Get festive with a huge slice of Colombian Natilla: with its smooth and creamy flan-like texture and its spiced milky flavor, Natilla is truly one of the coziest desserts you can have!
Top it with dulce de leche, blackberry sauce, or just cinnamon and customize to your own taste with different add-ins & toppings!
Hey guys! Today I’m bringing you major Christmas vibes with this delicious Colombian Natilla (peep the buñuelos!).
This is one of my favorite Colombian desserts and I love it topped with dulce de leche (just like the one in the pictures) but honestly most people keep it way more simple and just dust it with some ground cinnamon before serving it along some hot buñuelos (cheesy dough fritters).
There are different types of Natilla (such as Natilla de Arequipe which actually *contains* dulce de leche or Natilla de Coco made with with coconut) but this is the classic Natilla that’s traditionally served during the Holidays… though – I promise – it’s good all year long lol!
Why you’ll love Natilla:
- Flan-like texture. Natilla has the same texture of classic flans: it’s perfectly smooth and creamy and jiggles like jello! It literally melts in your mouth!
- Spiced milky flavor. Made of milk, sweetened with brown sugar, and flavored with cinnamon, cloves, and allspice, Natilla is the embodiment of coziness: a delicious milky flavor mixed with classic Christmas spices!
- Customize toppings and add-ins. Have fun with your Natilla and make it yours by choosing different toppings or add-ins (options below)! You can also spike it with alcohol!
- Make-ahead. Natilla is the perfect make-ahead dessert for the Holidays as it needs to chill in the refrigerator until set!
- No bake, easy to make. All you need is a sturdy wooden spoon or spatula so you can stir it as it cooks – anyone can make Natilla!
What is Colombian Natilla made of
Colombian Natilla is made of milk, panela or brown sugar, cornstarch, and spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and sometimes allspice. The cornstarch helps the Natilla thicken up into a flan-like texture.
Some like to add in raisins or shredded coconut and some spike it with arguardiente (a liquor made of sugar cane) or rum.
How to serve Natilla
Natilla is usually dusted with some extra cinnamon to keep it simple but some like to take it to the next level and top it with blackberry sauce/jam or even dulce de leche which is my favorite topping and it’s the one you can see in the pictures!
Natilla usually goes hand in hand with buñuelos, a type of salty-sweet treat made with cassava flour, cornstarch, and cheese, and deep-fried until golden!
A note on molds
In Colombia, you’ll see lots of people who just pour their Natilla straight into mixing bowls or baking dishes, no frills. You can invert it onto a plate from a mixing bowl or just cut it into squares from a baking dish, if you want to keep things simple.
I love using bundt pans for Natilla because they’re very convenient and, if you have pretty ones, they can instantly spice up the look of your dessert and make it look real fancy! I always stick to my Nordic Ware bundt pan (this one) which is the one you see in the pictures!
Another great option would be to pour your Natilla in single serving ramekins! Basically, you can use whatever you have on hand, it’s up to you!
Ingredients for Colombian Natilla
Milk. Natilla is made of cow milk, there’s no way around it so you want to use good quality whole milk to get the best flavor.
Brown sugar or panela. Most people use panela (unrefined whole cane sugar typically sold in blocks) to sweeten their Natilla but brown sugar will also work. Panela (and darker brown sugars) will give your Natilla a much darker color and deeper flavor so keep that in mind.
Cinnamon is one of the key ingredients so I recommend using whole sticks for best flavor but ground cinnamon will also work provided you use a high quality brand. I personally like whole sticks because you can just infuse the milk with the spice and then remove it once you’re done, no speckles left in your dessert.
Cloves. Again, I recommend using whole cloves so you can infuse the milk and then remove the cloves but ground will also work.
Allspice. Not everyone adds allspice to their Natilla so it’s optional but I really enjoy it so I would recommend trying it, especially if you’re a fan of spiced Holiday desserts.
Cornstarch. This is what thickens up the Natilla into that jiggly flan-like texture so it’s definitely a key ingredient and you want to make sure you have enough!
Butter for extra flavor, make sure you use unsalted butter.
Toppings & Add-Ins
Raisins are one of the most popular add-ins! Soak them in boiling water for 60 seconds to soften them up before adding them to your Natilla (step #).
Shredded coconut. I recommend using unsweetened high-quality shredded coconut but even flakes will work.
Alcohol such as aguardiente or rum to spike your Natilla and make it even cozier!
Cheese as add-in or topping. You know Colombians love their cheese. They make hot chocolate with cheese, fruit salad, and, even Natilla with cheese – of course! You can dice any double-cream cheese of choice and add it to your Natilla right before transferring it to your mold or shred it and use as topping along with some dulce de leche – yum!
Blackberry jam as topping. If you want to add some freshness and tang, this is your best option! Salsa de mora (blackberry sauce) is one of the most popular toppings aside from a simple dust of cinnamon!
Dulce de leche as topping. If you’re into decadent desserts, you *NEED* to top your Natilla with dulce de leche. This is my favorite topping and it’s just so delicious that I highly recommend you try it at least once! Sweet, creamy, and velvety – yum!
How to make Colombian Natilla
STEP ONE: Infuse the milk with the spices. Add part of the milk, sugar, and spices to a large pot over medium-low heat. Allow the milk to heat and the sugar to dissolve completely, stirring from time to time. Meanwhile, prepare the cornstarch mixture.
STEP TWO: Make the cornstarch mixture. Add the cornstarch to the remaining milk and mix until completely dissolved.
STEP THREE: Add the cornstarch to the spiced milk. Discard the spices if using whole, then pour the cornstarch mixture into the hot milk and start stirring immediately. From now on, you should keep stirring continuously as the milk starts to thicken. Do not leave the Natilla unattended and do not keep stirring or it will burn and develop a thick skin on top that will cause lumps when mixed back into the Natilla.
STEP FOUR: Cook until thickened. A good way to know if you hit the right consistency and can stop cooking is to grab a clean dish, smear about 1/2 tbsp of Natilla onto the dish and wait for a few minutes. If you can peel it off the plate without issues and the Natilla isn’t sticky, it’s ready. Mix in the butter and any add-ins (if desired), then pour the Natilla into a mold of your choice (I used this Nordic Ware bundt pan).
STEP FIVE: Chill in the refrigerator. Allow the Natilla to come down to room temperature, then cover the mold with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator to chill until set (about 3-4 hours, overnight recommended).
STEP SIX: Serve. To unmold your Natilla, start off by vigorously shaking the mold so it pulls back from all sides. When it’s pulled back from all sides and it’s slightly sliding from side to side, invert onto a serving dish. Top with ground cinnamon, blackberry sauce/jam or dulce de leche. Serve along with hot buñuelos, if desired. Enjoy!
Can I make Natilla ahead of time?
Yes, you actually should as Natilla needs a few hours to set properly before it can be sliced.
I recommend making Natilla 1 day ahead of time and then allowing it to chill in the refrigerator overnight.
How do I store Natilla?
You can store Natilla covered in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
If topped with blackberry sauce or dulce de leche, keep in mind that the toppings will gradually slide off the Natilla almost completely and may turn a bit watery.
HAPPY BAKING!! I hope you’ll love this Colombian Natilla with Dulce de Leche as much as I do!
PS: Please leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating ⭐️ if you make it! Your comments make my day!! You can also tag me on Instagram @itsdamnspicy 🌈💘
More Colombian recipes you’ll enjoy:
- Torta Negra Colombiana (Colombian Black Cake)
- Colombian Pineapple Sauce
- Pan De Coco (Coconut Buns)
- Colombian Hot Dogs
For The Natilla
- 6 cups (1.5 lt) whole milk
- 1 and 1/2 cups (300 g) brown sugar or panela
- 1 cup + 2/4 cups (180 g) cornstarch
- 3-4 sticks cinnamon (about 2-3 tsp ground cinnamon or to taste)
- 5-6 whole cloves (about 3/4 tsp ground cloves or to taste)
- 2-3 whole allspice (optional, about 1/4 tsp ground allspice or to taste)
- 1 tbsp (15 g) unsalted butter
Optional Add-Ins (pick 1 or more)
- 1 cup (160 g) raisins (softened in boiling water for 60 seconds)
- 1 and 1/2 cups (150 g) unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1-2 tbsp aguardiente or rum
- 1/2 cup (75 g) cheese such as queso fresco or mozzarella cheese
Optional Toppings (pick 1)
- Ground cinnamon
- Blackberry sauce or jam
- Dulce de leche
- Infuse the milk with the spices. Add 4 cups of milk, the sugar, and spices to a large pot over medium-low heat. Allow the milk to heat and the sugar to dissolve completely, stirring from time to time. Meanwhile, prepare the cornstarch mixture.
- Make the cornstarch mixture. Add the cornstarch to the remaining 2 cups of milk and mix until completely dissolved.
- Add the cornstarch to the spiced milk. Discard the spices (if using whole), then pour the cornstarch mixture into the hot milk and start stirring immediately. From now on, you should keep stirring continuously as the milk starts to thicken. Do not leave the Natilla unattended and do not stop stirring or it will burn and develop a thick skin on top that will cause lumps when mixed back into the Natilla.
- Cook until thickened. A good way to know if you hit the right consistency and can stop cooking is to grab a clean dish, smear about 1/2 tbsp of Natilla onto the dish and wait for a few minutes. If you can peel it off the plate without issues and the Natilla isn't sticky, it's ready. Mix in the butter and any add-ins (if desired), then pour the Natilla into a mold of your choice (I always use this bundt pan but a baking dish, ramekins or even a mixing bowl will work).
- Chill in the refrigerator. Allow the Natilla to come down to room temperature, then cover the mold with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator to chill until set (about 3-4 hours, overnight recommended).
- Serve. To remove your Natilla from the mold, start off by vigorously shaking the mold so the Natilla pulls back from all sides. When it's pulled back from all sides and it's slightly sliding from side to side, invert onto a serving dish. Top with ground cinnamon, blackberry sauce/jam or dulce de leche. Serve along with hot buñuelos, if desired. Enjoy!
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