Creamy, nutty, and fragrant with cinnamon, this recipe for easy Mexican Horchata is a refreshing agua fresca made with wholesome ground rice and almonds soaked in water. It’s a light, sweet, non-alcoholic drink that’s perfect for any occasion.
Creamy Homemade Horchata
If you’ve never had Horchata before, you’re in for a treat! Horchata is a sweet, creamy, rice-based drink, originally from Spain and popular in Mexico. The traditional Spanish version was often made with tiger nuts, but Mexican horchata is different, usually made by soaking rice and cinnamon in water, then straining it to produce a smooth, light drink that’s sweetened with a small amount of sugar. Think rice pudding in liquid form! 😋
Horchata is one of Mexico’s most famous drinks, and it’s easy to see why!
Also, Horchata is versatile. With its mild, nutty, flavor, horchata goes well with almost everything. It can be served as a snack, as a treat, after a meal, whenever! If you add more sugar, horchata can be almost dessert-like; if you use less, it’s a refreshing pick-me-up.
Does Horchata Contain Alcohol?
Nope! Traditional horchatas are alcohol-free, making them a fun treat for the entire family! However, if you would like to add alcohol, that’s perfectly a-OK! 😃 Rum, brandy, and Kahlua are all great choices for adding a little kick to your horchata.
What You’ll Need
Horchatas contain mostly rice, so you’ll want to make sure to have good, high-quality rice. Jasmine rice will add a slight floral note, while plain rice will be more neutral. Use what you like!
- Rice: You’ll want to use uncooked, long-grain white rice, not cooked rice.
- Almonds: Blanched almonds are best, since they have had their bitter skins removed. Chopped or sliced are both fine.
- Cinnamon: I use cinnamon sticks, but ground cinnamon works as well.
- Granulated Sugar: You can use sugar, or substitute a different sweetener, such as honey, maple syrup, or coconut sugar. Sweeten to your liking.
- Vanilla Extract
- Milk: Dairy milk is my go-to, but horchata can also be made with non-dairy milks such as oat milk or almond milk.
- Ice: For chilling the horchata before serving.
How to Make Horchata
If you’re new to making (or drinking) horchata, no worries! Although it might seem like an unusual recipe, the method for making it couldn’t be simpler. There are just a few steps: blend your ingredients, chill, and strain. Done!
- Blend the Dry Ingredients. Combine the rice, almonds, and cinnamon sticks in a blender, and then pour in about ¼ cup water to help in the blending process. Pulse the blender until the mixture is ground.
- Add Water, Vanilla, and Milk. Next, pour in two more cups of water, along with the sugar and vanilla extract. Continue to blend, until it is well-combined. This should take about 30 seconds. Pour the mixture into a large bowl or container, and then stir in the rest of the water and milk.
- Refrigerate and Strain. Cover your mixture tightly and refrigerate it overnight. When it’s ready, use a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth to strain it into a pitcher.
- Enjoy! Stir the horchata well, and serve over ice.
Tips for Success
This traditional drink is so easy, and the recipe is very flexible. Feel free to play with the amounts and even the ingredients themselves, to make it the way you want it! Here are some simple tips and variations you can try:
- Add Milk: To make a richer horchata, use more milk and less water. Easy!
- Fine Mesh: If you are using a mesh strainer, make sure it is very fine. This helps to eliminate any rice in your beverage, preventing it from becoming gritty.
- Strawberry Horchata: After the horchata soaks overnight, you can blend in some strawberries to make a strawberry horchata (horchifresa).
- Coffee Horchata: For a coffee-spiked horchata, add ground coffee to the rice mixture as it soaks, or replace some of the water in the recipe with cooled espresso. Yum!
These luscious Mexican drinks are absolutely refreshing on their own, but can be even tastier with a few added treats, such as pastries or fruit. Here are a few of my favorite sweet treats to serve with freshly-made horchata.
- Pistachio Biscotti: This delightfully crunchy Low Carb Pistachio Biscotti Recipe is not only perfect for dunking in coffee – it’s great dipped into a creamy glass of horchata!
- Blondies: Blondies with Caramel Bits and White Chocolate Drizzle go wonderfully with the nutty flavor of this Mexican beverage.
- Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls: Bring out the cinnamon by pairing your horchata with these indulgent Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls.
How to Store Extras
- Strained horchata should be stored in the refrigerator in a covered container, and consumed within 3-4 days.
Can I Freeze This?
- Yes, you can freeze these creamy, cinnamony drinks! Frozen horchata lasts for a month.
- Place in the refrigerator to thaw, or freeze in ice cube trays to blend into a horchata frappe!
The Best Horchata
- 1 cup long grain white rice, uncooked
- ½ cup chopped or sliced almonds,
- 2 cinnamon sticks, or use 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 4 cups water, divided
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar, or your choice of substitute sweetener
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups milk, you can also use oat milk or nut milk
- Ice, for serving
- Combine rice, almonds, and cinnamon sticks in a high powered blender; pour in about ¼ cup water and blend until mixture is ground.
- Pour in 2 cups water.
- Add sugar and vanilla extract, and continue to blend until combined; about 30 seconds.
- Pour the mixture into a large bowl or container; add in the remaining water and milk.
- Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.
- When ready, using a fine mesh or cheese cloth, strain the mixture into a pitcher.
- Stir it well, and serve over ice.
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.