Do you love horchata? This sweet, creamy, rice-and-almond-based drink is not to be missed, especially now that summer is here and a cool, refreshing drink is always appreciated. While traditional horchata contains milk and sugar, it can also be made without dairy and lends itself well to sugar alternatives such as agave or dates. Read on for our classic Mexican horchata recipe with some extra ideas for non-dairy and sugar-free alternatives.
I don't own a regular blender, so I use my stick blender for making horchata. For that reason, I use a large pitcher for my soaking bowl so I can soak and blend the rice and almond mixture in the same bowl, and then just pour it from there into the strainer. If you have a regular blender, you may find that soaking the rice and almonds in the blender's bowl is equally convenient.
How to Make Creamy Mexican Horchata with Almonds and Rice
Makes about 6 cups
What You Need
long grain white rice
1'' to 3''
piece of cinnamon stick
sweetened condensed milk
Ice for serving
Ground cinnamon for garnish
Bowl or jar for soaking
Blender (or stick blender)
Fine mesh strainer
Spatula or spoon
Soak the rice, almonds and cinnamon. Place the rice and almonds into a bowl. Break up the cinnamon stick into several pieces and add to the rice and almonds. Cover with 4 cups of hot (but not boiling) water. Cover the bowl and refrigerate at least 2 hours but preferably overnight.
Blend the mixture. Using a stick or regular blender, blend the mixture until it is as smooth as possible. This can take as long as 2 to 3 minutes. (The cinnamon will soften as it sits and does not need to be removed before blending.)
Strain the mixture. Pour the mixture into a strainer set over a pitcher. Strain out as much liquid as possible, pushing on the solids with a spatula or spoon.
Add condensed milk and vanilla. Stir in the remaining cup of water, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Taste and add more sweetener or water as needed.
Serve. Add ice to the pitcher, stir again, and serve in glasses, garnished with the ground cinnamon. Enjoy!
Vegan Horchata: Eliminate the sweetened condensed milk and use 1/4 cup of vegan sugar or 3 tablespoons of agave instead. A little rice or almond milk can be added for more creaminess.
Alternative Sweeteners: Use 1/4 cup of honey, 3 tablespoons of agave, or 1/4 cup dates (add the dates to the soaking mixture.)
Creamier Horchata: Substitute 1 cup of milk for the final 1 cup of water for added creaminess.
Nut-Free or Non-Almond Horchata: This can be made without the almonds. You can also substitute another nut, like cashews.
If you don't have a fine mesh strainer, line your regular strainer with a few layers of cheesecloth.
If you can find it, try using Mexican cinnamon or canela.
If you own a Vitamix, you may not have to strain the mixture.
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(Images: Dana Velden)