Brown Rice Horchata

May 6, 2013

in Drinks

Brown Rice Horchata

I realize this recipe is a day late for the Cinco de Mayo festivities, but let’s just extend the celebration, okay?

Brown Rice & Cinnamon

I actually only tried horchata for the first time a few years ago, when I was living in San Francisco and surrounded by delicious taquerias. There was one burrito place a short walk away from me in Pacific Heights, which is also where I discovered and subsequently became addicted to aguas frescas. So much better than a coffee habit, in my opinion.


I haven’t found nearly as many places around Boston that offer horchata, and the ones that do use cow’s milk, so those are out for me. However, I finally purchased my very own, super cool nut milk bag* and decided to take things into my own hands using brown rice and almond milk as the base,  medjool dates as the sweetener, and extra cinnamon. I also added a little vanilla bean paste, which is optional, but adds a nice depth of flavor. Most things benefit from a little vanilla, after all.

Vegan HorchataVegan Horchata 2

This is one of those recipes that is so easy and cost-effective, you’ll wonder why you haven’t tried a homemade horchata sooner.

Vegan Horchata 3

Brown Rice Horchata
Recipe type: Drinks
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: approximately 4
A non-dairy take on the classic rice-based drink, naturally and lightly sweetened with medjool dates.
  • 1 C. Brown Rice, rinsed
  • 2½ C. Warm Water
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick, plus additional for garnish
  • 2 C. Unsweetened Almond Milk (or Rice Milk)
  • 4 Medjool Dates, soaked for an hour & drained
  • 1 Tsp. Vanilla Bean Paste or Extract (optional)
  • 1 Tsp. Ground Cinnamon, plus more for garnish
  • Pinch of Fine Sea Salt
  1. Add the rice and warm water to a high speed blender and process on high until the rice is finely ground.
  2. Transfer the rice and water mixture to a container and add the cinnamon stick. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Remove the cinnamon stick and transfer the rice and water to your blender. Process until smooth.
  4. Using a nut milk bag or fine sieve, strain the mixture, making sure to extract as much liquid as possible.
  5. Transfer the liquid back to the blender and add the almond milk, pitted dates, vanilla (if using), ground cinnamon, and sea salt. Process until smooth.
  6. Taste and adjust the sweetness if necessary.
  7. Serve over ice and garnish with a cinnamon stick and a light dusting of ground cinnamon if you like!
I used medium grain brown rice, but short and long grain should work too. You can also use white rice instead if you like. Horchata will keep for 4-5 days in the fridge. Give it a quick stir before serving, since it has a tendency to separate.


*I initially squirmed a little when I would say nut milk bag, but now it’s starting to get fun. Especially when the person you’re talking to isn’t vegan or raw food-inclined. Try it and relish in the awkwardness.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

dixya@food, pleasure, and health May 6, 2013 at 1:28 pm

i have never tried horchata but it just sounds too delicious not to try. Quick question on that – when you blend rice and water together for the first time, how much water did you add?


Amanda May 6, 2013 at 2:15 pm

You blend the 1 C. rice with 2 1/2 C. warm water, and this mixture forms the base of the recipe.


dixya@food, pleasure, and health May 6, 2013 at 2:26 pm

thank you so much the quick response :)


Lauren May 6, 2013 at 4:38 pm

This looks delicious! I’ve never tried horchata, but it has always appealed to me. Brown rice is one of those foods high on my ‘can’t live without it’ list. :-D


Amanda May 6, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Totally agree about brown rice. That, and quinoa are always on regular rotation. :)


Michelle Collins May 7, 2013 at 2:32 pm

I recently tried Horchata for the first time and fell in love. This sounds like a wonderful vegan-friendly version!


Amy May 7, 2013 at 3:15 pm

My brother’s best friend introduces him to horchata, and now he orders it whenever we go out to a Mexican restaurant. I still haven’t tried it because it sounded too exotic to me, but I actually recognize each of your ingredients. Maybe that’s not a good enough excuse after all!


Amanda May 7, 2013 at 4:04 pm

The ingredient list should be really simple at most places – rice, water, cinnamon, some sort of milk, and sweetener. :)


Amy May 7, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Good to know! I just get nervous ordering something when I can’t pronounce it or know what’s in it. ;)


dawn May 7, 2013 at 4:44 pm

So, the rice is uncooked?

Sounds YUMMY!


Amanda May 7, 2013 at 4:55 pm

Yep! It’s just blended and soaked in the water.


dawn May 7, 2013 at 5:41 pm


I’ll be using my homemade almond milk for this :)


Amanda May 7, 2013 at 6:29 pm

I just made homemade almond milk for the first time this week – SO good! Hope you like the horchata!


Abby @ The Frosted Vegan May 7, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Ok I haven’t tried horchata yet, but this is telling me I need to!


Amanda May 7, 2013 at 6:32 pm

You definitely need to try horchata! It’s so simple, but so good!


Mai-Lis @ A Sunshiny Day May 8, 2013 at 9:22 am

Wow, this looks awesome! When we were in Valencia, they kept referring to Horchata but I had never tried it before. Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to try any before we left but I look forward to giving it a try some time. In Spain they make it with tiger nuts? I wasn’t familiar with them since I think it’s a regional thing, but I was intrigued. Thanks for the recipe!!


Amanda May 8, 2013 at 9:31 am

Yeah, I was reading about how horchata is traditionally made with tigernuts. I’m not familiar with them either. I wonder if you can even find them around here…


Mai-Lis @ A Sunshiny Day May 8, 2013 at 9:36 am

I saw a little horchata kit in the airport with a bag of tiger nuts that I thought about buying but I didn’t, I’m kicking myself now, I’m curious what they’re like. Maybe I can talk my friends into mailing me some :)


Kathy Steger @FoodWineThyme May 8, 2013 at 8:52 pm

I have never even heard of Horchata before reading your post however it looks delicious. I am looking forward to making it. Sounds very interesting


Amanda May 9, 2013 at 10:05 am

I hope you like the recipe, Kathy!


J /*sparklingly May 14, 2013 at 12:28 pm

I used to always love getting arroz con leche for dessert in Mexican restaurants—and horchata (to me) is basically the lovely liquid goodness leftover when you finish the rice. Was best day when I realized I could have it all on its own if I wanted! ;)


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