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« Rhubarb Fest 2011 | Main | Book tour: segment 4! »

Homemade Horchata

a guest post

This post marks the start of my guest posting series, and who better to inaugurate this series than with my Grassroots Marketing and Outreach Specialist, Nelly. I won’t tell you how all kinds of awesome she is at managing Constant Contact and helping me plan successful events all over the country; oops, I guess I just did. [If you’d like to do a guest post here at HGGH, please pop over to the FAQs page and read about how to do so.]

Nelly’s blog, SALT, is beautiful and charming and on it she features all sorts of delicious things like an array of recipes a la comida Mexicana, vegetarian cooking and lifestyle, and (majorly impressive) meal planning.

Please welcome Nelly writing about the delicious beverage we sipped last night at an Austin Food Bloggers party for HGGH.


You may have seen horchata before; it’s the milky, white drink that they serve with a ladle from those huge glass jugs at local taquerias. It can be gloriously refreshing on a hot afternoon and nothing keeps your savory breakfast taco better company.

There are pre-made horchatas that come in shelf-stable cartons and a trip to your local Mexican market will find you bottles of concentrate. I usually find these variations way too sweet or gooey. Not to mention that the ingredient list on the concentrate is frighteningly long and undecipherable.

Horchata, in its simplest form, is rice, water, cinnamon and sugar. Any kitchen pantry can swing it. By way of kitchen tools you need a bowl, a blender and a sieve. That’s it.

My latest batch was inspired by a set of glasses that I inherited from my mom this past weekend as we were clearing out her kitchen of 25 years. I needed something worthy of the yummy memories that filled those glasses over the years. This horchata met the task perfectly.

Agua de Horchata

1. Combine in a medium-sized bowl:

2 cups uncooked rice (brown or white will do)
3 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks

Cover and let sit overnight (at least 12 hours).

2. Pour soaked mixture and 3 more cups of water into a blender (or food processor, done in smaller batches) and let it do its thing till you have fine meal.

3. Pour liquid through sieve and press out as much of the liquid as you can. A fine metal sieve is ideal, but a regular sieve draped in a couple layers of dampened cheesecloth (or a jelly bag if you’ve got one!) will work great, too.

4. Stir in 1/3 cup of sweetener (I like a mixture of agave and turbinado sugar) and 2 Tbs of the leftover meal until dissolved.

It’s best when chilled or poured over a generous helping of ice. It goes perfectly with tacos or any other casual Mexican meal you have tucked into your recipe repertoire.

I also love horchata for entertaining as it is dairy-free, gluten-free AND vegan!


Reader Comments (12)

I've been trying to track down the horchata of my family's dream to accompany our Ultimate Taco Project - every part homemade. This may be the ticket! Like the agave nectar to sweeten.

May 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

Great guest post and a whole new blog to explore!

May 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteradventuresindinner

Oh, yum yum yum! Amazing YUM! I had no idea...

May 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHilah

Is the rice cooked or uncooked? Thanks for the recipe, I had forgotten about this drink.

May 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

hi there. made a quick change above to note the use of UNCOOKED rice. cooked rice and a slightly different process gets you an entirely different result - arroz con leche. maybe a post for later on?

May 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternelly

I thought it was uncooked but figured it wouldn't hurt to make sure! Thanks for clarifying.

May 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

Looks great, can't wait to try it this summer - I never would have thought that you could put cinnamon sticks or rice through a blender. Does it matter what type of rice you use? I am guessing this is not traditionally made with jasmine or basmati rice, which are the two kinds of rice we keep in our pantry. What type of rice would typically be used?

May 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

it is traditionally made with long grain white rice, but any combo of non-fragrant white or brown works. i was out of white rice at home so my last batch was piece-mealed with short and long grain brown rice. jasmine and basmati would bith fall in the fragrant category.

ts actually kind a cool to see the uncurled cinnamon sticks in the morning after the long soak. both they and the rice will be soft enough for the blender. :)

May 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternelly

I live in Valencia (Spain), and here horchata which is a traditional drink from the old times is made with a dried seed called chufa. Never heard of horchata made of rice, interesting.
We have always with nice buns called fartons.

May 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarisol

i love that there are so many variations all over the world! i've heard of chufa, but have never used or tried it. i've seen variations that use almond as well.

May 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternelly

I love this recipe, thanks so much. Do want to share though that we learned in school the other day that apparently agave is not sustainably sourced (the plant takes 8 years to mature and is cut down to get the nectar) and is actually just as refined (if not more so) as white sugar, so it has just as big a carbon footprint. All agave really has going for it is a good marketing team. Thought your readers might want to know. Completely shocked me!

May 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRachael

My Mexican neighbor's recipe for horchata includes an equal amount of freshly ground almond meal (also soaked overnight in the same amount of water) that is whirled into a slurry with additional water then added to the strained rice milk. A reduction in the sweetener should be possible with addition of the nuts, which add great protein, fibre and Omega-3s to an otherwise carb-rich, other-nutrient-poor beverage. It will be thicker, and it's sooooo YUMMY. BTW -- one of the benefits of agave syrup is touted to be a considerably lower glycemic index than cane or beet sugar.

March 8, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermarcie

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