Classic, old fashioned, easy rice pudding recipe, homemade with simple ingredients over stovetop. Rich, creamy, packed with cinnamon, vanilla milk and rice.
My Grandma taught me that the best pudding has an unusually high ratio of milk to rice (5 cups milk to ½ cup rice). This allows all that creaminess and richness from milk to get absorbed by the small amount of rice.
Please note that this doesn't happen quickly either. It takes about 1 hour and then, another 1-2 hours of chilling. However, it's absolutely worth it and it's just as delicious as my Chocolate Pudding.
What is rice pudding?
It is a rich and creamy dessert dish that is made with rice along with milk or water, as well as a sweetener like granulated sugar and typically flavored with vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg.
It's believed to have originated from China, where it was called "porridge." Today, many different cultures have their own spin on this recipe with all kinds of of different add-ins to make it even more delicious.
How to make rice pudding from scratch on stovetop?
- Heat milk- Add milk, sugar, cinnamon powder and bring to a boil.
- Add rice- Mix and then, reduce heat.
- Cook- Stir often and cook until mixture is thickened to a "yogurt-like" consistency.
- Add vanilla- Remove from heat and add vanilla extract
- Chill- Let it cool at room temperature.
- Cool in fridge- Chill in fridge, preferably overnight, allowing it to thicken further.
- Enjoy! Sprinkle some more cinnamon powder or nutmeg powder on top and dig in!
Creamy rice pudding with cooked rice or leftover rice- This will save a lot of time. Mix 1.5 cups leftover cooked rice with 2.5 cups whole milk, cinnamon stick, ¼ cup granulated sugar and cook on Low heat until mixture is thickened.
Indian rice pudding- Known as kheer. Use basmati rice. Omit vanilla extract. Add cardamom powder, along with cinnamon powder. Garnish with roughly chopped pistachios.
Mexican rice pudding- Also known as, "Arroz con Leche," which features rum-soaked raisins and eggs. It's an entirely different recipe.
Coconut rice pudding- Reduce the amount of whole milk by 1 cup and replace that with 1 can of unsweetened coconut milk. Garnish with toasted shredded coconut at the end. Replace vanilla extract with coconut extract.
Make it healthy and vegan- Use dairy-free milk such as coconut milk, almond milk or oat milk. You can also use brown rice. Please note that these alterations will change the flavor, color and even the texture of the pudding.
Add-ins and garnish options- Try dried fruits like raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, dried apricots or chopped nuts like pecans, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews. A sprinkle of spices like ground nutmeg and cinnamon is great too. Top it off with a drizzle of Homemade Caramel Sauce or Dulce de Leche or honey, agave syrup or maple syrup. Shredded toasted coconut is another delicious option.
Add chocolate- Sprinkle some mini chocolate chips on top or you can even mix them into the pudding while cooking.
Add zest- Such as orange, lemon or lime zest for a refreshing and citrus flavor.
Try other extracts- The classic choice is vanilla but you can try caramel, almond, anise, butterscotch, coconut e.t.c.
Tips and Techniques
Serve it hot or cold? It's typically enjoyed t cold but can be enjoyed both ways, depending on the season.
What type of rice to use? Arborio rice, white long-grain rice, jasmine rice, and basmati rice are all good choices. Avoid brown rice since it alters the flavor and color of the overall dish.
How to thicken pudding? Continue cooking until excess liquid is evaporated and mixture is reduced. Chilling in fridge will thicken it further.
How to make pudding thinner? Mix in some milk, heavy cream or half and half until desired consistency is achieved.
Why is my pudding crunchy? The rice was not cooked through.
How to store pudding? It can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days. If it's become too thick, thin it out by mixing in some milk.
Make ahead instructions- This can easily be made 1 day in advance. Garnish with cinnamon powder, prior to serving.
Cook slow on low heat- This is the key to this recipe! Cooking for 1 hour allows all the flavors to develop and the low heat prevents burning. Making this dessert requires patience and you can't rush the process. The longer it cooks, the better it tastes!
Use nonstick pot- Because this prevents burning and sticking.
Stir often- Because this prevents the milk and rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot and burning.
Use whole milk- Because that yields the richest and creamiest results due to the high fat content. You can also use a combination of whole milk and heavy cream.
Use granulated sugar- Because brown sugar discolors the pudding and makes it slightly brown.
Use clear extract- Because it prevents discoloration.
Cinnamon powder vs. Cinnamon stick- Either can be used. If you want a truly white pudding, use the stick and then discard it at the end.
Chilling is important- Don't skip this step. The pudding will look runny and it will thicken further as it chills in the fridge for a few hours.
More Pudding Recipes
Creamy Rice Pudding
- In a large nonstick saucepan, add milk, sugar, cinnamon powder and cook on medium-high heat until mixture comes to a boil.
- Add rice and reduce the heat to "Low" so that it continues to cook at a gentle simmer. Don't cover with lid.
- Stir often and cook for about 50 minutes- 1 hour or until mixture is thickened to a "yogurt-like" consistency.
- Remove from heat and mix in vanilla extract.
- Let it cool at room temperature, which will thicken it up even more.
- Then, chill in fridge for 1-2 hours or overnight until it's nice and cold. This will also make the pudding thicker.
- Optional: Prior to serving, mix in ½ cup cold milk to make it slightly thinner and creamier, if you like.
- Sprinkle with more cinnamon powder and enjoy!
- Read all my tips above.
- Leftovers can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Until next time, tata my lovelies!