How to make a refreshing milk drink infused with cinnamon and lemon
Leche merengada is as cinnamon infused cold milk drink that will make your tongue happy with its simple yet yummy taste.
In this post I’ll show you how to make leche merengada at home: it’s actually quite easy and surprisingly good!
And I promise you, the aroma of cinnamon and lemon that will fill your kitchen as you make this drink is also lovely!
What is leche merengada?
Leche merengada [leh-cheh meh-rehang-gah-dah] translates to “meringue-like milk” and is a traditional Spanish dessert.
The classical version is made heating milk with cinnamon, lemon zest and sugar, then adding beaten egg whites and freezing.
The resulting texture is something between milkshake and ice cream.
But since it uses no cream, but much lighter, resembling a cold fluffy cloud.
Leche merengada was originally meant as a drink, but the flavor of cinnamon infused, slightly lemony cold drink has become so beloved that it’s very common to find as a flavor leche merengada-ice cream in many Spanish ice cream parlors.
Also, as we’ll see in this post, you can skip the freezing step and enjoy the cinnamon and lemon infused milk as a drink.
FAQ’s about leche merengada
It’s quite easy to guess how delicious this recipe is by the sound of it.
You’re getting a sweet and creamy taste with from evaporated milk that has been infused with real cinnamon as well as lemon zest for freshness.
There is nothing better than drinking this creamy, sweet yet light cold milk drink when it’s hot outside.
But I’ll let you in on a secret: it’s also delicious served warm!
Tips for making leche merengada
There’s not much to keep in mind when making this recipe, but if you make sure to follow these few key points it will taste like a million bucks:
- You can use more or less spices depending on your taste: I usually use one lemon peel and a cinnamon stick for every 2 cups of milk.
But some people use up to the double amount of milk.
- I use the lemon leftovers from making lemonade with a citrus squeezer.
But the white side of the lemon peel is bitter, so it’s better to only use the yellow part.
Have you ever peel the yellow part of a lemon? Oh my, oh my, it leaves your fingers with such a wonderful smell! (plus, it’s easier than grating the peel).
- Use your milk of choice: I find cow milk and almond milk work best for this sweet drink, but it’s difficult to say which one is better.
Cow milk gets creamier; almond milk provides a nice nutty taste in this recipe.
If you use almond milk, make sure you don’t bring it to a boil to avoid it getting bitter.
- To ensure enough cinnamon and lemon fragrance as well as natural sweetness, try heating the ingredients for 10 minutes.
It sounds like a lot, but it’s worth it.
The best way to do this is by beginning with medium heat and then switching to low so that you can enjoy full flavors without any burning or bitterness.
- This recipe is on the less sweet side because we want you to enjoy your drink, not be overwhelmed by added sweeteners.
However most people add more sugar in their leche merengadas – do what’s best for yourself!
Upgrade your teatime by adding some of this milk drink (without the egg whites) to black or rooibos tea.
This will turn any tea into an absolutely amazing experience, like in these recipes:
What you’ll need
Swaps to make this recipe
You can easily adapt homemade merengada to suit your dietary preferences:
- For vegan leche merengada:
- Use plant-based milk instead of cow milk.
- If you want it with meringue, substitute the egg whites for aquafaba.
- For keto leche merengada:
- use almond milk (or other keto friendly milk)
- keto friendly sweetener like erythritol or xylitol.
- Feel free to switch out the usual lemon peel of leche merengada for any other citric fruits like oranges or mandarins.
- Other spices that go well in here are cardamom pods, clove or ginger.
How to make (vegan) leche merengada
The traditional leche merengada recipe uses beaten egg whites to get a milkshake-like texture.
For a vegan version, you can substitute egg whites for aquafaba.
Aquafaba is the viscous liquid that remains after boiling chickpeas.
Beaten aquafaba works great in this recipe and I personally prefer not having to separate egg whites and yolks, so the pictures in this post are with aquafaba meringue.
Time needed: 1 hour
How to make homemade leche merengada (Frozen method)
- Prepare the spices
Wash and dry a lemon: peel the yellow part of the zest. Break a cinnamon stick.
- Simmer ingredients in milk
Put the zest of a lemon, a cinnamon stick, 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar or substitute or choice (I use 1 tablespoon xylitol or eritriol) and milk in a pot an heat while removing.
- Strain and let cool
Strain the lemon peel and cinnamon from the milk and let cool.
You can enjoy this infused milk as it is, but if you’re looking for a frozen texture, similar to the original one, keep reading the next steps.
When the cinnamon infused milk has cooled down, put it on the freezer for about half an hour.
- Make meringue
Place 3 egg whites or 6 tablespoons aquafaba with 1 tablespoon sugar (or alternative of choice) and whip until foamy.
Place the mixture in the freezer for about half an hour.
- Mix and serve
Carefully put together the semi-frozen meringue with the semi-frozen milk and gently mix until homogeneous.
Serve with ground cinnamon.
Many people though (including me!) make leche merengada without the meringue step: it’s much less time consuming and it also tastes heavenly.
To make an easy meringue milk drink without beating egg whites, just heat up some milk with lemon rind, cinnamon and some sugar.
Easy leche merengada recipe
- 4 Cups milk
- 1-2 zest unwaxed lemons
- 1-2 sticks Ceylon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons sugar (or alternative like eritriol or xylitol)
- ground cinnamon for decoration
- Wash the lemon and take the yellow part of the peel. Break the cinnamon sticks so they the emit more fragrance.
- Gather all ingredients in a pot and heat up (medium heat) until the liquid is hot.Simmer for around 5-10 minutes while stirring regularly. Don’t let the mixture boil to avoid bitterness!
- Take away from the heat, let steep for 5-10 minutes and strain the solids when the mixture isn’t as hot anymore.
- When it’s not warm anymore, cool in the fridge.Leche merengada traditionally served chilled, but it’s also delicious served warm.Enjoy with some extra ground cinnamon as decoration!
I hope you enjoy this all natural cinnamon and lemon infused milk drink.
It’s super creamy while being low fat, and it’s sweet and rich while remaining quite light.
Also, it’s very easy to make it 100% vegan or keto-friendly.
So, no matter what version of the recipe you choose, just give them a try: I’m quite sure you’ll fall in love with it!