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This Easy Vegan Horchata is our favorite homemade horchata recipe! It’s naturally sweetened with dates, made creamy with rice milk and almond milk, and requires just 25 minutes of prep. You won’t miss the dairy milk!
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Is horchata originally dairy-free?
It depends on the region! This horchata is inspired by the Mexican version most popular in the United States, but horchata became popular in southern Spain. The Spanish version is made a creamy texture using chufas or tiger nuts and is typically made creamy without any dairy.
The Mexican version of horchata is typically made creamy using dairy products such as condensed milk, evaporated milk, or whole milk, but it’s not uncommon for traditional versions to be made plant-based with almond milk in place of cow’s milk.
If you’ve never tried a dairy-free horchata, we think you’re going to love this vegan horchata and won’t miss the milk at all! It’s the perfect sweet treat for a hot summer day, enjoying during the holiday season, or sipping year-round alongside your favorite authentic Mexican recipes like our Vegan Mexican Sweet Bread!
Ingredients You’ll Need
- White rice: Authentic horchata is typically made with long-grain white rice. Once soaked, it becomes smooth, and creamy, and is easy to blend into homemade rice milk. If you’re out of white rice, Arborio rice is another common choice, though we haven’t personally tried it ourselves.
- Cinnamon sticks: For the best flavor and hint of cinnamon, we recommend using both whole cinnamon sticks and ground cinnamon. If you only have whole cinnamon sticks, follow this simple tutorial to learn How to Make Ground Cinnamon from Cinnamon Sticks.
- Medjool dates: We wanted this homemade horchata to not only be made vegan but refined-sugar-free, too. We typically make ours with 1/2 cup of packed, pitted dates, but if you prefer a sweeter horchata use up to 3/4 cup.
- Unsweetened almond milk: We used our Homemade Almond Milk (made without the added dates), but any plant-based milk of choice will work great here. If you prefer your homemade vegan horchata extra rich and creamy, use coconut milk or oat milk.
- Vanilla: While optional, a splash of pure vanilla extract adds additional sweetness, depth of flavor and enhances the flavor of cinnamon. Fresh vanilla paste would be amazing, too!
- High-speed blender
- Strainer or nut milk bag
- Airtight glass container (for storing)
How to Make Vegan Horchata
- Soak the rice. In a large blender, add the rice, cinnamon sticks, pitted dates, and cover with 4 cups water. Allow the mixture to sit for 6-8 hours, or overnight.
- Blend until smooth. After 6-8 hours of rice soaking, add the remaining 2 cups of water and blend for 2 minutes, or until completely smooth.
- Strain. Pour the sweet Mexican rice milk through a fine mesh sieve, strainer, or nut milk bag. Strain the vegan horchata as best you can. If using a nut milk bag, we recommend keeping a tight grip on the top of the bag to prevent any liquid or pulp from coming out the top off the bag.
- Blend with almond milk. Once the vegan horchata mixture is sufficiently strained, discard or set aside the remaining pulp and place the smooth, creamy mixture back into the blender. Add the almond milk, salt, and vanilla and blend until well combined.
- Serve. This Mexican horchata recipe can be served immediately over ice in a tall glass or mug, or transfer the horchata to an airtight container and chill in the refrigerator until cold. Enjoy!
A typical Mexican horchata is served over ice with a sprinkle of cinnamon and additional cinnamon sticks for garnish. It’s a versatile drink that can be served for breakfast or dessert and pairs well with several of our vegan recipes. Here are a few of our personal favorites for serving this sweet beverage:
- Vegan Day of the Dead Bread
- Mini Baked Pumpkin Churros
- Vegan Tres Leches Cake
- Serve alone dolloped with our Vegan Coconut Whipped Cream
It depends on the recipe. Most traditional horchata recipes call for a lot of cane sugar to sweeten the creamy beverage. This version, however, is sweetened with Medjool dates and is much better for you. If you’re looking for a healthy, homemade, vegan horchata, this is the best recipe to try!
Yes! To make a boozy horchata add 1-2 ounces of liquor per cup of horchata. Rum, vodka, Blanco tequila, or vegan coffee liqueur are all delicious choices.
While we prefer using a high-speed blender, the rice milk mixture can be blended in a large cup food processor until smooth. Be careful to not overfill the food processor with liquid – most food processors have a max fill line for liquids.
Great question! The leftover rice pulp from the vegan horchata can be discarded and composted or made into a delicious creamy rice pudding. To make vegan rice pudding, add about 1 cup of the rice pulp to a small pot. Add in 1 cup of almond milk or another plant milk and stir well to combine. Cook over medium-low heat until the mixture becomes rich and creamy. Enjoy immediately while warm with additional cinnamon to taste.
If you love homemade pudding recipes, you have to try our Filipino Champorado (Tsampurado) recipe next.
This vegan horchata will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge. For best results, store in an airtight container such as a tall mason jar or sealable pitcher.
Leftover horchata can also be frozen. To freeze, pour the horchata into an ice tray or freeze directly in a wide-mouth mason jar. If freezing in a jar, keep the liquid below the “freezer” line. Freeze for up to 3 months, then thaw completely in the refrigerator. Before enjoying again, blend again until smooth and well combined.
More Mexican-Inspired vegan Recipes You May Enjoy:
- Vegan Pozole Rojo (Mexican Hominy Stew) – a hearty and comforting soup jam-packed with flavor and topped with tons of fresh, delicious toppings.
- Vegan Huevos Rancheros – a vegan version of the classic dish loaded with refried beans, vegan cheese, and tofu scramble.
- The Best Vegan Conchas – the only sweet Mexican bread recipe you’ll ever need!
- Vegan Carne Asada – our plant-based take on the classic carne asada. Perfect for tacos, burritos, quesadillas, tortas, and more.
- How to Make Vegan Tamales – one of our most popular recipes for a reason! Enjoy these classic tamales or try our Oil-Free Version!
- Vegan Chilaquiles Rojos – award-winning vegan chilaquiles baked in a red chilaquiles sauce until soft and delicious.
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