Horchata: the delicious summer drink recipe from Mexico

Total time: 10 Min + Chilling Time
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 4 people
By Cookist

Horchata, or orxata in Spanish, is a refreshing Mexican drink recipe perfect for summer parties or special occasions such as Cinco de Mayo. Creamy and slightly sweet, it's basically a cold cinnamon-flavored rice milk beverage. With its nutty flavor, it slightly resembles a rice pudding.

You can make an authentic Mexican horchata in no time just with rice, milk, cold water, vanilla and cinnamon. Super quick and easy to make, you'll love this popular Latin American drink.

What is Horchata?

Horchata (pronounced or-chah-tah) is a popular drink in Mexico which originated in Spain. Also served in restaurants, it’s made from white rice soaked in water, sweetened with sugar and flavored with vanilla and cinnamon. This Mexican version also said horchata de arroz is made with rice, unlike the Spanish horchata de chufa which is made with chufa or tiger nuts.

Moreover, the word "horchata" should come from the Latin term hordeata (from hordeum) which means "drink made with barley". There are similar versions in the rest of Europe as well, such as the popular orzata in Italy and Malta, or the French and English orgeat, although they are not made with barley.

Horchata Ingredients

Rice – use long-grain white rice, it's perfect for giving texture and flavor. Anyway, you can also use another type such as basmati rice or jasmine rice.

Almonds – you can use whole or slivered almonds.

Cold water – you need it for soaking the rice.

Sugar – use granulated sugar. You can add more if you like sweet drinks.

Milk – it gives a creamy texture and a rich flavor.

Whole cinnamon sticks – it's perfect to flavor horchata. You can serve the drink with two cinnamon sticks.

Vanilla – make sure to use vanilla extract.


Equipment for Homemade Horchata Recipe

Here’s what you need to make your own horchata in your kitchen:

A large bowl or pitcher for soaking the rice and serving the horchata.

A high-speed blender.

A fine-mesh strainer or a nut milk bag for straining out solidsIce cubes and serving glasses.

How to Make Horchata at Home

To make horchata, start by blending rice, almonds and cinnamon sticks for about 40-60 seconds into a high speed blender. Stop when the mixture is like ground.

Pour in 2 cups of water, sugar and vanilla, and blend for few seconds. You may need to stop occasionally and shake the blender if the mixture sinks to the bottom of the jug. If the blender is big enough, add the milk and remaining water, then blend again. Cover and let it chill overnight, this helps the rice grains soften and tenderize, so you don’t need to cook them.

Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a pitcher, then discard the rice or any other pulp. Serve with ice and garnish with extra cinnamon sticks.


Is Horchata Dairy-Free?

This recipe for Mexican horchata is not dairy-free. You’ll stir whole milk into the drink at the last minute, which transforms into a rich and satisfying beverage.

If you prefer a dairy-free or vegan option, you can skip the whole milk altogether or replace it with store-bought unsweetened almond, coconut, or soy milk.

Tips for making Authentic Horchata

Make sure the rice has been soaking long enough to allow it to absorb all the flavors and become creamy.

You can also use liquid sweeteners like honey or agave instead of granulated sugar.

For a nut-free horchata, leave the almonds out.

If you want to make a boozy horchata, you can add an ounce of spiced rum or bourbon into three ounces of horchata.

How to Serve Horchata

Because Mexico is such a warm climate, the drink is usually served ice-cold, sometimes garnished with a cinnamon stick. If you live somewhere cooler, however, you can easily warm your homemade horchata in a pot on the stove or in the microwave. If you use a microwave, be sure to keep an eye on it and lace a late under your cup, as it’s known to overflow.

If you’re looking for dishes to pair with your fresh batch of cinnamony horchata, look to Mexican cuisine for inspiration. You can turn the dish into a total fiesta with crunchy tacos, refreshing ceviche, and Mexican street corn, also known as elote.

Feel free to serve this refreshing drink to guests at a summertime barbecue together with grilled hamburgers, chicken wings, or vegetable kabobs. It’s always a refreshing and welcome warm weather drink.

Can you store Homemade Horchata?

It's best to enjoy horchata within 3 days. You can store it in a bottle in the refrigerator.

More Recipes You'll Like

Raw long-grain white rice
1 1/4 cups
Cinnamon sticks
almonds, sliced
1/2 cup
Cold Water
4 cups
Granulated sugar
1/2 cup
Vanilla Extract
1 tsp
Whole Milk
2 cups


Place the rice, almonds and cinnamon sticks in a high speed blender. Blend for about 40-60 seconds until you get a ground mixture.

Pour in 2 cups of water, and add vanilla and sugar. Blend for up to 30 seconds. You may need to stop occasionally and shake the blender if the mixture sinks to the bottom of the jug. If the blender is large enough, add the milk and remaining water, then blend for extra 30 seconds until creamy. Transfer the mixture into a bowl and let it soak overnight in the refrigerator.

After soaking, lightly stir the mixture.

Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a large pitcher. Discard the rice and any other pulp.

Add the ice, garnish with cinnamon sticks and ground cinnamon, then serve and enjoy!

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