Rice pudding is at heart a type of porridge like any other. It incorporates a grain (rice), a liquid (usually milk or milk and water), a sweetener (sugar, honey), and spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, cardamom, ginger). It can include fresh fruit, fruit zest, dried fruit, nuts, and egg (which gives it a custard-y texture). I’ve read it hearkens back to Tudor times in Great Britain, but it is popular where ever rice is found – including Asia, South America, the Caribbean, and throughout Europe.
As a type of porridge, there is perhaps no dessert as easy to make as rice pudding. It is naturally gluten-free, and you could likely make it dairy free by using milk alternatives, so it’s very allergen-friendly.
Recipe for Rice Pudding
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30-40 minutes
Cook method: Simmer
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 3/4 cup red wine
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3/4 cup short-grain or medium-grain rice
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup half and half or heavy cream
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1/2 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
- 1 tsp salt
- ground nutmeg & cinnamon (to taste)
- 1 egg (optional)
1. First, plump up the raisins. We use red wine, but you could use your favorite spirit, liqueur, or even juice. Place them in a small saucepan with the wine and cinnamon stick and heat to a low boil. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Combine the rice, water, milk, salt, and 1/4 cup of sugar in a heavy saucepan. If using the vanilla bean, add it here, cut in half lengthwise. (If using extract wait to add it at the end).
3. Bring to a low boil and then simmer over the lowest heat for about 30-45 minutes. (The cook time I find really depends on the variety of rice). The rice should be soft but not disintegrated.
4. When the rice is ready, if necessary drain off any excess liquid. Add the butter and the rest of the sugar. If using the egg, beat it with the cream and then add that as well – otherwise just add the cream. Add the cinnamon and nutmeg, or any other spices you prefer.
5. Drain the raisins and give them a very quick rinse in cold water (so the wine does not color the pudding!). Stir in the raisins.
6. Serve in individual ramekins or in a single serving bowl, with a sprinkling of cinnamon on top. Can be eaten warm, room temperature, or even cold!
Try making “Arroz con dulce,” or rice pudding with Puerto Rican twist, by soaking the raisins in and using coconut milk as the liquid with lemon zest, vanilla, ginger, and cloves.
Or try it with a Bengali twist and use basmati rice, cardamom, and pistachios.
You can even substitute brown rice for a healthier version, although it will increase the cook time.
Looking for more rice recipes?
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