shredding the cheese, my mom “chunks” it with a knife into irregular pieces of approximately the same size. The bread pudding is not so homogeneous that way.

  36. I love your website it so reminds me of summers in Mexico when my mom and I would visit my abuelita. My mom passed away 3 years ago and looking back my only regret is I didn’t pay more attention in the kitchen. Lucky my Tia is still here (80yrs young) and I am learning all I can. I now practice dishes and she gives me feedback. This recipe is just like both my moms and my Tia’s. Making right now and Can’t wait to share with her.

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  38. We are having guests from Mexico over Easter and I thought it would be nice to make a traditional Easter dish for dinner. I have never had Capirotada but thought I would try to make it. I read through the recipe but didn’t see where you use the 4 Tbsp of butter. Do you mix it in the syrup?

  39. Thank you for posting this-I make this every year for my Dad (and for me) my Nana used to make this for us and since I do not like raisins she would make me a small batch without raisins. It always surprises me how one small dish can bring back such memories and warmth-
    Something to be said about traditions!
    Happy Easter
    May the promise of renewal be yours!

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  41. My mom used to make this when I was growing up. Now that she is over 80 she doesn’t do much cooking and she never had a written “recipe” so I thought it would be a los tradition. I’m going to try your recipe and go from there to make it like hers. Thanks for a place to start!

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  43. I am from El Paso and living in the midwest. My mom sent me my grand mother’s recipe and it is almost exactly like this but she puts half an orange in the with the Liquid while simmering. Also, sprinkles and coconut flakes.

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  45. Hola! My Abue used to make this delicious dessert for us when we were kids especially at Easter she also added peanuts and dates to her dish uuumm so good! I too will be making it this Easter!

  46. Thank you ladies I recently read your book, was awesome and so close to our home recipes. And that capirotada, was nice to see cause it’s just like my Mom made it, not much in it but so tasty.

  47. I see the bread gets toasted at 350°. Do we bake it at the same tempurature?

  48. This is a recipe that I learned to make from my Mom. Divorced and very young hard working woman with 3 small children she did the best she could. She taught me everything she could about as many of her recipes as she remembered and learned from others, since she was an orphan at a very young age. It was the two of us cooking and the kids playing. We always added chopped pecans, bananas and thinly sliced apples. I just love the bread with all that goodness in it. Yum!

  49. How long does capirotada stay fresh for in the fridge? My grandma made some about two weeks ago and we still have some left over. Wondering if it’s still safe to give to a friend to try. Thanks :)

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