3 mins read

Smooth and creamy, this horchata drink has the perfect cinnamon spice and sweetness. Serve up a cold glass on ice! This drink is perfect after a meal of tacos or enchiladas. The cold creaminess perfectly balances the heat and spice of the meal. 


Horchata (OR-cha-tah) is a traditional drink of Latin American countries. Origins go back to Spain, where they prepare an horchata that is made of Tiger Nuts. This recipe that I’m sharing on the blog today would be a Mexican Horchata. Which is a version made with white rice. You might also see this drink referred to as Agua de Horchata. 

Ingredients Needed for Homemade Horchata:


Notes on the Ingredients:

  • Long grain white rice– this can be substituted for another rice, but any change will also change the flavor of the horchata.
  • Cinnamon sticks– using full cinnamon sticks gives the best flavor. You can typically find pouches with 3-4 sticks, or grab as many as you need from the bulk spice bins at most markets.
  • Vanilla– use your favorite kind. Madagascar vanilla has a rich, creamy flavor. Mexican vanilla will be dark and smokey. Both of those are great options in this drink.
  • Sugar– white granulated sugar to sweeten the drink. Can be substituted for another sweetener of your choice. Again, any changes will change the flavor. Options to sweeten include: honey, maple syrup, agave, or even blended medjool dates.
  • Milk– I love using whole milk, it gives a creamier horchata. Other options would include almond milk or coconut milk. Again, any changes will change the flavor of the finished horchata. Some recipes call for sweetened condensed milk. If you are using this option then cut out the sweetener or the drink will be way too sweet.
  • Almonds (optional!) some recipes call for almonds, they do give a strong almond flavor to the drink, you can sub out 1/3 cup of rice for 1/3 cup of almonds. For best results blanch the almonds and remove the skin. Bring a small pot of water to a boil, add the raw almonds to the boiling water, boil for just about one minute, not longer, pour into a strainer, then rinse the almonds with cold water. The skins will easily fall off with your fingers.

How to make Horchata (step by step):

  • Rinse the rice. Place the rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse the rice until the water runs clear.
  • Blend: water, long grain white rice, and cinnamon sticks. 
  • Soak: Pour the mixture into a container and store in the refrigerator overnight, or for at least 3 hours.
  • Strain: After chilling, pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer, or into cheesecloth and into another container. I typically will strain twice to get all the fine, tiny pieces
  • Sweeten: add milk of choice, vanilla, and then sweeten to preference. I prefer 1/3 cup, however, I would recommend starting with 1/4 cup and adding to taste. Remember, if you are using sweetened condensed milk, you do not want to add any other sweetener.

Expert Tips:

  • Use a high powdered blender. This will help ensure the cinnamon gets blended really well, giving the best flavor.
  • Use whole cinnamon sticks instead of ground cinnamon
  • Soak time. Make sure you are giving enough time to soak to get the most flavor.
  • Strain the mixture twice! This gets all those tiny bits and gives you the smoothest horchata drink.
  • Sweeten at the end so that you can control the amount of sweetness you are getting.
  • Serve cold! Horchata is meant to be cold. So store it in the refrigerator while soaking to help make sure it’s cold when you make it.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I make this without a blender?

Without a blender you wouldn’t be able to blend the rice enough to drink it. You can make another version though: combine 8 cups of rice milk, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 tsp of cinnamon, and 1 tsp of vanilla. Whisk this together.

Can I make this Dairy Free?

Yes! Substitute the milk for a dairy free milk of choice, such as almond or coconut milk.

What are some alternative Sweeteners?

Maple syrup, honey or agave are great options.

More Refreshing Recipes to Try:

If you tried this recipe please leave a comment and a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating below! Thank you so much!

Recipe first published on October 4, 2019. Updated on April 2, 2021 with new information and images.

Photography done by the wonderful @KJandCompany.co