There isn’t a more creamy and dreamy budget-friendly dessert than rice pudding with its warm flavors of cinnamon, vanilla, and nutmeg. You only need a few basic pantry staple ingredients, like milk, sugar, rice, and a few spices, so it can be whipped up whenever you need a sweet treat and it’s also a great way to reduce waste and repurpose your leftover rice, which we love! Not to mention, this sweet and creamy rice pudding recipe holds up great in the refrigerator, making it the perfect meal prep dessert!
What is Rice Pudding?
Rice pudding is a thick and sweet mixture of rice cooked in milk until it becomes soft and creamy. It’s flavored with a variety of warm spices like vanilla and cinnamon and sometimes has other add-ins like raisins or nuts. It’s a simple, warm, and comforting dish that is always satisfying. While this dish is said to have originated in China, several cultures across the globe have some form of rice pudding, each with its own unique combination of rice varieties, spices, and add-ins. This particular version was inspired by
Ingredients for Rice Pudding
Here’s what you’ll need to make this delicious rice pudding recipe:
- Rice: We used long-grain jasmine rice for this recipe because that’s what we had on hand and I love its fragrant flavor, but you can make rice pudding with virtually any kind of white rice. You may need to adjust the amount of milk slightly depending on the variety, but it’s easy to add more as you go if needed.
- Milk: Milk is what makes rice pudding so creamy and delicious. While you can substitute non-dairy milk, keep in mind that it will change the flavor and texture. I find whole milk to be the creamiest and most delicious.
- Sugar: Our rice pudding is sweetened with simple white sugar so as to not muddy the simple flavors in the pudding, but you can play around with your favorite sweetener and adjust the sweetness (and flavor) to your liking.
- Butter: We used butter to lightly toast the rice (and almonds) at the beginning of the recipe to add even more toasty flavor and dimension to the pudding.
- Almonds: Almonds are optional, but I love the flavor and texture they add to the pudding.
- Spices: The rice pudding is flavored with a warm mix of spices like vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. We also add a little bit of salt to help amplify all of the flavors.
More Flavor Ideas for Rice Pudding
The recipe below is a pretty simple and classic rice pudding recipe, but it can be customized in several different ways. Here are some other ingredients you can add to rice pudding:
- Nuts: walnuts, pecans, pistachios
- Caramel sauce or dulce de leche
- Toasted coconut
- Instant coffee
Do You Eat Rice Pudding Hot or Cold?
Another reason that I love rice pudding is because it tastes great both hot and cold! When the rice pudding is warm it’s super comforting and it feels like a big cozy cinnamon-vanilla hug. When you eat it cold the next day, it’s actually rather refreshing, similar in a way to horchata.
Use Leftover Rice
The recipe below uses uncooked rice, but rice pudding is actually a great way to use up leftover rice from the night before. To use leftover rice in this recipe, use 2 cups of cooked rice and 2 cups of milk (instead of the ½ cup rice and 4 cups milk in the recipe below). Add the cooked rice after toasting the nuts and spices in butter.
How to Make Vegan Rice Pudding
This recipe is really easy to convert into a vegan recipe. Use coconut oil to toast the almonds and rice in the beginning of the recipe and then swap the whole milk for your favorite non-dairy milk. I would suggest something extra creamy like coconut, soy, or oat milk.
Creamy Rice Pudding
- Add the butter, almonds, and rice to a saucepot and heat over medium. Cook and stir the rice and almonds in the melted butter for 1-2 minutes, or until they begin to smell toasty.
- Add the cinnamon and nutmeg to the pot and continue to stir and cook for 30-60 seconds more.
- Add the milk, sugar, vanilla, and salt to the pot and stir to combine. Allow the mixture to come up to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
- Once simmering, turn the heat down to medium-low. Continue to simmer the rice without a lid, stirring occasionally, for about 40 minutes, or until the rice is very soft and the mixture has thickened considerably. The pudding will thicken further as it cools.
- Serve the rice pudding warm or refrigerate and serve cold the next day.
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How to Make Rice Pudding – Step By Step Photos
Add 1 Tbsp butter, ¼ cup sliced almonds, and ½ cup uncooked long-grain jasmine rice to a sauce pot. Stir and cook over medium heat for about two minutes, or until the almonds and rice begin to smell a bit toasty.
Add ¼ tsp cinnamon and ¼ tsp nutmeg to the rice and almonds, and continue to stir and cook for 30-60 seconds more. Finally, pour in 4 cups whole milk (or milk of your choice).
Also add ¼ cup sugar, ¼ tsp vanilla extract, and ¼ tsp salt. Stir to combine.
Bring the mixture up to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once it begins simmering, reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer for about 40 minutes (without a lid), stirring occasionally, or until the rice is very soft and the mixture has thickened considerably. Keep in mind that the rice pudding will continue to thicken further as it cools.
Serve the super creamy rice pudding warm, or refrigerate and serve cold the next day!