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Haitian Sweet Cornmeal (Labouyi Mayi)

Haitian Sweet Cornmeal - Haitian Labouyi mayi

Haitian sweet cornmeal is called Labouyi Mayi. It is a traditional Haitian dish made with cornmeal, milk, water, sugar, and spices. It is often served for breakfast or as a snack.

Sweet and savory cornmeal! This dish can be prepared with polenta or cornmeal. The only difference is the cooking time. Cornmeal needs to cook much longer than polenta because the grains are larger.

Sweet polenta was one of many dishes we ate for supper in Haiti. I loved it most on rainy nights. The smell of cinnamon and nutmeg wafting through the air, mixed with the earthy scent of the rain, was simply magical. It made me feel safe, loved, and cared for.

Haitian Sweet Cornmeal - Haitian Labouyi mayi
Sweet Polenta

The ingredients for the Haitian Sweet Cornmeal or Labouyi Mayi Recipe

  • Cornmeal medium or fine grind rinsed
  • Milk: best to use carnation milk but whole milk or 2% milk is good as well. You can also use coconut milk mixed with regular milk.
  • Grated nutmeg: best to use freshly grated. Bottled or Jared works too.
  • Cinnamon sticks: can be substituted with ground cinnamon.
  • Anise star: for seasoning the cornmeal
  • Lemon rind: adds a hint of lemony to this recipe and most sweet porridge recipes.
  • Vanilla extract: for flavor and aromatic
  • Sugar: to sweeten. Use brown sugar if you can; the taste is better.
  • Pinch of salt: to balance the flavors of all the ingredients
  • Butter: helps with keeping the texture smooth.


  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine milk, cinnamon stick, nutmeg, lime rind, and anise. Bring to a boil.
  2. Gradually whisk in cornmeal. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low.
  3. Stir occasionally until thickened and creamy, about 20 minutes.
  4. Remove spices. Stir in butter and sugar until melted.
  5. Serve hot, topped with Parmesan cheese if desired.

You can also add other ingredients to Labouyi Mayi, such as grated cheese, chopped fruits, or nuts.

Tips about washing cornmeal

Washing cornmeal is not necessary for most recipes. However, there are a few reasons why you might want to wash it:

  • To remove the bran, which is the outer layer of the corn kernel. The bran can make the cornmeal gritty and unpleasant to eat.
  • To remove any impurities, such as dust or dirt.
  • To make the cornmeal lighter and fluffier.

If you do decide to wash cornmeal, here are a few tips:

  • Use cold water. Hot water will make the cornmeal gummy.
  • Use a fine-mesh sieve. This will help to catch any impurities.
  • Rinse the cornmeal until the water runs clear.
  • Dry the cornmeal completely before using it.

Here are some notes about washing cornmeal:

  • Not all cornmeal needs to be washed. Some types of cornmeal, such as stone-ground cornmeal, are already pre-washed.
  • Washing cornmeal can remove some of the nutrients, so it is not always necessary.
  • If you are washing cornmeal, do it gently to avoid breaking the corn kernels.

Here are some Notes and tips for making Labouyi Mayi:

  • Use coarse cornmeal for the best texture.
  • Do not overcook the cornmeal. Overcooking will make it tough.
  • Stir the cornmeal constantly while it is cooking to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • Serve the Haitian sweet cornmeal or labouyi mayi hot or warm with your favorite toppings.

Here are some other tips that you may find helpful:

  • If you are using pre-washed cornmeal, you can skip the step of rinsing it.
  • Add a little more milk if the cornmeal starts to thicken too quickly.
  • If the cornmeal is not cooked through after 20 minutes, continue cooking it for a few more minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • To make the cornmeal ahead of time, cook it according to the recipe and then let it cool completely. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. When you are ready to serve, reheat the cornmeal in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until warmed through.

Sweet polenta is a simple yet succulent dish made with cornmeal, milk, cinnamon, anise, nutmeg, lime rind, vanilla, butter, and sugar. It is similar to cornmeal porridge, but thicker in consistency because it is made with regular cornmeal instead of cornmeal flour. For the best results, use a medium or fine-grind cornmeal.

Haitian Sweet Cornmeal - Haitian Labouyi mayi

Sweet Polenta

Sweet Polenta or Mais Douce is made with fine cornmeal, milk, spices and extract.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Course Breakfast, Lunch, supper
Cuisine Caribbean
Servings 4
Calories 351 kcal


  • 3/4 cups cornmeal medium or fine grind, rinsed
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 anise star
  • 1 lemon rind
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon butter


  • On medium heat, in a large saucepan, add milk, cinnamon stick, nutmeg, lime rind, and anise star. Bring to a boil. Rinse cornmeal with water and drained. Add rinsed cornmeal to milk slowly. With a wooden spoon, gently stir mixture. Bring to a boil. Once it starts to boil, add sugar and lower heat. Let cornmeal cook while stirring occasionally with the wooden spoon to avoid sticking. Be careful with the mixture because the higher the heat, the more it will splatter. Once milk has almost evaporated add butter and stir. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes. Uncover and check to see if cornmeal is fully cooked. It should be a bit pasty. If not fully cooked add additional milk until cooked thoroughly. Remove lime rind, anise star and cinnamon stick. Served while hot. Sprinkle grated parmesan cheese on top if preferred.


Serve hot or cold. Use Parmesan Cheese to add a cheesy flavor.
Sweet Polenta or Mais Douce can also be made with brown sugar. Do not use coarse cornmeal, as it will take longer to cook, and you will need more
  • Do not make or consume this dish if you suffer from Corn Allergies. 


Serving: 1gramsCalories: 351kcalCarbohydrates: 52gProtein: 11gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.04gCholesterol: 32mgSodium: 103mgPotassium: 485mgFiber: 4gSugar: 29gVitamin A: 434IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 326mgIron: 1mg

Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on the products used.

Keyword Caribbean cuisine, Cornmeal dishes, Cornmeal porridge, Haitian cornmeal, Haitian Cuisine, Mayi Moulen, polenta, Sweet cornmeal
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Nutrition info is automatically generated and provided as a courtesy and as an estimate only.

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Corn Allergy:

Always choose ingredients without corn or corn derivatives.

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