The Ultimate Horchata Ice Cream

Horchata ice cream is rich and custardy. If you love homemade horchata (or horchata in general!), this is the perfect dessert! I’ve made many homemade ice cream recipes over the years, and this horchata ice cream recipe is one of my all time favorites.
A photo of horchata ice cream on a dark background, melting on a silver plate.

There are a few negatives to being self-employed that never previously occurred to me before embarking on this new venture. I’m kind of an all or nothing person. And now that I’ve thrown myself into the wild world of freelance work, I can’t seem to stop.

I’ve never had the attention span to work for more than a few hours at a time so I find myself working in the evenings and on and off during the weekend. I don’t really mind. It’s a pace that seems to work for me.

However, there’s one part of the equation that is very strange. I’ve been calling it “think dreaming.”

A photo of cinnamon sticks for a horchata recipe.

I’ve always been a vivid dreamer and I’m endlessly entertained by the nonsensical stories my brain creates. Recently, though, it seems as though half of my dreams don’t involve the usual zombie adventures or random scenarios.

Instead, I think all night about various elements of work. But I’m not awake or aware that I’m doing it. I’ve suffered from insomnia for years now and nothing irritates me more than lying in bed with my thoughts zooming around when all I want to do is sleep.

I get out of bed when that happens. With think dreaming, I’ll wake up at around 2 or 3 in the morning and realize I’ve been thinking about work for hours. And then I get irritated. A few weeks ago I actually got up for the day at 3:30am because I couldn’t take it anymore.

Is there anyone reading this who’d be willing to chime in and tell me I’m not crazy because they know what I’m talking about? I can’t possibly be alone here.

Horchata Ice Cream recipe, served on a plate with a spoon.

Now for the horchata ice cream. I feel as though summer will be gone in the blink of an eye which means I’m running out of both sunlight (booo) and chances to make ice cream.

This won’t be the last ice cream recipe you see crammed in over the next couple of weeks. But this might be the best. It’s my new favorite ice cream (and that’s saying a lot). I use a good amount of Rumchata to add booze and complementary flavors.

The Rumchata also lowers the freezing point just enough so that this ice cream is soft and custard-like straight out of the freezer. Do take note, though- it melts faster than my other recipes.

Looking for more ice cream recipes?

Be sure to check out my Baileys Ice Cream, Strawberry Ice Cream, and Vanilla Milk Gelato!

Print Pin Recipe

The Ultimate Horchata Ice Cream

5 from 10 votes
This recipe for boozy horchata ice cream is rich and custardy.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Mexican
Prep Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Chill Time 4 hours
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings 8 (approximately 1 quart)
Calories 225
Author Jennifer Farley


  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half (or 50% whole milk + 50% heavy cream)
  • 1/2 cup long grain white rice
  • 1/2 cup Rumchata liqueur
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks


  • In a medium saucepan, warm up the half-and-half over medium heat, stirring, until it's warm but not hot. Pour it into a blender with the white rice and briefly blend the mixture on high speed to break up some of the grains and release their flavor. Allow the mixture to steep for at least one hour.
  • Strain the liquid through a nut milk bag or cheesecloth and discard the rice. Stir in the Rumchata and return to the saucepan on medium heat. Add the vanilla extract.
  • Vigorously whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. When the half-and-half just reaches a simmer, slowly pour it into the egg yolks while whisking. Then return the entire mixture back to the saucepan and turn the heat to low. Add the cinnamon sticks.
  • Stir constantly for several minutes until it begins to thicken. When it coats the back of a spoon or spatula so that you can draw a line with your finger, remove from the heat.
  • Allow the base to cool slightly then pour into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pushing the plastic directly against liquid to prevent a skin from forming. Chill for at least 4 hours or overnight, until very cold. Remove the cinnamon sticks and discard.
  • Prepare in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer instructions. Before serving, top with fresh grated cinnamon.


Calories: 225kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 155mg | Sodium: 25mg | Potassium: 86mg | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 6.9% | Vitamin C: 0.5% | Calcium: 7.6% | Iron: 3%

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About Jennifer Farley

Jennifer graduated from the Culinary Arts program at L’Academie de Cuisine, and has worked professionally as a line cook, pastry chef, and cooking instructor. Her cookbook, The Gourmet Kitchen, was published in 2016 by Simon & Schuster.

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  • Well I can sleep, but I dream about work related stuff. My brain never shuts of completely and is always thinking about food and computer task, but I still would not change it for the world, I love what I do!

    I also love this fun ice cream! I have never seen an ice cream anything like this, so it’s pretty exciting!

  • I struggle with sleep too. And the problem with working for yourself is that you can always be working. It’s tough to find the balance. You sometimes need to tell your own brain to shut up! :)

  • You are NOT alone. I have terrible insomnia as well, and more often than not get up hours before I would really like to just because I’m so frustrated lying there. As a teacher, there is always something that needs to be done, could have been done better, etc. to worry about, and my mind races when I can’t sleep. So sorry you’re going through the same thing — it’s the worst. :(

    But on a happy note, this ice cream looks absolutely insane. Want!

  • I have crazy dreams too though they’re not always about work. I can usually get back to sleep though luckily.

    I’ve never had horchata – can you believe that? I really need to get with the program, this ice cream looks amazing!

  • I know exactly what you mean (I had it last night!). It’s so exhausting isn’t it? I feel completely drained today and desperately in need of boozy ice cream as a pick me up!

    • Sometimes it leaves me exhausted and other times I’m surprised that I actually feel rested. It doesn’t help that I’m the lightest sleeper in the world so everything wakes me up. I remember in college I could sleep through everything!

  • Boy! I could write you a text book on what I’ve learned about work-obsessed sleep disorder. It is very common among creatvie people, but it can also lead to severe anxiety. So be careful. Suffice it to say, you are are not crazy, and these comments all bear that out. It’s such a common phenomenon. BALANCE and STRUCTURE are the keys. Find some time during the week to turn it all off. Running really works for me. (And the best part is that I can eat more!) Yoga is also a good choice. Plan a vacation for you and your hubby that’s completely away from cooking and writing. Find interests that aren’t related to food. Mine is animals and animal charities. Maybe your kitty could inspire something similar for you.

    I know it’s one of those things that are easier said than done, and when you work from home, it’s even more complicated. But it’s essential. The ironic part? Creating some boundries between you and work — even when it’s work that you love — will help bring a perspective that allows you to better prioritize your work. You’ll find yourself being more productive and less stressed.

    • These are fantastic tips! I really appreciate them. Work does cause me anxiety but overall I get so much joy out of it. I’m still working out my new life and schedule but everything you suggest makes perfect sense.

  • I deal with insomnia, too, but mine is a post-menopause thing. My solution is to get up and do something mindless, like computer games, until I can’t stay awake any longer. Some of mine is also due to being unable to shut my brain off. I’ve never learned how to do that. It seems to me that David’s suggestions are excellent and if you try them I hope they work.

    I love horchata, and am sure I would love this ice-cream. If I ate ice-cream… That’s a rare treat for me, and I would never invest in an ice-cream maker. However, this ice-cream would be strong motivation to do so… :-)

    • A lot of times I’ll get up and play on Pinterest. It’s mindless enough to do when I’m tired. But I’d definitely rather be sleeping! I wouldn’t invest in an ice cream maker unless it was something you really loved. Ice cream is my favorite dessert and I really enjoy the art of making it. It’s so simple but it opens the door for tons of creativity. Maybe I should try making it at 4am when I can’t sleep.

  • I am like that as well. I work when I am inspired. Being that I have three boys, often I do most of my writing from 8 pm to 11 pm and on weekends. Somedays it just flows out of me – and then I write up the shells of say 5 to 10 blog posts (for my 2 blogs). This gets me inspired and then I have a direction to work on.
    I love being self-employed, I can’t imagine going back to working real hours :-D

      • No kidding! I worked really hard to get here and I find that at 40, I just can’t imagine wanting to *gasp* take orders ;-) Today I worked for a few hours, then we went blackberry picking/walking. Then a few hours in the backyard gardening with the boys – and ate a bucket of just picked strawberries. And now, hours later…I am writing (and goofing off) before bed. I’ll take that over a commute!!

  • 1. You’re totes not crazy – you basically just described me on an average night between 2:13 a.m. and 4:47 a.m.
    2. This Horchata Ice Cream has fallen off the chain and cannot get back on it.
    3. Your photography is seriously, seriously arresting, Jen! SO beautiful!!!

  • I read a really interesting book that discussed this late night waking fairly recently. While I rarely have trouble with sleep, I routinely wake up around 3:30 for a while and then go back to sleep. Might want to look at this book (at least I think it’s this one). It may give you a different way to perceive that late night time.

    IncognitoThe Secret Lives of Brains By Eagleman, David (Book – 2011)

    Good luck & sweet dreams!

  • When my spouse is deployed it screws up my sleep schedule terribly. You’d think I’d be used to it, but that would be wrong. It would be one thing if I were *productive* between 2 and 5 am, but usually I am not. I’m just awake. I’ve done the ‘get up for the day at 3:30’ thing, though, it works great until about 5 pm for me, then I’m toast.

    My friend once told me that in Olden Days (no idea specifically when, but pre-Industrial Revolution) folks would go to bed soon after sundown and have First Sleep, then get up in the middle of the night (tend the fire, etc) and then go back to bed for Second Sleep.

    I could do that–I find myself sleeping really well between 5:30 and 7 am. Sadly, the alarm goes off at 5:40. ;)

    The ice cream–looks divine, and well worth dreaming about for me. I just dream about kohlrabi and eggplant, and I’d rather have horchata dreams.

  • Goodness, such great advice from all of these comments! I have issues sleeping too and I think it must be a curse for creative kinda people. Who knows? Alls I know is that I want some of that horchata ice cream. Genius girl! Love it!

  • I definitely have insomniac nights as well so you are NOT crazy! It’s so hard to turn the brain off sometimes.

    Anything sweet and cinnamony and ice cream-y sounds good to me! And I kind of love the texture of this! Custard-like definitely sounds like a good thing!

  • I have yet to try Rumchata…but ice cream sounds like a great place to start!! Also love your pictures, what a neat plate!

  • Oddly, I rarely remember my actual dreams, but I do exactly this thinking dream thing. I’ve always struggled with sleep as well, often feeling like I’ve spent the night trudging across the tundra, instead of snoozing peacefully. Though my husband says my snoring tells him I actually was asleep, I feel like I’ve been thinking all night. It was about plating last night. Ugh.

  • Oh I’ve started my day at 3am before. Totally sucks. Usually I wake remembering something I totally forgot to do, work, family or otherwise! Meds help me break the habit, then I sleep better with no help and then a few weeks later I’m up at 3am again. You sound like you are one busy lady!

  • I feel you my friend. I am the same way, weekends, nights, non-stop… But like you, I feel happy with what I do and the fact that it gets better every day makes me so happy.
    This ice cream recipe is a classic. One that everyone should have in their recipe book. And as always you photographed it so beautifully.
    Hope all is well. Cheers!