Horchata is a cold and creamy drink made of milk, vanilla, and cinnamon. It tastes similar to rice pudding but in a refreshing, liquid form. It’s the perfect balance of creamy and sweet.
Whether you’re looking for the perfect beverage to enjoy with your tacos or if you’re simply craving a cool drink on a hot summer day, a glass of horchata is a sure and delicious way to quench your thirst.
If you’ve never had this cinnamony drink, keep on reading because you’re in for a refreshing treat!
What is Horchata?
Horchata, also known as orxata, is a cold and creamy drink, off-white in color, that is made of milk, vanilla, and cinnamon.
There are a few different kinds of horchata including ones that are made with tiger nuts like in Spain called horchata de chufa, which is how it was originally made.
But today we’ll be making the Mexican version of horchata using white rice as the main ingredient. This is how it’s usually made in taco shops and Mexican restaurants in the US.
Aside from being delicious and refreshing, horchata is also quite the healthy drink! In Mexico it is widely used to help ease up a fever. Not only that but it’s also rich in Vitamin B for extra energy. Who doesn’t want more of that.
What Does Horchata Taste Like?
Mexican horchata or horchata de arroz is made mainly of rice and milk with a hint of cinnamon and tastes similar to rice pudding but in a refreshing, liquid form. Add in the nuts and it also has a hit of earthiness. Sounds delicious right?
Served over ice cubes or crushed ice and with just the right balance of creamy and sweet flavors, this invigorating drink pairs perfectly with any Mexican dish, especially spicy ones!
Some of my favorites to go with a cold glass of horchata are tacos al pastor, barbacoa burritos, or spicy cheese quesadillas. Yummy!
How to Make Horchata
This recipe makes 4 servings of horchata and takes just 10 minutes to prepare.
1 1/4 cups long grain white rice (dry uncooked)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 cinnamon sticks (about 2 1/2-inches each)
4 cups cold water
1/2 cup granulated sugar (can use more or less to taste)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups whole milk
Ground cinnamon and extra cinnamon stick (for garnishing)
1. Place your rice, almonds, and cinnamon sticks into a blender and blend on high for 45-60 seconds or until you have a finely ground mixture. Pause and shake the blender occasionally to make sure it is crushed evenly.
2. Pour in 2 cups of water, sugar and vanilla. Blend for 30 seconds. Pour in the remaining 2 cups of water and the whole milk. If your blender is not large enough to contain the remaining milk and water, then pour everything into a larger container. Give it one final mix with a large spoon.
3. Cover and chill in the fridge for 8 to 12 hours.
4. Using a fine mesh strainer, separate the liquid into a pitcher.
5. Serve with ice cubes or crushed ice and garnish with ground cinnamon and cinnamon stick.
How Long Does Horchata Last?
For the best tasting horchata, you can keep it chilled in your fridge for as long as three days to one week. Make sure to never leave it out in room temperature for longer than an hour!
Tips for Making the Best Horchata
Like many recipes that are this easy and simple to make, one of the best things about horchata is you can get creative and tweak it to your taste. You can have it as sweet or milky (or even boozy!) as you want.
If you’re following a special diet, don’t worry. You can definitely still enjoy this drink as there are a variety of alternative ingredients you can use.
- For a vegan or dairy-free horchata substitute the whole milk with coconut milk. You can also use almond milk for an extra earthy flavor!
- For a nut-free horchata just take out the almonds, no need for replacement.
- For a sugar-free horchata you can use artificial sweeteners like stevia. Another healthier option you can try is honey. Of course, you can adjust the sweetness level to your taste!
- For an alternative to long-grain white rice, you can use any other rice you want. For extra fiber, you can use brown or black rice.
One of the key things that makes a good horchata is not only its milkiness and creaminess but its smooth texture as well. It’s very important to strain carefully (double straining is recommended!) so you don’t get any unwanted chunks in your drink. If you can, use pre-sliced almonds when blending.
The best way to make horchata is with a blender but if you don’t have access to one, don’t fret because there’s another way to make it using just a whisker.
Instead of long grain white rice, you can use unsweetened rice milk as an alternative. For the cinnamon sticks, substitute it with ground cinnamon.
You’ll need extra whisking power for this version and I think the original blended horchata still tastes better, but this shortcut recipe is still worth a shot!
Oh, and one last thing. If you’re wondering if you can add a little spike to your horchata, the answer is yes! After you’ve chilled and strained your drink, why not add a little something and make it a cocktail?
Rum is probably the most common liquor added to horchata. I recommend spiced rum. If you’re making a dairy-free version, some white rum will go well with coconut milk (think pina coladas).
You can also try adding bourbon and have something similar to eggnog but thinner and sweeter.
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