This horchata recipe makes a creamy refreshing Mexican drink with sweet cinnamon flavor. Make some to serve for Cinco de Mayo or taco night!
This deliciously sweet drink has roots going back to 13th-century Spain, where it is known as orxata. The spanish version starts with a blend of soaked tiger nuts and milk.
In Mexico, the drink has a base of white rice. There are versions that include coconut and/or raw almonds, but primarily, cinnamon is the flavor of choice.
My blended beverage has a few unique ingredients 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 drink.
INGREDIENT NOTES + SUBSTITUTIONS
- Sweetened condensed milk– This ingredient adds sweetness to the drink. Condensed milk is made by adding sugar to evaporated milk, then reducing it to a thick, syrupy consistency.
For a healthier option, swap this out for sweetened or sugar-free vegan condensed milk instead.
- White rice– Use regular long or short grain white rice, just avoid par-boiled (quick cooking) blends. Although I have never made the horchata recipe with brown rice, I can’t think of a reason that it won’t work.
- Whole milk– It may go without saying, but using high-fat milk is key to a creamier drink. While you can certainly use low-fat milk, or even almond milk, the consistency will be very different.
- Slivered almonds– Be sure to use raw almonds. These are usually available in the bulk natural foods section of most grocery stores.
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.
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.
I’ll explain each, then you decide which makes the most sense to you and your palette. The second version is my favorite.
- Grind, soak, then strain.
Add the water and rice to a 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.
- Soak, puree, then strain.
DO NOT blend the water and rice to break it up initially, but soak it a minimum of 3 hours or overnight with the cinnamon sticks and almonds.
Next, purée in the blender with remaining ingredients for maximum flavor and a thicker consistency. Then strain and discard solids twice and chill. Serve over ice.
- Use a high speed blender.
This option is great if you have a high speed blender such as a Vitamix or Blendtec. Add the water, rice and 2 cinnamon sticks to the Vitamix and soak it a minimum of 3 hours or overnight covered. Then, 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.
How to make horchata (video)
When you get to the recipe card, be sure to check out the video to see how easy it is to make. Then, fix a batch and surprise your guests with the creamy rice and almond milk drink.
This is a great, non-alcoholic drink to serve guests alongside my Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas.
Horchata Recipe (Oxarta)
- 4 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups white rice
- 2 cinnamon sticks (3-inch sticks) (See Note 1)
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds (raw)
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves (optional)
- In a bowl add the water, rice, cinnamon sticks and almonds to soak for 3 hours minimum or overnight, covered, at room temperature.
- After the rice has soaked, transfer to a blender and remove 1 cinnamon stick (discard). Add the milk, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, salt and ground cloves (optional).
- Purée rice almond mixture until smooth for maximum flavor and a thicker consistency. Then strain and discard solids twice and chill.
- When ready to serve, stir well (See Note 2) and pour over ice in glasses rimmed with cinnamon sugar (optional).
- If whole cinnamon is not available, then use 3-4 teaspoons of ground cinnamon.
- Separation of the liquids and rice mixture is completely normal, especially if it’s been sitting in the fridge for a day or two. Just mix it together with a spoon and serve.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.