Rice: 5 Ways to Make Horchata- Mexico’s Rice Drink

Horchata Rice Drink - Hot Cold -  ForkFingersChopsticks

In Mexico and some parts of the U.S., horchata is ubiquitous. The cinnamon-infused rice drink is served cold in huge jars alongside agua de jamaica (hibiscus tea) and other fruit based aguas frescas. This week, we’re also drinking it hot . . .

Despite the unpredictability of spring weather here in Colorado, it’s my favorite of all seasons.

New growth budding on leafless branches. Greener grasses and spring bulbs readying to bloom. Wet snowfalls. Cool weather herbs and greens peeking through in the garden. My first few outings on my bicycle and overestimating how far I could ride. Sore muscles. More snow.

A few days ago we took advantage of 60 degree weather here in Colorado, and cleaned several beds and remnants of seasons since passed. My momma was the willing assistant – helping me carry several tarps full of leaves and turn the compost bin.

That sort of work made us thirsty. Luck (and some pre-planning) was ours, I had three kinds of cold horchata ready to drink. Snap!

As refreshing as it was, we had to fight the urge to drink it all. I still had pictures to take the next day of the “hot” shot – a steamed horchata with a shot of espresso.

A cold blast came through Denver the very next day. Rain quickly turned to snow. And, of course we were out and about in the worst of it. A bit chilled when we got home, we pulled out the horchata again – this time served hot with espresso for momma; steamed and plain for me ( I’m a caffeine wuss).

The hot version, is inspired by Taza de Café, a northwest Denver coffee shop, which serves up horcha-tté, a luscious horchata drink with espresso.

So, horchata is a drink for any season!

Below are 5 ways to make this quintessential Mexican rice drink. Check them out and this song called Horchata by Vampire Weekend, which was released last fall.


Tidbits on Horchata:

  1. In Mexico, horchata is typically made from rice and water, although some make creamier versions using milk and/or almonds. There is also an horchata made from ground melon seeds.
  2. Horchata, also called orxata, and this method of making refreshing drinks comes originally from Spain, where they use ground seeds, nuts and grains. There, instead of rice, they use tigernuts, also called chufas.

Source:  The Mexican Gourmet by Maria Dolores Torres Yzabal & Shelton Wiseman

Horchata Rice Soak Blender - ForkFingersChopsticks

Horchata Strain - Almond Milk - ForkFingersChopsticks

5 Ways to Make Horchata

For a cold beverage, any of the versions are delicious. However, for a hot version the rice and water only version falls flat. The extra creaminess of milk (almond or milk) is lovely – like a Mexican steamer. But, if you want something extra flavorful –use the version with all three rice, milk and almonds.

#1:  Horchata – Rice Water (Serves 4)

I made this with long and short grain rice with no noticeable difference. I also made it using brown rice and it changed the flavor slightly but it wasn’t as ricey as the white version. I use  1/3 1/2 cup sugar, although some friends preferred a sweeter drink.

1 cup raw rice – medium or long-grain rice

2 1/2 cups hot water

1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick, preferably Mexican canela

1/3 – 1 cup sugar

2 cups cold water

1/2 – 1 teaspoon vanilla, preferably Mexican

In a glass pitcher or mason jar, add rice, hot water and cinnamon stick. Cover and let sit overnight on the counter. After it has soaked overnight, pour the mixture into the blender, add 1/3 cup sugar. Blend contents on high for several minutes until the mixture is almost smooth – there will be some grit from the rice. Strain well through a fine sieve, cheesecloth or nut milk bag into a pitcher.

Add cold water and vanilla and adjust sweetness. Refrigerate to allow flavors to meld.

Serve over ice or hot with a dash of ground cinnamon on top.

#2:  Horchata – Rice Water + Milk

Follow #1 Rice Water version above up through straining step, then substitute 2 cups milk for cold water.

#3:  Horchata – Rice Water + Almond Milk

If you prefer a thicker drink or more concentrated flavors, reduce the water added in the rice milk and/or almond milk after the blending step.

Almond Milk Ingredients

1 cup raw almonds, skin on

3 cups cold water (for thicker milk use 2 cups)

Follow #1 Rice Water version above.

Use a separate container to make almond milk; add almonds and barely cover with hot water. Cover and let sit overnight. Drain off soaking water.

Blend almonds with cold water separately, until the liquid becomes milk-like. Strain well through a fine sieve, cheesecloth or nut milk bag into a pitcher. Add cold water.

Mix the rice water and almond milk together. Refrigerate to allow flavors to meld. Adjust sweetener and flavoring. Serve cold or hot.

#4:  Horchata – Rice Water + Almond Milk + Milk

Follow the overnight soaking method for rice and almonds. After each are blended separately and strained, reduce water added to each by 1 cup (equals 2 cups total).

Mix strained rice water and almond milk in a pitcher with 2 cups milk and vanilla. Adjust sweetness. Refrigerate to allow flavors to meld. Serve cold or hot.

#5:  Horchata – Any of the Above + Espresso

Add one or a couple of shots of espresso. Serve over ice or hot for a Mexican latte.


Milk/Almond milk:  Cashew milk, coconut water

Espresso:  Kahlua, amaretto

Sweetener:  agave, honey or sweetened condensed milk

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42 Responses to Rice: 5 Ways to Make Horchata- Mexico’s Rice Drink

  1. Nicola Grun says:

    Hey there
    This sounds like something I would enjoy. I’ll have to check out that coffee shop.

    Nic :)

  2. tori says:

    Delicious! I will have to compare our recipe with the ones above…we use almond milk in ours, but we also put the rice through a food processor before soaking instead of after….hmmmm.

    Andrea (FFC): I tried pulvarizing the rice first before soaking and there was no significant difference, so I skipped that step. Also, some recipes call for blanching almonds in advance to remove their skins, which was a pain. I found separating the two made the process a whole lot easier.

  3. Thanks for demystifying this for me. I’m not a soda drinker, but I have a weakness for horchata and have never made it. Didn’t really know how until now!

  4. The Kell says:

    Wow, I Love this drink. Now I can make this for our bar-b-ques which is around the corner, yeah. I too am working in the garden.

  5. Lindsey says:

    I absolutely LOVE you for this recipe!!

  6. Andrea (FFC): I made the rice and milk version of horchata today and reduced the sugar. Of course you can use more, but for those who prefer things less sweet about 1/3 cup or even 1/4 cup is a nice starting point.

    Leftover Rice:My momma used the leftover strained off rice, almonds and canela to make a rice pudding. Add to a pot with extra water or milk and cook on low to medium heat for about 15 minutes. Stir frequently. Keep a close eye, because it sticks to the bottom of the pot.

  7. foodcreate says:

    Fabulous end to a dinner party .. specially if guests are having a party .. can’t wait to try .. thx :)

  8. I am from Mexico, love Horchata and couldn’t find the recipe online until I saw your blog!! THANKS FOR SHARING!!!!!!!!!!!

    Andrea (FFC): Love your name, especially because I am a HUGE chocolate fan. Thanks for visiting my site and for leaving a comment.

  9. WOW love it, my new morning drink! much thanks!

  10. Adore horchata, and it’s been several years since I’ve made it – and I don’t think I had a very great recipe then. I will be making this soon! Maybe I’ll make a big batch, and have it with espressos in the morning instead of my usual coffee.

    Andrea (FFC): I agree a bigger batch is better. I’d be cautious about a huge batch sitting around longer than a week, particularly if you are going to make the fresh almond milk version. Most fresh nut milks are recommended to be used within a few days.

  11. […] 5 Ways to Make Horchata from Fork Fingers Chopsticks Related Posts:Celebrate New Orleans Mardi Gras with Healthy RecipesHealthy Mexican Food Recipes Just in Time for Cinco de MayoColts or Saints? Let Food DecideFish OilHow To Cook an Entire Meal in Under 20 Minutes Share and Enjoy: […]

  12. Nicola Grun says:

    I made this today with sweet brown rice – very glutinous – and almond milk (unsweetened from the grocery store). I really enjoy the light sweetness of this drink.

    Andrea (FFC): Happy to hear you liked this drink. It’ll be a refreshing treat in the hot summer months ahead – and maybe a comforting one when it cools back down. Nicola, thanks for coming back to let others know you liked it.

  13. […] 2.  Rice: 5 Ways to Make Horchata- Mexico’s Rice Drink […]

  14. […] Horchata – A Mexican Holiday/Anytime Drink: You can drink it cold or hot and I’ve given you 5 ways to make it – vegan version, dairy, almond milk, with espresso or the works. […]

  15. jono says:

    how hot does the water have to be?

  16. @Jono: You don’t have to be precise when it comes to the temperature of the hot water. Just make sure it’s hotter than comes from the tap and is just below boiling.

  17. Heidi says:

    Thanks for the great recipe options! One question, do you blend the cinnamon stick with the rice and water after soaking, or remove it? You say “blend all” but it seems odd to me to blend the cinnamon stick…don’t have much experience in this department though… Thanks! Heidi

  18. @Heidi: Yes. Do blend the cinnamon stick, to infuse extra flavor. If you like cafe con canela (coffee with cinnamon) through in a small piece of canela when you blend your coffee beans.

  19. Michelle R says:

    I doubled your recipe for the rice only horchata. It is delicious! My son buys this stuff by the gallon at the Mexican markets. One question…is it supposed to separate? I just shake it up a bit before I pour, which isn’t a problem. Did I do something wrong? I strained it 3X but I think I need a finer strainer as there is still some grit at the bottom of the pitcher.

  20. stompsky says:

    Love Horchata, in Venezuela we call it Chicha.
    I’m looking to make this for a party this Saturday.
    Just wondering, how much does the first recipe actually make in the end? I need to multiply to get enough…

  21. Amy says:

    Love horchata, especially for when my kids have tummy aches. The cinamon and rice will settle stomachs quickly. Thanks for the recipes!!

  22. Amanda says:

    I just bought a carton of rice milk and a carton of almond milk from the supermarket, poured half and half into a tall glass over ice, added some cinnamon and that was it! Instant horchata! Next time I’ll add a bit of vanilla and sugar just to see what it’s like, and maybe play around with the quantities, but I was pretty happy with what I had. No need to soak and blend.

  23. Tamar says:

    I did this and it turned out extremely starchy!!!! how do i fix this?

  24. Tee says:

    i find this recipe real creative stuff . nevr knew coukd create rice milk and drink out of it . i m inspired to try this one !! tx for sharing !

  25. Chris says:

    I just made this and I have a couple suggestions. One, I’m not sure you have to blend the rice up – there was still a quantity of dry rice solids I squeezed water out, but maybe not doing this would avoid some of the starchiness. Two, it’s really potent. I remembered making horchata in the past with one cup rice to a pitcher of water…I don’t know if you can really get a pitcher out of this, but I definitely added two more cups of water and a little more sugar to compensate and it still has a STRONG cinnamon horchata flavor. Which is a good thing, but I’m just sayin’, you can stretch this a bit more! Thanks for the recipe and the variations.

  26. @Chris – Thanks for your recommendations. I prefer horchata with a stronger distinct rice flavor compared to some other versions. Mine is less on the sweet side. Of course you can dilute it with more water or almond milk, etc. But, if you are serving this over ice on a hot day, you might want to start out with it more concentrated. Glad you adapted the recipe to your liking.

    Re blending the rice – again, the “starchiness” white liquid is what gives it that oomph. If you prefer your horchata very mild, try it without blending.

  27. zeniada says:

    I made this Horchata using brown rice and it was delicious…. will be making this again… I used water and fat free milk for a creamy drink….

  28. Deborah says:

    I lived in Az. for 20 years. I would get this at one of the gas/food chains, can’t remember which one. But since that chain doesnt exist here in Tn. I havent had one in ten years. I decided to google it and wala, here I go. Thank you so much for providinf this recipe. I have been craving one for quite some time now. A great way for me to end my work week, by treating myself to a tall glass of Horchatta. I prefer it with coconut water.

  29. Pam says:

    Thanks for your variations of horchata. What are your thoughts of using the store bought rice and or almond milk in the cartons. Would there be enough flavor for horchata? It would certainly be quick to make with those.

  30. Matt says:


    I first had a Hot Horchata while on Magnetic island off Oz and they managed to whip it up for me in a matter of minutes. I Love this recipe and was just wondering if there was any quicker way of doing it or making a load of it and keeping it refrigerated or something; but still be able to serve it hot?!

    Cheers, Matt

  31. Texangirl says:

    I have recently begun enjoying horchata. I gave up sodas and get tired of tea or water. It’s expensive to buy horchata. The only places you can buy it here is at Mexican restaurants and taquerias–up to $2 for a 36 oz which is mostly ice, so I decided that I’d start looking for a good recipe. I am health-conscious and want this drink to fit into my new way of eating and living. (Not so new–been doing it for two years and lost almost 100 pounds!) Thank you for your variation suggestions. I am gonna try brown rice with almond milk and agave. Thanks so much!!!!!

  32. […] least in the southwest–is made with rice and vanilla and cinnamon.  Here’s a cool site I stumbled upon with a few recipes.  This horchata at El Borrego was good, and made fresh, not […]

  33. lifeintheuk.org…

    Rice: 5 Ways to Make Horchata- Mexico’s Rice Drink | Fork Fingers Chopsticks…

  34. Greta H says:

    I love your variations on a theme approach, and the trivia. TOTALLY did the trivia. Making this my link to explain horchata on my own cooking Trivia blog (Fresh Start Cooking). Thanks TONS!

  35. […] Forks Fingers Chopsticks printvar dd_offset_from_content = 55;var dd_top_offset_from_content = 0;var […]

  36. Thanks for your recipe. I used it in one of my ice cream recipes!

    Hopefully, others check out your content from my post.

    I also love the history you added. My grandparents are from Spain. Always love learning more and more.

    !Muchas, Muchas Gracias y Buen Provecho!

    – Jeff

  37. […] Here is the recipe I used.  It was way better than the previous:  5 Ways to Make Horchata – Rice Water + Milk […]

  38. Horchata is very good

  39. Haeze says:

    I have tried this recipe many times, with many iterations trying to get it to work without being a chalky, gritty mess and I feel I finally figured out the problem ! If you have a high quality blender like a BlandTec or VitaMix, it will blend the rice and almonds MUCH too fine and no matter how well you strain it, you will not get it all. I always ended up with a liquid that separated very quickly, and looked terrible, and when you drank it it was like someone poured sand in it. I found that if you blend the dry ingredients FIRST (the dry rice, almonds, cinnamon, and vanilla if you used beans instead of extract), then poured that combined powder into the water to sit overnight, the individual particles expand, and can easily be strained out the next day. All you are left with is the delicious liquidy horchata goodness ! You do get a LOT more pulp, which is a good thing in my opinion. With my BlendTec, I would end up with about three tablespoons of pulp from this recipe despite straining twice through a nut milk bag (also tried cheesecloth and got about the same). All the other solids were pure grit in the drink. With blending the dry stuff into a flour at the start, I now end up with about 3/4 cup of pulp and a nice smooth horchata !

  40. Kimberly says:

    I made horchata today. All of the recipes I read called for raw rice and had variations on soaking and straining it, but that sounded like way too much work to me. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just cook the rice, which would also solve the grittiness problem.

    So I threw 2 cups of rice in my rice cooker with a cinnamon stick and then ran it through the Vitamix with the sugar, extra cinnamon, spices and vanilla.

    It turned out amazing and is super smooth and creamy without having to add any sort of milk!

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