An authentic Mexican drink that's both refreshing and creamy? You're about to learn how to make horchata that's sweet and infused with spice.
The best part? It's completely free of dairy!
This tasty rice milk beverage is considered an agua fresca (fresh water) and is hugely popular all over Mexico.
With cinnamon spice and hints of vanilla, this drink is thirst-quenching, rich, and irresistibly smooth.
Dating back to 13th-century Valencia, orxata de xufa (as it's known there) is made with soaked, ground, and sweetened tiger nuts.
In Mexico and other parts of Latin America, the base is made of rice (horchata de arroz) and served cold. You'll find it all over the country in taquerias or at street vendors.
What's in it?
A typical Mexican horchata usually contains milk, condensed milk, evaporated milk, or a mix of all three. Most contain cinnamon, and some include vanilla or almonds.
All that milk sounds like a long day in the bathroom, so we've decided to make a plant-based version that's just as delicious and easy to whip together.
Just make sure it's chilled or loaded with ice!
Feel like getting a little tipsy? Spiced rum, almond milk Baileys, or Kahlua all make perfect additions.
This horchata recipe is completely vegan, gluten-free, and can be made with no sugar, more sugar, or stevia.
🍲 Key ingredients
For a complete ingredient list and step-by-step guide, scroll down to our recipe card.
Long-grain white rice
Taste: white rice itself has a mild, starchy flavor. This makes up the base for Mexican horchata, so don't skip it! In the drink, it gives off a sweet, rice-pudding like flavor.
Fun fact: dating back to 5000 BC, rice is now grown on every continent except Antarctica.
Taste: with a sweet, nutty flavor, almond milk also has a light and creamy texture, making it perfect for agua fresca. We reduce it to give a rich, caramelized flavor (similar to condensed milk). It's delicious!
Health: made from ground almonds and water, almond milk carries many nutritional benefits, including being high in the antioxidant vitamin E! Almond milk is also low in calories relative to cow's milk (39 compared to 124 calories per cup).
Taste: sweet, slightly spicy, and warming, cinnamon offers a very distinct taste. Using whole cinnamon sticks in horchata infuses the drink, giving it a well-balanced flavor.
Health: cinnamon is known for its potent antioxidant properties. Did you know cinnamon has shown benefits to blood sugar control in people with diabetes? Not only that, but it can also have a lowering effect on cholesterol. Now that's a spice you want in your life!
Taste: sweet is one of the five universally accepted tastes, and we love it! We use cane sugar to round out this horchata recipe and give it an authentically sweet and rich flavor.
Fun fact: Mexican Coca-Cola actually contains cane sugar rather than high-fructose corn syrup like the rest of the world.
If you have questions about his recipe, don't forget to check out our FAQ section at the bottom of this post.
Step 1: wash and drain your rice. Add it to a large bowl with the cinnamon sticks and 4 cups of boiling water. Let the water cool to room temperature, then cover the bowl and transfer it to your fridge for at least 5-6 hours, but preferably overnight.
Step 2: the next morning (or the night before), add your almond milk and cane sugar to a small saucepan. Bring it to a low boil, then simmer for around 20-30 minutes until it reduces by half. Let it cool, then cover and store in your fridge overnight, or until you are ready to use it.
Step 3: when the rice is soaked, add the rice, cinnamon sticks, and water to your blender and mix on medium until smooth. You may have to blend in 2 separate batches depending on the size of your blender.
Note: you have a few options for blending the cinnamon. You can blend the whole cinnamon sticks with the rice and strain the pieces out, add in ½ tsp of powdered cinnamon, or leave both out. It all depends on your personal preference!
Step 4: once smooth, pour the rice mixture in batches through a very fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth into a large bowl. Squeeze or press down with a spoon to pass as much liquid through as you can.
Step 5: pour it through the strainer or cheesecloth at least once or twice more (to catch any extra grainy bits). Continue this process until all the rice water has been transferred to your bowl.
Step 6: mix in the rest of the water, reduced almond milk, and vanilla. Taste and adjust the sweetener if you want. If you prefer a thinner consistency, add in more water. If you prefer it creamier, add in fresh almond milk.
Step 7: transfer to a large jar or pitcher for storage. Serve your horchata chilled on ice with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top!
For an optimal flavor infusion, let this drink chill in the fridge for a few hours before serving.
Store your horchata in a mason jar in the fridge for up to 1 week. We think the flavor is always best coming out of glass. Whether you use a jar or pitcher, make sure it's covered to protect it from all the other flavors in your fridge.
Want even tastier ice cubes for your next batch of horchata or iced coffee? Portion some horchata out in ice cube trays and freeze for up to 1 month. You can also freeze the whole recipe and thaw it in your fridge overnight when you want some.
💭 Pro tips
Time to share our tips and tricks we learned while perfecting this recipe for you:
- Strain more than once. Especially if you blend the cinnamon sticks, you don't want this drink to be gritty or chunky.
- Use a high-speed blender. It will help all the flavors come together better.
- Opt for cinnamon sticks. They infuse this drink more naturally than the powder.
- Let it soak. The longer the rice mixture soaks, the more time there is to infuse the flavors. Soak it overnight, or for at least 6 hours.
- Use real vanilla. The cheap stuff just doesn't compare.
- Adjust the sweetness. Add in your preferred amount to taste, or omit it if you don't consume sugar.
🍴 Tasting notes
We love this agua fresca, and we know you will too. It's:
If you try this vegan horchata recipe, please rate it and leave us a comment below! Want to stay up-to-date with new recipes? Subscribe to our newsletter or connect with Broke Bank Vegan on social media. Happy eating!
Vegan Horchata Recipe
- Mixing bowls
- Measuring cups & spoons
- Cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer
- Large jar or pitcher
- 1 ½ cups long-grain white rice, uncooked ($0.20)
- 2 whole cinnamon sticks ($0.10)
- 6 cups water, divided ($0.01)
- 3 cups unsweetened almond milk ($1.28)
- 3-4 tbsp cane sugar ($0.01)
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract ($0.17)
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- First, wash and drain your rice. Add it to a large bowl with the cinnamon sticks and 4 cups of boiling water. Let the water cool to room temperature, then cover the bowl and transfer it to your fridge for at least 5-6 hours, but preferably overnight.
- Add your almond milk and cane sugar to a small saucepan. Bring it to a low boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced by about half. Let it cool, then cover and store it in your fridge until you are ready to use it.
Blend & Strain
- When the rice is ready, remove both cinnamon sticks. Add the rice and water to your blender and mix on medium until smooth, about 3-5 minutes. You may have to blend in 2 separate batches depending on the size of your blender.
- Note: you have a few options for blending the cinnamon. You can blend the whole cinnamon sticks with the rice and strain the pieces out, add in ½ tsp of powdered cinnamon, or leave both out. It all depends on your personal preference!
- Once smooth, pour the rice mixture in batches through a very fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth into a large bowl. Squeeze or press down with a spoon to pass as much liquid through as you can.
- Pour it through the strainer or cheesecloth at least once or twice more (to catch any extra grainy bits). Continue this process until all the rice water has been transferred to your bowl.
- Mix in the rest of the water, reduced almond milk, and vanilla. Taste and adjust the sweetener if you want. If you prefer a thinner consistency, add in more water. If you prefer it creamier, add in fresh almond milk.
- Transfer to a large jar or pitcher for storage. Serve your horchata chilled on ice with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top. Enjoy!
- The sweetness level is very personal. If you prefer no sugar, try replacing it with stevia or leaving it out altogether.
- We recommend prepping the almond milk reduction the night before to let it cool and thicken in your fridge overnight.
- Optional ingredients are not reflected in the price or calories of our recipes.
- We calculate nutritional information for our recipes with Cronometer.
- Recipe cost calculations are based on ingredients local to us and may vary from recipe-to-recipe.
- All prices are in USD.
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Yes, this can be made nut-free. Use a different plant milk like soy, rice, or coconut.
This recipe is traditionally made with long-grain white rice. You can use basmati or brown rice if you'd like, but it will alter the flavor.
There's no real way to make this without a blender. A quick fix would be to use pre-made rice milk instead of blending it, but now we're just making a whole different recipe.
While you do not need to reduce the almond milk, we think it adds a rich, caramelized flavor that makes this drink taste so delicious. For a quicker version, just add the fresh almond milk and sugar.