This vegan horchata recipe makes a creamy and slightly sweet milky drink with a hint of cinnamon spice. It’s the perfect drink when you want something light and refreshing. You can even make this creamy horchata into a mocktail or cocktail!
What is horchata?
Horchata is a type of agua fresca, translating to “fresh water”, which is a refreshing drink made from grains, fruits, or seeds, combined with water and cane sugar. Some of my favorite agua frescas are Agua de pina (pineapple agua fresca), Agua de naranja (orange agua fresca) and Agua de pepino (cucumber agua fresca).
Horchata is a broader term for a variety of beverages made from plant based milks popular in Latin America. Different regions have their own versions. Some common variations are made with tiger nuts, sesame seeds, or rice. To make the drink sweeter and more creamy, it is common to find versions made with whole milk or condensed milk.
This version of horchata is similar to a Mexican horchata recipe, using rice milk and flavored with cinnamon.
Why this recipe works
Typical Mexican horchata uses a combination of evaporated milk and condensed milk. To make this lightened up vegan horchata version, we use oat milk, which makes it dairy free but still gives it a creamy texture. Click here for more vegan recipes.
This recipe is:
- Made with limited ingredients
- Gluten free
- Dairy free
- Uncooked long-grain white rice - You could also make this rice horchata with jasmine rice.
- Oat milk or coconut milk - To make this vegan horchata, I substitute dairy milk for oat milk or coconut milk. You could also try this with unsweetened almond milk.
- Cinnamon sticks - It’s best to use whole cinnamon sticks for this recipe rather than ground cinnamon.
Fun Fact! Mexican cinnamon is different from the regular cinnamon we typically use in the United States (cassia cinnamon). Mexican cinnamon is typically sweeter, more complex in flavor and is so soft that it almost crumbles in your hands. While the best, most authentic Mexican horchata recipes would use Mexican cinnamon, it’s extremely hard to get your hands on, even in Mexican grocery stores. For this reason, you can substitute for regular cinnamon.
See the recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and measurements.
How to make vegan horchata
Add uncooked long grain white rice, filtered water, and cinnamon sticks to a large bowl. Soak 4-6 hours minimum, best if overnight (up to 24 hours). Leave soaking rice in the refrigerator. The cinnamon sticks will soften and open up as they soak with the rice, adding even greater flavor!
Once soaked, blend the soaked white rice, water and cinnamon sticks in a high-speed blender until smooth. You should not see any large pieces of rice or cinnamon.
Strain the rice mixture through a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth into a pitcher or large measuring cup. Add oat milk (or coconut milk) to the pitcher and stir to combine.
Serve over ice immediately and garnish with a fresh cinnamon stick, or allow the flavors of the agua de horchata to combine in the fridge for at least 4 hours and then serve.
If serving at a later time, make sure to stir before serving. It is completely normal for the milk and rice milk to separate.
I like the natural sweetness from the oat milk, but If you wish to sweeten your homemade horchata, you can try honey, maple syrup, or agave syrup.
To make this horchata into a cocktail, add a shot of dark rum or tequila.
When to blend the rice: The longer you can soak the rice (up to 24 hours), the better! This is because the liquid gets the taste of the cinnamon and rice, to create a creamier and more flavorful horchata. The cinnamon sticks should be completely opened up - almost flat!
Speed up the soak: To speed up the time the white rice soaks in the water, soak the white rice in boiling water. If you use boiling water, you can soak the rice for 2 hours before it’s ready to blend. However, the taste will be best if waiting overnight.
Prep ahead for best taste: If you can, make horchata the day before wanting to serve it. The longer it sits, the better it tastes! (Of course within the window of storage!)
Storage directions: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
Frequently Asked Questions
Traditional horchata is made with plant based ingredients, but now it is common to see horchata recipes made with cow’s milk, evaporated milk, or condensed milk to add extra sweetness and creaminess. This horchata recipe is vegan, made with plant based non-dairy milk!
Horchata de arroz is a creamy and milky sweet rice beverage that can be flavored with cinnamon or vanilla extract.
Horchata is delicious served hot or cold. Serve it cold over ice, or warm it up in a mug for cold days.
More refreshing drink recipes!
- Agua de piña (pineapple agua fresca)
- Agua de naranja (orange agua fresca)
- Agua de pepino (cucumber agua fresca)
- Vegan Eggnog
More delicious Mexican food recipes
- Dutch Oven Carnitas (Authentic Mexican Carnitas)
- Healthy Mexican Street Corn (Elotes)
- Authentic Mexican Chilaquiles Rojos
- Vegan Mexican Rice
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- Mesh strainer
- Measuring cup
- 1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
- 4 cups water
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 cups oat milk or coconut milk
- Add uncooked long-grain white rice, water, and cinnamon sticks to a large bowl.
- Soak 4-6 hours minimum, best if overnight (up to 24 hours). Leave soaking rice in the refrigerator.
- Once soaked, blend the soaked white rice, water and cinnamon sticks in a high-speed blender until smooth. You should not see any large pieces of rice or cinnamon.
- Strain into a pitcher or large measuring cup.
- Add oat milk (or coconut milk) to the pitcher and stir to combine.
- Serve over ice immediately and garnish with a fresh cinnamon stick, or allow the flavors of the agua de horchata to combine in the fridge for at least 4 hours and then serve.
- If serving at a later time, make sure to stir before serving. It is completely normal for the milk and rice milk to separate.
Some background information in this post was obtained from the articles Agua Fresca and Horchata.
Ever since she taught herself how to cook, Elise has been making simple recipes with fresh ingredients. She believes the best recipes highlight the ingredients by using the best of cooking techniques. She’s an avid juicer and has juiced each and every fruit and vegetable there is. She also creates savory recipes inspired by what’s available in California. Many of her authentic Mexican recipes are passed down from her from mother in law and is a huge influence on her cooking.