Mexico has a rich tradition of refreshing non-alcoholic beverages that are perfect for quenching your thirst on a hot day. From aguas frescas to licuados, there are many tasty options to choose from.
Keep reading to learn more about some of the most popular non-alcoholic drinks in Mexican cuisine.
Aguas frescas, sometimes simply called aguas, are a type of non-alcoholic beverage typically made from fruits, cereals, flowers, or seeds blended with sugar and water. They have a bright, refreshing flavor and are served well-chilled. Some of the most common aguas frescas flavors include:
Horchata – This creamy, cinnamon-flavored agua fresca is made from rice milk, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. It has a sweet, milky taste that is especially refreshing on a hot day.
Jamaica – Hibiscus flowers are used to make this tart, cranberry-like agua fresca. The edible flowers are boiled to extract their deep red color and flavor.
Tamarind – Sour tamarind pods are used to make this agua with a bold, tangy taste. Adding sugar balances out the natural tartness.
Watermelon – Fresh watermelon juice and chunks are blended with sugar and water for a sweet agua fresca. Other popular fruit flavors are mango, strawberry, cantaloupe, and honeydew.
While aguas frescas are water-based, licuados have more of a milkshake-like consistency because they are made by blending fruit with milk or milk alternatives like soy or almond milk. Some delicious flavors include:
Mango – Sweet, ripe mangos are pureed with milk and ice for a lush, creamy licuado.
Banana – Ripe bananas and milk are blended smooth for a rich and satisfying licuado.
Chocolate – Unsweetened cocoa powder is mixed with milk, sugar, and vanilla for an indulgent chocolate licuado.
Strawberry – Pureed strawberries give this licuado its pretty pink color and sweet berry flavor.
If you’re looking for something fizzy, aguas minerales (mineral waters) offer light carbonation. They are available in plain or flavored versions. Popular flavors include lime, lemon, orange, grapefruit, pineapple, strawberry, mango, and guava. For something different, try an agua mineral with a splash of fruit juice added.
Café de Olla
Café de olla is a traditional Mexican coffee made with cinnamon and piloncillo, unrefined brown cane sugar. The coffee is brewed directly in an earthenware pot along with cinnamon sticks. Piloncillo is used to sweeten the coffee. The blend of coffee, warm spices, and earthy sweetness makes for a comforting hot drink.
Atole is a warm, thicker drink made from masa (corn hominy) or other grains like rice, oats or wheat. It is frequently flavored with chocolate, fruits, nuts or seeds. Some popular versions include:
Champurrado – Atole flavored with chocolate for a comforting, warm drink.
Atole de Fresa – Strawberry atole made with fresh strawberry puree.
Atole de Almendra – Made with almond milk and flavored with cinnamon.
Atole de Arroz – Rice-based atole with a creamy, milky texture.
Champurrado is a chocolate-based atole, but it deserves its own special mention. It’s made by mixing masa harina with water or milk, then adding chocolate, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. This thick, almost pudding-like drink is traditionally served with a sweet bread like pan dulce for dipping.
Fresh-squeezed fruit and vegetable juices, called jugos naturales, are extremely popular in Mexico. Street vendors press sugarcane or fruits like oranges, limes, carrots, melons, papaya, apples and more to order. Some creative combinations include:
Carrot, orange and ginger – A refreshing blend of sweet and zesty.
Pineapple, spinach, and cucumber – Light and green with subtle sweetness.
Beet, carrot, and orange – An earthy but vibrant juice combination.
Watermelon, mint, and lime – Cooling mint accentuates the melon.
Nieve de Garrafa
On a steaming hot day, nothing refreshes quite like a cup or cone of nieve de garrafa. This Mexican shaved ice dessert is flavored with sweet syrups and often topped with fresh fruit like mango, melon, lime, or pineapple. Popular syrup flavors include tamarind, chamoy, mandarin orange, passionfruit, coconut, and guava. For something really decadent, nieve de garrafa can also be served with sweetened condensed milk drizzled on top.
Tepache is a fermented pineapple drink with pre-Hispanic roots. Pineapple peels and rind are fermented in water with piloncillo sugar and spices like cinnamon, clove, and allspice. The resulting drink has tangy-sweet flavors with a slight effervescence. Tepache is low in alcohol, with most recipes having less than 1 percent.
Sweetened Rice Drinks
Horchata is not the only rice-based drink in Mexican cuisine. Other drinks are made by boiling rice with water, cinnamon, and sugar or honey. When chilled, the texture is silky and creamy. Rice can also be blended with almond milk and served cold. These sweetened rice drinks make refreshing alternatives to dairy-based beverages.
Agua de frutas, or fruit waters, are made by simply adding fresh fruit like lemon, lime, orange, watermelon, cantaloupe or honeydew to water. For added flavor, herbs like mint or basil are sometimes muddled in the water too. The fruit infuses the water with subtle sweetness and aroma. Fruit waters are the perfect way to drink more water while also enjoying fruity flavors.
Drinks made with milk or almond milk are popular non-alcoholic choices in Mexico as well. Options include chocolate milk sweetened with sugar and spiced with cinnamon, malted milkshakes called malteadas, and fresh fruit licuados blended with milk. For a plant-based option, almond, oat or soy milk can be substituted in these drinks.
Aguas Frescas de Flor de Jamaica (Hibiscus)
Agua de flor de jamaica, also simply called jamaica, is an agua fresca made from the bright red hibiscus flower. The flowers are dried and then boiled to extract both the rich red color and tart, cranberry-like flavor. Sugar is added to balance out the inherent sourness of the hibiscus. The resulting agua fresca has a deep magenta color and a bold, refreshing sour taste. It is often served chilled over ice.
Limonada de Coco
For a tropical-inspired drink, try limonada de coco. It’s made by blending fresh lime juice with coconut water and sweetening it to taste with sugar. The lime adds tartness while the coconut water provides natural sweetness and a subtle coconut flavor. Limonada de coco is light and refreshing, perfect for a hot day. For something richer, evaporated or coconut milk can be used instead of coconut water.
Malteada de Fresa
Malteadas are Mexican-style milkshakes made with milk, ice cream, and your choice of flavoring ingredients. Malteada de fresa features one of the most beloved flavors: fresh strawberry. Ripe, juicy strawberries are blended with milk, vanilla ice cream and sugar for a creamy, dreamy milkshake with pure strawberry flavor. Other popular malteada flavors are chocolate, vanilla, coffee, and cajeta (caramel).
For a healthy, non-alcoholic alternative, try jugo verde (“green juice”). This fresh juice is packed with vegetables like celery, cucumber, green bell pepper, spinach, parsley, and green apple. Adding a bit of pineapple or orange juice cuts the earthy flavors. Jugo verde provides a boost of vitamins and minerals, while the sweetness satisfies cravings for something refreshing.
Chocolate con Leche Frío
A cup of cold chocolate con leche can’t be beat on a hot day. It’s made by whisking together warm milk with chocolate, sugar, and a bit of cornstarch or egg yolk to help thicken it. Spices like cinnamon, vanilla, star anise, or chile powder are sometimes added too. After fully blending, it is chilled until ice cold before serving. The richness pairs perfectly with a sweet bread like concha.
Tamarindo Agua Fresca
Agua de tamarindo is a popular agua fresca made from the pod-like fruit of tamarind trees. Tamarind has a unique sour-sweet flavor that makes for a tart, thirst-quenching drink. The pods are boiled to extract the flavor, strained, then mixed with sugar and chilled. Adding a squeeze of lime brightens up the tanginess. Tamarind agua fresca is a unique option for those looking for a more complex flavor.
For a lighter take on lemonade, try limonada suave. It’s made by mixing fresh lemon juice with lots of water and only a bit of sugar, so it’s barely sweet. The small amount of sugar balances the tart lemon without overpowering it. Chill it well with lots of ice and garnish with a lemon wedge. Limonada suave quenches thirst without being too sweet or too sour, making it super refreshing.
Jamaica Agua Fresca
Agua de jamaica is another popular agua fresca made from hibiscus flowers. The dried flowers are steeped in hot water to extract their distinct cranberry-like tart flavor and magenta coloring. Sugar balances out the inherent sourness. The finished drink is deep red in color with a flavor akin to cranberries, raspberries, or pomegranate. Jamaica agua fresca is sometimes served with a splash of orange juice added too. It’s incredibly refreshing chilled over ice on a hot day.
Champurrado is a comforting drink similar to hot chocolate, but with the addition of masa harina (corn flour). It also typically features star anise, cinnamon, and vanilla. The masa gives it a thicker, almost porridge-like consistency. Piloncillo, unrefined brown cane sugar, adds an earthy sweetness and deep caramel flavor. Champurrado is traditionally served with a sweet bread like concha or pan dulce that’s dipped into the drink. It’s warm and nourishing, perfect for chilly weather or breakfast.
Ceviche de Frutas
“Ceviche” isn’t just for seafood! In Mexico, ceviche de frutas is a popular non-alcoholic drink made by “cooking” fresh fruit in lime juice. Pineapple, mango, watermelon, jicama, cucumber and orange are commonly used. The citrus juice infuses the fruit with tart flavor while also partially breaking it down, resulting in a creamy, smooth texture similar to traditional ceviche. Ceviche de frutas is served well-chilled, often in a glass with a salted rim.
Tejuino is a fermented corn drink developed in pre-Hispanic times. Masa harina (corn dough) is fermented and then mixed with water and lime juice, producing a slightly fizzy, acidic drink. Tejuino often features additional flavors like lime zest, salt, chili powder or molasses sugar. It has a unique creamy, sour-sweet corn taste. Though it contains a tiny amount of alcohol from the fermentation process, most tejuino contains less than 1 percent ABV.
Juices with Herbs
In Mexico, fresh juices called jugos naturales are taken up a notch with the addition of fresh herbs. Pairings like orange juice with mint, carrot juice with parsley, grapefruit juice with basil, and cucumber juice with cilantro add light herbal notes that take these drinks to the next level. The herbs accentuate the main flavors without overpowering. Next time you make juice, try mixing in a handful of fresh herbs for a flavorful twist.
Chocolate y Chiles Agua Fresca
If you like spice, try chocolate y chiles agua fresca. Unsweetened cocoa powder and chile peppers are blended with sugar, water, milk, and vanilla to make a unique agua fresca with both chocolate and chile warmth. Guajillo and ancho chiles are commonly used for their mild, rich flavor. A dash of cinnamon adds another layer. The end result is slightly sweet with a touch of heat, making this agua fresca absolutely addicting. It’s like drinking spiced hot chocolate, but ice cold.
Limonada de Mango y Chile
Another popular flavored lemonade is limonada de mango y chile. It combines fresh mango, lime juice, sugar and a touch of chili powder or chipotle pepper for intrigue. The ingredients are simply blended together with water and chilled. The sugar balances the tart citrus while the mango provides tropical sweetness. The dash of chili pepper adds back-of-the-throat heat. The flavors meld together into a lively lemonade that will wake up your tastebuds.
While horchata is typically associated with cinnamon, rice is the key ingredient in this agua fresca. Rice is soaked, blended with water and strained to create a milky, creamy liquid. Sugar and cinnamon are added for sweetness and warmth, along with a splash of vanilla. Optional ingredients like coconut milk, almonds or melon sometimes make an appearance too. Well-chilled rice horchata is sweet and silky smooth, with a subtle nuttiness from the rice. It’s lighter and less creamy than the dairy-based cinnamon horchata.
Sandía Agua Fresca
On a blistering hot day, nothing is more refreshing than ice-cold watermelon. Capture that hydrating flavor in sandía agua fresca, made from fresh watermelon juice, often with bits of melon blended or muddled in. A squeeze of lime adds a touch of tartness to balance the sweetness. Watermelon’s high water content makes this agua fresca incredibly light and thirst-quenching. For added refreshment, serve it over ice.
Café de Olla with Orange Zest
Café de olla is a cinnamon-infused coffee sweetened with piloncillo sugar. For a fresh twist, try adding strips of orange zest while brewing the coffee. The aromatic orange oils will infuse the coffee with a hint of citrus flavor. You’ll still get the comforting cinnamon, chocolate and caramel notes from the traditional café de olla, but the orange adds a subtle fruity nuance. The touch of citrus is perfect for brightening up a sleepy morning.
Jamaica and Hibiscus Tea
Given its tart, fruity flavor, jamaica agua fresca lends itself nicely to tea combinations as well. Try brewing hibiscus tea with the dried jamaica (hibiscus) flowers, along with additions like citrus slices, cinnamon sticks, ginger root, or lemon verbena. Sweeten lightly with sugar or honey. The herbal ingredients complement the jamaica’s inherent flavors. Enjoy this floral, caffeine-free tea hot or poured over ice for a refreshing lift.
Melon Aguas Frescas
Mexico’s abundance of fresh, ripe melons make for delicious aguas frescas. Favorites include watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew. Each melon is blended with water and sugar, sometimes muddled or shaken with fresh mint or lime for extra flavor. Watermelon agua fresca is one of the most iconic, with its sweet berry flavor. Cantaloupe agua fresca is perfumed and smooth, while honeydew makes for a subtler, lighter drink. No matter which melon you choose, these fruit-based drinks capture their essence in refreshingly sweet agua fresca form.
With such a wide variety of flavors, fruits, spices, and ingredients to choose from, the options for non-alcoholic Mexican drinks are endless. From comforting atole to thirst-quenching aguas frescas, Mexico offers beverages for cooling off or warming up any time of day. Sip your way through the incredible diversity of authentic Mexican drinks without the alcohol.