This Dairy-Free Horchata Has a Matcha Mix-In

The ingredients for horchata vary depending on the particular recipe’s country of origin. For example, in Mexico and many parts of Latin America, horchata is made from white rice, almonds, sugar and cinnamon (sometimes with milk added). In Spain, it’s made from tiger nuts, also known as chufas (a dried root vegetable that is gaining popularity here in the United States). In Puerto Rico, sesame seeds and sweetened condensed milk form the basis for the drink.

No matter how you make your own horchata, when served chilled, it’s a refreshing beverage for any time of day. Being the whole-food enthusiast that I am, I like to make horchata with brown rice instead of white rice, and with pure maple syrup in place of white sugar. I also soak the raw almonds overnight to increase their nutritional value. Thanks to the nuts, this horchata is rich and creamy without the addition of dairy milk. Although it’s irresistible plain, it can be fun to add in some of your favorite flavors. Blending in fresh fruits or berries is a great way to turn this otherwise light drink into a more substantial snack.

Vegan Horchata

After blending the rice-and-almond mixture, you will need to strain out the remaining pulp. You can do this with several layers of cheesecloth, a thin cotton kitchen towel or a nut-milk bag if you have one.

Makes 5 cups

1 1/2 cups whole raw almonds

1 cup raw long-grain brown rice

5 cups water, plus more to soak

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Soak almonds and rice in plenty of water for 12 to 24 hours.

Line medium strainer with several layers of cheesecloth or a thin kitchen towel and place over a medium bowl; set aside. Drain and rinse rice and almonds, and transfer to an upright blender. Add 5 cups water and blend on highest speed until smooth. Pour mixture through lined strainer into bowl, gather the corners of the cloth and gently squeeze out all the liquid; discard pulp. Return almond-rice mixture to blender, add maple syrup and vanilla, and blend until combined. Pour into a jar and store in the fridge for up to 5 days. Serve chilled.

Classic Horchata

When blending in maple syrup and vanilla, add 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Serve chilled with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top.

Matcha Horchata

Add 1 teaspoon matcha powder for every cup of horchata. Blend until smooth, and serve chilled.

Strawberry Horchata

Add 1 cup hulled strawberries for every cup horchata. Blend until smooth, and serve chilled.

Amy Chaplin is a chef and recipe developer based in New York City. She is the author of the award winning cookbook At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen. See more of Amy’s recipes at

Photo: Stephen Johnson

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