Traditional Mexican Horchata

Horchata de Arroz is a popular & refreshing Mexican drink made with ground rice, milk and cinnamon. Learn how to make this delicious drink with these step by step instructions!

One of the reasons Horchata is very popular in Mexico, is that it’s the perfect pairing for spicy & flavorful meals. Every time I make Pozole, Entomatadas, or Bistec Ranchero, you’ll see Horchata on my table….It’s also my favorite drink and it’ll be yours soon too 🙂

Three glasses with horchata placed on a pretty wood board

My recipe is for traditional Mexican horchata but I’ve seen versions around the web to fit today’s different diet needs: Some use almond or coconut milk to make it lactose-free or they use no calorie-sweeteners for diabetic needs.

While they may taste good, nothing beats the taste of the traditional version! It’s creamy, flavorful and so refreshing. I hope you treat yourself to the real deal at least once in a while.

a pretty jar with horchata placed on a wood bard

Horchata ingredients

  • Use 1 cup of any uncooked white rice and 2 cinnamon sticks
  • The milk base comes from 1 can each of evaporated milk and condensed milk. This is what gives the horchata the wonderful flavor and a creamy consistency.
  • If the condensed milk does not make it sweet enough for you, you can add more sugar to taste.
  • Ground cinnamon to garnish (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (optional) – Just don’t use too much vanilla as we don’t want to overpower the cinnamon & rice flavor.

I once tasted an Horchata from La Santisima Mexican Restaurant that is made with chunks of fruits (cantaloupe, strawberries, grapes) and pecans. It’s so good! I think I’ll do that to mine next time.

Jar pouring Mexican rice drink in glasses with ice

How to make horchata

  • Wash and drain the rice.
  • Place the rice, cinnamon stick and 4 cups of water into a bowl. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight or a minimum of 4 hours (the longer the better!).
  • Add 1/2 of the rice & 1/2 of the soaking water and some of the cinnamon stick in a blender.
  • Puree until it’s very smooth and forms a paste like texture. About 4 minutes long.
  • Using a very fine strainer (or some cheese cloth) pour the mixture over a pitcher. Strain out as much liquid as possible, pushing on the solids with a spatula or spoon.
  • Repeat this process for the rest of the rice & cinnamon mixture.
  • Stir in the milks, vanilla (optional), and 4 cups of water. Stir well.
  • Taste and add more sugar or water if needed.
  • Chill and stir before serving over ice. 

FAQs:

How how long does horchata keep for in the fridge?

It should last about 3 or 4 days for the best taste. But I guarantee that you’ll want to drink it all in a day!

What kind of rice can I use?

Any white rice will work: long grain, jasmine, basmati, short grain. Just make sure it’s raw white rice!

Do you need to wash the rice prior to soaking?

Yes! Since we’ll be using the same soaking water to make the horchata, I recommend you wash it to have a clean drink.

Do you leave it in the fridge overnight or just out on the counter when soaking?

Place the bowl in the fridge since we’ll be using that same water for our final Horchata drink. This water already contains a lot of the rice & cinnamon flavor and we don’t want to waste it!

How can I make it dairy free?

Use almond milk or coconut milk. But you’ll need to sweeten it with sugar or your favorite sweetener. This may change the authenticity and it may not provide the same results as this recipe.

Two glasses with the milk drink

You guys, if you go to a Mexican restaurant I guarantee you will see Horchata on the menu. You may have seen it as “Agua de Horchata”. The wonderful thing is it’s super easy to make and you can make it at home!

Other Mexican drinks you may enjoy!

Two glasses with metal straws and Mexican Horchata. A jar in the background

Traditional Mexican Horchata

Servings 12 cups
Ana Frias
4.97 from 79 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Learn how to make the authentic Horchata drink that everyone loves! With this step-by-step tutorial, you’ll be able to make the best homemade Horchata recipe made with a few simple ingredients. Skip the store-bought mixes and use this easy recipe right at home!

Equipment

  • Blender
12 cups

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup uncooked white rice
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1-12 oz. can evaporated milk
  • 1-12 oz can condensed milk
  • 8 cups of warm water divided
  • Sugar to taste
  • Ground cinnamon to garnish optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla optional

Instructions
 

  • Wash and drain the rice. Place the rice, cinnamon sticks (see note #1 below) and 4 cups of water into a bowl. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight (preferably) or a minimum of 4 hours.
  • Once you're ready to blend the rice, remove most of the cinnamon sticks but it's okay to leave small pieces with the rice.
  • Blend the rice in two separate batches by adding 1/2 of the rice & water with some of the cinnamon stick left behind. Puree until it's very smooth and it forms a paste like texture. About 4 minutes long.
  • Using a very fine strainer (or some cheese cloth) pour the blended mixture over a pitcher. Strain out as much liquid as possible, pushing on the solids with a spatula or spoon.
  • Repeat this process for the rest of the rice, water & cinnamon mixture.
  • Stir in the milks, vanilla (0ptional), and 4 cups of water. Stir well.
  • Taste and add more sugar or water if needed.
  • Chill and stir before serving over ice. 

Video

*Ana’s Notes:

  1. Break the cinnamon sticks in large pieces before you place in the bowl to soak. This will give more flavor from the inside of the cinnamon.
  2. If you don’t have cinnamon sticks, you can soak the rice with 1 tablespoon of cinnamon powder. 
  3. If you decided to use vanilla, don’t add too much of it as it will overpower the cinnamon & rice flavor. 
  4. To make a boozy version just add some rum to make Rumchata! 
 
 

ADD YOUR OWN PRIVATE NOTES

Whenever you come back to this recipe, you’ll be able to see your notes.

NUTRITION

Serving: 1cup | Sodium: 132mg | Sugar: 6g | Fiber: 1g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Calories: 170kcal | Saturated Fat: 2g | Fat: 2g | Protein: 5g | Carbohydrates: 32g

The nutritional information and US conversions are calculated automatically. I cannot guarantee the accuracy of this data. If this is important to you, please verify with your favourite nutrition calculator and/or unit conversion tool.

This recipe was originally published in July 2014. It has been updated to revise the content and photographs. The original delicious recipe remains the same. Enjoy! 

Three glasses with horchata

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Recipe Rating




163 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Love it! Excellent recipe. Also, where did you find that display board for you picture? It’s beautiful.

    1. Hi Denise! Thanks so much! The wood board was a gift from my sister and I think she got it at a small home boutique in Los Angeles. Sorry I don’t have any more details 🙁

  2. 5 stars
    I used this recipe for my first attempt in making orchata and it was perfect! I doubled the recipe, but left out the additional can of condensed milk… the taste was just right for my family. I used a mesh strainer and it worked well. Thank you.

  3. 5 stars
    LOVE this recipe! i added 1/2 cup raw almonds (blanched and skinned) to the rice & cinnamon during the soaking step and blended them together, because i’m lactose intolerant 😅 i was relieved that the almonds didn’t overpower the flavour of rice, and my time spent skinning almonds was rewarded by the beautiful milky colour of my horchata. so dreamy and creamy!

    i am curious—is there a difference if you blend the rice and water before soaking? i have been making this always soaking the rice before blending.

  4. Unfortunately I found this to be quite labor intensive, messy, and the straining got clogged so it took a long time. My wife, the horchata drinker, was not a big fan of the taste. I don’t know if that’s because I didn’t add enough sugar, but she was not a fan. That said, I tasted the authentic horchata flavor. I’ve been trying multiple recipes to compare. I’ve found using rice flour (or making rice flour in my coffee grinder) was easier and still had good flavor. Thanks for giving me a different method to try.

    1. Sorry to hear this Josh! You don’t add sugar to it so perhaps you tried a different recipe? The sweet flavor comes from the condensed milk. I also never heard anyone that the straining got clogged. Without knowing what kind of strainer you used I can’t help with that. Thanks for the feedback!

      1. Sorry, but in the video demonstration they add sugar. The recipe itself lists the sugar as well? Should it be removed from the recipe?

        1. Hi Rose, you can add sugar to taste if you feel it needs to be sweeter. I hope this helps but let me know if you have any other questions. 🙂

          1. 5 stars
            Solid recipe. I’ve been making Horchata for years. Here is an idea I will share…turn it into ice cream. I also use Mexican vanilla that has only one ingredient…Vanilla. You can serve it on its own, turn it Into a float…I like it with root beer. I even turned into a version of creme brulee.

          2. Those are awesome ideas DC! I love the creme brulee one…yum! Thank you so much for sharing your kind review! xo, Ana

    2. josh, i do run into the same problem where the powdered rice kinda turns into cement in the strainer. i usually filter through a mesh strainer without cheesecloth first, and pass the pre-filtered stuff through a cheesecloth lined funnel. planning ahead and being generous with your equipment sizes is key for getting every drop! that being said i do tend to lose 1/4 to 1/2 cup of horchata to the rice gloop but i’m determined to find a use for it someday. maybe a filler additive for homemade rice pudding?

  5. I like your recipe. However, I add all the water at the time I’m preparing Horchata. I then proceed to blend, strain and flavor Horchata with milk (of your personal preference)? I like mine with evaporated milk. I also make my second batch (I divide half) and make it with yes, Abuelita (brand) Mexican Chocolate. I make the second batch melting chocolate in milk on stove; adding to Horchata. Mexican Chocolate version is Yummy! No milk, no problem, melt on stove top in a cup of Horchata water and add to mixture. Either way, Chocolate Mexican Horchata is Delicious!

    1. Hi, what kind of sieve works best for straining the rice mixture? How fine of a mesh is needed to catch the rice particles? Do you have a link for a specific sieve? Thanks in advance

  6. 5 stars
    Taste just like I would hope to have a restaurant…chilled…smooth…and perfectly sweet tasting. I’ve made it several times now to share with my good friends and family….and passed on your recipe!!! Thanks Ana

  7. I made this and unfortunately found that the evaporated milk taste was overpowering in a negative way. My kids loved it and couldn’t taste the evaporated milk. I added 6 cups of water, 1 tbsp of vanilla and I could still taste the e.m. I will try again but with only half of can of e m. The pitcher was gone by a couple of hours.

    1. So happy to hear the kids loved it! Sorry to hear about the milk flavor Redbaron! I don’t get that taste so I wonder if it was the brand of the milk? I’ll have to investigate and I appreciate the feedback!

  8. I made a horchata before but not this recipe and it became lumpy and gelatinous after 3 days. Why does this happen and will it happen also in this recipe? Thank you!

    1. Hi Liway! The only thing that happens is that the rice settles at the bottom and it does become kind of lumpy but that’s natural on all horchatas. All you need to do give it a good stir before serving. Once I do that there are no lumps at all in the drink! I hope this answers the question? Let me know if it doesn’t and I’ll see how I can help. It is truly delicious! Happy New Year!

    2. 5 stars
      I have a pitcher with a removable strainer to make cold brew coffee. It worked amazingly for this recipe. It saved a lot of time! This us a great recipe. I made it yesterday and its gone already! Thanks

    1. That’s a fantastic idea Anita! I don’t see why it would not work since the Horchata is super creamy as is!. I must make it and will report back but please make it and let me know how it turns out. YUM and can’t wait!

  9. 5 stars
    Great recipe that was super easy to make! I easily veganized it by replacing the milk with oat milk and the sweetened condensed milk with sweetened condensed coconut milk and it turned out great!

  10. 5 stars
    Hi, I got this recipe from a friend and I am absolutely ADDICTED! I just have a question. I made this exactly one week ago today and it’s been in the fridge since then. I didn’t realize it’s been so long since I’ve been a little too busy to finish it. You said it should keep for 3-4 days for the best taste. Is it still ok to drink?

    1. Hi Ayanna! I’m so sorry for the late reply! I’m sure you don’t have the horchata in your fridge anymore but I wanted to add that as long as the milk is good, it should be safe to drink. But for best flavor it should be consumed within a few days. Thanks so much for making it! XO, Ana

  11. 5 stars
    I have only ever tried horchata once at a Mexican fast food place and I wanted to recreate it as it was a bit pricey for a small-sized drink. I was looking for a good recipe and I’m glad I stumbled upon this one on Pinterest. this tasted really creamy and really great overall! also, I halved the recipe and still ended up making a lot haha. the only downside I guess is that it did taste a bit chalky (probs because I didn’t have cheesecloth) but I found that putting the horchata in the fridge overnight fixes that issue as the rice mixture would sink and clump at the bottom.
    10/10 would recommend!

  12. 5 stars
    So far the best recipe I made. The only part I found confusing was the water part. It doesn’t say anywhere in your directions to save the soak water or discard, or to add the rest of the fresh water.. I saved mine because well I figure thats the flavor I also blended with all the cinnamon as I like a spicier horchata. In your recipe it states to add the water but not which batch of water it specifies if that makes any sense. I did add the top of vanilla. Overall a yummy drink. I see myself making this frequently. I may try adding almonds to the mix but who knows. I like it the way it is.

    1. Hi Caitlyn,
      You blend the rice with the water it soaked in. You can see that in the recipe (step 3). At the end when adding the milks, you add regular water to it. You can see this in the video too. She spoons out half the rice and then pours half the soak water into the blender. (2 batches).
      I haven’t made this yet, but will soon!

  13. 5 stars
    I love this recipe, thanks for sharing! I saw another recipe that only used regular milk, but this one seemed richer and I’m glad I decided to use this recipe instead.

    I found it perfect and made just a few adjustments:
    – 1 cinnamony stick instead of 2 and I didn’t remove any tof the cinnamon y

    1. 5 stars
      Whoops, I accidentally submitted before finishing and can’t find a way to modify the comment 🙂

      The adjustments I made were:
      – 1 cinnamon stick instead of 2 and I didn’t remove any of the cinnamon when blending
      – Reduce water to a total of 7 cups (because I wanted to mix everything in my blender and the full 8 cups didn’t fit)
      – Used 14 oz vs 12 oz of evaporated milk since I couldn’t find any 12 oz cans

      I absolutely loved it! I saw a few recipes include blanched almonds so that’s what I’ll be trying next. Thanks so much for sharing! Super super happy that I found this recipe to try!

  14. 4 stars
    My mixture didn’t make a paste like consistency, did I need to blend longer? It was just liquid when I strained it.

    1. Hi Kyleigh! This means that the rice was soft (probably if you soaked it for a day or so) so not having a paste is not a bad thing! It actually turns out more delicious! 🙂

  15. Good morning! I’m in the process of making this , for some reason I was drawn to yours. I put the rice/cinnamon to soak yesterday morning with intentions to make it last night and totally forgot about it. Is it okay to still use it the next morning? Also, do you blend the rice and the same water it was soaked in?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Bernardine! Sorry about the late reply! Yes it’s okay to still use it. Specially if it has been in the fridge the entire time. If you left it out, i would smell it first to make sure still smells good. Oh and yes use the same water that you soaked the rice in. Let me know how it turns out! I’m so glad you decided to make it…you’ll love it! XOXO, Ana

  16. I was thinking about toasting the rice before blending with the water so I can get a more pronounced nutty flavor. Should I pre-rinse before or after toasting the rise?

    1. Hi Monique! That sounds delicious! I would rinse it before toasting it so that you don’t wash away that flavor. I have never tried so I’m curious to know how it turns out. Please report back!! 🙂 xo, Ana

  17. Hi there, Ana!
    In step 2 when you state to add half the rice and water and “some of the cinnamon stick” to the blender…do you mean one entire stick or break a stick apart and add some of the broken stick? I’m assuming your splitting all of it in half…half rice, half water and half the cinnamon sticks….so blend one whole stick in both halves.
    Thank you sooo much! I cannot wait to make this…want to make a double batch, it sounds so good!!

    1. Hi Myra! When you soak the rice go ahead and break (in large chunks) the cinnamon sticks to get all of the flavor when being soaked. Before its’ ready to be blended, remove most of the cinnamon sticks but it’s okay to leave some small pieces (if you leave too much cinnamon sticks it will overpower the horchata with that flavor). When you blend the rice, do it in two batches. So add half of the rice in the blender, half of the water and some of the cinnamon sticks that were left behind. Then blend away!

      Thanks for bringing this up as I can see how it can be confusing. I updated the recipe card!! Please let me know how it turns out (no doubt it be delicious). Thanks for making it! XO, Ana

      1. I just saw this reply! Thank you so very much!! Making it today!! Cannot wait!! I’ve made horchata before using rice milk and sugar, it was tasty and simple but yours is the real deal! Have a beautiful day!!

  18. 5 stars
    Thank you!!! This was the best horchata I think I’ve ever had. I wish I had waited an extra day to drink it. The day after I made it the flavors were even more intense and delicious.

    1. 5 stars
      Oh Jessica! I’m so happy to hear you really liked this horchata! I agree with you that it does taste better the next day. Maybe I should add this to the notes. Thanks for pointing it out! XOXO, Ana

    1. Hi SV! Sorry for the late reply! You can use almond milk or something like that and instead of the condensed milk you can use regular sugar. Start with half a cup of sugar and adjust from there to taste. Good question!

  19. 5 stars
    I love horchata, and this is by far the best recipe I’ve ever tried! Thanks so much for sharing it!

  20. 5 stars
    I’m missing the horchata at my favorite taqueria right now! But this is so good I can almost convince myself I’m there!

        1. Hi Joshua, after it has soaked for a few hours (preferably overnight), the blending process and mixing it shouldn’t take more than 10-15 minutes. Enjoy!

  21. can I see the pictures you had before? I’m trying to figure out if this is the same recipe or not.

  22. You said you can make a dairy-free if you substitute almond milk for the whole milk, and prepare as usual, but the condensed milk obviously has dairy as well . What do you substitute for the sweetened condensed milk?

  23. You can make it without milk. Substitute 1 cup of unflavored, unsweetened almond milk for the whole milk and prepare as usual. How to make authentic Horchata, Mexico s famous cinnamon-infused rice water drink. It s mild slightly sweet cinnamon infused flavor complements spicy Mexican food. It s one of many delicious aguas frescas prepared in Mexican homes.

  24. 5 stars
    I’ve never made horchata before, I’m 13, IT TURNED OUT SO GOOD IM NOT EVEN KIDDING I 100% recommend this recipe

      1. Hi Linnet! I did change the pictures but I didn’t have one with a big jar. There is a photo here with a large jar so maybe that’s the one you’re looking for? Thanks for stopping by! xo Ana

  25. 5 stars
    Check to make sure that the rice has been completely liquified. There shouldn t be any bits of rice remaining in the strainer. If there is blend the horchata mixture again.

  26. 5 stars
    This Horchata recipe is so easy to follow! Love making it for my family and friends. Deliciously refreshing. Thank you Ana, you’re the best!

    1. Hi Lad! You can add 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon and that should work! I think 2 would be a bit much. Please let me know how it turns out but I have no doubt it’ll be delicious!

      Thanks so much for the question!

      Ana

  27. 5 stars
    I’ve seen Horchata on the menu at Mexican restaurants but never had the courage to try it. (I’m a creature of habit.) Now, I just want to make this recipe and try it out, it looks so creamy and I love the subtle sweetness!

    1. 5 stars
      Hi Amy! Try it! It’s so easy to make and Horchata goes perfect with spicy food as it tends to soothe the spiciness in your mouth. It is so good!

  28. I love horchata on ice. But, I never considered making it from scratch. It never occured to me, and I know it would be so much better than the packaged powder!

  29. 5 stars
    This sounds like one tasty afternoon beverage. You really explained the process thoroughly and easy enough for me to understand. Going to give this a try soon.

  30. 5 stars
    We love horchata at our house. I have several friends that make it just like this! Your pictures of the process are absolutely stunning.

  31. 5 stars
    These pictures are so gorgeous! I’ve never had horchata but who could resist? These drinks look so tasty!

    1. 5 stars
      I think traditional Mexican dishes are the best! A little spin to them it’s good once in a while but there is nothing better than the classic ones. Thank you Maggie!

  32. LOL….same thing over here. My husband is interviewing for a job in Austin, so we went there last weekend to check out the city and see if we could live there. I LOVED it, but holy balls it was HOT!!

    Given where you live, 97 degrees is probably no biggie, but when you live on the coast, it’s a wild difference.

    Anyway, not sure if the job will come through or not, but fingers crossed as I really liked the city.

    Good luck with your move and your new adventure!