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Authentic vegan horchata is a perfectly sweet, refreshing, comforting, and super creamy drink! With hints of vanilla and cinnamon, this delicious traditional Mexican beverage is made from rice and is so easy to make at home!
Vegan horchata is a tasty and unique alternative to traditional horchata. Unlike traditional horchata, which is made with cow’s milk and sugar, our plant based horchata is dairy-free, made with no refined sugar, and is much healthier — but tastes just like the traditional version!
Horchata, or “Orxata”, is typically made with homemade rice milk, regular milk (cow’s milk), evaporated or condensed milk, sugar, and spices. It’s often called “agua fresca” or “agua de horchata” because of its refreshing nature. While it is made with dairy milk, it’s easy to make this authentic horchata recipe vegan without losing the creamy texture it’s known for.
This quick horchata recipe with no milk is spiced with cinnamon and vanilla and slightly sweetened with maple syrup, giving it a warm and subtly sweet flavor. Lactose free horchata is the perfect way to satisfy your sweet tooth totally guilt free!
Horchata with almond milk still tastes amazingly refreshing, maybe even more so! This recipe is a breeze to make, uses simple ingredients, and takes just 15 minutes to prep. The finished result is a creamy, refreshing beverage that is perfect for sipping on a hot day, but is also makes for a delicious alcohol-free Christmas cocktail as well. It’s a versatile drink that’s great year round! Let’s get into how to make horchata at home the vegan way!
👩🏽🍳 Why This Recipe Works
- Healthy and simple to make
- Tastes just like traditional horchata
- Delicious and refreshing drink
- Vegan and gluten free friendly
- Low in sugar
- Easily customized
- Requires only a few, easy to find ingredients
- Best Mexican horchata recipe ever!
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This vegan horchata mix is a super simple recipe to put together with ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen! Keep scrolling to the bottom of the post to see the recipe card with a full ingredients list.
- Long Grain White Rice & Water: Long grain white rice will give you the most authentic rice milk horchata flavor, but you can use other types of rice. You can even use brown rice or basmati rice, but keep in mind that the type of rice you use will change the flavor some. You’ll use fresh water to soak the rice overnight to create your rice milk.
- Cinnamon Sticks & Ground Cinnamon: Cinnamon sticks will flavor your rice milk overnight as it soaks. Ground cinnamon is just used as a topping for your rice milk and cinnamon drink, so if the cinnamon sticks add enough flavor to the horchata rice milk for your tastes, you can skip this ingredient.
- Vanilla Extract: Vanilla extract adds depth to the flavor of this homemade horchata without condensed milk.
- Maple Syrup: Maple syrup is used to sweeten this almost milk horchata. It’s a healthier option than cane sugar or another type of sweetener. You can also use agave syrup.
- Unsweetened Almond Milk: Almond milk is the ingredient that makes this simple horchata recipe vegan. Almond milk horchata will have a slightly different flavor than a traditional Mexican horchata recipe, but it’s still so good!
🔪 How To Make Vegan Horchata
This vegan horchata recipe is so easy and delicious, you can have delicious horchata at home any time you want! Grab the details, nutritional information, and step-by-step instructions for how to make dairy free horchata from the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Pulverize Rice: Add the rice and water to a blender and blend until the rice has been broken up.
Soak Overnight: Transfer to a glass container along with the cinnamon sticks, cover, and soak overnight.
Strain Rice Mixture: The next day, place a fine mesh sieve over a large bowl. Pour the rice mixture into the strainer, reserving the rice milk in the bowl.
Discard Any Small Rice Pieces And Cinnamon Sticks. Keep the rice milk. Add all remaining ingredients, mix, and adjust sweetness to taste. You can even blend the ingredients again to ensure a super smooth drink that’s mixed well.
Serve: Pour over ice cubes into a tall glass, and sprinkle ground cinnamon on top. Serve this horchata almond milk drink cold!
💭 Expert Tips
- You might need to blend in two batches. Depending on the strength and size of your blender, you might need to break up the rice mixture into two batches to blend it really well.
- Use a high-powered blender to pulverize rice. If you don’t have a high powered blender and it’s struggling to break up the rice, you can soak the rice in warm water for 1-2 hours before blending.
- Don’t skip the straining process! There will be some rice bits left even after blending, so the straining process ensures a super smooth drink. If you don’t have a fine mesh strainer, you can also use a nut milk bag and squeeze out all of the rice milk. For a super smooth drink, strain the rice mixture twice, or blend again after combining with the rest of the ingredients.
- Serve cold for best results. Rice horchata is meant to be served cold and will taste much less refreshing at room temperature or warmer.
- For a sweeter drink, you can always add a little more maple syrup at the end if needed!
- For an even creamier nondairy horchata recipe, you can use oat milk or full fat coconut milk instead (just keep in mind that will increase the fat and calories in this drink!)
- To make horchata without a blender, use store bought rice milk instead of the homemade version, and soak overnight with the cinnamon sticks, and then follow the recipe from there!
- Oat Milk Horchata: You can really substitute any plant-based milk for this non dairy horchata recipe. Use coconut milk, oat milk, or rice milk for this DIY horchata.
- Horchata Without Rice: Spanish horchata is different from the typical Mexican horchata because it’s made with tiger nuts instead of rice milk. You would essentially create tiger nut milk by blending soaked tiger nuts with water instead of the rice and then follow the recipe above from there.
- Sugar Free Horchata: Make your horchata sugar free by using a sugar alternative like stevia or monk fruit. Be sure to add a small amount at a time since stevia is so much sweeter than maple syrup. You want your healthy horchata recipe without condensed milk to be a sweet drink but not extremely sweet.
- Brown Sugar Horchata: Deepen the flavor of horchata without milk by swapping the maple syrup out with brown sugar.
- Alcoholic Horchata: Spice up the traditional horchata recipe by adding 2-8 ounces of dark rum, tequila, or Kahlúa to this rice almond milk drink to make it an alcoholic beverage (you would add in the alcohol at the same time you added in the sweetener, and blend to combine). This is a perfect drink for the holidays like Cinco de Mayo or Christmas!
🍽 Serving Suggestions
Store any leftovers of this Mexican rice drink in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Make sure to stir or re-blend before serving. This recipe does not freeze well.
Traditionally no, horchata is not healthy as it’s a sweet milk drink that’s high in calories, sugar, and fat. But horchata can be made healthy, with just a few simple swaps! Our vegan horchata recipe is a much healthier option, as it is lower in calories, has less added sugar (only 5 grams per serving) and no refined sugar, and has less saturated fat since we’re using a plant based milk!
Horchata is not typically vegan, as it’s made with cow’s milk. But this horchata vegan recipe is made with plant milk instead of traditional cow’s milk — so it’s totally friendly for a plant based diet!
Vegan horchata is made of homemade rice milk, cinnamon, nuts, and a healthier sweetener than sugar, such as maple syrup.
Authentic Mexican recipes for horchata do have dairy, but creamy vegan horchata is made with a milk substitute like almond milk, oat, or coconut milk.
Yes, there is typically regular cow’s milk and sometimes also condensed milk or evaporated milk for a creamier texture.
Yes, horchata is naturally gluten-free. This creamy horchata recipe is made with rice and milk, two ingredients that naturally do not contain gluten. If you buy store-bought horchata, you might want to check the label, just in case!
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- Vegan Coquito
Love this vegan recipe? Please leave a 5-star rating 🌟 in the recipe below and/or a review in the comments section further down the page!
📋 Recipe Card
🎥 Watch How to Make It
- Add the rice and water to a blender and blend until the rice has been broken up.
- Transfer to a glass container along with the cinnamon sticks, cover and soak overnight.
- The next day place a fine mesh sieve over a bowl. Pour the rice mixture into the strainer, reserving the rice milk in the bowl.
- Discard the rice pieces and cinnamon sticks. Keep the rice milk.
- Add all remaining ingredients to the bowl, mix and adjust sweetness to taste.
- Serve immediately! Pour over ice and sprinkle ground cinnamon on top.
- Blending the rice and water may need to be done in 2 batches depending on the size and strength of the blender.
- If the blender that you are using isn’t very powerful and if it struggles to break up the rice you could bring the water to a boil and pour it over the rice instead, allowing it to cool completely before placing in the fridge to soak overnight.
- Once the rice has soaked overnight it will need to be strained to extract the rice milk, this can be done by straining through a fine mesh sieve or placing the soaked rice and water in a nut bag and squeezing out all of the milk.
- Adjust the sweetness to taste by adding additional maple syrup if desired.
- Stir leftover horchata before serving.
- Any plant based milk will work for this recipe.
- Store left over vegan horchata in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days.