Meatless Monday: Día de Reyes Rosca Recipe

The holiday season isn’t over yet--at least not for many in Spain, Latin America, and here in the U.S. celebrating Dia de los Reyes Magos or Three Kings’ Day. Also known as Three Wise Men Day or Epiphany, Día de Reyes in its abbreviated form is a Christian holiday celebrated 12 days after Christmas on January 6th when the Three Kings visited baby Jesus. Many cities host parades and festivals to celebrate. Families exchange gifts and savor a traditional  Rosca de Reyes or King’s Cake.

The rosca is a wreath-shaped sweet bread topped with candied fruit to symbolize a king’s jeweled crown. The metaphorical "jewel in the crown" is actually the small figurine representing the baby Jesus which is hidden inside. In Mexico, tradition follows that whoever gets the slice with the figurine will have good luck. But there's a party hook: the rosca good tidings come with an obligation to host a tamales party on February 2nd, Día de la Canderlaria or Candlemas Day.

A delicious rosca is not only easy to make but can be made healthier with a few recipe modifications.

Health Tip: I substitute whole-wheat flour and dried cranberries for white flour and candied cherries.


Natalie's Healthy Rosca de Reyes Recipe



  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
  • ¼ cup milk, room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups of candied or dried fruit (cherries, figs, pineapples, etc.)
  • ¼ pecans, chopped


  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • candied or dried cherries
  • candied orange peel


  1. In a large bowl combine flour, dry yeast, salt, sugar and cinnamon.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine egg, butter, vanilla, and milk. Stir wet mixture and candied fruits into the dry ingredients. Mix well with a wooden spoon.
  3. Knead the mixture by hand and form a large dough ball. Cover the dough with plastic wrap, set it in a warm place and let rise for approximately 1 hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, form a ring by rolling dough into a long tube shape and connecting the ends. Place dough ring on a greased cooking sheet.
  6. Insert a glass or plastic baby figurine anywhere in the underside of the dough ring. No toy? I used one almond as a last-minute substitution.
  7. In a small bowl mix 1 egg and 2 tablespoons of water to make egg wash. Brush egg wash over dough.
  8. Decorate with fruit and citrus peels.
  9. Bake for 45 minutes or until dough is golden.

¡Qué rico! The "icing on the cake" is actually piping hot chocolate which I pair with this cake.

Holiday traditions are an important part of culture and are an opportunity to focus on what is most important—spending time with loved ones. Maximize the time and energy shared with familia and friends by taking care of your health.

Happy Día de los Reyes Magos!

¿Need Meatless Monday inspiration? Click here to read more of my recipes.

The Wise Latina Club's Natalie Wagner FierroA teacher by day, The Wise Latina Club’s Natalie Wagner Fierro is the co-founder of the Institute for Student Health. She equally loves food (cooking or dining in Washington’s restaurants) and burning calories by distance running, practicing yoga, and archery. Click here to read more about and connect with Natalie.

Edited by: Viviana Hurtado, Ph.D.

What is your favorite holiday dessert?