Agua de Horchata, also known as rice water, is a creamy, sweet, and refreshing summer drink well known all over Latin America and Spain. This version is an easy version of Mexican Agua de Horchata that is served in any Mexican restaurant together with Agua de Jamaica.
What is Horchata?
Agua de Horchata (pronounced or-CHAH-tah) is just one of many refreshing drinks known as “aguas frescas“.
This milky-looking drink starts with a base of rice and sometimes ground nuts or seeds. The ingredients are mixed with water, spices (usually cinnamon), and a sweetener, then steeped and served over ice.
Every country adds its own special twist to this recipe so no horchata tastes exactly like the other. I’m taking it even one step further and adding maple syrup as a sweetener which is not at all traditional but so so yummy!
Ingredients And Substitutions
- Rice — any type of white rice will work. Jasmine, Basmati, short grain, long grain. My personal favorite is Jasmine rice.
- Cinnamon — whole sticks are great but ground cinnamon works perfectly fine as well.
- Sweetener — traditionally white sugar or piloncillo is added to Agua de Horchata but I personally love maple syrup the best for this. You can also use brown sugar. I do not recommend honey as it will cover the flavor of the cinnamon too much.
- Vanilla — vanilla is optional but so so delicious in this rice water!
- Other Milk — you can use any type of nut or seed milk, coconut milk, or regular dairy milk.
- Water — use filtered water so the Agua de Horchata stays fresh longer.
How To Make Agua de Horchata
- Rice & Cinnamon — add 1 cup rice and 2 sticks of cinnamon to a blender. A high-speed blender works best but you can also make it in a regular blender. You’ll simply have to blend a little longer.
- Add water — add 4 cups of water to the rice and cinnamon.
- Blend — blend for at least 2 minutes with a high speed blender or 4-5 minutes with a regular blender until the cinnamon sticks are completely crushed and the rice and water well combined. Then place the jug in the refrigerator and let steep for 2-12 hours.
- Add Milk — add the blender’s jug back on the motor and add 2 cups of any type of other milk to it.
- Sweeten — add 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup of sweetener of your choice. Traditional Mexican Agua de Horchata often has up to 1 cup of white sugar in it which makes it incredibly sweet. I prefer the subtle sweetness of 1/3 cup maple syrup. Remember, you can always add more later if you like.
- Add Vanilla — add vanilla if you like.
- Blend and Strain — give everything a quick blend again to make sure the sweetener is well distributed then pour the rice water over a strainer into a jug to remove most of the rice pulp.
- Nut milk bag – use a nut milk bag to make the Agua de Horchata pulp-free if you like.
- Serve — serve over ice, add a cinnamon stick to the glass for decoration and/or sprinkle with a little ground cinnamon.
You can keep Agua de Horchata at room temperature with ice cubes in it for a couple of hours but then it should be refrigerated, preferably in an air-tight container.
It will keep well in the fridge for about a week. If you notice any separation, you can simply stir or blend the ingredients again to recombine them.
You can also freeze this rice water and to defrost simply place in the refrigerator over night and give a quick whisk before serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
The answer to this question is possibly; it depends on the sweetener you use. My recipe calls for maple syrup as the sweetener and quite a bit less than traditional Aguas which is a healthier option. You can use any type of sweetener you like, though.
It only takes a few minutes of processing the ingredients in a blender. After that, the rice needs to release its starch into the water, which can take several hours but requires 0 work from your side.
Agua de Horchata
- 1 cup uncooked white rice
- 4 cups water
- 2 cup milk of choice - (cow’s, almond, even coconut but coconut will change the flavor much more)
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ice cubes
- Add rice, cinnamon sticks, and water to a blender and blend for several minutes until no more whole grain of rice can be spotted.
- Let steep in the refrigerator for 2-12 hours. The longer the creamier your horchata will end up being.
- Add second milk, vanilla, and maple syrup and give it a quick blend to mix well.
- Strain the milk through a sieve and/or nut-milk bag to remove most or all of the pulp.
- Serve over ice and sprinkle with a little ground cinnamon if you like.