Refreshing homemade Horchata! This easy to make, authentic Mexican drink is the perfect recipe to have on hand as those hot sunny days are just around the corner. Plus it’s the perfect compliment to all your favorite Mexican meals and it’s a staple for that Cinco de Mayo party!
Consider serving it paired with my favorite Grilled Chicken Street Tacos, Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef, or Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas.
What is Horchata?
Horchata is a traditional Mexican drink made up of white rice soaked in water, it’s flavored with cinnamon and its sweetened with granulated sugar. Everything is minced up together in a blender and later strained to remove solids. Some versions are dairy free while others contain milk and some versions contain nuts or added flavor like vanilla or coconut.
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I’ve tried several recipes using different ratios, different types of rice, I’ve tried adding nuts or leaving them out, and also experimented using whole cinnamon sticks or ground cinnamon. After all the tasty trials this one was my favorite.
It’s incredibly easy to make and it tastes just as good, if not better than the horchata you’ll get from Mexican restaurants! Everyone will love this simple, satisfying drink!
What Ingredients are in Homemade Horchata?
- Long grain white rice – this is what gives the drink its unique flavor.
- Sliced almonds – whole or slivered almonds will work great too. You’ll love the light flavor these add.
- Cinnamon sticks – I buy these in the Mexican spice pouches or in bulk bins for a cheaper option.
- Cold water – once this is soaked with the rice it will turn into a creamy rice milk.
- Granulated sugar – I’ve found 1/2 cup is the perfect amount for me but adjust to taste.
- Vanilla – use real vanilla for the best flavor.
- Whole milk – I love the creaminess this not so typical ingredient adds, it makes it a little richer too.
How to Make Horchata
- Blend rice mixture: add rice, almonds and cinnamon sticks to a high speed blender. Blend about 30 – 60 seconds on high speed or until finely pulverized.
- Sweeten: pour in 2 cups water, sugar and vanilla. Blend an additional 30 seconds.
- Add remaining liquid: if your blender can fit the additional liquid pour in remaining 2 cups water, and milk, otherwise pour into a large enough container to fit along with water and milk.
- Let soak: cover and chill in refrigerator 8 – 12 hours.
- Strain solids: strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a pitcher.
- Serve chilled: serve with ice if desired, garnishing each serving with ground cinnamon or cinnamon sticks.
Can I Make it Dairy Free?
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Yes. Replace whole milk with canned coconut milk or non-dairy milk such as almond milk.
Can I Make it Nut Free?
Yes, just omit the almonds in the recipe, no replacement is needed.
What About a Different Type of Rice?
My preferred type of rice is just all-purpose long grain white rice but you can use another type of rice such as basmati, brown rice or jasmine rice which will add a unique (not so traditional) flavor.
How Can I Make it without a Blender?
You can try the cheater version. In a pitcher vigorously whisk 8 cups unsweetened rice milk, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp vanilla until sugar has dissolved.
How Long will Horchata Keep for?
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For best results serve within 3 days of preparing. Don’t let sit at room temperature longer than 30 minutes, keep refrigerated.
Alternative Sweeteners to Use?
Maple syrup or honey can be substituted or try a sugar free substitute like stevia. And keep in mind with this drink you can adjust the level of sweetness to taste I’ve just found 1/2 cup to be perfect for me.
Tips for the Best Horchata:
- Use a blender. Otherwise you won’t get near as much flavor from the rice and cinnamon.
- Use whole cinnamon sticks for best flavor. Ground cinnamon surprisingly doesn’t taste the same.
- Allow enough time to soak. The lengthy soak time allows for the flavors of the rice and cinnamon to be extracted and absorbed into the water. It makes it creamier too.
- Strain. You’ll have a lot of left over rice and cinnamon stick solids to be tossed, if you skipped the straining you’d be left with an unbearable overload of grittiness. You can even strain twice if you feel you didn’t catch it all the first time.
- Serve it ice cold. Horchata is always best served well chilled over a bed of ice.
More Mexican Drink Recipes to Try:
- Agua Fresca
- Agua de Jamaica (Hibiscus Tea)
- Mango Margaritas
Delicious Mexican Dessert Recipes You’ll Love:
- Tres Leches Cake
- Fried Ice Cream
- Mexican Wedding Cookies
- Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Sugar Chips
Photography credit: Jenn Davis of Two Cups Flour.