Horchata is a sweet rice drink that is very popular not only in Mexico but also in the US! Most people know of the dairy version with evaporated and condensed milk, but horchata can also be made dairy-free.
Mexican horchata is typically made with rice, water, cinnamon, milk, and sugar. Traditional Mexican horchata is made without dairy- this is actually the kind of horchata my abuela grew up drinking, and the recipe I am sharing with you today was passed down from my great grandmother!
Rice & cinnamon sticks are soaked over night to soften and extract the flavors, then blended and strained. Some people also like to add almonds or oats. Then sugar and more water are added and served over ice.
Spanish horchata, the original version, is a bit different. I have actually never tried it, but it’s traditionally made from Tiger nuts and is also dairy-free.
Long grain rice- Regular long grain or jasmine rice would both work well. I recommend Mahatma Rice.
Cinnamon- if you don’t have cinnamon sticks, you can us ground cinnamon. Each stick equates to about 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, and I use 1-2 sticks depending on who I am making the horchata for. My mom LOVES cinnamon so I use 2 sticks for her. If you don’t want a strong cinnamon flavor, just use 1 stick.
Water- Mexican horchata is traditionally made with just water, no dairy! If you want the dairy version, you can check out my recipe here.
Sugar- you can add granulated sugar straight into the horchata, but I highly recommend turning it into a simple syrup first. It will blend with the horchata much better and makes a difference in flavor, in my opinion.
Vanilla extract- I do not add vanilla extract in my horchata made with dairy, but for the non-dairy version I think a tiny bit really adds a boost in flavor.
Traditional Mexican Horchata (Dairy-Free)
- 8 cups water divided
- 1 cup long grain rice
- 1-2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water optional- for making simple syrup
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract optional
- Soak the rice and cinnamon stick(s) in 4 cups of water over night (at least 8 hours). *I use 2 cinnamon sticks when making this for my mom, who LOVES cinnamon. You can use just one if you don't want a strong cinnamon flavor.
- After soaking, pour everything into a high-powered blender. If it is large enough, add 4 more cups of water. If your blender isn't large enough, you can add the additional water after straining.
- Blend on high for 2-3 minutes, or until the rice has pulverized into a fine powder.
- Strain the horchata using a fine mesh strainer and a triple-layered cheese cloth. Discard the rice and cinnamon. Add the additional 4 cups of water at this time, if you didn't already add it to your blender.
- If you don't like a super grainy texture (some people do), I recommend straining at least twice.
- Add 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract. I do not add vanilla extract to my horchata made with dairy, but I find that it adds a nice boost in flavor in this water-based horchata.
- Add the sugar and mix thoroughly.*Pro tip: when adding granulated sugar to beverages, it's much better to turn the sugar into a simple syrup first. It really makes a difference in flavor in my opinion- all you need to do is heat 1 cup of sugar with 1/2 cup of water in a saucepan over medium low heat for a couple of minutes.
- Pour over lots of crushed ice and enjoy 🙂