Ponche Navideño is an absolute must for the holiday season! This drink is packed with fruits like tejocote, guavas, pears, sugar cane, and prunes. Perfect for las posadas, gatherings, Christmas or New Year celebrations to keep you cozy and warm inside!
This large batch drink is perfect for serving at Christmas parties and very easy to make! No skills required, I promise!
Food is one of my favorite parts of Nochebuena (Christmas eve in Mexico): Tamales, pozole and ponche, there is nothing better!!! Oh and let’s not forget the Ensalada Navideña for dessert 🙂
Why you’ll love this recipe
What is ponche navideño?
This Christmas Fruit Punch is an absolute must for the holiday season! It’s a sweet Mexican drink that goes back to the time of the conquest, however it has its origins in ancient Persia.
Persia’s drink is called “Panj” made with wine, sugar, lime, water and some kind of dried herb to make a tea. From there, the traditional drink was passed on to Spain where they called it “Ponche”.
When the Spaniards arrived in Mexico, they introduced this drink but of course, Mexicans make everything better and they added in the fruit. As you can see, this elevated the punch 1000 times and this version is so much better!
Pick and choose your ingredients but here are the classic ones that most ponches include:
These are the basic ingredients to make a fabulous Mexican ponche! It all starts with the drink built on layers of flavor.
- Jamaica (dried roselle flowers)
- Tamarind pods
- Piloncillo or sugar (white or brown)
- For spices: cloves and cinnamon sticks
Feel free to substitute any fruit you don’t like or can’t find. There are no rules!
- Guayabas – see note below
- Pears and apples
- Sugar cane. Buy whole and peel it yourself or buy already peeled.
- Choose your favorite dried fruit: prunes, dried cranberries or raisins
- It needs something citrusy: orange slices or mandarins
- A nut: peanuts, pecans or walnuts.
- “El piquete”: Brandy, tequila or rum.
Guayabas (or guavas in English) are hard to find in some parts of the country during this time of year. You can buy them already cooked in syrup and they taste amazing! It’s okay to skip if you can’t find any or you can replace them with grapes.
Always look at your closest latin market as they tend to stock up on these items.
About the tejocote
Pronounced te-ho-COT-e, this is an exotic Mexican fruit also known as manzanita, tejocotera and Mexican hawthorn. It resembles a crabapple. If you can’t find tejocotes, you can use crabapples instead. Can’t find either of these two? Use any kind of yellow apple or something similar.
How to make Ponche Navideño
Add the water to a large stockpot and set to high heat. Add the jamaica, tamarindo pods, cinnamon sticks, cloves and piloncillo/sugar. Cover and boil for about 15 minutes.
Optional, you can strain the liquid in order to remove the hibiscus, tamarindo pods and cloves prior to adding the fruit. This way they’re not served in the drink. Discard once removed.
- Add all of the fruit, cover and bring to a soft boil. Once it starts to boil uncover and cook for 15 minutes. This will leave a little crunch on the fruit. If you like softer fruit, cook for an additional 10 minutes.
- Taste for sweetness and add more sugar according to taste.
- Remove from heat and cover pot. Let it steep for another 15 minutes.
- Note on guavas (guayabas) if you add any: If they’re very soft, then you can place whole or cut in half. If they’re very firm, cut into 8 pieces. If you have guavas from a jar, then add at the last 5 minute as they’re already cooked and you don’t want them to get too mushy.
Tools you might need for this punch!
- A 20 quart stock pot or something similar that will fit all the ingredients easily.
- Cups or pretty mexican mugs!
- A ladle for serving. In a pinch, you can use a heat proof measuring cup to scoop.
Now let’s do the the fun part! To serve use a ladle or a heat proof measuring cup and pour liquid and chunks of fruit into large mugs. Provide spoons so that your guests can eat the fruit while sipping the hot liquid.
Keep it non-alcoholic or add brandy, rum or tequila for that extra holiday spirit!
To store any Ponche leftovers, wait until it cools off then place in a jar and cover with plastic wrap or a lid. For best flavors consume within a week.
If you want to make the ponche ahead of time or store any leftovers in the fridge, allow it to cool and refrigerate. When ready to serve, bring the mixture back to a simmer and add the spirits just before serving. To keep the punch warm while serving, use a Crockpot and set on low.
Yes you can! This recipe makes about 12 large mugs but can easily be multiplied for large parties. Just use a large pot like a “tamalera” (32 quarts or bigger) or make in two separate large pots.
If you have any additional questions, let me know in the comments below. I’ll be happy to get back to you right away!
More Holiday Recipes
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Ponche Navideño (Christmas Punch)
- 1 gallon (16 cups/4 liters) water
- 1 cup dried hibiscus flowers
- 3 tamarindo pods peeled
- 1 large cinnamon stick or 3 small
- 8 ounce piloncillo or 1 cup sugar Or more according to taste
- 4 cloves
- 10 tejocotes or 2 apples cut in halves
- 2 pears chopped
- 1 to 2 apples chopped
- 4 to 5 guavas cut into 8 pieces
- 3 to 4 (about 5 inches long) sugarcane sticks peeled and sliced into sticks
- 5 mandarins or (2 oranges cut into slices) peeled
- 7 oz prunes, dried cranberries or raisins
- Add the water to a large stockpot and set to high heat. Add the jamaica, tamarindo pods, cinnamon sticks, cloves and piloncillo/sugar. Cover and boil for about 15 minutes.
- Optional, you can strain the liquid in order to remove the hibiscus, tamarindo pods and cloves prior to adding the fruit. This way they're not served on the drink.
- Add all of the fruit, cover and bring to a soft boil. Once it starts to boil uncover and cook for 15 minutes. Cooking it for this long will leave a little crunch on the fruit. If you like soft fruit, cook for an additional 10 minutes.
- Taste for sweetness and add more sugar according to taste.
- Remove from heat and cover pot. Let it steep for another 15 minutes. ½
- Note on guavas (guayabas) if you add any: If they're very soft, then you can place whole or cut in halves. If they're very firm, cut into 8 pieces. If you have guavas from a jar, then add at the last 5 minute as they're already cooked.
Muy Delish Notes:
- Slow Cooker Option: Combine all of the ingredients in your slow cooker, cover, and cook over high heat until the fruit is soft, about 1 ½ hour to 2 hours.
- To store any Ponche leftovers, wait until it cools off then place in a jar and cover with plastic wrap or a lid. For best flavors consume within a week.
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Thank you for all your wonderful recipes !! They are easy to follow and always delicious .
Thanks for the kind comment Marissa!
I tried this recipe and loved it! It brought back memories of my childhood in Mexico. Thank you!
Thank you for trying this Ponche Emilia! It also brings back childhood memories for me. I’m glad you enjoyed it.
Loved it especially the tamarind flavor. I’ve had that before in Mexican drinks, I think it was a Michelada? Anyways, such a delicious ingredient and is lovely in this drink. Thanks!
What a super tasty and pretty punch for Christmastime! Can’t wait to make it again!
I had to try this the second I saw it! Yum! Such a great drink to sip on. I will be making it again for Christmas!
Such a wonderful, festive punch for the holidays! I absolutely love the flavor from all the fruit. Yum!
What a fantastic Christmas Punch recipe! I love how fruity it is! Your photos are also absolutely gorgeous.
Everyone loved it! We used brandy and it was delish! Amazing!