This deliciously creamy, rice-based drink is perfect for a hot day.

Active Time:
50 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 20 mins
4 cups

Sweet and creamy Horchata is a surprising yet welcome addition to any get-together. Delicious hot or iced and at any time of day, the Mexican sip can be served in numerous ways that will have your guests clamoring for a second cup. Plus, it’s easy to make at home! Here’s everything you need to know about about to make horchata.


Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

What Is Horchata?

The version of horchata most often found in the U.S. today is the Mexican version, which is made from rice and milk and flavored with cinnamon, sugar, and vanilla—essentially a thin and drinkable rice pudding.

But the original drink was first made in Africa around 1,000 years ago, where it was made with tiger nuts instead of rice. That’s also the version of Horchata you’ll find in Spain. Since there weren’t any tiger nuts growing in Mexico or elsewhere in Latin America, the people there began making horchata with other ingredients, like rice.  

Horchata Ingredients

  • Evaporated milk: Evaporated milk gives horchata its creamy, indulgent base. For a dairy-free version, you could use almond milk or coconut milk.
  • Water: Combined with the evaporated milk, water keeps things from getting too thick. 
  • Rice: The most important ingredient in Horchata, white rice is responsible for the unique, refreshing, barely nutty taste of the finished product. Any form of long grain white rice will do. 
  • Cinnamon, sugar, and vanilla: These final three ingredients round out Horchata, giving it a warm and sweet flavor. We use a whole cinnamon stick and ground cinnamon for more of this delicious spice.
horchata ingredients

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

How To Make Horchata

To make horchata the traditional way, you would typically need to soak your rice and some of your spices overnight, stretching out the process over a day or two. But in our version, we speed things up by boiling the rice with some of the evaporated milk and water and a cinnamon stick until you have a thick rice pudding, which concentrates the slightly nutty flavor of the rice that you want in your finished drink. 

boiling ingredients for horchata

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Once the rice mixture cools to room temperature, you blend it up with the remaining evaporated milk and water, plus sugar, ground cinnamon, and vanilla.

creamy foamy liquid in a clear glass blender jar seen from overhead

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Lastly, you strain the horchata through a fine wire mesh strainer to separate out any remaining rice pulp.

straining horchata

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

How To Serve Horchata

There are numerous ways to serve this creamy and refreshing drink. First, and simplest, is to pour it over ice. For a creative and delicious cocktail, add some spiced rum or bourbon. You could also serve it hot, either in a mug by itself or with a splash of bourbon. Or for a fun take on Mexican hot chocolate, top a mug of hot horchata with a swirl of chocolate syrup. 

One thing to keep in mind: The cinnamon tends to sink to the bottom, so give your Horchata a good shake before pouring to disperse the cinnamon and give your drink more flavor.

Editorial contributions by Alyssa Sybertz.


  • 2 (12-oz.) cans evaporated milk, divided

  • 3 cups water, divided

  • 1/2 cup uncooked long grain white rice

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Ice, for serving


  1. Bring 1 cup milk, 1 cup water, and 1 cinnamon stick to a boil over medium high in a small saucepan. Add rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until rice is tender and mixture resembles a thick pudding texture, about 20 minutes. (Reduce heat if needed to prevent boiling over.) Remove from heat and let cool completely to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

    rice, milk, and cinnamon stick in a saucepan showing rice getting thicker

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

  2. Discard cinnamon stick in cooled rice mixture. Transfer rice mixture to a blender with sugar, ground cinnamon, vanilla, remaining evaporated milk, and remaining 2 cups water.

    overhead shot of ingredients for horchata in a blend with cinnamon clumps on top

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

    Blend on medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Strain mixture through a fine wire mesh strainer. Serve chilled over ice.

    straining milky white mixture through a small sieve

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

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