Horchata is delicious and worthy of your 4th of July BBQ.

If you’re like me and reside in the good ol’ U S of A, you know our Independence Day is right around the corner. That means that right about now, you need to start freaking out about what to serve your guests at your barbecue/cookout. The answer is always burgers, hot dogs and chicken. Keep it cheap and classic, right? But hold on: what about drinks?

Well, that should be at least one cooler full of beer - a light lager and an IPA - and a few bottles of wine (white and rose, ideally) on ice. But what’s going to set your ‘cue apart? What’s going to make people remember that time they were at that place, and the thing happened? It has to be something different, something to set you apart from the norm, and not a Moscow Mule.


Horchata is unlike anything you’ve previously experienced. Layman’s terms? It’s a sweet rice milk smoothie. But oh, so much more than just that. Cinnamon, clove, vanilla and just enough salt to bring it all out to the party.

Google lists 419,000 results for “Horchata recipe”. I’m telling you simply, honestly and kindly, that the best one I’ve found was in the comments section of another. And here it is.

I live in Mexico and make horchata 3 times a week for our restaurant. I never put almonds but I might try that some time. I just wanted to let you know that it’s really so much easier than you’re making it. I let the rice set for at least 3 hours to get soft and then blend it until it’s completely smooth and there are no rice pieces. Sometimes this takes 10 minutes (it depends on how long it has soaked). There is no need to strain it if you blend it right because it should essentially become rice flour in water and that’s what gives it the right texture. You should also try it with a tiny bit of vanilla and cloves, and regular sugar should dissolve just fine. WITHOUT SALT, THIS DRINK IS SO BLAND! I have made it without milk and it is nowhere near as good. I use evaporated because it keeps longer, but for us I always use fresh whole milk and it’s delicious.

1.5 cups rice

3 tsp ground cinnamon

pinch ground cloves

1.5 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp salt

1 can evaporated milk

.5 can sweetened condensed milk

2.5 cups sugar

enough water to make 7 liters of horchata

This does settle, of course, but that’s what horchata does, so just stir before drinking!


There are many, many variations on this, and you’ll have to try them all for yourself to find a favorite. Aaron Sanchez of Food Network has a quick and tasty recipe too, and is a bit less intense on ingredients (but also makes a lot less). Whatever you do, a splash of 40% ABV coconut rum will make it even better.

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