Despite their similar appearances and sharing some of the flavor-giving elements, Horchata and eggnog are two entirely different drinks. Both are delicious and refreshing, but they cannot substitute for each other, as they are fundamentally very different. So what are the differences between Horchata and eggnog, and which is better?
While Horchata is a refreshing non-alcoholic beverage, eggnog contains alcohol and very often a few types of alcohol. Horchata is grain-based, most commonly rice, while the main elements in eggnog are alcohol, milk, and eggs. They are both white, but Horchata is thinner than eggnog.
Even though they appear and often taste similar, these two beverages are very different. Great as a holiday drink, eggnog has made its name as a Christmas drink throughout the world. On the other hand, Horchata is an excellent energy booster for the entire year.
Therefore, in the following text, I will explain the differences between Horchata and eggnog in terms of nutrition, preparation, ingredients, and popularity.
Horchata vs. Eggnog: Differences
The only things that Horchata and eggnog have in common are the white color and cinnamon whiff in their flavors. They don’t share ingredients other than milk, a mandatory ingredient in eggnog and an optional one in Horchata.
Horchata is a non-alcoholic grain-based refreshing drink, most commonly made with rice. However, there are variations made of barley, chuffa seed, or morro seed. It also contains water, milk, almonds (optionally), sugar, and cinnamon.
The main ingredients in eggnog are milk and eggs, vanilla, sugar, and alcohol such as rum, brandy, or whisky. It can contain cloves for flavor as an optional ingredient, but the most common eggnog flavorings are nutmeg and cinnamon.
The preparation procedure is pretty simple, but it does take time. The first step in the preparation of Horchata is soaking the rice (or other grain). After the rice is soaked enough, all ingredients and blended together and then strained to separate the liquids from the solids.
Therefore, Horchata is basically rice water seasoned with cinnamon and enriched with milk and almonds as optional ingredients.
Eggnog preparation takes some skill, and it isn’t as simple as making Horchata, which is logical as it contains more ingredients. In essence, there are more recipes to make eggnog than Horchata, but they all revolve around the same goal- a frothy texture and a creamy consistency.
The eggs are whipped, the yolk and the white separately, and then the other ingredients are blended together. However, the blending process is a bit tricky, as the consistency needs to be thick but liquid. Therefore, blending too much would make the drink too thin.
There are recipes calling for cream or condensed milk in addition to regular milk, so the eggnog-making process has also been described as similar to that of ice cream.
When it comes to taste, Horchata and eggnog have something in common- cinnamon. Cinnamon is a spice used in both of these drinks. Moreover, cinnamon is a very intense-tasting spice that easily dominates over the other flavors it is combined with.
Therefore, Horchata and eggnog can taste similar to some extent. However, taste-wise, Horchata and eggnog have easily recognizable flavors despite the similarities. While Horchata is sweet and gentle, eggnog is stronger-tasting.
The alcohol content in the eggnog intensifies the other flavors contained in it. The alcohol gives this drink a slightly bitter flavor, with a smooth burning aftertaste.
In addition to the cinnamon flavor, Horchata’s aftertaste is the flavor of the grains which are its base. You won’t feel the rice right away, but after you swallow the sip, along with the cinnamon aroma, the sweetness of the sugar, and the silkiness of the milk and almonds.
To the untrained eye, Horchata and eggnog might seem identical. However, although similar-looking, the differences between these two are pretty noticeable at second glance.
Horchata and eggnog are both beige to white, depending on the spices and optional ingredients used, but eggnog is much thicker than Horchata. While Horchata can be gulped greedily and quickly, eggnog should be sipped slowly, as it isn’t as liquid and light.
Horchata originated in Spain and was later imported to Mexico. However, today’s Horchata is known and loved as the Mexican version.
While the Spanish Horchata was made with other grains, the rice Horchata was created in Mexico. Therefore, as it is today, the Horchata recipe is of Mexican origin.
Eggnog is said to have first appeared in Medieval Britain. At that time, only the wealthy could afford milk, eggs, and alcohol, but even they kept these ingredients for special occasions. Therefore eggnog was used on the high holidays to toast to good health and prosperity.
The fattier and more caloric of the two is eggnog, which is understandable because it contains eggs and milk. Still, Horchata isn’t precisely low-calorie either.
Eggnog contains significantly more cholesterol than Horchata, but Horchata is slightly richer in carbohydrates and sugars. Eggnog has more calcium and protein than Horchata as well.
Both contain vitamin A and C, whereby eggnog also has iron, while Horchata doesn’t.
Depending on your health state and lifestyle, you can benefit from Horchata or eggnog, but you can also harm your organism.  Because of the alcohol and fat amount, eggnog isn’t intended for everyday use, but it does great as an occasional treat.
Horchata is very refreshing and hydrating, and therefore you can have it more than just occasionally. Still within limits, as it is pretty high in calories.
Although intended for any time of the year, Horchata has fewer fans than eggnog. Eggnog is globally known as a Christmas drink, so it successfully makes its way into cultures that it wasn’t previously a part of. Eggnog is most popular in the USA, Canada, and Western Europe, but you can find it in Australia and some Eastern European countries.
Horchata is most popular in Central and South America (Especially Mexico) and Spain. Horchata is generally less popular than eggnog because many parts of the world have their own versions of Horchata made from slightly different recipes but with similar tastes.
Generally, eggnog has more variations than Horchata. There are eggnog recipes using condensed milk, cream, several types of alcohol, and various flavor-giving spices.
Horchata’s variations revolve around the grain base – rice, chuffa seed, morro seed, or barley. There are variations containing milk and almonds or another type of nut.
Still, Horchata’s taste doesn’t vary much, while depending on the recipe, eggnog’s taste could be pretty different.
Horchata vs. Eggnog: Which Is Better?
Since they are different drinks, there’s no way to tell which is better, as they both have their own playing fields. If you are in the New Year’s spirit, curled up under a blanket watching Home Alone, eggnog is definitely what you need.
On the other hand, if you need a refreshment after a long workout or the energy to kick start your day, then Horchata is better.