Horchata is an iced rice milk beverage from Mexico that’s a simple blend of rice, cinnamon, milk and sweetener. My version is a healthier spin on the classic. It’s a sweet and creamy delight and refreshing on a hot day.
What Is Horchata
For those who’ve never had horchata before, you’re in for a treat. Historically, horchata is a grain-based beverage that’s made from various types of nuts or grains that differ slightly between countries. Spain uses dried and sweetened tiger nuts while Puerto Rico uses grounded sesame seeds.
The horchata we know and love here in the U.S. is a rice-based drink straight from Mexico. But don’t let the rice part fool you. The texture is beautifully creamy with a blend of sweet cinnamon, and earthy flavors. It’s the perfect refreshment on a hot summer day.
While traditional horchata contains milk and sugar, it can also be made dairy-free and with sugar alternatives (which I will talk about below). So get your bag of rice ready – and let’s get blending!
For this recipe, all you need are few pantry staples you might already have.
- Long Grain White Rice
- Cinnamon Sticks
- Almond Milk (or other milk)
- Maple Syrup (or other sweetener)
- Vanilla Extract
How To Make Horchata
Horchata is fairly easy to make. All you need is a blender, large pitcher, and a little patience. Here’s how to make it.
- Wash the rice. Under running water, rinse the rice in a fine mesh sieve.
- Blend the mixture. Add the rice, water, and cinnamon sticks to a high-speed blender. Blend for about 40 to 60 seconds, or until everything is grounded.
- Let it soak and chill. Pour the mixture into a large container, cover, and let it chill in the fridge for 8 to 12 hours. Preferably, you’ll want to soak this overnight.
- Strain the mixture. Over a large pitcher, strain the mixture through a nut-milk bag.
- Add the rest. Stir in the milk, vanilla, and sugar. Taste test to see if you need to add more sweetener or water.
- Serve. Add ice to the pitcher, give everything a stir, and serve in glasses with freshly ground cinnamon.
If you’re finding that a few of the ingredients don’t work for you, here’s a list of alternatives.
Use other types of milk: Aside from regular milk, you can use other non-dairy milks such as coconut milk, cashew milk or almond milk.
Make it nut-free: Just choose a different milk option.
Alternative sweeteners: Maple syrup, honey, or dates (add to the blended mixture) can be used. Stevia works as well.
Make it creamier: If you find this to be too watery, you can use 3 cups of water and 3 cups of milk instead.
A Few Tips For The Best Horchata
- Use a blender. Instead of whisking, blending will help you maximize the flavors from the rice and cinnamon.
- Use cinnamon sticks. While ground cinnamon can be an option, you’re going to get much more flavor out of cinnamon sticks.
- Soak overnight. It’s important to not skip this step. You want all the flavors have time to meld together. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
- Strain it well. There’s going to be a lot of residue from the rice and cinnamon sticks. So make sure you strain everything through a nut-milk bag to get a perfectly creamy liquid.
- Pour over ice. This recipe is traditionally served over ice for the ultimate chilled beverage.
How Long Will This Keep In The Fridge?
A pitcher of horchata will keep fresh in the fridge for about 4 days. Just remember to not let it sit at room temperature for longer than 30 minutes. Keep the mixture chilled as much as possible.
More Refreshing Drinks
Hot summer days are ahead, so here’s a few refreshments that you can alternate throughout the weeks.
- Agua Fresca
- Jamu Juice
- Lavender Lemonade
- Classic Margarita
- White Sangria With Mango and Berries
- Iced Matcha And Salted Caramel Latte
Easy Mexican Horchata Recipe
- 1 cup long grain white rice
- 4 cups water
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 cups almond milk, or any dairy or dairy-free milk
- 1/3 cup maple syrup, or other sweetener
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Under running water, rinse the rice in a fine mesh sieve.
- Add the rice, water, and cinnamon sticks to a high speed blender. Blend for about 40-60 seconds until the rice and cinnamon are grounded.
- Pour the mixture into a large container. Then cover and let it chill in the fridge for about 8-12 hours, preferably overnight.
- Over a pitcher, strain the mixture through a nut-milk bag.
- Stir in the milk, vanilla, and maple syrup. Taste test and add more sweetener if needed.
- Serve over ice and and garnish with freshly ground cinnamon or cinnamon sticks.
- I love my modern glass pitcher and it’s the perfect size for this recipe!
- If you don’t have cinnamon sticks, you could substitute 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon per stick. So 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon in this recipe.
This horchata was so light, refreshing and delicious! I’m having fun playing with this recipe. My hubby is accustomed to a heavier, creamier horchata so next time I’m adding 1/4c. almonds to blending ingredients and swapping out the maple syrup for 1/2c. Sweetened condensed milk. Thank you Lisa for your blog and cookbook. I’m learning so much!
Glad you’re loving this horchata recipe Karen!
Holy moly! This is sooooo delicious. My whole family ranted and raved over this drink. It was a new taste for all of us and really fantastic. My favorite recipe to date on your website and I have tried A LOT of your recipes. Excuse me while I go make some more. 😬
This is amazing with a cold shot of expresso added to it as well!!!!
Agree! Dirty horchata is what they call it… :)
Some even add rum to make it dirtier! ;)
Hi Lisa – This is probably a crazy question but any chance quinoa would work?
Unfortunately this recipe traditionally uses rice.
This drink took me right back to my childhood. It was delicious and (dare I say) even BETTER than what I remembered. Thank you! :)
In Spain there is a drink called horchata. In reality is a nut-milk.
The ingredients are:
1 cup tigernuts soaked, 4 cupwater and 1 spoon sugar.
A cinnamon stik or a lemon zest are optional but they enhance the flavor. And not normaly used on homemade Horchata
Yep! I mentioned in the post that horchata can vary a bit between countries :) But I’m very keen to try the Spanish version!
Hi Lisa I will be making this, can you use a rice cloth?
Hi Cynthia- yes you can!
Super dumb question, but is the rice uncooked?
Not a dumb question. Yes, it’s uncooked. :)
What nut-milk bag do you recommend? Thanks!
Hi Laura – the nut milk bag I use is listed on my Shop page.
Hi Laura- You can find the nut milk bag I use in the Shop page on my website :)
I cant believe it is that easy! I love horchata and order it whenever i get a chance at a restaurant. I just blended my rice and leaving it overnight in fridge. Cant wait to try it!
Hi Martha- It’s much easier than you think! And great, can’t wait to hear your thoughts on this :)
Hi Lisa, I haven’t tried this yet but am anxious to do so. It sounds fantastic. One question though. I saw a very similar recipe elsewhere, and in a few comments people said they added sweetened condensed milk to make it creamier. Do you think this would work, and, if so, how much might I add?
Hi Marcia- Can’t wait for you to try this recipe! As for condensed milk, I haven’t tried it yet so I’m not sure how much you would need to add. But, I think it will definitely make it a bit creamier.
I really liked how this came out, but wanted to makes sure that I made it right. After blending there was rice at the bottom of the blender the consistency of course sand. Is that how it should be. Or should I have blended longer. I scooped what was at the bottom into the container and let it sit overnight, then strained and added the rest of the ingredients. It tasted good, but not sure if I should have blened longer.
Hi Caille – yes, that’s normal to have that rice sediment at the bottom. Sounds like you did it right!
Would it be the same amount of rice if I used medium grain?
Thank you so much for this recipe! I love horchata and would t never guess that it was that easy to make it my own. I’ve made it last night and waited overnight just like you said and it come out perfect!! ❤️❤️
Hi Dea- It really is such a simple drink, just takes a bit of patience with a few steps. Happy to hear you enjoyed it!
I don’t see the video for this page? Could you please upload as it says to watch how it’s made here and no video shows.
Hi Dee – you can see the video if you turn off your ad blocker :)
I have been looking for an Horchata recipe for a while since it is my sons favorite drink. When Lisa posted hers I knew I had to make it.
At first I was a little skeptical that the recipe called to blend first and not let soak first. But I went with it and doubled the recipe.
I had one cinnamon stick and the rest I used ground cinnamon. Used regular milk and regular sugar.
I like that I can control the sugar since restaurant ones are usually too sweet.
My son said, “this is better than the kind we buy!”
My only recommendation is to pour slowly into the nut bag and clean it out between pouring in more since it clogged for me, maybe it was just my bag, idk.
This recipe is a keeper!
Thank you once again Lisa!
Hi Nubia – I’m glad you decided to give this recipe a try! You know I always do tons of recipe testing before I post to make sure it’s the best one yet. In terms of pouring, yes it’s a bit thick so you do want to pour slowly :)
So easy to make and extremely chuggable! Lol
Definitely so easy to whip this drink up!
Would using a different type of rice affect the taste/recipe?
You might notice some subtle changes (like a brown rice might be a bit nuttier), but I imagine it would be fairly small given the addition of nut milk, sweeteners and cinnamon.
You’re stunning.😘 I’m married or i would’ve asked you out. Lol. But Beauty needs to be appreciated. Peace
Oh, you’re too kind. Thanks so much! :)
I wonder if longer soaking of the rice would give higher yield and less discard of rice when strained..I thought of this as I do not have a high speed blender, only a very old (but still functional) kenwood chef.
That’s a good question. Perhaps try a few different soaking times and see which you prefer!
Want to make this for cinco de Mayo this week but don’t have a nut milk bag. What else do you suggest for straining?
Hi Chelsea – You can also use a very thin washcloth or fine mesh sieve.
So excited to try this!! Perfect timing since it’s so warm out today. If you don’t have cinnamon sticks how much powdered cinnamon should you use?
Hi Dani – I just added a note to the recipe card, but you could use 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon in this recipe to replace the two cinnamon sticks. Enjoy!
Very interesting recipe. Have you used raw rice here? Won’t it taste raw..How does it taste? I would love to try this recipe
Yes, the rice is raw but rinsed. And it tastes deliciously creamy! You should definitely give it a try. :)
Sounds and looks great. Can’t wait to try making it myself at home!
A delicious and creamy way to start the warmer days off :)
Wow, I have no idea this was made with such simple ingredients!! I need to give this a go! Thanks for the recipe! :)
Hi Cathleen- Definitely a much easier recipe than most people think! Can’t wait for you to try this :)
This sounds so simple to make and delicious! I love horchata at restaurants, so looking forward to making it.
Hi Biana – You’re going to love this homemade version! The flavors and texture is all up to par :)
You mention several times to blend with the almonds but you don’t ever mention them in the ingredients. Could you please clarify?
Hi Patricia – sorry about that. An earlier version of the recipe accidentally posted. But since I’m using almond milk in this recipe, the almonds weren’t needed. I’ve fixed the recipe! :)