Homemade Horchata de Arroz (Mexican Rice Drink)

Glasses filled with creamy homemade horchata garnished with a cinnamon stick and starfruit.

Homemade Horchata de Arroz is a simple, yet refreshing drink made with rice water and condensed milk accented by a sprinkle of cinnamon. This authentic Mexican Horchata recipe is just like they make in Mexican restaurants, taquerías and ice cream shops.

Craving Mexican? You’ll find all sorts of delicious authentic and inspired recipes here on the blog. From Chilaquiles Verdes to Tex-Mex style Crock Pot Taco Meat and refreshing Pineapple Margaritas or Agua de Jamaica, there’s a flavour for every craving.

Glasses filled with creamy homemade horchata garnished with a cinnamon stick and starfruit.

Homemade Horchata

The best descriptive word for this Homemade Horchata is CREAMY. There is just no other word that describes the incredible texture. Smooth is close, creamy and delicious is better.

The milky flavour of this rice milk is combined with sweet condensed milk and ultra creamy evaporated milk to enhance the lovely velvety texture and flavour.

Mexican vanilla extract and hint of cinnamon enhance the sweetness of the milk and round out the flavours of this beloved classic.

Ingredients used in making homemade horchata.

What is Horchata?

In general, Horchata (or·chaa·tuh) is a plant based drink made from ground and strained grains, nuts, or seeds. It can be served hot or cold.

Did you know that this popular Mexican drink has African origins? Made from soaked, ground, and sweetened tiger nuts, horchata de chufa or kunnu aya was (and still is) an important source of protein for West Africans.

From West Africa, the beverage traveled to Valencia Spain then onto the new world with the Spanish explorers. Of course, rice was more readily available there than tiger nuts, so horchata de arroz became the most popular version in the new world.

Since authentic horchata is grain, nut, or seed based it is naturally dairy free. However, more recent Mexican recipes contain dairy in the form of condensed and/or evaporated milk.

You can make it using a dairy free, more old school rice only recipe or mix it with almond milk or any other nut milk.

White rice after it has been soaked overnight.

Ingredients for Homemade Horchata

Sure, you could head out to your local latino grocery store and pick up a bag of pre-made horchata mix but why would you? With a little planning, you can whip up your own batch in the time it takes to make packaged horchata. Plus, you can control the ingredients and sugar level.

  • long grain white rice
  • water
  • vanilla extract
  • stick of cinnamon
  • sugar
  • condensed milk
  • evaporated milk

Long grain white rice is the most basic rice out there. It’s the basic bitch of rice. Sure, you could try short grain rice but it probably won’t break up as easily as long grain.

Don’t even attempt this drink with basmati or jasmine rice, they will interfere with the flavour profile. Long grain white rice has the right amount of starch and is the only rice that will break down properly for horchata.

Blended horchata mixture being strained through a mesh strainer into a glass pitcher.

Adding vanilla and cinnamon bark or ground cinnamon is entirely up to you. Both grow in Mexico and are authentic (and popular) flavourings in Mexican cuisine. Additional sugar is also a matter of personal preference, as the condensed milk is quite sweet you may not feel more sugar is needed.

Condensed Milk vs. Evaporated Milk

Have you ever stood in the canned milk aisle at the grocery store wondering if the recipe you want to make requires condensed milk or evaporated milk? Lucky for you, this homemade horchata recipe contains both!

For future reference, there are many differences in the two shelf stable canned milk products. Both contain concentrated cow’s milk where at least 60% of the water has been removed.

Condensed Milk, also known as Sweetened Condensed Milk, is rich and thick, with a caramel color and an additional 40-45 % sugar. It’s essentially a milk syrup.

Evaporated milk is basically just condensed milk (with no additional sweetener) that is heated until 60% of the water has been removed. There are skim, low-fat, and whole milk varieties of evaporated milk.

A glass pitcher filled with creamy homemade horchata surrounded by cinnamon sticks.

How to Make Homemade Horchata

It may surprise you how easy it is to make horchata at home. It takes a little bit of time to soak the rice, but the bulk of this horchata recipe comes together in minutes.

The first thing you need to do is rinse the rice. Place it in a fine mesh strainer and rinse it with cold running water over the sink. Once the water turns clear you are ready for the next step.

Place the rice in a large bowl and cover it with cold water. Soak the rice overnight or for at least 8-10 hours. The rice will absorb the water and have a fluffier, softer texture.

Creamy homemade horchata being poured into a waiting glass filled with ice.

The next day, add all of the ingredients (rice, cinnamon stick, vanilla extract, condensed and evaporated milks) to the jug of a high powered blender.

Blend the rice mixture until it is smooth and no rice grains remain. Next, strain the rice mixture into a serving pitcher through a fine mesh strainer. Add the remaining cold cups of water.

Mix the horchata well, then serve over ice. Garnish with a cinnamon stick, slice of star fruit, star anise, or slice of coconut.

A glass filled with creamy homemade horchata garnished with a cinnamon stick and starfruit.

How to Serve Homemade Horchata

The most popular way to serve horchata in Mexico is over ice garnished with a cinnamon stick or fresh fruit. However, it can also be enjoyed warm with coffee or liquor.

Horchata Variations

In central and south America, there are many variations of horchata that may contain grains, nuts, seeds (besides tiger nuts and rice), and other infusions.

  1. In Alvarado (an area of Veracruz, MX) horchata contains an infusion of marigolds.
  2. Horchata de ajonjoli is a version with toasty ground sesame seeds, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. This Puerto Rican drink is also contains evaporated milk, coconut milk, and rum.
  3. Horchata de melón – contains ground melon seeds and rice water.
  4. In Ecuador, Horchata lojana is a sweet infused drink made from a variety of herbs and flowers including escancel or bloodleaf, lemon verbena, lemon grass, mint, chamomile, lemon balm, rose geranium, among others.
  5. The South American countries of El Salvador, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Nicaragua, semilla de jicaro contains ground jicaro seeds and rice, ground cocoa, cinnamon, sesame seeds, nutmeg, tiger nuts and vanilla. Sometimes, ground peanuts, almonds and cashews are also added.
Glasses filled with creamy homemade horchata garnished with a cinnamon stick and starfruit.

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Pinterest image of horchata being strained into a glass pitcher and several glasses filled with horchata garnished with a cinnamon stick and starfruit.
Yield: 8 servings

Homemade Horchata de Arroz (Mexican Rice Drink)

Glasses filled with creamy homemade horchata garnished with a cinnamon stick and starfruit.

Homemade Horchata de Arroz is a simple, yet refreshing drink made with rice water and condensed milk accented by a sprinkle of cinnamon. This authentic Mexican Horchata recipe is just like they make in Mexican restaurants, taquerías and ice cream shops.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 10 hours
Total Time 10 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup long grain white rice
  • 6 1/2 cups water (plus more for soaking)
  • 1/4 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 can condensed milk (14 oz)
  • 1 can evaporated milk (12 oz)
  • ice
  • 2-3 tbsp sugar (optional extra sweetening)

Instructions

  1. Place the rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse it until the water running off becomes clear.
  2. Place the rice in a bowl and add just enough water to cover the rice.
  3. Allow the rice to soak overnight (8-10 hours).
  4. Combine ingredients (rice, cinnamon stick, vanilla, condensed and evaporated milks) in a high powered blender and process until smooth.
  5. Strain the blended mixture through a fine mesh screen into a serving pitcher.
  6. Add rest of the water, mix well and serve over ice.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving:Calories: 124Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 63mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 0gSugar: 17gProtein: 4g

Nutritional calculation was provided by Nutritionix and is an estimation only. For special diets or medical issues please use your preferred calculator.

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30 comments

  1. Sadia Malik

    You learn something new everyday, I did not know that it had African origins

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Me neither! I love researching the history of food and drinks; I learn so much.

      Reply

  2. nancy

    cool recipe but im surpirsed i can’t use jasmine white rice for this drink. so is it something like uncle ben’s i should use instead?

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      I would never use converted rice (Uncle Ben’s) in any dish or beverage as it just has a weird processed taste. Jasmine rice also has a natural, more floral flavour (hence the name) and I would not use it in traditional horchata. HOWEVER, wouldn’t jasmine rice be wonderful in an ‘Asian style’ version of horchata, perhaps with a bit of pandan extract?!! YUM

      Reply

  3. Cindy Mom the Lunch Lady

    This is such an intriguing recipe. It reminds me of rice milk, only thicker and creamier

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Oh yes. Originally it was just rice milk…nowadays people want the creamier sweeter version.

      Reply

  4. Terri Gilson

    I love how creamy this drink is and that is the coolest garnish!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Thanks Terri. For me it’s a must with tacos or burritos (if I’m not having a margarita!).

      Reply

  5. Gloria

    We love Mexican food. This will be perfect to add to the menu. Sounds delicious and refreshing.

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      It really is! And so much better than the powdered, ready to make packets.

      Reply

  6. Jessica Formicola

    I love horchata, but I’ve never made my own! I can’t wait to try it for myself- it looks delicious!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Me too…believe me it’s super easy. Just need some time to soak the rice.

      Reply

    2. Bernice Hill

      Give it a try, you will love it Jessica.

      Reply

  7. Chef Dennis

    I’ve always wanted to try this Mexican Rice Drink! Now I can! Looks really tasty.

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Enjoy…it’s superb with tacos or burritos.

      Reply

  8. Lauren Michael Harris

    I have just recently discovered horchata and LOVE it! It seems easy enough to make homemade with this recipe! I can’t wait to make it asap!!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Enjoy…it’s such a treat!

      Reply

  9. Cathleen

    Ooh this looks so perfect for the summer!! And I have (almost) all of the ingredients! Just need to get some evaporated milk then I’m set. Thanks so much for the recipe 🙂

    Reply

  10. Kathryn

    This looks like such a fabulous recipe for horchata! I can’t wait to try this, thanks so much!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Thank you Kathryn, enjoy!!

      Reply

  11. Liz

    I had never tried horchata before so it was fun to make it at home! Such a yummy recipe!

    Reply

  12. Melanie

    I have never heard or tried horchata de arroz but this has definitely gotten my attention! Saving to try soon! Thank you for this original recipe!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      What?! well I hope you are curious enough to try it. Well, worth it.

      Reply

  13. Jenny

    What a wonderful recipe! I tried horchata de Arroz at a friend’s house years ago and have not come across this deliciousness since. Thank you for your post; I will definitely make it.

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Give it a try, definitely worth the effort.

      Reply

  14. Sharon

    There is nothing better than homemade horchata. It’s easy to make and so sweet and creamy.

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      One of our fave drinks all year long, especially with burritos.

      Reply

  15. Tristin

    When I was living in California I had access to fresh horchata any time I wanted it. We moved, now I can’t find it. Thanks to your amazing recipe, I can make it right at home.

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      How amazing!! Not sure why you’d ever want to move…

      Reply

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