Horchata! In recent news, this cinnamony rice-based drink was named the world’s most refreshing beverage… by me. I always used to love cold horchata during these hot summer months, that is, until I switched to a plant-based diet and store-bought versions of this drink (which all contain dairy) went out the window. Thus, I crafted a healthy, plant-based version of this refreshing beverage that is equal parts creamy and delicious. And you can actually feel good about drinking it.
In typical One Ingredient fashion, we’re removing most of the sugar and processed ingredients and making a few unique substitutions. This horchata recipe is endlessly creamy, but there’s no dairy. Instead, we’re using soaked cashews (see How to Make Cashew Milk). Also, that 1/2 cup of white sugar in most horchata recipes will be replaced with a handful of medjool dates, which add a nice caramely sweetness. Oh yes.
Makes about 4 cups
- 1/3 cup uncooked white rice
- 1/4 cup raw cashews
- 3 cups water
- 1+ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 5 medjool dates (and/or other sweetener)
Soak the cashews and rice (virtually any kind of white rice will work here) together in several inches of water for 2-6 hours. This will allow both ingredients to soften and become easier to blend. The easier they blend, the more flavor they will impart.
Once the rice & cashews are softened, drain the soaking water and combine them in a blender with all the other ingredients – water, vanilla, cinnamon, and dates (pitted!). With dates alone, this drink won’t be too terribly sweet. If you’d like more sweetness, feel free to add a little natural sugar. More “natural” sweeteners like maple syrup or sucanat are not only healthier but add a nice rustic taste here that works extremely well with the spices. With all the ingredients in the blender, blend on high for 2 minutes to fully puree all the solid ingredients. A Vitamix is super helpful here, but any decent blender should get the job done.
Strain. No matter how good your blender, there will still be grainy particles (mostly rice) in the liquid. Strain this off using a cheesecloth, nut milk bag, or even a paint filter bag that can be found for $2 at a hardware store (for more on these straining options, see my How to Make THICK Almond Milk post).
The beverage is finished at this point, but is best served chilled. To do that, pour the strained liquid into a mason jar, seal, and refrigerate for several hours before serving.
Other Serving Ideas
Your horchata journey is just getting started. I made a giant batch of this last weekend and kept coming up with so many exciting ways to enjoy it. While drinking horchata by itself never gets old, here’s a few other interesting ideas:
Horchata Popsicles – Frozen Horchata is incredible. To make this dead-simple frozen treat, pour the beverage into popsicle molds and allow to freeze.
Horchata Ice Cream – Similarly, freeze the drink in ice cube trays (or break up some of the aforementioned popsicles) and blend with just a little of the unfrozen liquid to create a creamy soft-serve dessert that tastes just like frozen rice pudding.
Horchata Latte – Oh yes, we’re going there. The easiest way to make this is by warming 1 cup of the horchata in a saucepan and adding 1 packet of Starbucks Via instant coffee. Via is actually quite good and by putting a whole packet right into the horchata, it substitutes the espresso in a latte for the perfect balance of coffee flavor. It might not get you into as much trouble as a Cookie Butter Latte, but it is highly addictive – you’ve been warned. ??