When it comes to traditional Spanish desserts, one cannot overlook the mouthwatering delight of “natillas.” This creamy and smooth custard-like dessert has been enjoyed by generations and continues to be a favorite in Spanish households. In this article, we will explore the history, ingredients, preparation, and variations of the beloved “receta de natillas.”

The History of Natillas

Natillas have a rich history that dates back centuries. The word “natillas” is derived from the Latin word “nata,” which means cream. This dessert has its roots in the Arab influence on Spanish cuisine during the Middle Ages. The Moors introduced the concept of using eggs and sugar to create creamy desserts, which eventually evolved into the natillas we know today.

Over time, natillas became a staple in Spanish households, especially during festive occasions and family gatherings. The recipe has been passed down through generations, with each family adding their own unique twist to the traditional preparation.

The Ingredients

To make a delicious batch of natillas, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 4 cups of milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 cup of cornstarch
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Lemon zest (optional)
  • Vanilla extract (optional)

The ingredients for natillas are simple and readily available in most kitchens. The key to achieving the perfect texture and flavor lies in the quality of the ingredients used.

The Preparation

Now that we have gathered the necessary ingredients, let’s dive into the step-by-step process of preparing natillas:

  1. In a saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat. Add the cinnamon stick and lemon zest (if desired) to infuse the flavors into the milk.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch until well combined.
  3. Once the milk is hot but not boiling, remove the cinnamon stick and slowly pour the milk into the egg yolk mixture, whisking continuously to prevent curdling.
  4. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens to a custard-like consistency. This process may take around 10-15 minutes.
  5. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract (if desired).
  6. Transfer the natillas to individual serving dishes or a large bowl. Let them cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours to set.
  7. Before serving, you can sprinkle some ground cinnamon on top for an extra touch of flavor and presentation.

Once the natillas have set, they are ready to be enjoyed. The creamy texture and delicate sweetness make them a perfect dessert for any occasion.

Variations of Natillas

While the classic natillas recipe is delightful on its own, there are several variations that you can explore to add a unique twist to this traditional dessert. Here are a few popular variations:

Chocolate Natillas

If you are a chocolate lover, you can incorporate cocoa powder or melted chocolate into the natillas mixture. This variation adds a rich and indulgent flavor to the dessert, making it a hit among chocolate enthusiasts.

Coconut Natillas

For a tropical twist, you can substitute a portion of the milk with coconut milk and add shredded coconut to the mixture. This variation infuses the natillas with a delightful coconut aroma and flavor.

Orange Natillas

By adding freshly squeezed orange juice and zest to the natillas mixture, you can create a refreshing and citrusy variation. This variation is particularly popular during the summer months when the bright flavors of orange complement the creamy natillas perfectly.


1. Can I use a different type of milk for natillas?

Yes, you can experiment with different types of milk, such as almond milk or soy milk, to cater to dietary preferences or restrictions. However, keep in mind that the flavor and texture may vary slightly from the traditional recipe.

2. Can I make natillas without eggs?

While eggs are a crucial component of the traditional natillas recipe, there are eggless alternatives available. You can use cornstarch or agar-agar as a thickening agent instead of eggs. However, the texture and taste may differ from the classic version.

3. How long can I store natillas?

Natillas can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Make sure to cover them with plastic wrap or transfer them to an airtight container to maintain their freshness.

4. Can I serve natillas warm?

While natillas are traditionally served chilled, you can enjoy them warm if you prefer. However, keep in mind that the texture may be slightly different when served warm.

5. Can I add toppings to natillas?

Absolutely! Natillas can be garnished with various toppings to enhance their presentation and flavor. Some popular options include fresh berries, caramel sauce, crushed nuts, or a sprinkle of cocoa powder.


Natillas are a delightful Spanish dessert that has stood the test of time. With its creamy texture and delicate sweetness, it continues to be a favorite among dessert enthusiasts. Whether you stick to the classic recipe or explore the various variations, natillas are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth and leave you craving for more. So, gather the ingredients, follow the simple steps, and indulge in the heavenly goodness of “receta de natillas.”


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