Warm, creamy, sweet, and cinnamon-y, this slow-cooked Old-Fashioned Mexican Oatmeal (also known as Avena) is a bowlful of morning comfort. Start your day off on the right foot with this wholesome and nutritious breakfast made with just old-fashioned oats, water, cinnamon, and milk. 

Old fashioned Mexican oatmeal (avena) in two blue and white painted bowls garnished with walnuts and blueberries. Renecula flower in a vase in the background.  

If you’ve fallen into a breakfast slump recently, give this deliciously smooth oatmeal recipe a try! This traditional Mexican breakfast will warm you up from the inside out and keep you full until lunchtime. It’s also entirely customizable, making it the perfect choice for your whole family.

About This Recipe

Warm avena (oatmeal) is one of my favorite winter breakfasts. It’s warm, creamy, easy on the tummy, and feels like a big hug in a bowl. While you can always opt to use instant oatmeal for a quick breakfast, oftentimes the packets are loaded with sugar, not to mention their lackluster consistency. There’s just something different about homemade oatmeal prepared on a chilly morning.

This simple recipe for slow-cooked Mexican avena requires just a handful of ingredients, most of which are probably already in your pantry. Old-fashioned rolled oats, cinnamon sticks, water, and milk are all you need to make this hearty breakfast.

While I can’t claim that this is a quick recipe, the flavor is well worth the minimal effort it requires. It only takes about three minutes of prep time to get on the stove, and then a quick stir every few minutes to ensure it doesn’t burn. The result? A smooth, cozy breakfast that acts like an internal jacket.

This easy avena recipe also allows for plenty of customization. Feel free to use the sweetener of your choice, then top it with whatever your heart desires. I like mine with handful of berries, some chopped nuts, a sprinkle of ground cinnamon, and a drizzle of honey. Delicious!

Three canela cinnamon sticks and old fashioned oats on a white marble surface.

Health Benefits of Oats

Whether you’re still going strong with your New Year’s resolutions or if you’ve fallen off the wagon and want to get back to a healthy diet, this is a great place to start. Avena is a tasty and nutritious breakfast that should fit well with most diets, and is loaded with good-for-you ingredients. 

In case you didn’t already know it, whole-grain oats are naturally gluten-free, high in fiber, relatively high in protein and fat, and are loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. In fact, they are one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet!

A diet rich in oats has also been associated with several positive health outcomes including reduced blood pressure, reduced LDL cholesterol, reduced insulin response, and reduced inflammation. If you’re looking for a superfood to start your day, oats are it  amigos!

As if that weren’t enough, the addition of cinnamon increases the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of this avena recipe, and the addition of milk gives the oatmeal a boost of protein. Toss in some fresh berries for a hit of powerful phytonutrients and some nuts for heart-healthy fat, and you have yourself a breakfast that will nourish you from the inside out.

Finally, when you purée the cooked avena in the blender it becomes an atole, which is a smooth oatmeal drink. This is a good way to prepare it for both the elderly and the very young; it was my grandma Jesusita’s favorite breakfast preparation when she got older.

How to Make Old-Fashioned Avena

This simple recipe for slow-cooked Mexican oatmeal is pretty straightforward. It takes a bit of time to prepare, but I promise it will be worth every second! Here’s how it’s done:

In a saucepan (I love my cast iron Dutch oven), bring the water to a boil with the cinnamon sticks. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep for one hour. Discard the cinnamon sticks. Make-Ahead Tip: This Cinnamon Tea (Té de Canela) can be done up to a week in advance and kept in the refrigerator.

Add the salt and oats to the water and let it come to a boil, uncovered. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Add milk and simmer for an additional 15 minutes until creamy.

Serve in a bowl and add more milk or water if you want it thinner. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sweeten with sugar, honey, or maple syrup. Serve garnished with blueberries and walnuts. Enjoy!

Watch the video below to learn how quick and simple it is to make avena. Slow-cooked old-fashioned creamy oatmeal is so comforting and beats instant packaged oatmeal any day.

Top down shot of Old fashioned Mexican oatmeal (avena) in two bowls garnished with walnuts and blueberries.

Optional Variations & Customizations

This comforting recipe for avena is simply perfect as is, but there are plenty of ways to make it your own. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Play with your toppings! I’m a sucker for antioxidant-rich blueberries and heart-healthy walnuts, but those are just two of about a gazillion options. Feel free to try other berries and nuts, or raisins. Granola will add crunch and sweetness, maple syrup can replace the honey, use cacao powder to make it chocolatey, or add apples.
  • Make it vegan. Trade out the dairy milk for your favorite plant-based milk instead. I love rice or almond milk, but you can also double down on the oats with creamy oat milk.
  • Make it in a slow cooker. If you aren’t one for morning cooking, I hear you! Simply add all the ingredients to a slow cooker and set it to low for 8-10 hours. When you wake up, this sweetly spiced slow cooker avena will be waiting to greet you!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have any tips to make this go faster?

Sure! Take a page out of the overnight oats playbook and add the milk, oats, salt, and cinnamon-infused water to a mixing bowl. Stir well, cover and place in the fridge overnight. During their rest, the oats will absorb the liquids and begin to soften, reducing your cook time significantly.

Alternatively, you can opt to make this yummy avena on your meal-prep day and keep it in the fridge. Leftovers will last for up to a week!

What are the best kind of oats to use?

Making avena requires rolled (or old-fashioned) oats to get the proper consistency. While you can technically use instant oats, they end up a little too mushy for my taste. Stay away from steel-cut oats for this one – they take much longer to cook.

Can I use this recipe to make atole?

Absolutely! Simply toss the cooked avena in a blender (or use an immersion blender to cut down on dishes) and whiz away until it is smooth and sippable.

More Tasty Breakfast Recipes

If you made this recipe for my Old-Fashioned Mexican Oatmeal (a.k.a. Avena), please be sure to rate and review it below!

Old-Fashioned Mexican Oatmeal (Avena)

4.23 (22 ratings)
Warm, creamy, sweet, and cinnamon-y, this slow-cooked Old-Fashioned Mexican Oatmeal (also known as Avena) is a bowlful of morning comfort. Start your day off on the right foot with this wholesome and nutritious breakfast made with just old-fashioned oats, water, cinnamon, milk, and sugar or honey.

Ingredients

  • 8 cups water
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup milk, low-fat evaporated milk, milk, or almond milk
  • ground cinnamon, optional
  • sugar, optional
  • honey, optional
  • raisins, optional
  • blueberries, optional
  • walnuts, optional

Instructions 

  • In a saucepan bring the water with the cinnamon sticks to a boil. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 1 hour. Discard the cinnamon sticks.
  • Add salt and oats to the water and let it come to a boil uncovered. Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Add milk and simmer for an additional 15 minutes until creamy.
  • Serve in a bowl and add more milk or water if you want it thinner. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sweeten with sugar or honey. Serve garnished with blueberries and walnuts.

Video

Notes

  • When you puree it in the blender it becomes an atole, smooth oatmeal, which is a good way to prepare it for the elderly and the very young.
  • If you are lactose intolerant, use lactose-free milk. Or substitute regular milk for a vegan version like oat, almond, or soy milk.
  • Refrigerate leftovers for up to 1 week.
Calories: 98.6kcal, Carbohydrates: 16.23g, Protein: 3.68g, Fat: 2.33g, Saturated Fat: 0.8g, Cholesterol: 3.05mg, Sodium: 99.63mg, Potassium: 119.22mg, Fiber: 2.74g, Sugar: 1.77g, Vitamin A: 49.41IU, Calcium: 65.65mg, Iron: 0.97mg