Piloncillo syrup

October 17, 2022  •  Category: , ,

This is an ingredient used in the Mexican kitchen that I have discovered recently and grown very fond of. It is called piloncillo and is made of pure unrefined sugarcane. I have used it when making Mexican sauces or mole;  I have also added it in small doses to stews or bean dishes when a little sweetness is needed. I found that it can easily replace our Lebanese molasses, such as the carob or grape molasses. I am adding a link to a great blog describing piloncillo in detail.

It is simple to use, just get one or two cones, add a little water and a stick of cinnamon (or other spice), if you like, and bring it to a simmer. Once it has started to get syrupy, turn off the heat and cool it. Transfer it to a container, and keep it in the fridge for a few weeks. I will be using it in the next few weeks and will refer to it in my posts.

I was talking to my friend Poncho about it, who lives in San Luis Potosi in Mexico, and grew up in a small rural village or pueblo. He told me that when his parents were young, that was the only sugar available, and they used to get these cones and break them up to add to their coffee on a daily basis. There is a famous coffee in Mexico called café de olla that adds this piloncillo and spices to the drink.

In Egypt as well, farming sugarcane is widely practiced in the region of  Upper Egypt. The Egyptians love drinking sugarcane juice, which is sold everywhere and is reputed to be very healthy. In addition, there is also (similarly to Mexico) a byproduct of the sugarcane juice called black honey (3asal aswad). I asked my Egyptian go-to person in Lebanon, Salah, who is a farmer, and he confirmed that it is very popular in the rural areas especially to consume this black honey with bread (“aysh”) and sometimes mix it with tahini or ashta. 

Regarding the production of sugarcane, it turns out that the world’s largest producer is Brazil, followed by India. The farming of sugarcane in Egypt started with the Arab conquest, around 640AD. I read online that the Arabs got it from the Persians, who got it from the Indians.

Here it is sold in the produce section at a local Latino supermarket.

Piloncillo syrup

Joumana Accad Mediterranean, Middle Eastern October 17, 2022 Mexican fusion, Condiments, Pantry, pantry items, condiment, egyptian food, mexicanfusion, piloncillo, sugarcane, black honey, molasses,

25 servings

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes


1 cone Piloncillo ( I used 2 and doubled the recipe ingredients)

1/2 cup water

1 small stick cinnamon or 2 cloves or a few anise seeds (3 or 4)



  1. Place all the ingredients in a saucepan, and bring to a simmer. Simmer the mixture until it thickens slightly and gets syrupy, about 25 minutes over low to medium heat.
  2. Strain the mixture once it has cooled into a container, cover and place in the fridge to use as needed.

Recipe Notes

This sweet syrup can be used anytime a recipe calls for sweetness, be it cake, cookie, pancakes, stews, salsas, moles, soups, anything!

Hello! All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use our photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this recipe, please rewrite the recipe in your own unique words and link back to the source recipe here on tasteofbeirut.com. Thank you!


11 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Marlene says:

    I’ve never heard of piloncillo! Sounds practical and frugal
    On another note , I’m attending a gathering on Saturday and I thought I should make soubereg but it’s a production to make . Do you think it’s a good idea to make it the day before and put it uncooked in the fridge ( the idea is to put it in the oven by Saturday evening ) .. or the pasta sheets would get soggy ?

    • Joumana says:

      @Marlene Hi Marlene, I don’t think the pasta sheets would get soggy (not after just 24 hours at least), especially if you made sure they were not overcooked and were well dried.
      I need to add more info regarding the piloncillo, turns out it is also made in Egypt where they harvest huge quantities of sugar cane (called “assab”) and they make a similar product with the juice after boiling it, called “black honey” or “3asal aswad”
      Good luck on the soubereg!

  2. Diana says:

    Hello Humana
    In Colombia they have a similar product called panela. Only difference is the sugar cane is cold pressed and it becomes a soft block. It is still hard to break so they started to make smaller pieces. It is used for all their beverages like adding lime and serving cold, on hot days or adding lime and serving as a tea when you have a cold. It is used by all popular people as it is cheaper than the refined sugar that was introduced by the catholic church who owned most sugar cane fields. They also sweeten their coffee with this panela and use for desserts

  3. Dimpal says:

    I like your recipes. You show simple recipes that make yummy dishes.

  4. On Screen Solution says:

    On Screen Solution is excited to explore the versatility of piloncillo syrup! Its rich history and cultural significance, as shared by Poncho from San Luis Potosi, add a unique flavor to our upcoming posts. Stay tuned for delightful insights and culinary inspirations!

  5. On Screen Solution says:

    As the CEO of ‘On Screen Solution’, I’ve been exploring culinary delights from around the world, and piloncillo syrup has become a newfound favorite in my Mexican fusion recipes. Its rich, unrefined sweetness adds depth to sauces, stews, and bean dishes, making it a versatile ingredient akin to Lebanese molasses.

  6. HBNO OIL says:

    Piloncillo syrup: a delightful discovery in the Mexican kitchen, elevating flavors with its pure unrefined sugarcane essence, seamlessly replacing traditional Lebanese molasses in various dishes.

  7. On Screen Solution says:

    Piloncillo syrup sounds like a fantastic ingredient to explore, especially as a versatile sweetener in both savory and sweet dishes.

Add a Comment