Healthier Mexican Horchata

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This Healthier Mexican Horchata recipe takes all the flavor from a regular horchata but makes it refined-sugar-free. This classic Mexican beverage is quick and easy to make with rice, milk, almonds, and cinnamon – you just need to allow time for the rice to soak. Horchata is the perfect drink to sip on with your Mexican food!

A glass of horchata on a wooden board. Text overlay says"Healthier Mexican Horchata". Similar photos of the recipe from various angles are used throughout but with different text overlays unless otherwise described.

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Healthier Mexican Horchata

The full ingredients list and instructions are found in the printable recipe card at the end of this post. I highly recommend reading the blog post all the way through so that you don’t miss any tips or substitution suggestions; to ensure that you have all the ingredients and equipment required, and to understand the steps and timings involved.

If you’re looking for a non-alcoholic drink to enjoy with your Mexican or Tex-Mex food, you should try a glass of horchata.

Horchata is a name given to various kinds of plant milk beverages of similar taste and appearance. It originated at least as far back as 13th-century Valencia, where it is known as orxata de xufa. In Spain it is made with soaked, ground, and sweetened tiger nuts, but in Mexico and other parts of the Americas, the base is white rice. In West African countries such as Nigeria and Mali, it is known as kunnu aya. Different varieties can be served hot or cold, and it is even used as a flavor in other beverages, such as frappé coffee.


Traditional horchata recipes are often incredibly sweet. In fact, many recipes call for more white sugar than rice. This less sweet, healthier version skips the white sugar completely and relies on the natural sweetness of Medjool dates and honey instead.

To make horchata, you need to soak the rice in advance – up to 8 hours. So make sure you allow time for this process!

raw rice and cinnamon sticks

Ingredients & Equipment Used In This Recipe

While most ingredients can be bought in grocery stores, for your convenience, any specialized or notable ingredients (and equipment) needed for this recipe have been listed below and linked to Amazon or other stores if available online. The complete list of ingredients with measurements is found in the recipe card.

Recipes on The Purple Pumpkin Blog use both cup measurements and/or weighted measurements. American cups and kitchen food scales are handy pieces of equipment to have in your kitchen as it means you’ll be able to make all of the different recipes on my blog. I try to give American, imperial, and metric measurements in my recipes. You can mix cup measurements with weighted measurements, but never mix imperial (pounds, ounces, pints, etc.,) with metric (kilograms, grams, litres, etc.,).


What Are Medjool Dates?

The Medjool date, also known as Majhūl, Medjoul, or Majhool, is a large, sweet cultivated variety of datefrom the Tafilalt region of Morocco, also grown in the United States, Israel, Iran, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Jordan, and Palestine. (Thank you Wiki!)

Of the over 1,500 different date varieties grown around the world, Medjool dates are one of the most popular and known for their large size, soft chewy texture, and rich flavor which can be likened to a caramel taste. They might even be described as nature’s candy!

You might think of dates as a dried fruit, but Medjools are actually sold as fresh fruit. They are picked, cleaned and packaged immediately, without processing or being dried in any way.

Medjool dates are best kept in the fridge (or even freezer) where they will stay fresh and delicious for months. You can keep them in your pantry but they will not last as long and will dry out.

Health wise, Medjool dates are rich in natural sugars, fibre, and several vitamins and minerals including iron, potassium, B vitamins, copper, and magnesium. They also have a low glycemic index (GI) and shouldn’t cause large increases in blood sugar.

Mexican Horchata (overhead shot, sprinkled with cinnamon)

More Recipes Using Rice

One of the hero ingredients in this dish is rice, so here are some more recipes using the same:

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More Beverage Recipes

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How Do I Make Healthier Mexican Horchata?

Just check out the printable recipe card below with full ingredients and instructions. Any demonstration photos do not print out to save your ink.

Mexican Horchata Recipe

Healthier Mexican Horchata

Yield: 4-6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

This Healthier Mexican Horchata recipe takes all the flavor from a regular horchata but makes it refined-sugar-free.


  • 1 cup long-grain white rice, rinsed and thoroughly drained
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 6 cups water, divided
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • ⅓ cup Medjool dates, pitted
  • 2-3 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup raw almonds

Optional Garnish

  • 4 long cinnamon sticks
  • Ground cinnamon


  1. Add rice, cinnamon stick, and 4 cups of very warm water to a medium-sized bowl. Let soak at room temperature for 2 hours, then transfer to the refrigerator overnight until the rice softens and the cinnamon stick is soft enough to break into several smaller pieces.
  2. Transfer the rice mixture to a high-powered blender and blend to combine.
  3. Add 2 cups of cold water, almond milk, dates, 2 tablespoons honey, vanilla extract, and almonds. Blend until thoroughly combined and no large solids remain. Taste and add additional honey, if desired.
  4. Strain contents of the blender with a fine-weave mesh strainer and 1-2 layers of cheesecloth. When finished, discard the remaining solids in the strainer and transfer the reserved liquid to a pitcher or other container.
  5. Refrigerate until chilled, or serve immediately over ice with whole cinnamon sticks or a sprinkle of ground cinnamon, for garnish. Enjoy!

    Mexican Horchata Recipe

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 301Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 19mgCarbohydrates: 58gFiber: 5gSugar: 41gProtein: 5g

This site uses Nutritionix to provide estimated nutrition. Nutritional information is always approximate and will depend on the quality of ingredients used and serving sizes. If you need exact calories and macros, please do your own calculations.

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