Does horchata have dairy?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Does horchata have dairy?” We will also discuss the origin of horchata, the ingredients used in horchata, and the different types of horchata.

Does horchata have dairy?

No, authentic horchata does not contain any dairy most of the time, however, horchata found in restaurants these days may contain dairy. 

Although it was initially made with plant-based milk, many people started using dairy milk over time. This is why you can’t really know about the dairy contents of horchata unless you inquire or read the label in case of horchata mixes.

What is the origin of horchata?

Horchata originated from the province of Valencia in Southern Spain. Mediterranean cultures have produced a wide variety of beverages from grain since the times of the Roman Empire. Horchata is also one of these popular traditional beverages made from grains.

The Latin word hordeata, derived from the word Hordeum, which means barley and refers to an ancient barley beverage, is where the word horchata originates. The horchata consumed in Spain today is less of a barley beverage and more of sweetened nut milk (more on that later).

The whole idea of horchata entered America when they were defeated by the Spanish during their invasion. The Spanish took the nation by storm with horchata after that, however, the typical flavors of horchata evolved accordingly. 

Horchata started to adjust to the local Latin American tastes and the available ingredients. As a result, horchata now comes in a variety of flavors across different countries. Some horchata varieties are very basic, creamy, and a lot similar to the original Spanish horchata. Others, however, evolved into entirely different beverages while only keeping the name horchata.

What are the ingredients used in Horchata?

Chufa, also known as tiger nuts, water, sugar, and a dash of ground cinnamon are the main ingredients used in Spain’s original horchata recipe. When the Spanish arrived in the Americas, tiger nuts weren’t a common crop, so they used other nuts, seeds, and grains to make horchata in their provinces. 

Native American tribes and Africans who were held as slaves in Latin America also contributed to the development of regional variations of horchata using their ingredients, flavors, and preparation techniques. As a result, depending on where you are, horchata can be a variety of drinks.

What are the different types of horchata?

Spanish Horchata de Chufa

This type of horchata most resembles the traditional Spanish horchata recipe. It tastes similar to milk and has a very smooth, creamy texture. Although it’s not as sweet, the flavor is similar to almond and has a faintly bitter aftertaste. It is usually made with very less sugar by blending the chufa nuts soaked in hot water.

Mexican Horchata

Tiger nuts cannot be found in Mexico, so rice and cinnamon are typically used to make this kind of horchata. White sugar is used to sweeten it, and some recipes also include milk to enhance the flavors of Horchata.  Additional ingredients like melon seeds, almonds, or coconut are also used in some regions of Mexico.

Mexican horchata can occasionally be a little gritty due to the rice. While it may not be as creamy as Spanish horchata, it has a strong cinnamon flavor and is much sweeter than Spanish horchata.

Puerto Rican Horchata

Sesame seeds, water, and sugar are the ingredients used in Puerto Rican horchata. There are no additional spices or ingredients used and it is similar to how horchata is made in Spain. Its flavors are very rich and creamy. While it may have a slightly bitter aftertaste to Spanish horchata, in terms of the flavors it is a lot nuttier than the Spanish horchata.

Central American Horchata 

There are numerous varieties of horchata that differ from one country to another. There isn’t just one type of Central American horchata. The primary component of horchata in nations like Honduras and El Salvador is morro seed which has a licorice-like flavor. This is blended with various other spices, and occasionally with cacao, nuts, and seeds. 

Ecuadorian Horchata

This type of horchata is very different from the others as its flavors are closer to tea than milk. It is made from a blend of about 18 different herbs and flowers. Chamomile, mint, lemongrass, borage, roses, violets, and carnations are some of the commonly used ingredients. It has a herbal flavor with a slightly floral fruit note.

You can find the recipe for authentic horchata here.


In this brief guide, we have answered the query, “Does horchata have dairy?” We have also discussed the origin of horchata, the ingredients used in horchata, and the different types of horchata.