Vivi’s Atole de Fresa or Strawberry Atole: Cozy & Delicioso

Abuela Approved Badge Vivi atole de fresa

Atole de fresa, a strawberry-flavored take on a traditional Mexican corn beverage, is the first recipe Vanessa Abeja, known as Vivi, makes on Season 3 of her popular Vivis_Table Instagram Live cooking series, “Feeding the Soul.” For this episode, Vivi is joined by her childhood friend Martiza, who “throws down in the kitchen” says Vivi.

Vivi atole de fresa or strawberry atole
Vivi’s atole de fresa or strawberry atole recipe starts with fresh strawberries cooked with brown sugar and water.

Although atole has complex flavors and requires a careful eye on the simmering pot, Vivi makes sure to emphasize how simple this “next level” recipe can be. Atole (for those not lucky enough to already know) is a cozy drink enjoyed hot or cold made with masa harina. It goes all the way back to the Aztecs, its name derived from the Nahuatl word atolli, which means thin gruel watered down. Like so many traditional drinks and dishes originating in Indigenous communities, the beverage spread to other countries in Latin America. Atole comes in a delicioso variety of forms and flavors, including chocolate and the special sabor Vivi is showing us how to make today: strawberry.

Although this is Vivi’s first time making atole de fresa, it’s clear from her Live episode that she is pretty confident making the recipe. No surprise, since this young chef who works at Chicago’s Bavette’s Steakhouse and Bar and who started out as a street vendor selling Michoacan-style tamales is the one all her family and friends call with cooking Qs. Vivi’s love of food is inspired by her Mexican grandmother, she says, who taught her how to cook. With our shared love of abuela cooking and belief in the power of family and food traditions to remind us who we are and where we come from, Familia Kitchen is honored to partner with Vivis_Table and showcase her “Feeding the Soul” Lives recipe cook-a-longs each month. Shoutout to Vivi!

“I’m on a mission to keep my abuela’s recipes going. Sharing food with people makes my heart full,” Vivi says. “When I’m looking up a recipe on my own, I spend a good amount of time researching different versions of it. I want to know what are the main ingredients that go in the recipe to still honor the recipe while also always adding my own touch.”

atole de fresa Vivi
Vivi and Maritza make atole de fresa together, via Live cook-a-long, despite living in two different states: Illinois and Wisconsin.

Let’s Make Atole de Fresa: Vivis_Table Live!

Atole de fresa atole strawberry Mexican
Watch Vivi make strawberry atole and Maritza make banana atole on their latest Vivis_Table’s latest Live episode.

To celebrate atole’s range of flavors and preparations, Vivi makes hers with strawberries and brown sugar and Martiza makes a second atole version, using banana and vanilla extract. Both are declared next-level by their makers.

Vivi prepped her strawberries before the Instagram Live kickoff, by precooking them with brown sugar and water for about 10 minutes. If you don’t have brown sugar on hand, she says: No problem. “What I love about this recipe is you can use any kind of sweetener. You can use brown sugar, regular sugar, sweetened condensed milk — all that good stuff.”

Once the strawberries are soft and sweet, Vivi blends and sets them aside. While any blender will do, Vivi prefers using her handheld blender. “I’ve recently started investing in my kitchen a lot more because I love to cook,” Vivi explains. Luckily, her family has caught on and is supportive. Vivi smiles as she recounts how she has been blessed with cooking gifts for recent birthdays and other celebrations.

Vivi atole de fresa
Once the strawberries are cooked, Vivi heats the milk, cinnamon and baking soda in a separate pot, above.

No matter what type of milk you use (and you really can use any kind of leche, Vivi says: 2%, 1%, skim and even lactose-free), you definitely do not want the atole mix to come to a boil. While Vivi simmers and stirs the milk pot and preps her cornstarch mixture in a separate bowl, she reminisces with Maritza about their high school days and the life lessons they have learned. Topics they touch on include: How to build habits that help you to succeed, how to take care of yourself, the importance of acknowledging when you’re struggling, how to “exercise that comeback muscle,” and the power of serving as mentors to others who may be struggling with mental health.

“I’m here to encourage folks,” Vivi says, still whisking her atole. “I want everyone to be happy. And when you pour into the people, they pour right back into you.”

Vivi atole de fresa
Vivi then uses a spatula to press the cooked strawberries through a sieve to get as much of their delicioso sabor in the atole. Maritza is all for it.

Once the strawberry mixture is thoroughly blended, it’s time to slowly stir in the corn starch. As they add the finishing touches to their atoles, Vivi and Maritza share advice they would give to their younger selves. It’s clear from their conversation that the importance of knowing yourself–what motivates you, refreshes you, inspires you, and energizes you–is essential to these lifelong amigas. Vivi explains that once you find the things in your life that truly feed your soul (whether it’s meditative dancing or long conversations with family), you can start to refill your cup and be able to give back to the people and projects you love. Vivi and Martiza also emphasize the importance of women of color being represented and supporting each other.

vivi atole de fresa or strawberry atole
Success! Vivi loves how the strawberries she cooked ahead of time with brown sugar taste when added to her atole de fresa. Maritza is pretty happy with her banana atole, as well. Super rico!

Vivi and Maritza chatted on their Live for over an hour, but they promise making atole does not actually take that long. That said, if you find yourself loving the super-chill process of two friends slow cooking atole and keeping it real, take as much time as you need, Vivi encourages.

We’ll be posting lots more of Vivi’s delicioso Live recipes with plenty of heartfelt life wisdom at Familia Kitchen. Tune in and join us weekly as we continue to share Vivi’s “Feeding the Soul” series on Vivis_Table, with our Familia Kitchen community! Gracias, Vivi and Maritza. 🌟

Ready to Make a Cozy Cup of Atole de Fresa?

Atole de Fresa or Strawberry Atole

Recipe by Vivi Abeja
5.0 from 1 vote
Cuisine: Mexican

4 to 6

Prep time


Cooking time




  • 1 lb fresh strawberries, washed, trimmed and quartered

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

  • 2 1/2 cups water, divided

  • 3 cups milk (low fat or whole milk, lactose-free — all work!)

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

  • 2 Tbsp corn starch


  • In a small saucepan, cook the strawberries with sugar and 1 1/2 cups of water. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring from time to time.
  • Remove from heat. Using a handheld immersion blender or regular blender, blend until smooth. Set aside.
  • In a second pot set to medium heat, place the milk, cinnamon stick and baking soda. Heat the mixture, stirring constantly. Do not let the milk boil.
  • While the milk is warming up, place the cornstarch and water in a bowl. Whisk until there are no lumps. Set aside.
  • Using a spatula, press the strawberries mixture through a sieve into the pot with the hot milk, cinnamon stick and baking soda. Mix well to combine thoroughly.
  • Slowly add the corn starch mixture into your pot, stirring constantly,
  • Stir for about more 10 minutes or until the atole has thickened to your liking.
  • Enjoy while hot!


  • Vivi and Maritza remind us you can also make atole using chocolate or bananas instead of strawberries for more delicioso flavor options.

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