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Horchata

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Refreshing authentic Mexican horchata. The perfect drink for hot summer days, Taco Tuesday, and Cinco de Mayo. Switch up your lemonade and iced tea routine with agua frescas horchata!

I live part-time in Mexico where I enjoy this authentic Horchata recipe. This delicious Mexican drink is easy to make at home! Pair it with steak fajitas, baja fish tacos, and crispy pork carnitas.

PIN HOMEMADE HORCHATA

Agua frescas horchata in glass carafe with 2 glasses of horchata garnished with cinnamon sticks.

WHAT IS HORCHATA?

Mexican horchata is a creamy beverage made from long-grain rice, water, cinnamon, and milk. It’s an ideal non-alcoholic option when serving Bloody Maria drinks for Sunday brunch.

Flavored with Mexican vanilla extract, it’s sweetened with cane sugar or sweetened condensed milk. In the States it’s granulated sugar. In Mexico, it’s often piloncillo (unprocessed cane sugar).

In Mexico, this thirst-quenching agua fresca is sold at outdoor markets and taco stands. Street vendors feature this drink in barrel-shaped beverage containers with a metal ladle for serving. It’s iced down and kept cold.

In California it’s a popular drink at quick-food Mexican restaurants and concession stands. It’s usually included in beverage dispenser line-ups near the flavored lemonade and soda machines.

Agua frescas horchata served over ice and garnished with cinnamon sticks.

kitchen tools for this recipe

You only need a few basic kitchen tools to make this agua fresca recipe. Most of these items are kitchen staples.

Kitchen tools for horchata recipe: large bowl, blender, stainer, cheesecloth, beverage container, spoon.

Horchata INGREDIENTS

  • Uncooked long-grain white rice
  • Cold water
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Mexican vanilla extract (or regular vanilla extract)
  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Low-fat milk or whole milk
  • Garnish: ground cinnamon

WANT IT SWEETER? Add a few pinches granulated sugar!

Ingredients for authentic Mexican horchata, AKA agua fresca, laid out on a tabletop.

HOW TO MAKE HORCHATA

This delicious agua fresca is simple to prepare. Just plan ahead, as the rice requires several hours of soaking. For serving large groups, double the recipe.

Here’s how to make this easy horchata recipe!

  • STEP 1: Add rice, water, vanilla extract and cinnamon sticks to a large container. Cover with a lid or a kitchen towel. Let the mixture soak at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours, or overnight.
  • STEP 2: Pour the rice, cinnamon sticks and soaking liquid into a high-speed blender. Blend for 2 to 3 minutes until the mixture is finely ground.
  • STEP 3: Line a fine-mesh strainer with a piece of cheesecloth. Over the kitchen sink, strain the liquid rice mixture into a large beverage container.
  • STEP 4: Add condensed milk and either low-fat milk or whole milk. Stir until incorporated. Chill until serving time. Later, this drink will dilute when served over ice.
Four images showing how to make agua frescas horchata, step by step.

How to serve AGUA FRESCAS horchata

Once assembled, store it in the fridge until serving time. Fill glasses 2/3 full with ice. Stir beverage well before pouring.

Garnish drinks with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon. If desired, add a cinnamon stick to each glass for stirring.

recipe TIPS & FAQ

  • DAIRY-FREE HORCHATA RECIPE: Replace the milk with almond milk or coconut milk. Replace the sweetened condensed milk with sweetened condensed coconut milk.
  • IS THIS AUTHENTIC AGUA FRESCA NUT FREE? Traditional Mexican horchata does not contain nuts. However, some recipes include almonds. When preparing this drink for a party, keep it nut free. One or more guests may have a nut allergy. Better safe than sorry.
  • BEST TYPE OF RICE FOR THIS RECIPE: Authentic horchata is made with long-grain white rice. Its neutral flavor is the perfect backdrop for the other flavors. Basmati rice is strongly aromatic. It can outshine the other ingredients. As a second option, use long-grain brown rice. It will give this agua fresca a slightly nutty flavor.
  • BEST VANILLA FOR THIS RECIPE: Mexican vanilla extract! The flavor profile is distinctly Mexican. It has a delicious buttery taste and smell. It comes in two colors: “Clear” and “Amber” (a caramel color). For this authentic horchata recipe, I use the darker vanilla.
  • CAN I SWAP GROUND CINNAMON FOR CINNAMON STICKS? For traditional-tasting drink, this is not recommended. Ground cinnamon from a jar has a different flavor profile than cinnamon sticks.
  • BLEND WELL / STRAIN WELL: No one enjoys a gritty beverage. Blend the mixture well, then strain it well. For best results, line a fine-mesh strainer with cheesecloth. In a pinch, use a coffee filter or a thin flour-sack towel.
  • HOW LONG WILL HORCHATA KEEP? This depends on the expiration date of the milk and how the beverage was handled after preparation. This drink must be kept chilled and stored in the fridge. Do not let it come to room temperature. (Here’s info on how to keep dairy foods safe.) For the best taste, enjoy this agua fresca within 3 days.
  • HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE FASTER? It’s untraditional, and the taste will be different, but here’s how: Mix 1/2 gallon rice drink non-dairy beverage with 1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk. Add 3 tablespoons vanilla extract and 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon. Whisk well.
  • MAKE IT A HOLIDAY BEVERAGE: Add 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice to the mixture. Garnish drinks with more of this spice!
  • HOW TO MAKE A DIRTY HORCHATA: Add 2 to 3 tablespoons cold brew coffee concentrate and a sprinkle of ground nutmeg per 1 cup measurement of this agua fresca. Chill. Stir well. Serve over ice.
  • HOW TO MAKE A BOOZY HORCHATA COCKTAIL: Start with a Dirty Horchata. Add Kahlúa or dark rum to taste. Stir.
Authentic Mexican Horchata in glass carafe with 2 glasses of agua fresca garnished with cinnamon sticks.

MEXICAN RECIPES TO PAIR WITH HORCHATA

This icy beverage pairs well with any Mexican entree. Your family will love these easy delicious recipes!

RATE THIS RECIPE > ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Friends who’ve enjoyed this horchata recipe say it reminds them of tropical vacations in Mexico. If you agree, give this agua fresca a 5-star rating in the comments!

Gold Line: Sprinkles of Inspiration | confettiandbliss.com
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Best Mexican Horchata in a glass carafe with 2 glasses of agua fresca garnished with cinnamon sticks.

Horchata


  • Author: Denay DeGuzman
  • Prep Time: 10 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 Minutes
  • Total Time: 10 Minutes + 8 Hours Soaking
  • Yield: 12 Servings 1x

Description

Authentic Mexican horchata is cool, creamy and refreshing! It’s quick and easy to make. On hot summer days, pour it over ice. Enjoy this delicious drink with your favorite Mexican entrees.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 cups uncooked long-grain white rice
  • 3 1/2 cups cold water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (about 5-inches each)
  • 4 tablespoons Mexican vanilla extract (or regular vanilla extract)
  • 1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 gallon milk (low-fat or whole)
  • Garnish: ground cinnamon

NOTE: For sweeter horchata, add a few pinches granulated sugar.


Instructions

  1. Add rice, water, vanilla extract and cinnamon sticks to a large container. Cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let the mixture soak at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours, or overnight. 
  2. Pour the rice, cinnamon sticks and soaking liquid into a high-speed blender. Blend for 2 to 3 minutes until the mixture is finely ground. 
  3. Line a fine-mesh strainer with a piece of cheesecloth. Over the kitchen sink, strain the liquid rice mixture into a large beverage container. 
  4. Add condensed milk and low-fat or whole milk. Whisk or stir until incorporated. Chill until serving time.
  5. Fill glasses 2/3 full with ice. Stir horchata well before pouring. Garnish with a sprinkling of ground cinnamon.

Notes

DAIRY-FREE HORCHATA RECIPE: Replace the milk with almond milk or coconut milk. Replace the sweetened condensed milk with sweetened condensed coconut milk. 

BEST TYPE OF RICE FOR THIS RECIPE: Traditional horchata is made with long-grain white rice. Its neutral flavor is the perfect backdrop for the other flavors. Basmati rice is strongly aromatic. It can outshine the other ingredients. As a second option, use long-grain brown rice. It will give this drink a slightly nutty flavor.

BEST VANILLA FOR THIS RECIPE: Mexican vanilla extract! The flavor profile is distinctly Mexican. It has a delicious buttery taste and smell. It comes in two colors: “Clear” and “Amber” (a caramel color). For this horchata recipe, I used the darker vanilla to give the drink more color.

CAN I SWAP GROUND CINNAMON FOR CINNAMON STICKS? For a traditional-tasting drink, this is not recommended. Ground cinnamon from a jar has a different flavor profile than cinnamon sticks.

BLEND WELL / STRAIN WELL: No one enjoys a gritty beverage. It’s important to blend the mixture well, and then strain it well. For best results, line a fine-mesh strainer with a piece of cheesecloth. In a pinch, use a coffee filter or a thin flour-sack towel.

HOW LONG WILL HORCHATA KEEP? This depends on the expiration date of the milk and how the beverage was handled after preparation. This drink must be kept chilled and stored in the fridge. Do not let it come to room temperature. For the best taste, enjoy this agua fresca within 3 days.

  • Category: Drinks
  • Method: Blending
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Keywords: Horchata, Agua Fresca

Gold Line: Sprinkles of Inspiration | confettiandbliss.com

MEXICAN HORCHATA DRINK > JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Sipping homemade horchata is like returning to the simple life on a sunshiny beach in Mexico. Share your thoughts about agua frescas in the comments!

8 thoughts on “Horchata”

  1. Horchata is something I have recently become a fan of, I can’t believe I waited so long to try it! I love your recipe, it is so easy and delicious!

    Reply
  2. Oh wow I’ve never had horchata before but this sounds so good! I didn’t know it was made with rice this is so intriguing! I cannot wait to give it a try…what a refreshing and delicious idea!

    Reply
  3. Yum!! I love horchata but never knew how to make it at home – but your recipe inspired me to give it a try! It turned out to be pretty easy and super tasty!

    Reply

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