Harina de Maiz – Breakfast Cornmeal Cereal

Harina de Maiz Breakfast Cereal

Back in the late eighties, before the Internet and Wikipedia, most facts and figures were collected in almanacs or books like the Guiness Book of World Records. Through one of these unforgettable book club flyers, I bought a copy of the Second Kids World Almanac when I was an impressionable nine year-old. I credit (blame?) that book for turning me into a trivia and general knowledge junkie. How did I know that this book was to be trusted as a veritable source for listings of popular haircuts, the true name of pop stars and the origins of unusual animals? In the food chapter, it featured popular breakfast foods around the world. Under Puerto Rico, the listing said something akin to “oatmeal or cooked cornmeal with milk poured over it, coffee”. Clearly these people knew what they were talking about.

Hot cereals – cremas – are ubiquitous in households, bakeries, and cafeterias all over the island.  Oatmeal, cream of wheat (farina) and cooked cornmeal (harina de maiz) are the three most widely available cereals.  These are always cooked with milk infused with sugar and other spices.  Imagine my surprise when I made it to college and had my first taste of unsweetened oatmeal!  I wasn’t too happy at first, but that’s how I learned to pour maple syrup over it – still one of my preferred ways to eat it.  My absolute favorite hot cereal, the one I missed the most while I lived in New Orleans, was the harina de maiz.  I can best compare it to a sweetened polenta, made with an even finer grind corn flour than polenta and grits.  It is usually topped with cinnamon, although I’ve learned that the tiniest pat of butter will magnify the corn taste.  No offense to the ever-present grits of my college years in the South, but I liked my delicate porridge better.


Harina de Maiz Breakfast Cereal
Harina de Maiz breakfast cereal
Harina de Maiz - Breakfast Cornmeal Cereal
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Votes: 82
Rating: 3.67
Rate this recipe!
Harina de Maiz - Breakfast Cornmeal Cereal
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Votes: 82
Rating: 3.67
Rate this recipe!
  1. Combine the 2 cups of milk, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and vanilla extract in a medium saucepan and bring up to a boil.
  2. Mix together the cornmeal and the remaining cup of milk and set aside. Doing this prevents lumps from forming in the cereal.
  3. When the milk, sugar, and spices mixture comes up to a boil, lower the heat to medium. Pour the cornmeal and milk slurry in, and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon.
  4. Cook the mixture until it thickens over medium heat for five minutes. Add the butter and stir until it is incorporated into the cereal.
  5. Serve in bowls and sprinkle with extra cinnamon.


Tags: , , , ,


Adriana is a financial analyst by day, avid home cook in the evenings, and food blogger and runner in the strange hours between those two. When not in the kitchen concocting meals and stories to pass around, she is out looking for the next great bite (or the ingredients to make it at home), checking what's new at the market, or planning a trip around great food and wine.

30 Responses to “Harina de Maiz – Breakfast Cornmeal Cereal”

  1. yummychunklet
    May 24, 2011 at 2:18 pm #

    I had a similar fascination with reading and re-reading the Childcraft encyclopedia series. This dish looks tasty!

    • Sarai Ortiz
      March 27, 2013 at 9:07 pm #

      I had it this morning I loved it cuz I like sweet however if you don’t make it sweet then I would suggest not putting so much sugar, other than that it was delicious

  2. Kate@Diethood.com
    May 24, 2011 at 2:30 pm #

    I loved those encyclopedias/almanacs… I miss those days. 🙂 I, too, know a lot of useless info. :)Love your breakfast!! We used to eat something very similar when I was younger…thanks for the reminder!

  3. steph@stephsbitebybite
    May 24, 2011 at 4:59 pm #

    I just recently started adding cornmeal to my hot cereal breakfast mixture and am in love with it! So so yummy!

  4. Yuri
    May 24, 2011 at 5:33 pm #

    My mom used to make chocolate pudding [milk thickened with cornstarch] for breakfast. We call it Maizena, I’m sure its the same in PR, isn’t it?

  5. Adriana
    May 24, 2011 at 6:02 pm #

    @chefpandita – Yes! It is the same. Maizena is the name for a popular brand of cornstarch and the name stuck to the breakfast pudding/natilla. My mom didn’t add chocolate to ours (boo!) but she would make it heartier by adding a couple of egg yolks. If my memory doesn’t fail me, she would beat the yolks with sugar and vanilla in a saucepan, pour the milk and bring it up to a simmer. Then she would add a slurry of the cornstarch and milk and cook it until set. I usually don’t get maicenas if I buy breakfast before coming to work; they usually look watery and not very good!

  6. Cristina Gomes
    May 26, 2011 at 3:05 am #

    Adriana se ve rica esta cremita, yo aprendí a comer avena ahora de adulta porque de niña no me gustaba, voy a probarla con el syrup de maple, la verdad no se me había ocurrido. Acá en Venezuela hay otras variedades de cremas de cereales calientes, una se llama fororo, otra crema de arroz y creo que hay otras. te quedo muy bien la ensalada de cocinando los viernes con dorie. SaludosCristina

    • Ada
      August 29, 2012 at 4:41 am #


  7. elisabeth@foodandthriftfinds
    May 26, 2011 at 7:06 pm #

    I’ve never had fine corn meal as a sweet cereal, but growing up my mom used to make us Cream of Wheat Cereal, which I also gave to my children when they were little, made the same way as the cornmeal cereal.I’ve learned a simple, and savory recipe for a cornmeal mush, from a Haitian friend that cooks it with broth, garlic, and okra, as a side dish, or by itself. As for the Italian version we do cook the fine cornmeal for a soft Polenta side dish.Now, I want to try this yummy cereal version of the fine cornmeal…thanks for sharing:D

  8. Elaine
    May 27, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

    I am going to try this. It looks so creamy.

  9. Tiffany
    June 1, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

    Wow! This brings back memories of growing up! I am Puerto Rican and my mother used to make this.

  10. Three-Cookies
    June 3, 2011 at 10:04 am #

    Interesting recipe. I made polenta porridge sometimes but not using this method. I will try this and see how it turns out – I am sure it will be awesome

  11. June 10, 2012 at 10:06 am #

    You just brought me back. In your comments section someone mentioned maizena … We called it Crema .. And we make it the way your mother did. I just texted my mother to ask her why she never used chocolate! I personally have never been able to get the consistency down myself and as far as I’m concerened, no one will ever make it like my Abuela did. But I just got the urge to try again. Have a great day!

    • Nina
      March 23, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

      We called it crema too! I’m so happy to find this, I kept explaining it to people and they kept saying, “sweet grits?!” completely dumbfounded, haha.

  12. Ada
    August 29, 2012 at 4:38 am #

    En donde estudiaste? En loyola? Quien eres la receta gracias por la receta m soeprendio una neworleana Boricua en estas recetas q reviven tantas memorias

    • September 3, 2012 at 2:06 pm #

      Ex-Nueva Orleana… solamente por los cuatro años que estuve en Tulane en los noventa! Saludos.

  13. Marie05
    November 19, 2012 at 2:23 am #

    Aww ! Thank for the directions ! My grandma too Puerto Rican she made this for us as kids ! I too tried many times to make like hers .. Never came out right ! I’m trying it now for my daughter 🙂 thank u ladies

  14. December 4, 2012 at 10:13 am #

    Made this recipe this morning. It reminded me of my grandmother-in-law who used to make it most mornings for me when I was pregnant. Delish!

  15. Yvette
    February 8, 2015 at 9:28 pm #

    This was absolutely delicious. It reminded me how my mom used to make this for me when I was a kid. I made it for my husband and kids and they loved it!

  16. sara
    April 12, 2015 at 10:59 am #

    My daughter and I discovered this delightful breakfast on vacation in PR–it was served steaming hot with coconut milk on the side and extra brown sugar and cinnamon for sprinkling. I tried replicating it at home and had good results, but this slurry method makes for a quicker cook and better texture. And PS, it’s terrific cold as a ‘pudding’ with fresh fruit (mango, raspberries and blueberries especially) and even a spoon of whipped cream. Thanks so much for sharing!

  17. Teresa Diaz
    August 6, 2017 at 10:02 am #

    I can’t thank you enough for posting this recipe. I have been craving this breakfast of my youth for 30 years and I finally got to have it today and it’s so delicious! We are Puerto Rican, and my grandmother used to make this for me all the time as well as the one with rice flour. I forget the name but both bring back great memories. Thank you.

  18. Jubal Santos
    January 6, 2018 at 12:08 pm #

    This recipe is great, mine would turn out lumpy till i came across this recipe! Ty made it this morning with a few modifications and it was great. Ty

  19. CelticThugPoet7
    March 13, 2018 at 3:28 am #

    WOW Thanks, Yeah Yummy Stuff Almost Like a Pudding Consistency…I’m Going to Try Making it With Organic Honey Next :)P…

  20. Merce
    June 23, 2018 at 9:55 am #

    This recipe is the best!
    It tasted just like the cremita de maiz sold in the local panaderias in PR! It is great to be able to recreate this delicious breakfast at home (now NYC).
    Thanks for sharing your recipe,

  21. Lillian D. Isaza
    June 30, 2018 at 7:10 pm #

    I made it this morning and it was delicious! It also brought me to tears . I got a flashback to when I was 6 years old and my mother served us all. She is no longer with us.

  22. Jose Nieves
    June 17, 2019 at 11:30 am #

    Your measurements of your recipe are way wrong and confusing. But thank you anyways!


  1. Recipe Roundup: Carb-Loading Edition | Great Food 360° - November 9, 2011

    […] Harina de Maíz – Breakfast Cornmeal Cereal […]

  2. Food blogs we love: Great Food 360˚ - March 20, 2013

    […] popular post: Interestingly, it’s a pretty simple recipe. People come from all over the world for the Harina de Maiz – a hot breakfast cereal.  This is a […]

  3. GF360˚ Top 5 Posts of 2012 - Great Food 360˚ - December 16, 2014

    […] to reveal which were the top 5 most visited posts from last year.  Although perennial favorites Harina de Maíz (Breakfast Cornmeal Cereal) and Sandwiches de Mezcla could not be toppled off the first spots, the top two items from this […]

  4. GF360˚ Top 5 Posts of 2014 - Great Food 360˚ - December 31, 2014

    […] #1 – Harina de Maiz – Breakfast Cornmeal Cereal […]

Leave a Reply