Horchata main


We could all use a little Horchata…

No matter how hard we tried we just couldn’t stay dry.

A single step out of the plane and it all seemed part of a magical realism novel from Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez. In that hot, humid and tropical pueblo, every move was slowed down in a permanent mist, which made my clothes feel damp. Under the open sunny sky, that mist was shiny and full of light as it transformed the colors from the exotic overgrown plants, colorful houses and small streets. There were cute little insects, bees and hummingbirds moving all around. Wide chubby trees offered some shade, as people walked by with no hurry, wearing earth colored hats.

And everything, absolutely everything, was infused with the lusciously sweet aroma of vanilla.

No. I don’t do drugs.

This is a true description of a small town in the region of Totonacapan in the state of Veracruz, where vanilla originated and is still heavily grown. Also where my husband and I were invited to a wedding, more than a decade ago. And it was in that small pueblo, where I tasted the best horchata I have ever tried.

Granted, memory has its ways of doing its own little thing. And granted, I was much younger and a complete newlywed, so probably more melodramatic. But I would bet this sweet, comforting, silky and refreshing horchata my hand is holding, that if I were there today my description would be just the same.

One could say I got lucky recently at a cooking demonstration and dinner for the Smithsonian. In small part by meticulous planning and in large part by chance, everyone there must have felt transported to Veracruz. Here’s why:

Son de Madera had just performed Son Jarocho music. The entire Mexican Cultural Institute was infused with the aroma of the vanilla beans and extract we had been cooking with all day, which was shipped from a company in that region to create the vanilla inspired menu. An unforeseen thunderstorm had left behind a wet ambiance. And to top it all off, in that hot summer evening, a couple air conditioning units decided to contribute to the programs’ authenticity and take a brake.

Horchata 1(Members from Son de Madera, getting ready for an outstanding performance)

As the 100 audience members listened to my description of the steamy pueblo, I kept wiping my forehead dry. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud in amazement: Indeed! It was tropical, hot and humid. All we were missing were the cute little insects, bees and hummingbirds.

It was a good thing that aside from wine and peanut Toritos, an original aperitif, we had big glass barrels filled with this cold homemade horchata. People could drink as much of it as their hearts pleased.

As it gets hotter as the summer advances, and we are not even near August, I am sharing the recipe with you too… It is very easy to make.

There are many versions of horchatas in Mexico. Some have a base of white rice while others use cantaloupe seeds. I prefer the former. But rice horchatas can be made in many ways. Some add condensed and/or evaporated milk. I add milk, which is more traditional, as well as vanilla extract and true cinnamon. And rather than grinding the rice first, I like to soak it for a couple hours before it is pureed and strained. It seems easier, and somehow, has more flavor.

(Rice and cinnamon soaking in warm water, getting ready for an outstanding performance too!)

But the special spin of this horchata, which is not that common and makes it go from delicious to you can’t have anymore because I am finishing it all up, is coconut water. It makes it thirst quenching and energizing, as it brings you a couple steps closer to those tropical pueblos. Plus, it adds a soft layer of thickness without making it heavy.

There is always a shortcut to most things in the kitchen… If you don’t want to make horchata from scratch, you can find horchata concentrate in many stores or online. Just add coconut water as you mix the concentrate with water and/or milk. But if you have a bit of extra time to spare, try making it from scratch. I am sure you will enjoy it.

Horchata with Coconut Water, Cinnamon and Vanilla


Recipe Yield

6 glasses

Cooking time

2 hours 12 minutes

Rate this recipe

4.67 from 3 votes


  • 2 cups long or extra long white rice
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1 cinnamon stick (Ceylon or true cinnamon, if you can)
  • 2 cups coconut water can be fresh or canned
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • Ground cinnamon to sprinkle on top optional

To Prepare

  • Place the rice in a bowl, cover with hot water. Roughly crumble cinnamon piece into the rice mix and let it all sit and rest anywhere from 2 to 8 hours outside of the refrigerator.
  • Place half of the rice mixture in the blender with the coconut water and vanilla and blend until smooth, strain into a pitcher or container. Place the other half of the rice mixture in the blender with the milk and the sugar, pure until smooth and strain into the same pitcher or container.
  • Stir well and serve over ice cubes, or place in the refrigerator until it is cold. Serve with more ice cubes to your liking and sprinkle some ground cinnamon on top if you wish to do so.


39comments inWe could all use a little Horchata…

  1. Anonymous

    Sep 03

    Eh estado buscando una receta para Horchata con coco! Mil gracias! Creo que voy a atentar moler poquito coco fresco también para extra sabor de coco!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Sep 05

      Mmmm, si! Que rico, que disfrutes la Horchata 😉

  2. Anonymous

    Jan 01

    Hi Pati, is this the same as atole de arroz when it is not blended?

    1. Pati

      Jan 08

      ​No, it is a different recipe…​

  3. Raja

    Mar 21

    If you do not have a Ceylon stick, could you use powder instead? If so, how much would you use? I do not have easy access to true cinnamon where I live, and it’s not cheap online. I don’t want to use the cassia, which is all that’s available here. I do however, have true Ceylon powder. I had to order this online as well, but I use powder for all my baking and I do so a lot.

    1. Pati

      Mar 23

      I would recommend one teaspoon of the powder but taste as you go and adjust to your own taste.

  4. Lee wei

    Sep 28

    Can I use rice flour to substitute rice?

    1. Pati

      Sep 28

      Yes you can…

  5. Shauna Fischer

    Jul 20

    Question about milk substitution. Can I use a coconut milk or soy milk and then just use plain water? Daughter is allergic and this is one of our favorite drinks.

    1. Pati

      Jul 23

      Hi Shauna, Yes! You can substitute coconut milk or soy milk, whichever you prefer…

  6. Cary

    Jul 09

    Hi Pati!
    I followed the recipe but my final product was grainy /: is this for not adding enough liquid after blending, or could it be the strainer?
    Thanks for your help!

    1. Pati

      Jul 09

      It could be either the strainer, or the blender, or need to add more liquid… or all of the above!

  7. Linda

    Oct 19

    Hi Pati,
    I enjoy your show so much, looking forward so much to making my favorite, horchata! When I looked for coconut water, it comes sweetened or unsweetened, can you please tell me which one do you use?

    1. Pati

      Oct 22

      Hola Linda, So happy you are making horchata! I use unsweetened coconut water.

  8. Sara

    Sep 19

    Pati….I adore horchata and your recipe is outstanding. I love to add a cup of dried unsweetened coconut to the water along with the rice as it soaks. The end result is one creamy, dreamy silky beverage. Turn it into an adult beverage with a bit of tequila, spiced rum or vodka. I have even turned it into a probiotic laden orchards by blending in Tibicos water. Delicious any way you make it.

    1. Pati

      Sep 19

      Sara, I agree!! Thank you for sharing your additions.

  9. Raquel Campos

    Apr 18

    Hi Pati,

    I just made this Horchata water and can i say OMG! It is so good. I didnt have coconut water on hand so i used regular water and it came out so delicious. Even my husband liked it. Thanks for sharing this recipe with us.

    1. Pati

      Apr 20

      My pleasure, Raquel.

  10. Marsha

    Apr 17

    Can I substitute a non-dairy milk like rice or almond or maybe coconut milk?

    1. Pati

      Apr 20

      Of course you can!

  11. Estebandera

    Apr 16

    You mentioned that it was possible to substitute cantaloupe seeds for the rice. Could I use pepitas instead?
    Thanks for all your great recipes and your great show.
    As a 64 year old man, for the first time in my life I’m enjoying cooking something more than eggs and potatoes!

    1. Pati

      Apr 20

      I am very happy to hear that you are cooking more than eggs and potatoes! Yes, you can try it with pepitas (unsalted and raw) and see how you like it.

  12. shannon

    Jun 30

    Hi Pati, I love your website and learning so much about true mexican cooking! In my grocery store, there is coconut juice. Is this coconut milk or coconut water- or something completely different?

    Thank you, Shannon

    1. Pati

      Jun 30

      Hola Shannon!
      I am thinking it is probably coconut water….
      Thanks for your message!

  13. tiffany

    May 16

    Want Mexican rice drnk

  14. Elisabeth

    May 05

    I accidentally used coconut milk instead of the water and came out with horchata that tastes just like my favorite local mexican restaurants. This hits the spot, I’ve actually made it several times. I have to make it again for a cinco de mayo party and am gonna cheat a little and buy rice milk. I hope it turns out just as well. Thanks for the best horchata recipe ever. (and believe me when I say I have tried many)

    1. Pati

      May 06

      Elisabeth, I’m so happy you are making this recipe! Let me know how it goes with the rice milk!!

  15. Mary

    Mar 10

    This was a great recipe and it was very timely. I’m 8 months pregnant and I have been craving horchata for months! As always the photos and the story that accompanied the recipe was a pleasure to read. It really added to my experience; I’m in Minnesota in the middle of winter and I needed a little tropical break — even if it was only reading about one! Thank you!

  16. Jennifer

    Oct 22

    I just googled Totonacapan and saw how close it is to Tecolutla, where my husband and I are planning on taking his family next summer. After reading your story, I’m going to make sure we stop there in search of horchata!

  17. Griz

    Aug 08

    Hi Pati I love your cooking show you made it pretty simple to follow and the food is delicious! I had a question about the horchata recipe, if I can substitute the coconut water?

  18. Michael Cerda

    Jun 22

    Hi Pati,
    I’m really liking what I see with your site so far. I landed here while trying to find a decent sounding horchata recipe, and this one sounds awesome, but I had a (rookie?) question: When you blend “half of the rice mixture”, are you also referring to the water it was sitting in?

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jun 28

      Yes Michael! You do want to use the water that the rice is soaking in too, I just say to blend half of the mixture because you won’t be able to fit all of it into your blender together!

  19. gladys

    Apr 25

    HI,I just put on your show for the fist time today, I love it. I am Spanish and love the way you cook. Please, can you tell me what was the music playing through out the show, on April 25. I would love to own it. Keep up the good work.
    Thank You

    1. Pati Jinich

      May 13

      Hi Gladys,
      Here is a link to where you can download the music from the show:
      The intro song is called “Dame” and it’s by Domingo Siete. I just love it too!

  20. Marissa

    Apr 23

    Thank you for posting this recipe. I absolutely love horchata and have been looking for a good recipe. I plan on trying this in the summer as it is very refreshing in the hotter climates. I am not too much of a fan of the mixes and powders that I buy in stores as I find that the result is a very grainy horchata. This looks great and I bet the coconut water, vanilla, and use of rice will make it just so sweet!
    Looking forward to trying this.

  21. Ana Lucia Atkinson

    Mar 15

    Can you substitute coconut milk instead of coconut water?

    1. Pati Jinich

      Mar 15

      Hi Ana Lucia,
      You get two different, yet tasty, results as they are different products/ingredients. If you use coconut milk, add at least another cup of water to the mix, since it is much thicker. But it will be delicious as well. If you can find coconut water, it is a bit more light and refreshing… Whichever one you make, enjoy!

  22. Vered

    Jul 10

    Pati, that’s beautiful!
    What company would you recommend to buy vanilla from?

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jul 10

      Thank you! Of course I am biased towards Mexican Vanilla. The one I used for the Smithsonian class comes from the Vanilla region in Mexico, from a local company called Gaya. It is grown and processed with centuries old methods and traditions. When I opened up the bag they sent with vanilla beans, I felt butterflies fly in my stomach! Absolutely amazing. Here is their link http://vanillamexico.com/vainillagayain.html

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.