Classic Horchata

6 Cups
Prep Time 10 minutes
Chill 10 hours
Total Time 10 hours 10 minutes

Classic Horchata is a traditional Mexican drink made with ground rice, cinnamon, milk, and vanilla, then chilled to refreshing perfection.

Creamy Horchata is an amazingly creamy, milky drink perfect to serve up along with Dessert Recipes. It’s especially great paired with other Mexican dishes like Tres Leches or Mexican Wedding Cookies.

Classic Horchata in glass with cinnamon rim and carafe

Mexican Horchata is a delicious drink that you can make easily at home. As long as you combine the rice, water and cinnamon a night in advance, then you can add the other simple ingredients in the morning. That way, you can enjoy the cinnamon drink any time you want throughout the day.

The flavor of Horchata is mostly sweet with a kick of spice from the cinnamon sticks. So Homemade Horchata is perfect to enjoy for something sweet after a meal. Or, you can enjoy a cold glass of Horchata anytime you’re craving a sweet snack throughout the day. It’s also delicious to enjoy at breakfast time.

If you want to dress up Classic Horchata to make it more like a dessert on its own, try adding a dollop of Homemade Whipped Cream to the top. Then you can top that off with an extra sprinkle of ground cinnamon or cocoa powder for decoration. The dressed up Mexican drink is perfect to serve up in glasses, decorate, and put on a serving tray for a party treat.

More Classic Mexican Recipes

Key Ingredients in Horchata

  • Rice: Blend white rice with water and cinnamon sticks at the start of this recipe. Then let the mixture soak overnight. By giving it time to soak, the water absorbs flavor from the rice and cinnamon. Then in the morning you can strain the solids out, and you’re left with delicious rice water. 
  • Cinnamon: For the most part Classic Horchata is made with very simple ingredients. Most of the flavors are fairly mild or sweet, but the cinnamon makes a big difference in the overall taste. Adding the cinnamon stick to the rice blend is what gives horchata its traditional warm, spiced flavor.
  • Milk: The milk makes the rice water mixture more rich and creamy. Then mix vanilla and sugar in along with the milk to finish the vanilla and cinnamon treat.
Classic Horchata Collage of prep steps

How to Make Classic Horchata

  • Rice Mixture: Add the rice, 2 ½ cups water, and the cinnamon sticks to your blender. Turn it on to high speed for 1 minute. Then add the remaining water, and continue blending until the cinnamon sticks are well broken down.
  • Refrigerate: Transfer the blended mixture to a large bowl and cover it. Then leave the rice water to chill overnight.
  • Straining: In the morning, strain the rice water and cinnamon mixture to drain out the rice grains. You can drain the Horchata mixture through coffee filters or paper towels. However you might find it easiest to put the paper towel or filter over a mesh sieve and pour the drink over the top.
  • Milk Mixture: Once the rice water is drained, stir in the milk, vanilla extract, and granulated sugar. Continue stirring the Horchata mixture until the sugar dissolves.
  • Refrigerate: Then put the Classic Horchata back in the fridge. Let the drink chill until you’re ready to drink the cold horchata.
Classic Horchata in glass with cinnamon rim and ice

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Horchata the same as rice milk?

Horchata is not the same thing as rice milk. While rice is used to make Horchata, regular milk is also used to finish the drink. Rice milk is made only from rice and water.

Why does Horchata have to be refrigerated overnight?

Horchata has to sit overnight in order for the flavor and nutrients of the rice, as well as the cinnamon flavors to soak into the drink. You want all the flavor you can get to make this drink extra special.

Variations on Classic Horchatta

  • Chocolate Horchata: If you’re a chocolate lover, you can take this authentic version of vanilla horchata and change up the recipe a little to add some delicious chocolate flavor. To make the Chocolate Horchata, all you need is 5 tablespoons chocolate cocoa mix. Add the cocoa at the same time you add the milk. Then mix until well blended. Because of the sugar in the cocoa mix, you can decrease the amount of white sugar in the recipe according to your taste. Then you’ll have the perfect drink to satisfy any chocolate craving.
  • Dairy Free Coconut Horchata: To make a dairy free version with a delicious coconut flavor, you can replace the rice with blended coconut meat. Then exchange the milk for coconut milk. Keep the rice and replace only the milk with coconut milk to make dairy-free horchata.
  • Dairy Free Almond Horchata: You can make Classic Horchata with a blanched almond mixture instead of rice. Then use almond milk for the milk in the recipe and you’ll have another tasty, dairy free option.
  • Horchata Shake: Use this sweet Horchata to make a milk shake! Combine vanilla ice cream, Horchata, a teaspoon of Vanilla, and some extra cinnamon. Serve it with a dash of cinnamon on top of the shake.
  • Boozy Rum Horchata: For a boozy version of this classic drink recipe, you can mix rum into the chilled Horchata. You can add anywhere from 2-8 ounces depending on how strong of a drink you want.

More Delicious Drink Recipes

How to Store Classic Horchata

  • Serve: Due to the dairy in the recipe, you shouldn’t leave this Classic Horchata Drink at room temperature for more than two hours.
  • Store: Horchata tastes best when completely chilled, so keep your pitcher in the fridge until you’re ready to serve. Store it in the fridge for up to 5 days. Then stir well before pouring into glasses.
  • Freeze: You can also freeze this recipe! Pour the delicious Horchata into a freezer safe container. Then seal and keep it in the freezer for up to 3 months. Take it out of the freezer and put it in the fridge the night before you plan to serve it. Then stir to blend separated ingredients before serving.
Classic Horchata in glass with cinnamon rim and carafe

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Classic Horchata

Classic Horchata is a traditional Mexican drink made with ground rice, cinnamon, milk, and vanilla, then chilled to refreshing perfection.
Yield 6 Cups
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 hours 10 minutes
Course Drink
Cuisine Mexican
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 1 1/3 cups uncooked long-grain rice
  • 5 cups water , divided
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup sugar


  • Add the rice, half the water, and cinnamon sticks to a blender.
  • Blend on high speed for 1 minute, then add in the rest of the water and blend for an additional minute (you want the cinnamon sticks blended well).
  • Refrigerate overnight then strain through a few coffee filters or paper towels.
  • Stir in the milk, vanilla extract, and sugar until sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve.



Calories: 267kcal | Carbohydrates: 58g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 28mg | Potassium: 116mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 24g | Vitamin A: 69IU | Vitamin C: 0.05mg | Calcium: 80mg | Iron: 0.4mg
Classic Horchata Collage

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

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