Horchata DSC0807

Horchata, a refreshing rice and almond beverage

I have to admit that the first time I had horchata was not in Texas. Nope, I had it at here in my New York City neighborhood, at a local Mexican-food cart I frequent on Sundays. Now, this cart doesn’t sell it year round—when it’s cold they have champurrado instead. But recently, when the sun was shining and you didn’t need more than a light jacket to keep the breezes at bay, my vendor beckoned to me and said in Spanish, “At last, I have horchata!”

Horchata is one of those drinks I never really thought about making at home. For me, it’s always been a street treat—a refreshment I’ll grab on warm days when I’m shopping for chiles in Queens or the perfect cool chaser to a fiery taco.

Horchata | Homesick Texan

But last week I received an email from a reader who had fallen in love with it when they lived in Texas, but were unable to find it where the now lived. They asked if I had a recipe and so I decided to see what I could find.

Have you ever had horchata? It’s what’s known as an aqua fresca, which is a Mexican beverage that is a blend of sweetened water with fruits, seeds, nuts or grains. On the streets in Mexico City every corner has carts selling these refreshing drinks, but you can also find them in restaurants as well. Take the lunch place I ate at a couple of times. When you sat down, the server greeted you with their agua fresca of the day and this glass was never empty as the server was vigilant in keeping it filled. The presentation and ritual reminded me of how Texans drink their iced tea—a bottomless glass of cool, invigorating liquid that goes with everything, especially spicy dishes.

Horchata is very creamy and the first time I drank it I thought it was made with milk. But instead it’s a dairy-free combination of rice, almonds, sugar and water. Most will throw in some cinnamon, vanilla and lime for added depth and flavor as well. When researching recipes, I found that there was little variation in method—you just soak pulverized rice with blanched almonds overnight, blend it with water, strain it and enjoy. Sure, you have to be a little patient, but horchata is well worth the wait.

Horchata | Homesick Texan

In the warmer months you’ll always find a pitcher of iced tea in my refrigerator. But I’ll need to make room as I now plan on keeping a pitcher of horchata in there as well. Sure, I won’t stop drinking horchata on the street—I’ll need something to wash down the tacos and tamales—but now that I know how simple it is to make at home there’s no reason why I can’t enjoy it at any time.

5 from 1 vote


Servings 8
Author Adapted by Lisa Fain from a Rick Bayless recipe


  • 2/3 cup uncooked rice
  • 1 1/4 cups blanched almonds
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime zest
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sugar or brown sugar (depending on how dark you want the drink)


  • In a blender or spice grinder, grind the rice until it’s powdery. Place ground rice, almonds, lime juice, lime zest, and the cinnamon stick in a pot and cover with 2 cups of warm water. Let stand overnight or for 8 hours.
  • After the mixture has soaked, take out the cinnamon stick and pour contents into a blender with 2 cups of water and blend until smooth. Take a mesh colander that has been double lined with cheesecloth, and over a bowl or pitcher slowly pour the mixture, wringing the cheesecloth to get every last drop out. You should have a milky, smooth liquid at this point. If there are still rice and almond bits floating around, strain it again.
  • In a pot, heat up 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water on medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Stir this sugar water into the horchata, along with the vanilla. Add 1 more cup of water and serve over ice or chilled.
  • Keeps for several days in the refrigerator, but I bet it won’t last that long! And you might notice some separation after a day, but just stir it and it’ll be right again.

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5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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  1. I tried horchata once on a road trip and i fell in love with it! it's so refreshing! Speaking about it makes me feel like having it.. LOL..

  2. My Crafty Little Page says:

    I'm a native Texas and lived here almost my whole life and just had horchata for the first time at Mexican cafe in New Braunfels! One taste of this and you're hooked for life! I bought a mix at Walmart and it's pretty good but a little sweet – going to try to find the above mentioned gallon at HEB. Maybe I'll try your recipe. 🙂 Nancy

  3. Courtney J says:

    Hello hello from Austin, TX! Your blog is my new addiction and all of my friends want to wish you and your kin years and years of good tidings. =)

    Sorry if I missed it in the description/comments but I was wondering how much does this make? A quart give or take a bit? If I'm looking to keep a gallon or so of this in my fridge on a weekly basis how much would I need to increase the ingredients?

    Thanks so much, your blog warms my heart and my belly!

  4. Lisa Fain says:

    Courtney J–I'd say a quart is about right.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hi Lisa, was wondering if you've ever run into problems making horchata? I tried using this recipe, and let the ingredients soak on the counter overnight. The next day it was very bubbly. Almost as if it had fermented. I went ahead and continued to make it according to the recipe, but it did not turn out well. Was wondering if I made a mistake leaving it out on the counter overnight, instead of placing in the fridge? Or maybe the lime has something to do with it? Was just wondering if you've ever experienced something like this? I've never attempted to make horchata before.