What Is Colombian Natilla Made Of? (Key Differences And Ingredients)

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When youre looking to spice things up in the kitchen, why not look to other cultures?

With so many different cultures there is a never ending list of different recipes and foods to try. Including Natilla.

What Is Colombian Natilla Made Of? (Key Differences And Ingredients)

When it comes to simple, stunning and utterly delicious recipes. Spain has it covered in all areas.

From traditional tapas, to lentil soups, and a range of desserts. Cooking and eating within the region of Spain is considered a social activity. 

So get your friends and family around and try your hand at making the simple dessert, Natillas.

In this article, we explain the difference between Spanish and Colombian Natilla(s) and the ingredients needed to create your own.

What Is Natillas?

Natillas, a type of custard dish popular in Spain, is normally prepared with milk, sugar, vanilla, eggs, and cinnamon.

The dish is made by gradually boiling the milk, adding the eggs (typically just the yolks), and other ingredients, and then slowly whisking everything together to make a sweet custard.

The fundamental distinctions among Spanish Natillas, English custard, and French crème anglaise are their thickness.

What Is Colombian Natilla?

Colombian Natilla, while inspired by Spanish Natillas, is a sweet custard which incorporates the sweetness of panela. 

It often has a resemblance to flan or pudding with a dusting of powdered cinnamon to garnish. 

As you dig in you will be welcomed with a gorgeous, thick, custard that is sweet on the tongue and warming to the belly.

It is often served with bunuelos (fried dough) and manjar blanco (milk delicacy) to fully enjoy the Christmas celebrations. 

Colombian Natilla 

What Is Colombian Natilla Made Of? (Key Differences And Ingredients)

While there is little difference between the Spanish, English, and French preparation of Natillas, Colombian Natilla has added their own unique twist on the rather simple dish.

Below we will discuss the factors that make Colombian Natilla special in its own right. 


Traditionally, Natilla is prepared and served at Christmas  gatherings with friends and family.

It is a communal activity as everyone takes to creating the simple dish on an improvised campfire or on your patio to share the experience with those around you. 

Today, you can find pre-made Natilla in local stores, however, creating the dish at home with friends and family makes it all the more special. 

Colombian Natilla can be identified as it often resembles a flan or Christmas pudding.

The addition of panela or brown sugar gives this warming dessert a delicious caramel color and a unique flavor that is perfect for celebrating Christmas. 

This dish will be served through the entire Christmas season and can be found on the tables and laps of every Colombian household at one time or another. 


As mentioned above, Colombian Natilla is often prepared outside on the street on a quick campfire or on your patio to ensure that it is an experience shared with everyone.

However, each family has their own recipe. As time goes on generations have made slight variations to a “traditional” Natilla that no one really knows the original recipe.

However, there are common steps to creating a Nitalla that everyone follows rather loosely. 

  1. In a large pot, pour 4 cups of milk. The sugar, panela, and cinnamon sticks are then added. With a wooden spoon, stir all the ingredients as you heat the milk to a boil over a medium low heat. If you do not have panela, use brown sugar as a replacement. 
  2. Once the milk comes to a boil, remove from the heat and let it rest for 2 minutes.
  3. As the milk rests, create your slurry. Mix cornstarch with the remaining milk until the cornstarch is completely dissolved. 
  4. Place the pot back on a medium low heat. Remove the cinnamon stick and add your dissolved cornstarch/ milk mixture into the pot. Add your butter and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until your milk begins to thicken and you can see the bottom of the pot. 
  5. Immediately take off the heat and pour into a serving dish. 
  6. Let it cool and set for around an hour and garnish with ground cinnamon.

As you can see the steps to creating your own Colombian Natilla.

This smooth, thick, and creamy dessert is perfect for when you want to impress your friends and family without having to outdo yourself in the kitchen. 

Just ensure you are constantly stirring your milk. Once second and your entire mixture could burn and you would have to start again. 

However, if you are looking to make a more traditional Spanish Natillas you will have to be prepared to sieve your mixture to ensure it is completely smooth and ensure that your milk is at the right temperature before adding certain ingredients. 


Now, for the biggest difference between Spanish Natillas and Colombian Natilla the ingredients. 

Due to Colombian Natilla being served throughout the Christmas period, its flavors and ingredients typically match the time of year.

Deep, rick flavors that envelope your home and make you feel warm and relaxed. 

The ingredients used are:

  • Milk
  • Sugar
  •  Grated panela or brown sugar
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Cornstarch
  • Butter
  • Water
  • Ground cinnamon for serving

As everything comes together the smells from this dish are irresistible. Perfect for serving to your family on Christmas alongside your typical pudding.

Or as a quick, homemade dessert throughout the week as Christmas approaches. 

However, if you are cooking a Spanish Natillas then you may find yourself wandering down a few different aisles at the grocery store. 

The ingredients for Spanish Natillas are:

  • Milk
  • Lemon
  • Cinnamon stick
  • Cornstarch
  • Egg yolks
  • Sugar
  • Pure vanilla extract
  • Ground cinnamon for serving 

While there are a few similarities between both dishes, Spanish Natillas is perfect for serving at any time during the year.

The fresh kick of the lemon and vanilla extract makes this dish perfect for serving throughout the summer as a quick dessert to impress friends and family. 

People even enjoy switching up the flavors of Spanish Natillas to chocolate or turron, a traditional Arabic sweet. 


Traditionally, Spanish Natillas is served on its own with a dusting of ground cinnamon on top. The dessert generally requires no accompaniment. 

However, the Colombian Natilla has a few fan favorites when it comes to serving. This dessert is typically served with Bunuelos.

Small deep fried dough fritters that are dusted with sugar. Like an American donut. 

It will also be served with Manjar Blanco. This is a dish of milk, almonds, cornstarch or gelatin, and sugar.

It is native to the Spanish Muslim community but enjoyed all the throughout the world, including the United Kingdom and the United States. 

Final Thoughts 

There you have it! The differences between Spanish Natillas and Colombian Natilla.

Both provide a creamy, custard like consistency with delicious flavors that are to be shared with loved ones. 

Don’t forget to make this recipe your own! You can even swap the sugar for condensed milk and coconut for a richer flavor. 

Whether it’s Christmas, or you have a sweet tooth to satisfy, you now have a simple, delicious dessert to make time and time again. 

You can even store your Colombian Natilla in the fridge for up to 3 days if you find yourself with leftovers.