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Naturally Sweetened Horchata (Dairy Free)

I almost titled this post “An Exceedingly Untraditional Approach to Horchata.” But I didn’t want you to scamper off.

Don’t scamper off.

Horchata is the drink of angels.

You guys, this recipe is super inauthentic, but super tasty.

Naturally Sweetened and Dairy Free Horchata

One of my all-time favorite meals back in my college days was a ginormous carne asada burrito and a huge glass of ice cold horchata. So I swapped out my eggnog with horchata, and lemme tell ya: I’d be up for making this a yearly tradition.

Making horchata is serious business. Like, it comes with this whole set of guidelines. The Mexican version is typically made with white rice, blanched almonds, sugar, cinnamon, milk or water, and sometimes lime juice.

The Spanish version is made with tigernuts, water, and sugar (sometimes sesame seeds or barley) The process is somewhat lengthy, but it’s worth every ounce of effort you put into it. Here are the basics  for Mexican-style horchata.

How to Make Traditional Mexican Horchata:

1.) Blanch some almonds.

2.) Soak uncooked rice and blanched almonds in water overnight

3.) Blend rice and blanched almonds with water or milk

4.) Add sugar or simple syrup

5.) Strain horchata through cheesecloth.

6.) Drink it all.

Optional: some people add lime juice or lime zest. I have never tried this, so I can’t speak to the flavor.

I feel very strongly about horchata; however, I try to limit my sugar and dairy intake. So I subtracted the milk and sugar and substituted in coconut milk and maple syrup. I also LOVE skipping steps, so I omitted the blanching-of-the-almonds, and simply added unsweetened almond milk. I know. Super lazy…super inauthentic. Girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

 Easy Naturally Sweetened Horchata - vegan and sugar-free

Replacing milk and sugar’s a cinch, but what about all the rice soaking? I mean, that puts a lot of distance between me and my final destination. One balmy evening, I needed horchata and I needed it RIGHT THEN.

I’m all about following the rules (not), but waiting an entire night to allow rice to soak was just not something I was prepared to do. So I cooked the rice. In straight up coconut milk. With a couple cinnamon sticks.

After the rice was cooked, I blended everything for about 1 minute in my Blendtec Blender. If you don’t have a super powerful blender, I would recommend blending the mixture for 2 to 3 minutes until the rice is very well pulverized.

After everything was pureed, I strained the liquid through a sieve (fine wire mesh strainer). You can also strain the horchata through cheesecloth. This is not a step I would recommend skipping. The straining really makes for a smooth and creamy texture, which is one of horchata’s finest characteristics.

If you’re looking for the true, authentic, badass way of making horchata at home, follow this awesome tutorial from on How to Make Authentic Horchata.

Enjoy the drink of angels!

Naturally Sweetened and Dairy Free Horchata

Easy Naturally Sweetened Horchata (Vegan)

Easy horchata made dairy-free and naturally sweetened is an incredibly creamy and delicious beverage!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
4 Servings


  • 1/3 cup uncooked long grain white rice, or 1 cup cooked
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 14-ounce can lite coconut milk
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup, or to taste


  • Add the uncooked rice, water, coconut milk, cinnamon sticks, and cinnamon to a medium-sized pot and bring to a full boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and allow the mixture to cook for 45 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
  • Discard the cinnamon sticks and add the rice mixture to a blender along with the remaining ingredients. Blend on high for 1 to 3 minutes until horchata is very smooth.
  • Strain horchata through a sieve (fine mesh strainer). Chill in the refrigerator until ready to drink!


Serving: 1of 4 - Calories: 174kcal - Carbohydrates: 22g - Protein: 1g - Fat: 9g - Fiber: 1g - Sugar: 19g
Course: Lifestyle
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: easy horchata, healthy horchata recipe, horchata, rice milk
Servings: 4 Servings
Calories: 174kcal
Author: Julia
Recipe Rating

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Wil Stevens

Tuesday 8th of October 2019

Well this was a huge crowd pleaser!

We tripled the recipe and it worked perfectly. I used maple syrup and left out the vanilla (just because I didn't have any) and it was still UNREAL!


Thursday 10th of October 2019

Yaaaay I'm so thrilled to hear it!! Thanks for letting me know! xo

Billy P

Friday 5th of August 2016

Really excited to try this tonight for the ceremonies. I made it this morning. We're planning on putting some coffee ice cubes in it and some bourbon. :) Happy Olympics!


Wednesday 18th of May 2016

So I stumbled upon this trying to find a recipe for dairy free horchata. My dad is on a dairy-free, sugar-free (as much as possible) diet for pain/ inflammation management. So, so glad I did. I love it with a shot of espresso, so this is something like a cream replacement for his coffee. Used brown rice, left totally unsweetened (made a simple syrup for my mom to add when she inevitable has a glass) and cooked it for a bit longer. Delish! Can't believe how close it tastes to the real thing.


Wednesday 25th of May 2016

Yeeees! I'm so happy you like the horchata, Jessica! I was pretty psyched when I learned I could cut down the prep time and still have a tasty bevvie. Thanks so much for the feedback :D

Em | the pig & quill

Monday 29th of December 2014

Uh, YUM! I shall forgive you insisting we do the whole straining part, because gritty horchata is shitty horchata (though I was secretly hoping you'd found a way around even that step, because I'm apparently The Laziest). Definitely liking the sound of this way better than nog for all appropriate holidays. :) Happy New Year! <3


Monday 29th of December 2014

Given my track record of remembering to soak anything the night before I want to cook with it (ahem chickpeas - I'm looking at you)...I LOVE THIS NO-SOAK METHOD. I feel like my beverage selection is about to get way more delicious.

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