Home > Recipes > Meal > Breakfast > Dairy-free Avena (Puerto Rican Cinnamon-Oat Drink)

Dairy-free Avena (Puerto Rican Cinnamon-Oat Drink)

As a kid, I have fond memories of my Grandmother, Mother, and Aunts making me breakfast called Avena or when I was little… “avenita” (slap a “-ita” or “-ito” at the end of any word to make it cute or ‘little’ = Spanish lesson for today). Avena means oats in Spanish by the way. This Avena can be eaten thicker in a bowl like porridge or thinner in a cup as a drink like I’ve made it here. But the taste and warm, comforting feeling you get after is the same. The cinnamon and clove mixed with the strained oats is next level, and while it might sound like you’ve had it before if you’ve had oatmeal – promise you, you have not. Try this method this fall and winter on a cold day when you’re hiding inside. There’s nothing better. If you ever grew up eating cream of wheat… it’s more similar to that I’d say.

While I always knew this recipe to be easy after countless mornings of watching it being made, there’s something to be said when you try making it yourself, alone. Ever feel that way for a recipe you might know like the back of your hand from seeing it so much and then translating it to you actually making it? Not sure how to describe it. But there is definitely a sense of nostalgia and pride that you did it. This particular chilly morning that I made it and took these photos, I was pretty giddy the whole time. And I wanted to share it with you all!

A bit of background: traditionally, the Puerto Rican style of this recipe includes butter… however I chose not to add it. I played with the idea of adding in some coconut oil and just making this thing bulletproof 😉 but I could hear my Grandmother yelling at me. She already made a face at me for making it dairy free and using coconut milk! But alas, I reminded her I am lactose-intolerant and that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Plus, I absolutely love the taste the coconut milk adds. Butter does give it a nice salty finish though, know what else does too? A pinch of salt – so you can optionally add that if you also opt out of butter. If you’d like to eat this as more of a porridge, simply reduce the liquid or add more of the ground oats to make it thicker. You can also not strain it – but that will give it a lumpier texture and the true avena I know and love is SMOOOOOOTH. No lumps and bumps at all.

I hope this recipe warms you up on a cold day. XO.


serves 1 – vegan/dairy-free/gluten-free

  • 1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk (Almond, Soy, and Coconut work well)
  • 2-3 tbsp gluten-free oat flour (or oats pulsed in a food processor)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon, plus more for topping
  • 1/4 tsp clove powder


  1. In a small saucepan, add milk, 2 tbsp oat flour and spices and heat over a low flame, stirring frequently.
  2. Bring to a simmer (don’t boil) as you keep stirring. Watch very closely so you don’t burn and can feel the consistency to make sure it’s thickening up but not too much. To prep as a drink as I have it here, it will only take approx. 3-4 minutes or so, it should feel like a slightly thick liquid, like a smoothie. If you want to make this thicker or eat it with a spoon as more of a porridge, add a 3rd and even a 4th tbsp of oat flour (optional) and keep stirring until it’s that thick. Remember, even once you remove this from the heat, it will continue thickening up.
  3. Prep a mug and strainer, turn the heat off on the stove, slowly pour and push the avena into the strainer over your mug (or bowl). Stir quickly and only take the liquid (not any remaining oat chunks or clumps!) Top with more cinnamon. If for any reason your drink came out too thick… simply heat a little more milk, add and stir it. Sip slowly and enjoy!


Hope you enjoy!
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  1. I’m so glad you were able to play around with it and make it your own while still getting the nostalgic vibe of a family recipe. Well done!

  2. Thanks for sharing such a special recipe. I have never heard of  Avena before, but now I am so excited to try it. The coconut, cinnamon, and clove combination sound heavenly. Can’t wait to make this.

  3. I’d never heard of this drink before I came across your recipe but now I’m so glad I did!! This turned out to be super comforting and delicious, perfect for an afternoon pick me up!

  4. Hi….I’m lactose intolerant but love avena. I had some a few weeks back and became sick because it was whole milk. I knew I shouldn’t have but I just really missed having it. Thank you for this recipe. I’m going to try it first thing tomorrow.


    • Aww, Mercedes – I hear that loud and clear. I promise if you try coconut or almond milk, it’s still delicious and will be much easier on your stomach! I hope you enjoy – avena is too good to miss out on when you’re craving it!

      • So I made this today & yesterday (yep, that’s 2 days straight!) and all I have to say is… I love you for introducing me to this magical drink! 🙂 You’re totally right — I tried adding a bit of sweetener the first time and it sort of spoiled it a bit. So good with a tiny dash of salt instead 🙂

        For today’s version, rather than straining, I actually just blended the clumps in with an immersion blender, and it sort of turned into something that very much reminded me of cream of wheat — something I haven’t been able to enjoy in YEARS. Thank you! This is going to be a breakfast regular <3

  5. I grew up eating cream of wheat and it was my absolute favourite. Your mention of that is enough to have me planning to try this warming drink soon! I love the nostalgic recipes that help us feel cozy and close to our childhoods, like this xo