This easy Horchata recipe is sweet, creamy and refreshing. A popular authentic Mexican drink made with rice, cinnamon, and milk. Skip the drink mix and make homemade horchata with this step-by-step photo tutorial. Perfect for Cinco de Mayo.

Close-up view of Mexican horchata in a cup with ice and a cinnamon stick.

What is Horchata?

Horchata is a traditional Mexican drink made up of white rice soaked in water that is flavored with cinnamon and made creamy with both sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk. A bit of vanilla extract may also be added for additional flavoring.

If you’ve ever been to a Mexican restaurant, chances are you’ve seen or already tried horchata. It may be called “agua de horchata” or “horchata de arroz”. It’s extremely popular because it’s refreshing, creamy and sweet and pairs well with spicy/flavorful dishes.

Of course they sell Mexican drink mixes at the store, but nothing compares to the real deal. Horchata isn’t complicated, but it does take time for the rice to flavor the water that it is soaked in.

Top view of a pitcher of cinnamon rice milk.

My husband and I always share a large cup of Horchata at Mexican restaurants, even though I could easily have one all to myself.

This Horchata is just lovely. I don’t know what it is about cinnamon flavored rice milk, but I guzzle it up every time!

Ingredients for Mexican Horchata

Ingredients for horchata: water, rice, cinnamon sticks, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and vanilla.

To make this traditional horchata recipe you will need:

  • White Rice, uncooked (Any raw white rice: long grain, jasmine, basmati, or short grain.)
  • Cinnamon Sticks*
  • Water
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk*
  • Evaporated Milk*
  • Vanilla Extract

*Substitutions are listed further down and in the recipe card.

Steps to Make Horchata

Steps to make Mexican horchata. 1- Rinse and drain rice. 2- Combine rice with water and cinnamon sticks. 3- Cover and soak overnight. 4- Remove cinnamon sticks before blending rice mixture.
  1. Wash and drain the rice.
  2. Place the rice, cinnamon sticks and 4 cups of water in a bowl. (TIP: Break the cinnamon sticks to infuse more flavor.)
  3. Cover and refrigerate overnight or a minimum of 4 hours.
  4. Remove cinnamon sticks (small pieces are ok).

Blend it up!

To get the most flavor out of the rice, you will want to blend it up. Blend the rice and water until it’s very smooth about 2-3 minutes.

TO MAKE HORCHATA WITHOUT A BLENDER: Skip the blending, and gently pour out the water (leaving the rice on the bottom) or strain the water from the rice without blending it. This will give you the the smoothest Horchata, but you will lose some flavor this way.

Before and after blending the rice mixture.

Strain the Rice

Straining the rice is optional, but preferred. I had some unstrained Horchata in Hawaii, of all places, and it was so thick and gritty, we ended up throwing it out. Smooth horchata is the way to go! (At least that’s my preference.)

Straining the blended rice mixture through cheese cloth and a fine mesh sieve. Then adding more water, both milks, and vanilla.

To strain the rice, it’s best to use a fine mesh sieve, and cheese cloth, if you have it.

REPEAT straining the rice water as many times as you feel is necessary until you reach the desired consistency. (About 2-3 times is usually sufficient.)

Pitcher of Mexican horchata with ice and cinnamon sticks.

The Final Steps

After the rice is strained from the liquid, add the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, vanilla, and some additional water to the desired taste.

Serve the horchata chilled or with some ice. Horchata can even be warmed up on the stove and enjoyed hot.

Top view of a pitcher of horchata (cinnamon rice milk).

Substitutions

If you don’t have sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk on hand, it’s easy to sweeten this drink with regular granulated sugar and make it creamy with any milk you have in your fridge. Keep in mind it will effect the authentic taste of the drink.

Start with 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 2 cups of milk. Taste and adjust as desired.

NOTE: The canned milks needed for this recipe can be found in the baking aisle of the grocery store.

Cinnamon sticks can be swapped with 2-3 teaspoons of ground cinnamon, if desired, but may leave a chalky taste.

Front view of a glass of horchata (rice milk).

Storage

Horchata should be stored in the fridge and will keep up to 3-4 days, if you don’t drink it all before then.

It’s so refreshing and fairly simple to make at home, but I would double the recipe because it does not last very long.

Glasses of horchata made with rice and cinnamon sticks.

More Cinco de Mayo Recipes

Today’s recipe for Horchata is in preparation for Cinco de Mayo, but it doesn’t have to be a holiday to enjoy your favorite Mexican food.

Serve this horchata with crockpot pork carnitas or beef chili verde chimichangas made with homemade flour tortillas. (You’ll never go back to store-bought.)

You’ll definitely want to have a side of elote with canned corn too. A SUPER POPULAR recipe.

How about a churro dessert? Or tres leches cake? Now we’re talking.

And if you want a second drink option try this strawberry agua fresca too.

Close-up top view of creamy horchata in a glass cup.

If You Make This Recipe, Please Rate and Review it in the Comments Below. THANKS!

Glasses of horchata made with rice and cinnamon sticks.

Horchata

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Inactive Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 10 minutes
Yield: 8 Servings

A creamy cinnamon rice milk drink that is authentic to Mexico.

Ingredients

Soaking Ingredients:

  • 1 cup long grain white rice, uncooked/raw
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 cups water

Additional Ingredients:

  • 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 12 oz can evaporated milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-4 cups cold water

Instructions

  1. Wash and drain rice. Combine the rice, cinnamon sticks, and 4 cups of water in a bowl. Soak in the refrigerator overnight or a minimum of 4 hours. (TIP: Break up cinnamon sticks to infuse more flavor.)
  2. Discard the cinnamon sticks (little pieces are ok) and pour the rice and water into a blender. Blend on low for 2-3 minutes until well-blended.
  3. Pour blended rice mixture through a fine mesh sieve two times, and then through cheese cloth one more time to remove all gritty bits of rice.
  4. Pour strained mixture into a pitcher. Add the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, vanilla, and 2-4 cups of additional cold water, to taste. Stir well to combine. Best served cold or with ice. Store horchata in the fridge up to 3-4 days.

Notes

  • Substitute 2 cinnamon sticks for 2-3 teaspoons of ground cinnamon. (May leave chalky taste.)
  • Substitute canned milks with 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 2 cups (any) milk. Taste and adjust as desired.
  • Any raw, uncooked, white rice will work for this recipe; long grain, jasmine, basmati, or short grain.
  • The flavor is best if the rice soaks for 10-12 hours.
  • TO MAKE HORCHATA WITHOUT A BLENDER: Skip the blending, and gently pour out the water (leaving the rice on the bottom) or strain the water from the rice without blending it. This will give you the the smoothest Horchata, but you will lose some flavor this way.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 305Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 36mgSodium: 142mgCarbohydrates: 47gFiber: 0gSugar: 41gProtein: 9g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix, and is an estimation only.

*Originally published 4/30/13. Photos updated March 2022.