Horchata, light & refreshing

Horchata - a cool and refreshing aguas fresca. Pennies to make.

I was introduced to Horchata (glad to meet you!) late in life, which is a bit of a shame as it is the perfect thing to drink with Mexican food. Well, other than Margaritas. Cool and light, barely sweet, this is my version.

horchata recipe
Yes, please, I will have some Horchata!

After my initial introduction, I went on a bit of a spree, sampling Horchata whenever I saw it on a menu and trying various recipes. I was looking to recreate that first Horchata; like a first love, innocent and pure, it was hard to duplicate. So often, the simplest of things are!

Horchata, if you’re unfamiliar, has a long history, and may be made with many variants, but here in the States it is generally made with rice, cinnamon, perhaps a bit of milk and some type of sweetener. It is considered to be an Aguas Fresca but isn’t overly sweet.

Horchata!
Yes, please, I will have some Horchata!

While some versions use almonds as well or instead of the rice, here’s what I settled on, below. Feel free to tinker as desired. Do plan ahead as this has a 12 hour soak.

Because I like to make a rice pudding, a Horchata Arroz con Leche (recipe coming) with the dregs strained from Horchata, my method varies just a bit from some traditional recipes – I leave the cinnamon in large chunks and remove – I can’t tell any difference in the flavor if the cinnamon is pulverized or not.

Horchata!
Yes, please, I will have some Horchata!

Horchata

  • Servings: 4 12 oz
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 1/3 cup rice
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, about 4 inches long, broken up
  • 5 cups water, divided
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • dash of vanilla, to taste, optional

Add rice to blender and pulse several times. Add about 1 1/2 cups of water, blending to break up the rice, then add another 2 1/2 cups and blend again. Four cups of water, total, are in the blender at this point.

Lay cinnamon on a protected surface and break up with a heavy object into small chunks. Add to the rice mixture. Either pour into another container or simply set the blender cup in the fridge. Leave for about 12 hours.

After the resting period, blend again, then begin the straining process. Reserve the solid bits for the rice pudding. The easiest way I’ve found to strain is to use a three step straining process, primarily because I don’t like to waste cheesecloth, nor do I have the patience to scrape and facilitate straining once the cheesecloth becomes coated with the mixture.

  • Pour the mixture through a standard sieve. My basic kitchen strainer worked well. At this point, add the remaining cup of water to the blender, swish around and pour it through as well.
  • Pour the mixture through a smaller sieve (my small four-inch sieve has smaller holes and removed quite a bit more of the dregs.)
  • Pour the mixture back through the standard sieve, lined with three layers of cheesecloth.

Add sugar and salt to milk in a small, microwave safe container like a Pyrex measuring cup – heat for a moment, then stir to dissolve sugar. Add to the Horchata. Refrigerate for another hour or so, then pour over a generous amount of ice and enjoy.

Notes:

  • While some recommend squeezing the rice after straining, I found I only had a very small amount, about a tablespoon, of liquid that came out, and determined the mess was just not worth it.
  • Cover and refrigerate the rice if you wish to use it later. I found it easy at this point to pluck out any large pieces of cinnamon.
  • While it may seem meaningless to add a pinch of salt to this recipe, the salt actually makes the drink taste just a bit sweeter – allowing one to get by with a little less sugar.

Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:

  • Use a coupon matching site! Every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings!
  • Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every page and how I apply them, below.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
  • Read Strategies Applied for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.

Nutrition:

While I do not have a clear idea of how to judge the nutritional value of the rice, the serving size of 1 1/2 cups (6 cups total in recipe) means the added sugar and milk (2%) in this recipe amounts to about 32 calories per serving.

Put Your own Spin on It:

  • Try a splash of Rum or Kahlua for an adult Horchata.
  • A bit of almond extract may be very good in this instead of vanilla – be careful as it is strong!
  • Use a mixture of blanched almonds and rice.
  • Sweeteners can be varied. Many recipes use condensed milk instead of sugar and milk.
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