refreshing homemade horchata! This easy-to-make, authentic Mexican drink is the perfect recipe to have on hand when those hot, sunny days are just around the corner. Plus, it’s the perfect addition to all of your favorite Mexican foods and is a Cinco de Mayo party staple.
Consider serving it paired with my favorite Grilled Chicken Street Tacos, Slow Cooker BBQ Beef, or Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas.
what is horchata?
Horchata is a traditional Mexican drink made from white rice soaked in water, flavored with cinnamon, and sweetened with granulated sugar. everything is crushed in a blender and then strained to remove solids. some versions are dairy-free, while others contain milk, and some versions contain nuts or added flavoring such as vanilla or coconut.
I’ve tried various recipes with different ratios, different types of rice, tried adding nuts or leaving them out, and also experimented with whole cinnamon sticks or ground cinnamon. after all the tasty tests, this was my favorite.
It’s incredibly easy to make and tastes just as good, if not better, than the horchata you get at Mexican restaurants! everyone will love this simple and satisfying drink!
What ingredients are in the homemade horchata?
- long grain white rice: this is what gives the drink its unique flavor.
- Sliced Almonds: Whole or sliced almonds will also work great. you’ll love the light flavor they add.
- cinnamon sticks: I buy these in Mexican spice bags or bulk containers for a more economical option.
- cold water: once it is soaked with the rice, it will turn into a creamy rice milk.
- granulated sugar: I’ve found that 1/2 cup is the perfect amount for me, but adjust to taste.
- Vanilla: Use real vanilla for best flavor.
- whole milk: I love the creaminess this not-so-typical ingredient adds, it also makes it a little richer.
- Blend the rice mixture: Add the rice, almonds, and cinnamon sticks to a high-speed blender. mix 30-60 seconds on high speed or until finely pulverized.
- sweeten: add 2 cups of water, sugar and vanilla. mix an additional 30 seconds.
- add remaining liquid: if your blender can accommodate the additional liquid, pour in the remaining 2 cups of water and milk; otherwise, pour into a container large enough to fit together with the water and milk.
- Soak: Cover and chill in refrigerator 8 to 12 hours.
- Strain Solids: Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a pitcher.
- Serve cold: Serve over ice if desired, garnishing each serving with ground cinnamon or cinnamon sticks.
- use a blender. otherwise you won’t get as much flavor from the rice and cinnamon.
- use whole cinnamon sticks for best flavor. ground cinnamon surprisingly doesn’t taste the same.
- Allow plenty of time to soak. The long soak time allows the flavors of the rice and cinnamon to extract and absorb into the water. it also makes it creamier.
- strain. you’ll have plenty of leftover rice and cinnamon stick solids to throw away, if you skip the strain you’ll be left with an unbearable overload of grit. You can even double down if you feel like you didn’t catch it all the first time.
- Serve it chilled. Horchata is always served very cold on a bed of ice.
- fresh water
- agua de jamaica (hibiscus tea)
- mango margaritas
- three milk cake
- fried ice cream
- Mexican wedding cookies
- fruit sauce with cinnamon and sugar chips
how to make horchata
can I make it dairy free?
yes. replace whole milk with canned coconut milk or non-dairy milk like almond milk.
can I make it without nuts?
yes, just omit the almonds in the recipe, no need to replace them.
how about a different kind of rice?
My preferred type of rice is 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 do it without a blender?
you can try the cheat version. In a pitcher, vigorously whisk together 8 cups unsweetened rice milk, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla until sugar has dissolved.
how long does horchata last?
For best results, serve within 3 days of preparation. do not let stand at room temperature for more than 30 minutes, keep refrigerated.
what alternative sweeteners to use?
can substitute with maple syrup or honey or try a sugar-free substitute like stevia. and keep in mind that with this drink you can adjust the level of sweetness to taste. I just found that 1/2 cup is perfect for me.
tips for the best horchata:
more Mexican drink recipes to try:
delicious Mexican dessert recipes that you will love:
photo credit: jenn davis of two cups of flour.