Nothing is more refreshing than a glass of icy-cold drink on a sun-blistering day in Mexico or Spain. Learn how to make this Easy Mexican Horchata (Cinnamon Rice Drink) using already-made rice milk.
What is Horchata?
Horchata is a summer drink made of plant milk beverages, sugar, and cinnamon. This drink has its origins in Spanish cuisine, where it is made out of tiger nuts. In Mexico and other Latin countries, horchata is made out of rice, sometimes almonds, or even melon seeds.
Mexicans made it their own, and there are multiple variations of this "bebida" based on the regions of Mexico. In the United States, rice horchata is very popular in Mexican restaurants, taquerias, and ice cream shops.
If you ever travel, you need to look on the menus for Agua Fresca De Horchata, or bebida de arroz.
Aguas Frescas translates to "fresh water," beverages made of ripe fruits, rice, seeds, or flower petals blended with sugar and water. I smile in happiness when I see these large glass jarras filled with creamy white horchata, dark brown tamarindo, or deep red jamaica.
Horchata is one of the three most popular Aguas Frescas in Mexico, next to tamarindo and hibiscus(or jamaica). The rainbow of colors, from pink guava watermelon to light orange cantaloupe or mango, makes me love summertime even more.
Why should you try this recipe?
- It is incredibly easy to make.
The original recipe is made by soaking ground rice overnight, then adding sugar and cinnamon. I took a shortcut here and used bought rice milk.
There are times in everyone's life when taking a shortcut in the kitchen is a good thing. If you have met me before, you know that I like making most of my food from scratch. However, I am also very busy, and there are days when convenience is the way to go.
- It is delicious and perfect for Mexican meals.
Horchata is a beautiful beverage to accompany any meal, but it is beneficial to put out that fire in your mouth after eating spicy foods. Serve it on Taco Day. Make Chicken Tinga or Mexican Pork in Salsa Verde and serve horchata with the meal.
- Using rice milk is better than horchata instant mixes.
You can choose to soak rice overnight and make this drink the next day, but you can also use rice milk or instant mixes.
I tried them all, and I can tell you from my own experience that using rice milk was the easiest way to make this drink. The instant mixes are gritty and don't taste good. Artificial flavors are not my cup of tea.
- This recipe is dairy-free and nut-free.
This is a perfect choice for those out there who are looking for a healthier drink. My recipe is dairy-free and nut-free.
- Rice milk- Rice is the traditional Mexican way of making horchata. However, there are regions in Mexico where this drink is made with coconut OR almond milk. I also saw recipes that add whole milk or even condensed milk. Use your common sense here and make this recipe your own, but keep in mind that if you want an almost authentic Mexican horchata, you need to use rice milk.
- Granulated sugar- You will need only ½ cup of granulated sugar. I would not advise using powdered sugar, as it contains cornstarch and changes the texture of the drink. I have never tried brown sugar and never saw a recipe using it, so I do not know how horchata would taste with it.
- Ground Cinnamon- Use the best cinnamon you can put your hands on. The flavor of horchata comes from cinnamon and vanilla. Good cinnamon will ensure that your horchata will be delicious.
- Vanilla- a vanilla bean would be my choice in this recipe. However, vanilla beans are expensive and harder and harder to find, so we need to go for replacements. Vanilla extract is a good way to go. Europeans: Bourbon Vanilla Sugar from Dr. Oetker is a good option for you.
- Cinnamon Sticks(optional)- we use those for garnishing the glass
- Blender- Modern Mexican cuisine uses a blender on a daily basis. While not absolutely mandatory, a blender is good to make this drink smooth, help dissolve the sugar faster, and overall mix all ingredients really well. However, if you don't own one, use a whisk.
How to make this simple rice horchata
Things cannot get easier than this:
Pour rice milk into the blender, add sugar, ground cinnamon, and vanilla, and blend. Voila, you just made horchata!
Fill tall glasses with ice and pour horchata, garnishing the glass with a cinnamon stick for stirring, if you like.
How to handle vanilla bean: cut the vanilla bean half lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the mix. Do not throw away the pod. Reserve it to make vanilla sugar by placing the pod in a jar with granulated sugar that you would use for baking.
If you use vanilla extract: Use about a teaspoon of vanilla extract in the mixture.
If you are in Europe and have these little bags of Dr. Oetker Bourbon Vanilla Sugar: Measure ½ cup of sugar, remove one tablespoon from it and add a bag of vanilla sugar to it.
Can I replace the sugar with other sweeteners?
Yes. Honey is a good option. While you can use maple syrup, I feel like it would change the flavor of this horchata. If you need a sugar-free option, stevia is the way to go.
Some other recipes to love:
Easy Mexican Horchata (Cinnamon Rice Drink)
- 6 cups unsweetened rice milk
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 4 cinnamon sticks for garnish
- Place the rice milk, sugar, and ground cinnamon into a blender.
- If you use a vanilla bean, cut it half lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the mix. Otherwise, if you use vanilla extract, add it to the milk.
- Blend until the sugar is dissolved.
- Pour into tall glasses filled with ice and garnish with cinnamon sticks for stirring.