In the Southwest, horchata is sold in convenience stores right alongside Coca-a-Cola. It’s sold in strip malls, Mexican taquerias and even makes a regular appearance at simple family gatherings. But I must admit, growing up in the Northeast, I was too long sheltered from the taste of this sweet, cinnamon-laden Mexican rice milk.

I now order the creamy, cinnamon bespeckled beverage every chance I get, and rarely have I had a Northern friend in my presence who has tried it before. I encourage them to take a taste, and they are instantly hooked.

Here’s my recipe for homemade horchata because sometimes in the Northeast, it’s just too long before you can find the good stuff.

Double (or triple!) the recipe, and serve this up at your Cinco de Mayo feast for a taste of authenticity.


Serves 6


  • 1 1/3 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 cups water, divided evenly in 2
  • 2 cups milk (I like 2% for this)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup sugar, to taste


  1. To a blender, add rice, 2 cups of water, and 2 cinnamon sticks. Blend for 2 minutes or until the rice and cinnamon sticks are ground roughly. Pour in the remaining water and blend again. Leave contents in a pitcher with lid or a sealed container and let rest on your countertop overnight (or for at least 5 hours).
  2. Pour the rice mixture through a cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer and into a pitcher. Toss any rice or cinnamon stick solids. Stir in milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and sugar (do a taste test before adding the maximum amount of sugar). Chill. Stir well before serving over ice. Garnish with cinnamon stick.

Adapted from All Recipes



  • 2 cups horchata
  • 2 shots vodka
  • Sugar cinnamon mixture (for dipping glass rim)


  1. Put ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously.
  2. Put sugar and cinnamon in a shallow dish. Wet rim of glass and dip into mixture.
  3. Strain liquid into glass.
  4. Happy Cinco celebration!





Meghan is a full-time writer exploring the fun facts behind food. She lives a healthy lifestyle but lives for breakfast, dessert and anything with marinara. She’s thrown away just as many meals as she’s proud of.