Horchata (pronounced or-chaa-tah, the “h” is silent) is a sweet, milky drink traditional to many parts of the Latin world. Mexican horchata (“horchata de arroz”) has a base of white rice and is flavored with cinnamon, whereas Spanish horchata (“horchata de chufa”) is made primarily with tiger nuts.
If you’ve ever visited a taqueria or Mexican dessert shop, there is a strong chance horchata was on the menu. Mexican horchata — typically served on ice — is refreshing and light, perfect with spicy food or just by itself on a hot summer day. It also makes a sweet and flavorful morning beverage in place of an iced latte.
Many horchata recipes call for whole milk, condensed milk, or evaporated milk to enhance the creaminess of the drink. We prefer the traditional rice-only version since it’s lighter and healthier, too. And instead of white sugar, we use pure maple syrup, which is less refined and complements the spices nicely. Read on to learn the simple technique. Just keep in mind that while the hands-on time required to make this drink is very short (only about 6 minutes), the rice needs to soak for at least 8 hours, so plan ahead for when you know you’ll want to indulge in this tasty and refreshing drink.