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Guest Post: Horchata by Kathryne from Cookie + Kate

I’m so thrilled to welcome Kathryne to Turntable Kitchen this week. We’ve developed a lovely friendship through this crazy thing called the Internet and I was thrilled to finally meet her in person in New York City back in May. Kathryne is a beautiful writer, an amazing photographer, and someone I like to consider ‘my people.’ Her site, Cookie + Kate, a Saveur magazine Best Cooking blog nominee this year, is a fresh and inspired place on the Internet. Please welcome Kathryne, and enjoy her recipe for horchata.

Although horchata (pronounced or-CHA-tah) is a traditional Latin American drink, I have yet to try it outside of the country. I first tasted sweet, spiced horchata off the ski slopes in Crested Butte, Colorado, last winter, and I savored a full glass of it a couple of weeks ago at Momofuku’s Má Pêche in New York City.

Kyle, my friend and a bartender at Má Pêche, said the restaurant started making horchata for the kitchen workers but it became so popular with the entire staff that they decided to put it on the menu. I’m glad they did—it was a treat to sip on while we chatted under the peach-tinted lights glowing from behind the bar. My friend and I leisurely shared one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time, which included an eggplant and bacon sandwich that was out of this world (my blog is entirely vegetarian, but I can’t resist the occasional slice of bacon). Our appetites satisfied and bellies happy, we eventually said our goodbyes and wandered toward the MoMA to admire modern art for the rest of the afternoon.

Horchata, which can be made from various types of soaked grains and nuts, manages to be creamy and comforting but at the same time light and refreshing. It’s perfect for summer celebrations and slow sipping on a back patio. Add a splash of spiced rum to my horchata and I’m ready for lively conversation with friends (cue Rodrigo y Gabriela). I tried vodka, too, but wasn’t a fan.

My dairy-free horchata recipe, which tastes very similar to the horchatas I’ve tried while traveling, is basically agave-sweetened rice-almond milk with cinnamon. I happen to be flying to Belize in a couple of weeks and hope to taste authentic horchata while I’m there. If I do, I’ll be sure to report back to Turntable Kitchen!

Horchata Recipe
Adapted from a Rick Bayless recipe.


2/3 cup long grain white or brown rice (dry/uncooked)
1 1/4 cup blanched almonds
3-inch piece of cinnamon stick
4 1/2 cups water, divided
1/3 to 1/2 cup light agave nectar, to taste

In a medium bowl, combine the rice, almonds, cinnamon stick and 2 1/2 cups hot tap water. Allow the mixture to cool, cover and refrigerate overnight.
Pour the mixture into a blender, add agave (start with 1/3 cup, you can add more later) and blend on high for several minutes, until the mixture is as smooth as possible. Add one cup of cold water and blend for 10 seconds.
Place a large metal sieve over a large bowl. Line the sieve with cheesecloth (or use a nut milk bag or clean paint straining bag, found at hardware stores). Pour the mixture through slowly, stirring as you pour. Press on the solids with a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Lift the cheesecloth/bag and squeeze the rest of the liquid out. Discard the remaining dryish pulp. Pour the mixture into a pitcher and stir in the last cup of water. Pour into glasses filled with ice and serve.

I made my horchata with brown rice because The Kitchn told me I could.
You can either buy pre-blanched almonds or blanch your own. Just pour 1 1/4 cup whole almonds into a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Let the almonds sit for a minute, then drain them in a colander and rinse with cold water. Use your hands to slide the skins off and proceed with the recipe as directed.

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Posted by Kathryne

  • Bev @ Bev Cooks

    Kaaaaate! Look at this. I’m so excited for you. AND I’d like to pour this on my face. In slow motion.

  • Thanks again for asking me to guest post, Kasey! It’s a treat to see my photos and words on your wonderful site. Hope you’re having the best time on vacation, can’t wait to hear all about it! xo.

  • Thanks Bev! I have just enough horchata left for a facial. It has your name on it.

  • Nicole

    This sounds fantastic, Kathryne! I had my first horchata at a Mexican food truck a few months back and it was so delicious and refreshing. It was cold and rainy that day, but I just had to try it. Can’t wait to try your version.

  • Jessica Silva

    is the rice uncooked? or should it be cooked first?

  • Petra

    Do you use raw or cooked rice?

  • Erin

    Yum….horchata is a personal favorite, especially with something really SPICY. But a spiked horchata sounds pretty darn tasty!

  • SDF

    Skip making the cocktail with Rum and go by yourself a bottle of RumChata ( It is AMAZING!!!

  • Sorry, I should have made that more clear. Use uncooked/raw rice!

  • Sorry Jessica, I should have been more clear. Use uncooked/raw rice!

  • Remi

    The amount of water doesn’t add up. Should I add 2 cups of cold water at the end or is the total 3 1/2?

  • I’m sorry, Remi, you’re right. Mix in the last cup of water once you’ve filtered out all the pulp in the very last step.

  • danielle korneliussen

    Um… I’m reading this nice recipe from Norway and am wondering what AGAVE is. Hope I can find it in the boutique where all the outlanders shop!

  • Anna G

    Agave nectar is a syrup made from the agave plant, common in Central American countries such as Mexico (also where horchata originates). It is what tequilla is made from. It is more water soluble than honey, and more flavorful than cane sugar. It is popular because it is healthier than traditional sweeteners. It has a lower glycemic index than cane sugar, and is natural (unlike Equal or Splenda). I am not sure if it is available in Norway, but you can order some online through various vendors including Amazon:

  • Sue

    Can honey be substituted for the agave?

  • Hi Danielle, Anna provided a terrific explanation of agave so I won’t go into that. Just wanted to let you know that you can sub sugar for the agave, just add it to the blender before you blend up the rice and almond mixture. I would start with 1/3 cup and add more to taste, up to 1 cup if you want your horchata to be very sweet.

  • Mira

    Could you edit the recipe to include the fact that it needs uncooked rice and the last cup of water needs to be added at the end? I just happened to see the comments from Remi and Petra but I already have cooked rice sitting in the refrigerator with the almonds, I’m really frustrated.

  • Megan

    Could you edit the recipe to include the fact that it needs uncooked rice and the last cup of water needs to be added at the end? I just happened to see the comments from Remi and Petra but I already have cooked rice sitting in the refrigerator with the almonds, so I’m really frustrated.

  • Pingback: Ingredient of the week: almonds |

  • Jaya Karsemeyer

    Let me know if you come up with something creative to use the blended almonds for after they’re squeezed out–it kind of kills me to throw them away! Maybe part of a loaf? Or…?

  • Lorena

    Hi, just to clarify. Mexico is a country that is part of North America, not Central America.

  • Pity

    Horchata is not originary from Latin America.The real horchata comes from Spain, and is made with Chufas (tiger nuts, originary from Egypt). When the Spaniards arrived to America they found new ways to make it with rice, almonds etc, due to the lack of Chufas there. If you are in Spain in the summer months, you will see loads of Horchaterias selling it. The flavour has nothing to do with rice and almonds drink. If you can get hold of chufas, try it, you won’t regret…

  • Kevin Carlson

    Loved the recipe! Made perfect sense, just enjoyed my glass of this amazing drink. I am like the other poster though.. what can I use the blended up pulp for?

  • littlemissknowitall

    When I visit Guatemala my friends make this on the outdoor stove, over a big fire. They heat a giant pot with water, cinnamon and rice. It simmers all day, then they blend together and serve it warm during the cool nights. I’ve had it cold over ice in the restaurants, with coconut added to it. But the best is really warm when the temperatures drop!

  • Mary Simmons

    Do you blend the cinnamon stick with the rice and nuts or do you take it out?

  • Ask Antonette

    I was thinking the same thing. I think it would make a great base for a creamy rice pudding type of dessert, maybe cook w/ almond milk and raisins then stir in some organ liquor at the end = yummy autumn treat.

  • Deanna Paine

    You can make some great tasting homemade crackers with the left-over ground nut/rice mush. Just let it dry a bit and add in place of some of the grain/flour mixture in your favorite cracker recipe. Everyone will want to know your secret to great-tasting crackers!!

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