Oaxacan Molinillo (chocolate stirrer)
molinillo: photo by

Mexican Molinillo

The molinillo [moh-lee-NEE-yoh] is the Mexican chocolate "whisk" or "stirrer". It is made of "turned" wood and it is used to froth warm drinks such as hot chocolate, Atole, and Champurrado.

Article by: Barbara Bowman

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History And Lore

This tool was actually invented by the Spaniard colonists in Mexico around the 1700's.  Prior to the invention of the molinillo, chocolate was froth by pouring it from one cup to another.  The first molinillos were made to fit into a container with the handle extending out of the top.   The molinillo was then rotated between the users two hands placed palm-sides together.  The twisting motion frothed the chocolate.

Molinillo (chocolate stirrer)
mexican molinillo (3 styles, available at

European Adaptation

The Spanish explorers were so enamored with the flavor of chocolate that they took it back to Spain where it became the the Kings' Official Drink in the New Spain and Europe.  Around the end of the XVIII century(1780 - 1800) , Europeans started preparing chocolate with milk and sugar to create what we know today as Hot Chocolate.  In fact the drink became so popular many of the leading European porcelain manufactures such as Limoges in France began making specialized pots and cups just to serve chocolate.

French chocolate pot with molinillo
photo: french Louis XVIII chocolate pot
The photograph above is a nice example of a chocolate pot design that dates back to Louis XVIII still made today in France by the Pillivuyt Company. The chocolate ingredients are placed in the pot.  The "molinillo" (called moulinet in France or a moussoir which means froth-maker) is placed in the pot and then the cover is placed over the handle of the molinillo.   With the cover in place, the user holds the molinillo between his two hands and with a rubbing motion froths the liquid.  The pot is held from the top and side handle to pour the chocolate into cups

Mexican Chocolate

Mexican chocolate is distinctively sweet and most typically flavored with cinnamon and nuts.  The chocolate has a grainy texture and is predominantly used for making hot chocolate.  The thick disks are chopped coarse and added to hot water or milk then frothed with the molinillo.
Mexican Chocolate disk
mexican chocolate, formed into a disk

Mexican Chocolate Song

From the Texas State Libary and archives commission. "Children in Mexico often drink chocolate with breakfast. They stir it with a special utensil called a molinillo which is held between the palms and rotated back and forth. During the chorus of this rhyme, children rub their palms together and pretend to "stir" the chocolate with a molinillo." audio.gif (141 bytes)Click to hear a real player audio of this song.

Spanish English
Bate, bate, chocolate, Stir, stir, chocolate,
Tu nariz de cacahuate Your nose is a peanut.
Uno, dos, tres, CHO! One, two, three, CHO!
Uno, dos, tres, CO! One, two, three, CO!
Uno, dos, tres, LA! One, two, three, LA!
Uno, dos, tres, TE! One, two, three, TE!
Chocolate, chocolate! Chocolate, chocolate!
Bate, bate, chocolate! Stir, stir, the chocolate!
Bate, bate, bate, bate, Stir, stir, stir, stir,
Bate, bate, CHOCOLATE! Stir, stir, CHOCOLATE!

Old Molinillos

This is from our collection of older molinillos.  The older pieces tend to be more detailed than most of the newer.  Some had color applied, others ivory-like details.

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old molinillo with color

molinillo with color accents - photo by

molinillo with ivory

molinillo with ivory accents 

molinillo with square head

this molinillo has a slightly square shape.

molinillo with little bucket

the end of the molinillo forms a hand and a little bucket is attached with wire

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Author: B. Bowman
First Posted:  Jan 17, 2001
Updated November 4, 2012