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How to Make Horchata: A Simple Recipe for Perfect Horchata

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Feb 19, 2020 • 3 min read

Mexican food is known for its savory dishes, like tacos al pastor, and sweet offerings, like fried ice cream. There are also traditional drinks people enjoy along with Mexican cuisine known as aguas frescas. These fruit-, seed-, or grain-based drinks are blended with sugar and water. One of the most popular varieties is horchata—a sweet rice drink with a cinnamon flavor that’s easy to make at home.



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What Is Horchata?

Horchata is a sweet Mexican drink made from rice. Horchata is made by blending white rice and cinnamon sticks in water and letting them soak overnight. After the rice and cinnamon are discarded, the remaining liquid is then flavored with vanilla, sugar, and ground cinnamon. Horchata is often thickened with milk and always served cold. Horchata recipes sometimes include nuts, like almonds. Mexican horchata is called horchata de arroz. In Spain, Spanish horchata is called horchata de chufa and is made with chufa, or tiger nuts.

What Does Horchata Taste Like?

Horchata is a flavorful rice milk beverage that is sweet and creamy, with a smooth texture, and a taste that is reminiscent of rice pudding. The sweetness of horchata depends on how much sugar and vanilla are used. When nuts are added to horchata, it gives the drink a more earthy flavor.

7 Tips for Making Perfect Horchata

There are different ways to make horchata depending on how people like to drink it. Here are some helpful tips to get you started making horchata for the first time. As you make it more often, you’ll learn to adjust the recipe to your desired taste.

  1. Use cinnamon sticks. Use full cinnamon sticks to blend and soak overnight with the rice. When blended, the cinnamon sticks—as opposed to ground cinnamon—will release more flavor into the water for a richer, authentic horchata taste.
  2. Let it soak for at least eight hours. For creamier, tastier horchata, allow the rice and cinnamon to soak for at least eight hours or overnight so the water has ample time to absorb the flavors.
  3. Make sure you use a fine mesh strainer. When you strain the rice and cinnamon after it has soaked, you want to make sure you remove all of the grains. Use a fine mesh strainer or a cheesecloth when you pour the rice milk into the pitcher. Strain twice to make sure you catch it is very smooth.
  4. Add milk for thicker horchata. Some recipes add milk, almond milk, or sweetened condensed milk for a thicker drink.
  5. Serve horchata over ice. Horchata is best served cold. It needs to be kept in the refrigerator, but for the best horchata, pour it over ice when serving.
  6. Make it to your liking. When making homemade horchata, adjust the ingredients to achieve your desired taste. Try different sweeteners: instead of sugar, honey or maple syrup can also be used.
  7. Make a vegan version. A horchata recipe can easily be made to accommodate different dietary restrictions. For vegan horchata, either leave out the milk altogether or simply swap out regular milk for coconut milk or almond milk.
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easy horchata recipe ingredients

How to Make Horchata in 4 Easy Steps

Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
8 hr 15 min
Cook Time
8 hr


You can serve horchata with your favorite Mexican recipes, like pork carnitas. Follow the four steps of this easy horchata recipe, and enjoy this cold, sweet, creamy beverage on a warm day.

  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk or almond milk
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 cups of water
  1. In a blender, combine the rice, cinnamon sticks, and two cups cold water. Blend until the rice and cinnamon are ground. Add the other two cups of water to the batch and blend some more.
  2. Pour the rice mixture into a large bowl or pitcher and leave covered on your counter overnight or for at least eight hours.
  3. Pour rice water through a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer and discard the ground rice and cinnamon.
  4. Add the milk (or almond milk for dairy-free horchata), vanilla, sugar, and ground cinnamon and stir. Chill in the refrigerator. Pour over ice when serving. Garnish with a cinnamon stick or a sprinkle of cinnamon on top. Keep horchata at room temperature for no more than 30 minutes. Refrigerate for up to three days.

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