Amazake vs. Horchata: Compare and Contrast Their Unique Flavors

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You may have seen these rice drinks and thought they were pretty similar, but they’re not though.

Amazake is a sweet fermented rice drink popular in Japan, while horchata is a Latin-American drink with rice and cinnamon. Amazake is made with cooked rice, water, and a mold called koji, which ferments the mixture for several hours. Horchata is made with rice, water, cinnamon, and sometimes other ingredients. 

In this article, I’ll discuss the differences between amazake and horchata and help you decide which one is right for you.

Amazake vs horchata

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Amazake vs Horchata: A Comparison of Two Sweet Rice-Based Beverages

Amazake and horchata are two popular rice-based beverages that have been enjoyed for centuries in different parts of the world. While both drinks are sweet and refreshing, they have distinct differences in terms of their ingredients, taste, and nutritional benefits. In this section, we will compare and contrast amazake and horchata to help you decide which one is right for you.


The main ingredient in amazake is rice, which is cooked and then mixed with water and a natural enzyme called koji. On the other hand, horchata is made from rice that has been soaked in water, along with other ingredients such as sugar, cinnamon, and sometimes almonds. Some types of horchata may also include soy or tiger nuts.

Taste and Texture

Amazake has a slightly sweet and tangy taste, with a thick and creamy texture. Horchata, on the other hand, is sweeter and has a thinner consistency. The addition of cinnamon and other spices gives horchata a unique flavor that is often described as nutty and refreshing.

Nutritional Benefits

Both amazake and horchata have nutritional benefits that make them a good choice for people who want to improve their health. Some of the benefits of amazake include:

  • Contains essential amino acids and enzymes that aid digestion
  • Rich in fiber, which helps to control blood sugar levels
  • Low in fat and calories, making it a good option for weight management

Horchata also has several nutritional benefits, including:

  • Contains high levels of antioxidants, which can improve overall health
  • Rich in calcium and other minerals that are essential for bone health
  • Low in sugar, making it a good choice for people with diabetes

Availability and Convenience

Amazake is widely available in Japan and can be found in most local stores and supermarkets. It is also becoming more popular in other parts of the world, although it may be harder to find in some areas. Horchata, on the other hand, is widely available in Latin America and can also be found in many local stores and supermarkets. It is also becoming more popular in other parts of the world, and many cafes and restaurants now offer it as a beverage option.

What is Amazake?

Amazake is a traditional Japanese sweet rice drink that has been enjoyed for centuries. It is made by combining cooked rice, water, and koji (a type of mold) and letting it ferment for a period of time. The result is a sweet and slightly thick beverage that is commonly served hot during the winter months in Japan.

The Different Types of Amazake

There are two main types of amazake:

  • Kome (rice) amazake: made with rice koji and rice
  • Mugi (barley) amazake: made with barley koji and rice

There is also a type of amazake called shoyu amazake, which is made by mixing amazake with soy sauce.

How to Enjoy Amazake

Amazake can be enjoyed in a variety of ways:

  • As a hot drink during the winter months
  • As a refreshing beverage during the summer
  • As a sweetener in cooking and baking
  • As a table condiment, similar to honey or syrup

Some people also recommend adding a small amount of sakekasu (sake lees) to amazake to give it a slight alcohol content and unique taste.

What is Horchata?

Horchata is a sweet and refreshing beverage that has been enjoyed by people for centuries. Its roots can be traced back to the Kofun period in Japan, where people consumed a similar drink made from rice. However, the horchata that we know today has its origins in the Edo period in Japan, where it was said to have started as a special drink for the imperial court.

The Health Benefits of Horchata

Horchata is a natural and healthy beverage that contains lots of nutrition and is said to have several health benefits. Some of the benefits of drinking horchata include:

  • It is a refreshing drink that can help you stay cool during the summer heat
  • It is a good source of hydration
  • It contains natural sweetness and can be a healthy alternative to sugary drinks
  • It is a good source of nutrition and can help to keep your belly full

Following the Trend of Horchata

Horchata is a refreshing and healthy drink that has been enjoyed by people for hundreds of years. Its popularity has increased in recent years, and it is now widely consumed around the world. If you haven’t tried horchata yet, be sure to give it a try and see why so many people love this delicious and nutritious beverage.

The History of Amazake

Koji is an essential ingredient in making amazake. It is a type of fungus that is used to ferment rice and other grains. Koji breaks down the starch in the rice into simple sugars, which gives amazake its sweet taste. Koji is also used in making sake, miso, and soy sauce.

The History of Horchata

Horchata is a sweet and creamy beverage that originated in Hispania, which is now modern-day Spain. The concept of horchata began with a beverage called “agua de chufa,” which was made from tiger nuts. However, as the beverage spread to other parts of the world, variations emerged, and the tiger nuts were replaced with other ingredients.

Evolution of the Recipe

The Valencian version of horchata is made from white rice, cinnamon, and sugar, and is served cold. However, other parts of the world have their own varieties of horchata, including:

  • Mexico: Horchata is made from rice, cinnamon, and vanilla, and is often adorned with chopped almonds or other nuts.
  • North America: Horchata is sold in some parts of the United States and Canada, and is often flavored with vanilla and served over ice.
  • Latin America: Horchata is sometimes made with plant-based beverages, such as almond milk or coconut milk, instead of rice milk.

Modern-Day Horchata

Today, horchata remains a popular beverage in many parts of the world. It can be found in cafes and restaurants, and is also commonly sold in grocery stores. Some people even make their own homemade horchata, using a variety of different recipes and techniques.

Fun Facts About Horchata

  • Horchata is sometimes called “orxata” in Valencian, “agua fresca de arroz” in Mexican Spanish, and “agua de horchata” in English.
  • Lauren Allen posted a video on her blog “Tastes Better From Scratch” on how to make authentic homemade horchata.
  • Horchata is estimated to have around 200-300 calories per serving.
  • Some people enjoy horchata with a side of bacon or a doughnut.
  • The Horchatera de Santa Catalina in Valencia, Spain, is a famous horchata shop that has been in operation since 1836.
  • The remains of a horchata-like beverage were found in Egyptian tombs dating back to 4000 BCE.

How to Incorporate Amazake into Your Diet

  • Amazake can be enjoyed hot or cold, depending on your preference.
  • To prepare a hot amazake drink, simply heat it up in a pot or using an electric kettle.
  • For a cold drink, pour the amazake over ice or blend it with your favorite fruits for a refreshing smoothie.
  • Adding a teaspoonful of matcha powder to your amazake can create a unique and delicious matcha latte.
  • Amazake can also be used as a milk alternative in your favorite smoothies or as a dressing for salads.

Using Amazake in Recipes

  • Amazake can be used as a sweetener in recipes, as it contains glucose and lacks the mold that traditional sweeteners often have.
  • It can be used as a substitute for sugar or honey in recipes, adding a rich and unique flavor.
  • Amazake can also be used to create a marinated mixture for vegetables or meat, adding a sweet and savory flavor.
  • Adding amazake to miso soup can significantly improve its performance, making it a great addition to your lunch.
  • Amazake can be used in baking as a substitute for sugar or milk, creating a healthier and more convenient option for beginners.
  • Here are some examples of how to use amazake in recipes:

– Mix amazake with soy sauce and ginger to create a delicious marinade for meat or vegetables.
– Stir amazake into your oat or almond milk for a sweet and creamy homemade creamer.
– Add amazake to your favorite smoothies for a super quick and easy way to enjoy its benefits.
– Create a unique and delicious vegetable or fruit salad dressing by mixing amazake with vinegar and your favorite seasonings.

How to Enjoy Horchata: Tips and Tricks

If you want to make horchata from scratch, here’s a simple recipe to follow:

  • Soak 1 cup of white rice in water for at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.
  • Drain the rice and add it to a blender with 4 cups of water.
  • Add 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
  • Blend the mixture until smooth.
  • Strain the mixture through a cheesecloth or fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl.
  • Stir in 1 cup of milk or soy milk, depending on your preference.
  • Refrigerate the horchata for at least 1 hour before serving.

Customizing Your Horchata

While the traditional recipe is a great starting point, there are many ways to customize your horchata to suit your taste preferences. Here are some ideas to try:

  • Add a pinch of ginger for a spicy kick.
  • Mix in a tablespoon of miso paste for a savory twist.
  • Stir in some marinated bacon for a smoky flavor.
  • Freeze the horchata into ice cubes for a refreshing summer treat.

Using Horchata in Cooking

Horchata is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Use horchata instead of milk in your favorite pancake or waffle recipe.
  • Add horchata to your morning smoothie for a sweet and creamy boost.
  • Use horchata as a base for a creamy soup or sauce.
  • Mix horchata with dark chocolate for a decadent dessert.

Choosing the Right Horchata

Not all horchata is created equal. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a horchata:

  • Check the ingredient list to make sure it’s made with natural ingredients and not loaded with artificial flavors or preservatives.
  • Consider the sweetness level – some horchata can be very sweet, while others are more subtle.
  • Look for horchata that is made with high-quality rice and is appropriately coarse.
  • Check the expiration date and make sure to store it properly in the refrigerator.

Alternative Horchata Substitutes

If you can’t find horchata at your local grocery store, there are some alternative substitutes you can try:

  • Amazake, a traditional Japanese rice drink, combines rice, water, and koji enzyme to create a sweet and smooth beverage that’s similar to horchata.
  • Rice milk is a dairy-free alternative that’s made from rice and water.
  • Coconut milk is a creamy and flavorful alternative that’s suitable for many horchata recipes.

The Chef’s Tool for Horchata

If you’re serious about making horchata at home, investing in a high-quality blender can make the process much easier. Look for a blender that can handle tough ingredients like rice and cinnamon and has a range of speed settings to help you control the texture of the mixture. A blender with a large, easy-to-clean pitcher is also a plus.


The differences between these two drinks are subtle but noticeable. Both are great choices for a refreshing drink on a hot day, but horchata is a little easier to find in the US. 

If you’re looking for a natural sweetener, amazake is the way to go. I hope you’ve found this article helpful!

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.