savory caramel rib glaze

Mexican Inspired Savory Caramel Ham Glaze

Rich caramel flavors meet Mexican ingredients for a completely unique ham glaze that will have you applying layer after delicious layer.


I stumbled upon this recipe quite by accident, but isn’t that how some of the best ones start off? I had just returned from a week in Mexico City and Monterrey, totally inspired by the ingredients at the local markets. I had originally planned to use flor de jamaica (dried hibiscus flowers) to create an intensely colored rib glaze. But as I began adding the other ingredients, the color totally changed but the flavor developed into something incredible. Like, can’t-stop-sticking-my-finger-in-to-“taste-test” incredible.

The magic ingredient in this one is a commonly found Mexican sugar, piloncillo. Piloncillo is as unrefined as sugar gets. Also known as Panela, it’s unrefined sugar cane. The richness of the molasses flavors in piloncillo are incredible. Sometimes with regular brown sugar, the molasses is added to the refined sugar crystals. Not so in this case, you get the whole unadulterated flavor experience. And the resulting glaze is nearly the consistency of runny cajeta. Epic.

Use this glaze as you normally would for a ham sauce or glaze, starting to baste 20-30 minutes before your ham has finished cooking.

You can/should/must also use it with ribs, pork chops and frankly, even drizzle it on ice cream.

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savory caramel rib glaze

Mexican Inspired Savory Caramel Ham Glaze

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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Jess Pryles



8 oz piloncillo (see note 1)

0.5 cup white sugar

1.5 cups water

1.5 cups flor de jamaica (dried hibiscus flower, see note 2)

1 tablespoon achiote paste

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

pinch salt


  1. Use a serrated knife to shave the piloncillo cone into smaller pieces. Add the piloncillo, sugar and water to a small saucepan, and place over low heat. Bring to a simmer and stir frequently until sugars have dissolved.
  2. Turn off heat, and add in flor de jamaica. Leave to steep for 30 minutes.
  3. Pass liquid through a strainer, return it to the saucepan and discard the flowers. Add achiote paste, cider vinegar and salt. Place the saucepan back over low heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes until mixture thickens to a thin caramel consistency.
  4. Pour into a clean jar and allow to cool before use. Keeps for up to a month, refrigerated.


  • note 1: you can substitute piloncillo with brown sugar
  • note 2: in this recipe, the jamaica is just for color, so if you can’t find it, just omit it or use a drop of pink food coloring.

1 thought on “Mexican Inspired Savory Caramel Ham Glaze”

  1. I actually made this glaze for my jalapeño popper style meatballs I made on our smoker. I added 1 finely chopped Serrano at the end to give it a kick. Super delicious! Thank you,!

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