Horchata is a sweet, non-alcoholic, Mexican drink made from soaked rice, cinnamon and often times almonds. My deliciously sweet, blended beverage has a few ingredients that give it an extra touch that I feel other recipes lack. It’s about balance of flavor right? Let me show you How To Make Horchata and serve it up at your next Taco Tuesday or other Mexican themed party.
If you’ve ever had almond milk then you can imagine the consistency of this, and with the addition of cinnamon, vanilla and cloves, well this horchata is exceptional.
I first had horchata when I came to San Diego years ago. It was on a south of the border adventure into Tijuana and down the coast to Puerto Nuevo for lobster. At the stand were two glass keg-like containers. One had a red hibiscus flavored drink and the other was filled with a milky white beverage. I was given a sip to try and it was heavenly.
It is fantastic ice cold, a creamy-like milk and cinnamon flavored drink. Kids will love this as well as friends who don’t drink alcohol. Little did I know until years later it is made from soaked rice! How easy is that? Well over the years I’ve played with different recipes and at this stage have come up with my own version.
Cloves were to me what had been missing in all other recipes I tried and salt is a must to balance out the sweetness from the sweetened condensed milk. The salt tip was from my friend Juana and I think she was right.
After trying several different recipes and tweaking them to my flavor profile over time I have come to the conclusion that there are three ways to approach making horchata and I’ll explain each. You decide which makes the most sense to you and your palette.
- First version would be to add the water and rice to the blender and turn it on for a second just to break up the rice. Add the 2 cinnamon sticks and soak a minimum of 3 hours or overnight, covered. Then strain and discard the soaked rice and cinnamon and add the remaining ingredients, blend again and chill. Serve over ice.
- Second version you DO NOT blend the water and rice to break it up initially, but soak it a minimum of 3 hours or overnight with 2 cinnamon sticks. The resulting rice and cinnamon flavored water (and cinnamon sticks) are puréed in the blender together for maximum flavor and a thicker consistency. Then strain and discard if desired and add the remaining ingredients, blend again and chill. Serve over ice.
- Third version is if using a Vitamix. Add the water, rice and 2 cinnamon sticks to the Vitamix and soak it a minimum of 3 hours or overnight covered. Purée until smooth. It does quite an incredible job basically of rendering the soaked rice into a blended liquid. Add the remaining ingredients, blend again and chill. Serve over ice.
While I love the thicker consistency of the Vitamix blended version, I found that the longer it sits in the refrigerator the horchata separates and basically the “rice flour” settles to the bottom. It can be either stirred in again or not. My favorite is the second method. It’s up to you!
Check out the video to see how easy it is to make and surprise your guests next time you host a Mexican themed party with my horchata. This is a great, non-alcoholic drink to serve guests alongside my Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas, Mojo Carne Asada Tacos, or my Pollo Asado. For a dessert try my Chocolate Rice Krispie Squares. Enjoy!
How To Make Horchata
- 4 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups white rice
- 2 cinnamon sticks (See Note 1)
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- In a blender add the water, rice and cinnamon sticks to soak for 3 hours minimum or overnight, covered, at room temperature. Do not blend, just soak.
- After the rice has soaked, add to the blender the milk, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, salt and ground cloves.
- Puree the rice mixture until smooth. Strain through cheesecloth or a fine sieve into a pitcher if desired. If using a Vitamin, I don’t strain.
- Refrigerate, chill and when ready serve stir well and pour over ice.
- If whole cinnamon is not available, then use 3 teaspoons of ground cinnamon.