Vanilla Bean Horchata

Horchata is a creamy beverage made from rice and spiced with cinnamon and vanilla. Sounds weird, but I swear it’s delicious, especially when paired with spicy Mexican food!

Vanilla Bean Horchata from The Food Charlatan

Last weekend my brother Nathan and I decided to have a Steak, Shake, and Movie night. So we went to the store to buy steaks and ice cream (literally nothing else, we’re purists). On the way back to my car I go to reach for my keys and realize I don’t have them.

When I go places without my kids I get so excited about the fact that I don’t have to bring diapers, wipes, hot wheels, extra socks, 15 broken crayons, and 1 year old Easter candy (what’s in YOUR diaper bag?), that I grab my phone, keys, and wallet and hit the road. Freedom!!

Vanilla Bean Horchata from The Food Charlatan

Nathan looks into the car before I do and says, “Keys are inside.” Whew, I think, good, locked in the car is better than not knowing where they are.

Then he opened the door. Not locked.

Then I see where the keys are. In the ignition.

Vanilla Bean Horchata from The Food Charlatan

Then I realize that the car is on. Like, ON. Engine running. I drove to the store, put the car in park, got out, didn’t lock it, and then bought ice cream. (Priorities?) Also, we stared at steaks for like 10 minutes before picking one. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?? Don’t stupid people deserve to have their cars stolen??

Vanilla Bean Horchata from The Food Charlatan

I think I need a drink. But not the kind you’re thinking (I’m LDS, hello). Horchata it is!! (Where’s my segue award?)

Horchata (or-cha-ta) has been one of my favorite drinks since I was a kid. My family and I would go to the local taquerias and order it there. When you live in California you can find pretty amazing Mexican food. Normally my parents were too cheap to pay for drinks for our entire family at a restaurant, but I’m the youngest and by the time I was a teenager, enough kids were moved out that my brother and I managed to get them to splurge for horchata when it was time for tacos. There is just nothing quite like that creamy soothing sweet taste after a basket of chips and spicy salsa.

Vanilla Bean Horchata from The Food Charlatan

And guess what the secret ingredient is? There are two actually. Sweetened condensed milk (be still my heart) and Nielsen-Massey’s Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste. << Please tell me you have tried this stuff. It adds AMAZING flavor to desserts and drinks. It’s basically all the benefits of a true vanilla bean, but without the mess or hassle. I buy it by the jug. I’m not even kidding. My current jug is almost gone. I use it in everything. Fun fact: did you know that “Madagascar Bourbon” references the region, not the liquor? Who knew right?

Vanilla Bean Horchata from The Food Charlatan

The photo on the right is totally superfluous. I just wanted you to see my cinnamon whale.

Horchata is easy to make at home, you just have to remember to make it the night before, or at least a few hours in advance. Of course it goes great with Mexican food, but let’s not limit ourselves here. I can think of lots of other times I would want to drink horchata. Like every single day of the summer, for example.

Vanilla Bean Horchata

Yield: Makes about 9-10 cups

Recipe by The Food Charlatan


  • 2 cup long grain white rice, rinsed
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon Nielsen-Massey Pure Vanilla Bean Paste
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (or 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon)
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 or 2 cups water, to taste
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup cream (or milk)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • More ground cinnamon and/or vanilla if desired.
  • Ice


  1. Place 2 cups of rice in a mesh strainer and run it under cold water for about 30 seconds, or until the water runs clear. Add it to a 9-cup capacity blender. (Blend in batches if you have a little blender.)
  2. Add 6 cups water, 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste, and 2 cinnamon sticks.
  3. Blend for about 1 minute, or until the rice and cinnamon sticks have broken up.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours. A full 8 hours is best.
  5. Pour the liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a large pitcher. Discard the rice.
  6. Add the can of sweetened condensed milk, water, milk, cream, and sugar. Stir well and taste it. Add more ground cinnamon and vanilla bean paste if you want. Adjust the sugar to taste.
  7. Pour into glasses filled with ice and serve really cold! Enjoy! Horchata is perfect with any kind of Mexican food.

Be sure to follow Nielsen-Massey on Facebook for awesome recipe updates!

Try out these other awesome summer drinks!

Easy Cucumber Lime Punch:

Easy Cucumber Lime Punch from


Basil Lemonade: (you must try this!!!)

Basil Lemonade


June Bug (Orange Grenadine Ginger Ale):

June Bug: Orange Grenadine Refresher


Apple season is coming…!! Caramel Apple Cider Reduction Shake:

Caramel Apple Cider Reduction Shake from

You’ll like these other drinks from great bloggers!

Agua de Jamaica from Simply Recipes (the drink you find next to Horchata in taquerias)
Pomegranate Lime Chia Fresca from Oh My Veggies
Blueberry Lemonade from Damn Delicious

This post is sponsored by Nielsen-Massey. When they contacted me about doing a post, I told them about the 32 oz. jug of Nielsen-Massey vanilla bean paste in my cupboard that is 3/4 gone. So needless to say, all opinions are my own! Love their products! Thanks for backing up brands I love, guys. Helps keep The Food Charlatan going. :)





  1. says

    Oh my goodness, that’s such a stressful thing to realize! Well, at least everything is OK. Meanwhile, this horchata looks AMAZING! I’ve always wanted to make my own but have been too lazy to do so. I think I’ll live vicariously through you :)
    Sarah | Broma Bakery recently posted…Squash Blossom PizzaMy Profile

  2. Julie says

    There’s nothing in this drink that doesn’t excite me. As in, I wish I had everything in my house at this precise second so that I could make it. I could live off of sweetened condensed milk and NMV bean paste. Haha. Seriously. Making my grocery list right now.

  3. Janice says

    You left the car running? Hahahaha! You are your father’s daughter – Dad did that one time when he drove in to work, quite hilarious. Oh, and if I’d have known how delicious horchata was, I’d have stopped being cheap years sooner!

  4. says

    Oooh this couldn’t have come at better timing. My best friend is visiting in a couple of weeks and she is obsessed with’s all she drank in college. I can’t wait to make this recipe for her! Your horchata looks absolutely delicious (and I love the whale!) XO

  5. says

    GET OUT! I can’t even believe your car keys story, and I have to tell you the timing couldn’t be more perfect! I was in a godawful hurry on Sunday and I left the keys to MY HUSBAND’S CAR in the ignition while I ran into the liquor store to buy wine. Feel better now? I about died when I realized what I had done. Thank goodness the car was still there yo.

    Ok I have been so curious about horchata for so long! I’ve gotta give this recipe a try!
    Allie | Baking a Moment recently posted…Basic Streusel RecipeMy Profile

    • says

      Hahahaha somehow it makes it funnier that you were buying wine. But not that funny that it wasn’t your car, that would have been a DOOZY. :) Glad we made it out alive and with our cars Allie!

  6. Diane says

    This sounds amazing – another use for my Vita-Mix – is there a little bit lower calorie version? Would the fat-free condensed milk work? Enjoy your recipes and blog – Diane

    • says

      Hey Diane! This recipe is pretty forgiving. You could definitely omit the cream and use nonfat/1% milk. Certainly try out the fat free condensed milk. You can sweeten it however you want. Most recipes call for just sugar, so you could easily replace the sugar and sweetened condensed milk with Splenda or something. It will change the flavor a bit, of course, but I think it will still be good. Let me know how it goes!

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