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Easy Homemade Horchata

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Easy Homemade Horchata

Horchata is a broad name for any of a variety of drinks, popular in Spanish countries like Spain and Mexico, that start out with a nut or grain soaked in water. The drinks are often similar to products like rice milk and other nondairy milks, but usually have a much creamier consistency and are both sweetened and spiced. Most recipes that I’ve seen feature both nuts and a grain, usually rice, soaked in water for some period of time and then strained out before flavoring. The drinks are fairly simple to make and, in spite of the fact that they don’t necessarily have long ingredient lists, they often have a great complex flavor.

While horchata can be made with many different types of nuts (chufas/tigernuts are popular in Spain, for instance), Mexican horchata is often made with almonds and that is the type that I am most familiar with. To make my homemade horchata as quick and easy as possible, I opted to start off my batch with almond milk. Not only did it save me time, but I was able to find lightly sweetened vanilla-flavored milk, which gave me a fairly rich base to start from.

To the milk, I added ground rice that I had pulverized in my coffee bean grinder, along with sugar and cinnamon. I let the mixture soak at room temperature overnight (there really isn’t a risk of almond milk curdling, unlike dairy milk) and then ran it through a very fine strainer before chilling. The result was fantastic. It was creamy – much creamier than the almond milk alone – and had a wonderfully sweet-cinnamon flavor to it. It was really close to the versions sold at some of my favorite local Mexican restaurants and took very little time and effort to assemble. This will definitely be a regular feature in my kitchen now!

Easy Homemade Horchata
6 cups almond milk, vanilla flavor
1 cup basmati rice (or other short grain rice)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Pour almond milk into a large bowl. If you only have plain almond milk, add a 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract.
Grind the basmati rice in a spice or coffee grinder until it is very fine and sand-like in consistency. Stir rice, sugar and cinnamon into the almond milk, cover and let stand overnight, or for about 10 hours. Additional sugar can be added to taste, if necessary.
Place a layer of cheesecloth over a strainer (or use a very, very fine strainer if you have one) and strain milk mixture into a large pitcher. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until well-chilled, before serving.
If storing the horchata, it may separate a bit, so give it a stir before pouring it into a glass.

Serves 4-6
Soak overnight, then refrigerate until cold.

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  • Bridget
    July 31, 2008

    This sounds really good! I’ve never heard of horchata, but am going to try it. I use almond milk on my cereal and have been looking for a replacement for my afternoon latte habit. This sounds perfect! 🙂 Thanks!

  • Michelle
    August 1, 2008

    I *heart* horchata and went hunting around for a recipe a few months back. I eventually decided it was too much trouble! This version seems pretty easy, though! I wonder if you could use rice flour (of which I have an abundance, thanks to some gluten free cake making) rather than ground raw rice?


  • Faith
    August 1, 2008

    What a fantastic recipe. I love horchata, and would like to easily be able to make it at home. Thank you!

  • Lisa
    August 1, 2008

    Is there any hope for a substitution for the rice? Oddly, my sister is highly allergic to rice and all rice products! 🙁

  • Nicole
    August 1, 2008

    Lisa – Rice is pretty much the main component of this drink. I’ve even seen versions that use rice alone, without almonds, etc. That said, I’ve also heard of people making similar drinks with barley. If you are able to get whole barley and grind it up in the same way I did here with the rice, I think that might work out and it would be worth a shot.

  • lowrah
    August 1, 2008

    I like my horchata with a teensy bit of cardamom. Not traditional, but yummy.

  • Delicious Chroncles
    August 1, 2008

    ahhhh! horchata and me love eachother… i loved it in mexico as a child and i still love it!! its very popular here in califroani

  • Delicious Chroncles
    August 1, 2008

    ahhhh! horchata and me love eachother… i loved it in mexico as a child and i still love it!! its very popular here in califroani

  • Nicole
    August 1, 2008

    Michelle – I got this same question from an e-mailing reader. The answer is that you should be able to substitute it, assuming that your rice flour (like most) is just ground rice. The only problem you might encounter is that a couple of grains could escape the straining process and end up in the finished product if they are very, very fine. Even so, it shouldn’t be a big deal. Try using 1 cup of rice flour in this recipe. If it ends up being too creamy for your tastes, you can always cut back by a tablespoon or two in future batches.

  • Diane
    August 3, 2008

    Where do you get Almond Milk?

  • Nicole
    August 3, 2008

    Diane – Most grocery stores seem to carry almond milk. It’s usually with the nondairy milks, and may or may not be in the refrigerated section because it is shelf stable before it is opened.

  • Marlene
    August 30, 2008

    I was looking for calorie content of cappuccino on the Super America gas station/convenience store web site and they said that 32 oz of their Hot Horchata is only 140 calories. I had never heard of this drink before, living here in Minnesota, so I looked it up on the internet and found you. Is this low calorie count correct? This cold version here sounds really delicious AND nutritious but I am dieting and need to count the calories.

  • angie
    December 17, 2008

    is so delecious………..

  • Frank Chervoni
    January 23, 2009

    Texas i had it ever day best drink ever if made rite

  • Joanne
    February 22, 2009

    Since most recipes for Horchata that I have seen call for a rice base, I was wondering if I could use rice milk instead of almond mild and add almond flavor in some form. Any thoughts on this?


  • A.Nick.H
    March 23, 2010

    this is how i make my horchata. except i use 3/4 cup sugar instead 1/2 cup. i guess i just like mine sweeter or i have a sweet tooth or something/: and then i dont strain it cuz i like it chunky and i work w/ a bunch of latins who tought me how to make it and they dont strain it either. but its all a matter of personal preference. i love the flavour of horchata. it tastes so good by itself or even over cereal (not kidding) so if your vegan or even not a vegan, this is a great replacement. and this is so easy. i make it once a week. i prepare it at night so it can soak overnight and then its done w/in seconds the very next morning!!!

  • POSTRES de La Cipota
    August 20, 2011

    I love this stuff! My husband is from El Salvador and he drinks it all the time! Did you know that the secret ingredient to horchata in El Salvador is the morro seed? Yep! You can read about this seed on my blog, keyword morro seed. Thanks for posting about this!! 🙂

  • Sophia Mae
    September 19, 2012

    I made this recipe as written. I very much liked the result: creamy, sweet, and refreshing!

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