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This Horchata Mexican drink recipe is a slightly creamy, non-alcoholic agua fresca flavor made with cinnamon and rice and is perfectly refreshing.
Horchata Mexican Drink
At many legitimate taquerias you might notice large glass jugs or jars holding gallons of colorful agua fresca flavors.
If you have never heard of agua frescas before, it literally translates to "fresh waters" and they are thirst-quenching, light non-alcoholic beverages made mostly with water sweetened with a little sugar and flavored with anything from fruit, to nuts, to flowers, to rice.
Hibiscus agua fresca (or agua de Flor de Jamaica) is one of my favorite flavors, along with the classic cinnamon & rice horchata (pronounced or-CHAH-tah, with a silent 'h").
When I was planning our Mexican fiesta feast, I wanted to serve something to drink other than Brazilian Limeade, which, while delicious, isn't exactly authentically Mexican. That's when those jugs of milky white horchata flecked with tiny specks of cinnamon came to mind.
What is Horchata made of?
The ingredients in horchata are really simple. Authentic horchata is made with water, rice, cinnamon, sugar, and vanilla.
This easy horchata recipe has a great balance of creamy rice and cinnamon flavor, with just enough vanilla to round things out.
Is there milk in horchata?
While authentic horchata recipe does not have milk in it and is dairy-free, it's really common to add a little milk just to make the drink a bit creamier.
Just don't go too far with the milk or the sugar because horchata is really a watery rice drink, not a milk drink, and it should only be lightly sweetened.
While you might be tempted to replace the cinnamon sticks with ground cinnamon in this horchata Mexican drink, not only are cinnamon sticks more traditional (particularly Mexican cinnamon sticks, which you can find at most grocery stores in the Hispanic food aisle or next to the spice section), but ground cinnamon doesn't blend in with the drink well. It tends to float to the surface, creating a layer of cinnamon that isn't a pleasing as the more subtle, infused flavor of the cinnamon sticks that are ground into the water and soaked overnight.
How to Make Horchata
Horchata is really easy to make, but you do need a few pieces of equipment first, like a blender and a fine mesh sieve or some cheesecloth.
- Blend: Combine the rice, cinnamon sticks, and half of the water in a blender. You want grind up the rice and cinnamon sticks so that they can release their flavors into the water while they are soaking overnight. Add the remaining water and blend again until the rice is roughly ground up.
- Soak: Leave the rice mixture out at least 8 hours or overnight to soak
- Strain: Pour through a fine mesh sieve or a strainer lined with 2-3 layers of cheesecloth into a pitcher to remove the gritty rice and cinnamon from the liquid. Discard the solids and strain again if necessary so you don't end up with grit in your horchata.
- Add milk, vanilla, and sugar: Stir well and serve over plenty of ice! You can garnish with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon, if you like.
Horchata goes well with:
- Shredded Beef Chimichangas
- Ground Beef Enchiladas
- Green Chile Chicken Chimichangas
- Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Salads
- Grilled Chicken & Steak Fajitas
- Crispy Mexican Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas
- Authentic Carne Asada
Horchata Mexican Drink Recipe
- 1 ⅓ cups uncooked white long-grain rice
- 2 whole cinnamon sticks
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- Ground cinnamon for garnish
- Combine the rice, cinnamon sticks, and 2 cups of the water in a blender. Blend until the rice and cinnamon sticks are roughly ground up (1 to 2 minutes). Add the 2 remaining cups of water and blend again.
- Let the rice mixture soak at room temperature at least 8 hours, or overnight.
- Once the rice mixture has soaked for at least 8 hours, pour through a fine mesh strainer into a pitcher. Discard the rice and cinnamon stick solids and rinse the strainer well. Strain the mixture again one more time, just to make sure the horchata isn't gritty.
- Stir in the milk, vanilla, and sugar, then chill ready to serve. Serve over plenty of ice with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon on top.