This Horchata Mexican drink recipe is a slightly creamy, non-alcoholic agua fresca flavor made with cinnamon and rice and is perfectly refreshing.
Nothing makes a party like a tasty drink recipe! Some of our other favorites are Brazilian Lemonade, Homemade Hawaiian Punch, and Virgin Piña Coladas.
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
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.
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.
Reader questions and reviews
This looks like a delicious drink. I love to make homemade drinks, and the addition of cinnamon makes it so much better!
That sounds yummy and I wonder if the taste is similar to that of rice pudding. There are lots of similar ingredients.
Yes! It's why I love it so much 😊
This was SO interesting to read!!! I always thought horchata was milk. I guess I was wrong! I definitely want to try this.. I love the flavors of cinnamon and vanilla. Pinned!
I just love this idea especially with Cinco De Mayo right around the corner my husband will drink and I never have one so this is absolutely perfect for me! Love it!
Horchata is one of our favorite drinks! We've been making it at home for years and there just never seems to be enough to go around!
My mouth is watering. I want to drink that!
Tasted Horchata for the first time at the #4!foodtruck in the country in Pensacola Fl So had to come home and make it ! Found your recipe and it tastes just like the Mexican food truck Horchata. IT TASTES LIKE CHRISTMAS IN A CUP !!!
What a great idea, Sue! I guess I hadn't thought of this as a Christmas drink, but I can totally see it!
Just made it today for the first time. It's delicious. Instead of regular dairy milk, I subbed unsweetened vanilla almond milk, and decreased the vanilla to 1 tsp. It will be a summer staple I'm sure. Next time I will double the recipe!
Should we rinse the rice first?
No, no need to rinse the rice first.
If I triple the recipe, do I really need 6 sticks of cinnamon?
Yes, if you are tripling the recipe, you should triple the amount of cinnamon sticks as well to make sure the cinnamon flavor really comes through.
I made this today my husband and our 2yr old loved it as well i will be making this over and over lol very good recipe!!!!! Thank you
Any kind of milk & do you mean vanilla extract?
Yes, any kind of milk and vanilla extract.
I definitely had to try this recipe because before this I haven’t found one that I really enjoy. My family and I got a recipe from a family member but Mexican families DO NOT measure anything so we just guessed a lot of how much we needed of everything, it did not come out so good. After trying this out I immediately shared it with my entire family because of how much I loved the way this drink came out! Since the first time I attempted it, I definitely now have to double the recipe every time since everyone in my house loved it so much.
My boyfriend is from Honduras and I made this for him this weekend. Although every country makes horchata using different ingredients, he really loved this version! Thanks for sharing this recipe 🙂
Omg! I just made this and its so good!!!
I was hesitant on adding the milk and sugar because a lot of recipes say to use sweetened condensed milk but it turned out fantastic!
I must admit though that I did not wait the full eight hours. I waited about three and then my desire for horchata kicked in and I had to finish the recipe.
As a side note, one of my favorite Mexican restaurants has horchata that tastes similar but not as creamy, I suspect they add more water.
In hindsight, I think I could have just added more water to the "sludge" after having strained it to get another batch:o
One last thing; using cheesecloth was a pain as it kept getting clogged, I'm going to order a fine mesh strainer to see if it makes it any easier.
I made double batch for my family. They've never had it before...it's been a hit! Ingredient proportions are perfect!
I just made an authentic recipe with rice water and milk, I added spiced rum. I really need to find out how long this will last in the fridge once the alcohol is added?? It’s already been 4 days without the rum. Please help! Thanks!
I really don't know how alcohol will affect the recipe since we don't drink alcohol and I've never tried that addition. But my understanding is that alcohol is a preservative and should help to extend the life of a beverage. But I don't think I would keep this over a week. We've never had it last that long to find out.
I'm researching a number of my favorite dishes this weekend; a good horchata is among those I still need in my collection. I will definitely be trying this one; it sounds like the right ratios of solids to liquids that I've been looking for!
Thanks, great post about this drink recipe!
can i just use cinnamon powder, and if so how much should i use
You can use 2-3 teaspoons of cinnamon if you don't have cinnamon sticks available.
I have made this recipe probably 5 times, and it's just the best! Just made my most recent (double) batch, and it was gone in less than 24 hours...my kids and I can't get enough! Thanks for an amazing recipe. 🙂
I'm so glad you guys love it as much as we do!
when you soak it over night, room temperature or fridge? I had mind over night and forget to put in the fridge! not sure if its still good.
Overnight at room temperature will be just fine!
How long will this keep for?
It will keep for about 3 days in the fridge.
Just wanted to say thank you for sharing this recipe. This might be the third time I've come to your web page for horchata, it's so good. ♡
It's really good, very tasty, but personally a lot of effort and ingredients for the yield. I halved the recipe as I didn't want too much for the first time I tried it, and in theory it was meant to make 3 servings but it only barely filled a regular sized glass. The taste is very nice, not too sweet and very cinnamony, and the rice gives it some delicious body, but personally I don't think I'll be making this again.
Hi thanks for this amazing recipe.
Do you have any ideas on how the strained hard rice could be incorporated into another dish?
That's a great question and I have honestly never thought about it. Maybe it could be used for a rice pudding?
This recipe sucked. I’m sorry to leave a mean comment but I’m super upset. I tried making this and I let it sit all night. In the morning I strained it about 5-6 times and it was STILL super grainy so I decided to boil it for a bit and it thickened so much and completely burnt my pot. Don’t use the recipe because it will come out grainy I don’t know why you are supposed to blend the rice and cinnamon sticks
Sounds like your strainer wasn't a fine enough mesh. Next time I would recommend lining it with a cheesecloth to help filter out the grit because it shouldn't be gritty. And yes, if there was substantial grit and you cooked it, then it would thicken because basically you were just cooking rice with a lot of water. Sorry this didn't work out for you!