Mexican Dairy-Free Horchata

Mexican Dairy-Free Horchata
It's easy to make the incorrect assumption that dairy-free "milks" have only been around for a decade or two.  It wasn't until just a few years ago that mainstream grocers began stocking more than just soymilk. Yet, Latin America has long been aware of the wonderful "milk" that can easily be produced from plants. The most popular version is a naturally dairy-free Mexican Horchata. Here in the U.S. horchata is, more often than not, made with dairy milk.  But traditionally, ground up rice was the base for this creamy concoction.  You can still find the rice-based version at some Mexican eateries and grocers, but why waste your time hunting around ... when an inexpensive homemade version of dairy-free horchata is just a whirl away? I like Gail Gand's version of horchata, which uses an infusion of both almonds and rice for a more full bodied beverage ... This recipe was altered from Gail Gand’s recipe.
Serves: roughly 1 quart
  • ½ cup basmati or long grain white rice
  • 1 cup blanched, peeled almonds*
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • 4 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ – ⅓ cup white granulated sugar, honey, or agave nectar
  • 4 Lime wedges (optional)
  1. Grind the rice into as fine powder a powder as you can manage using a coffee/spice grinder. Place the ground rice, almonds, and cinnamon stick into a large bowl, pour 2 cups of hot water over top, cover, and leave overnight to soak.
  2. The next day, place the rice mixture in your blender, and blend on high until the mixture is as smooth as possible. Add the remaining 2 cups of water, vanilla, and sugar to taste, and give it another quick blend. Strain the horchata through a fine mesh strainer first, then through a double layer of cheesecloth or nylon. Squeeze the material to extract as much of the liquid as possible. If the mixture is still a bit too thick for your liking, feel free to blend in a bit more water.
  3. Serve over ice and garnish each glass with a lime wedge, if desired.
I avoid the task of blanching and peeling almonds by simply purchasing almond slivers, which are already skinless. If you simply don’t have time or the ingredients, use whole raw almonds.

About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Senior Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

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