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Miel de panela {Piloncillo syrup}

Miel de panela {piloncillo syrup}, also called miel de caña, is a sweet syrup made by melting panela or piloncillo with water. Miel de panela is used as a sweetener, think honey, to sweeten drinks (juice, coffee, tea). There is a spiced version of miel de panela, where you add cinnamon and cloves, which is used to drizzle over fried pastries called pristiños.

Miel de panela is also served with buñuelos, a type of fluffy fried fitters, and also with muchines de yuca, cheese-stuffed yuca or cassava dumplings. Panela syrup is also great drizzled over fresh fruit, especially grapefruit or pineapple slices. I also like to use the spiced panela syrup as an alternate to maple syrup on pancakes or waffles.

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Miel de panela or miel de caña

Miel de panela {Piloncillo syrup}

Miel de panela or miel de caña is a sweet syrup made from panela or piloncillo. It is used as a sweetener for drinks and also in a variety of Latin American desserts.
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Course: Sauce, Sweet sauce
Cuisine: Ecuadorian, Latin American
Keyword: Miel de panela, Piloncillo syrup, Spiced syrup
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes


  • 1 lb of panela or piloncillo whole or broken into chunks
  • 2 cups of water
  • For a spiced version: add a couple of cinnamon sticks & whole cloves


  • Combine the panela or piloncillo, the whole block or the chunks, in a saucepan with the water and spices.
  • Simmer over low heat until the panela is fully melted, then increase the heat and bring a boil.
  • Boil over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until the syrup is thick enough to coat a spoon, about 10-15 minutes. Keep an eye on it while it cooks, panela syrup is prone to spilling over very quickly.
  • Serve warm with pristiños, buñuelos or muchines. Cool down if serving with quesillo o fresh cheese.

A very typical dessert in my hometown of Loja, is miel con quesillo, which is a slice of fresh cheese drizzled with panela syrup. It’s a very simple dessert, but is the perfect mix of a cheese course with something sweet. Quesillo is a very fresh cheese, almost like a young farmer’s cheese. I’ve been lucky enough to find something very similar to quesillo at the local farmer’s markets in the Seattle area. Another alternative is fresh mozzarella or even a slice of queso fresco goes great drizzled with some sweet panela syrup.
A block of panela is usually rock solid and can be hard to break. For this miel de panela recipe, you can actually cover the whole block with water and let it dissolve. If you want to break into chunks, either to make less miel, or to melt it quicker, I have a good strategy: put the block in a couple Ziploc bags (double bagged is better) and then throw it on a hard surface (garage or driveway are best), after a few throws it’s usually broken up into small chunks – and it’s good stress-relief as well.

Step by step preparation photos for making miel de panela or spiced piloncillo syrup

Miel de panela or piloncillo syrup

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  1. I just made this using goya and it’s absolutely delicious. However, mines was more dark brownish. How did you get yours with that red tint to it?

    1. Hi Mike – Some panela/piloncillo blocks are darker than others, it depends on how they were originally made/cooked (some of the lighter ones add something called blanqueador which lightens the color). However, I did use a medium dark block of panela, so I think the different color is based more on the photo lighting than the actual color of the syrup. The camera tends to overexpose darker colored liquids/foods because if not you wouldn’t be able to see/distinguish the actual food. If you look at the outer edges of the bowl and the spoon you can see it’s overexposed.

  2. This is very common here where I live – Barranquilla, Colombia (I’m from the States but now make my home in sunny CO). Another panela treat is Agua Panela which is also given for free with your lunch, typically “almuerzo ejecutivo). I use panela syrup on my pancakes, it’s much cheaper than “maple” syrup (real maple syrup, I think doesn’t exist in Colombia, at least not here in B’quilla).

  3. Great website!! Your recipes help fill the cravings for Ecuadorian food between visits. I noticed above that you mention, pristiños and buñuelos. Simple, yet one of my favorites. Do you happen to have a recipe for either one? Thanks and greetings from Idaho.

  4. I just made this with cinnamon sticks. I served it over the apple cake that you have on this site. I also added a bit of whipped cream. YUM!!!

  5. I love the idea of combing a cheese course with a dessert! You are rapidly fueling my desire to plan a trip to Loja!

    Hi Kale – Loja is great, I’ll be there this summer if you are interested in a food tour of the city!

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