Horchata is a classic agua fresca (fresh water) drink made with rice, a touch of cinnamon and a splash of vanilla. Enjoy this cool and refreshing drink as is or spice it up with a dash of rum to create a unique drink for adults.

Horchata is a popular Latin American rice-based drink. This sweetened cinnamon-vanilla drink is common in the Mexican taqueria that pepper San Antonio, Texas, the town I now call home.

Horchata de arroz (rice) transformed from the orxchata, which is of Spanish origin. Many Spanish-speaking countries have their own versions of a grain-based drink, Puerto Rico has one made with sesame seeds, but this rice-based version seems to be the most popular and well-known.

It’s so easy to make horchata from scratch! You probably already have all the ingredients in your pantry, so I urge you to give it a try and make horchata at home.

What’s in Horchata?

Despite all the complexity of its taste – it’s creamy, earthy, refreshing and spicy – the ingredients of horchata are really quite simple. The main ingredient is technically water, the second, of course, is rice. But cinnamon and vanilla are both used as supporting flavors to bring the two together in a drink that tastes more complex than it really is.

Milk and granulated sugar are commonly added to the rice water base. Milk and sugar sweeten and give the drink the figurative loop. I use sweetened condensed milk instead. For me, lightness and efficiency come first, so I kill two ingredient birds with one stone.

Despite the fact that it contains no nuts, horchata has a nutty taste. To me, horchata should taste milky with a hint of that nuttiness.

Cinnamon and vanilla should just kiss your taste buds, not be the standout flavor of horchata. The sweetness of horchata is not cloying like some flavored milks are. I find the best horchata is one whose flavor dissipates with one sip, leaving you wanting more and more. If Horchata has those qualities, I can fight back an obscene amount of that stuff!

Of course, you can always add more cinnamon and vanilla if it suits you.

Do you drink horchata cold, warm or hot?

Horchata is always served very cold and often on the rocks. Because of this, your drink should be full-bodied when you mix it, so that the addition of the ice cubes properly waters down your drink.

Keep the horchata in the fridge, because it’s ice cold there.

How do you make horchata?

Horchata is such a no-fuss drink: Preparing the main ingredient is as simple as a quick rinse of long-grain white rice, which rids the grains of excess starch that can thicken the horchata. Dip a cinnamon stick in some water, then mix the rice and cinnamon to break down both ingredients.

The mixture is soaked for three hours to add the rice and cinnamon flavors to the water that is later strained to make the horchata.

Sweetened condensed milk and a dash of vanilla are added to the rice water base for a sweet, creamy agua fresca. Stir before serving to ensure the heavier condensed milk and cinnamon are mixed into each glass.

Swaps and Substitutions

I steep a cinnamon stick and use the infused water (and the stick) to flavor my horchata. While you can certainly use ground cinnamon, I like to keep my horchata as light as possible and find the cinnamon stick method maintains that lightness.

If you’re lactose intolerant, keep your stomach happy by replacing the sweetened condensed milk with lactose-free condensed milk. However, if you are following a vegan diet, a condensed coconut milk can be substituted with the understanding that the flavor of the rice may be toned down.

You can also go the traditional route, omitting the sweetened condensed milk and adding 1 cup whole milk and 3/4 cup granulated sugar instead. But really, who wants to add more work to this recipe?

How to make tipsy horchata

Can you add alcohol to Horchata? Ab-so-flippin’-lutely! In fact, connoisseurs have already bottled alcoholic horchata! Spiced Rum is the best partner for Horchata. It creates a spiked chai flavored cocktail that I’m so here for!

Bourbon is another great way to liven up this horchata.

An ounce of your favorite spirit shaken into three ounces of horchata and poured over ice is just the ticket.

How long will Horchata last?

Like anything that contains milk, horchata will keep in the fridge for five to seven days. However, I guarantee you will use it up by then.

Can you freeze horchata?

In the past I have frozen horchata in ice cubes to add to other drinks. If you’re looking to make a large batch to freeze, do so with confidence!

Transfer the prepared horchata to a freezer-safe container. Keep frozen for up to three months. Let it thaw in the fridge before stirring vigorously to combine the ingredients, which can separate and serve as usual.

More recipes for refreshing drinks

  • Agua de Jamaica (hibiscus tea)
  • Iced Chai Latte
  • mango lassi
  • Cucumber Lime Mint Agua Fresca
  • Crema di limoncello


Check out this refreshing horchata recipe


preparation time
10 mins

cooking time
10 mins

3 hours

total time
3 hrs 20 mins

8 servings


  • 6 cups waterdivided

  • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick or 1 teaspoon Cinammon

  • 1 1/2 cups long grain white rice

  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

special equipment

  • Fine mesh screen

  • cheesecloth or tea towel


  1. Soaking the cinnamon in water:

    You can skip this step if using ground cinnamon. In a small saucepan, cover the cinnamon stick with 1 cup of water. Bring the water to a boil over medium heat. Once the water is boiling, turn off the stove and let the cinnamon stick steep for 10 minutes.

  2. Rinse rice:

    While the cinnamon is steeping, quickly rinse the rice under cold water. This removes excess starch from the surface of the grains. Strain off excess water before adding the rice to your blender.

  3. Mix rice and cinnamon:

    Pour the soaked cinnamon water along with the cinnamon stick (or add the ground cinnamon) into the blender with the rice and the remaining 5 cups of water. Blend until rice grains begin to break up, or about 1 minute.

  4. Transfer the rice water to a container:

    Pour most of the mixture into a large bowl. Swirl the remaining rice water around in the blender jug ​​to try to remove any rice that may have remained after the first pour. Add it to the container with the rest of the rice water. Try to get as much rice out of the blender as possible. Don’t add fresh water to try to get rid of the remaining rice. It will dilute the flavor of your drink.

  5. Soak Rice:

    Let the rice mixture soak at room temperature for at least 3 hours. Stir the horchata regularly during the soaking time (I usually stir it on the hour, but it’s not a hard rule).

  6. Strain the horchata:

    Place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl. Place a layer of cheesecloth or a thin tea towel over the strainer. Pour the rice mixture through the lined strainer. Squeeze excess liquid from the rice and discard the solids.

  7. Sweeten the horchata:

    Transfer the strained rice liquid to a serving pitcher. Add the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla extract to the pitcher and whisk vigorously to break up the thick milk.

  8. Cool and serve:

    The horchata is now ready to be served over ice, but I recommend chilling it very cold before pouring over ice and enjoying. Drink it as is or add spiced rum!

nutritional information (per serving)
255 calories
6g Fat
45g carbohydrates
6g protein
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Hello everybody, Even if you're limited on time and money, I believe you can prepare wonderful food with everyday products. All you have to do is cook cleverly and creatively!