Creamy Rice Pudding

$1.68 recipe / $0.42 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.85 from 19 votes
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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!

Rice pudding in a sauce pot topped with almonds

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:

  • Raisins
  • Nuts: walnuts, pecans, pistachios
  • Caramel sauce or dulce de leche
  • Saffron
  • Cardamom
  • Chocolate
  • 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.

Three bowls of rice pudding topped with sliced almonds
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Creamy Rice Pudding

4.85 from 19 votes
Creamy rice pudding is a simple, delicious, and inexpensive dessert full of warm flavors like vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
finished rice pudding in the pot topped with sliced almonds.
Servings 4 1 cup each
Prep 5 minutes
Cook 45 minutes
Total 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp butter ($0.11)
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds ($0.44)
  • 1/2 cup uncooked long-grain jasmine rice* ($0.16)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon ($0.02)
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg ($0.02)
  • 4 cups whole milk* ($0.80)
  • 1/4 cup sugar ($0.04)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract ($0.07)
  • 1/4 tsp salt ($0.02)

Instructions 

  • 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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Notes

*You can use the rice and milk of your choice. See the notes above the recipe for more information.
*To use leftover cooked rice in this recipe, use 2 cups of cooked rice and 2 cups of milk.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 391kcalCarbohydrates: 46gProtein: 13gFat: 18gSodium: 262mgFiber: 2g
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Video

close up of rice pudding being stirred in the pot

How to Make Rice Pudding – Step By Step Photos

Almonds and rice in the pot with butter

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.

Milk being poured into the pot with rice, almonds, and spices.

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).

sugar being poured into the pot with the milk and rice.

Also add ¼ cup sugar, ¼ tsp vanilla extract, and ¼ tsp salt. Stir to combine.

Cooked rice pudding in the pot with a spoon.

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.

finished rice pudding in the pot topped with sliced almonds.

Serve the super creamy rice pudding warm, or refrigerate and serve cold the next day!

three bowls of rice pudding topped with almonds and cinnamon.
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  1. I’ve never made rice pudding or really been a big fan of it, but my boyfriend is so I decided to make this tonight for him for Xmas eve dessert tomorrow. Did a little taste test while it was cooling and it’s SO GOOD!! I’ll definitely have to make this again.

  2. This is very much my mother’s 150 year old recipe. Skip steps 1 and 2 as they are not really needed! #3. Add the RICE, milk, sugar, vanilla, and….follow the remainder of the directions. It has been a long time since I’ve made it and this reminds me to do it soon! Thanks~

  3. OMG, so good.

    I tried to make this as ‘low cal’ as possible swapping the sugar for erythritol, and the milk and butter for lower-fat versions – it still turned out great. Also tried with doubling the spices, and swapping the Almonds for Flax Seeds – super flavourful.

    This recipe is definitely getting saved.

      1. No, unfortunately it’s the starches in the rice that make the pudding work and cauliflower does not contain enough starch.

  4. Excited to try this with some leftover rice, but I was wondering how I should adjust the cook times when using ore-cooked rice.

  5. Can I make this without almonds? I’m not sure if the almonds have a purpose besides flavor. I have all the other ingredients.

    1. For sure! They are mostly there for added texture and flavor. You could omit them or substitute them with another nut. Check out the list under the section of the blog post labeled, “WHAT ELSE CAN I ADD?” for a long list of other suggestions! ~ Marion :)

  6. Youre so cool! I dont suppose Ive learn something like this before. So good to search out somebody with some original ideas on this subject. realy thanks for starting this up. this website is one thing that’s needed on the net, someone with slightly originality. helpful job for bringing one thing new to the web!

  7. Sweet and delicious, with just the right amount of salt! I used rice milk, which worked just as well as dairy. Next time I’ll try adding cardamom as well – that sounds like a great addition.

  8. Just made this to use up some cooked brown rice in my freezer, with the suggested ratio of 2 cups cooked rice with 2 cups milk. Added cardamom instead of nutmeg, and used unsweetened soy milk because that’s what I had on hand. Also, I reduced the sugar by a tablespoon.

    Turned out exactly as I’d hoped! Ate one serving for breakfast, and I’ll have the others in the fridge for later this week!

  9. Didn’t work for me. Rice was kinda pastey. Cinnamon a bit overpowering. Ah well. In general I love your recipes

  10. I’m looking forward to trying your Rice Pudding recipe. But I have a question, there is no egg!
    I’ve seen many recipes for my favorite treat, they all have you add an egg, some call for 2 of them.
    Just curious, I will be trying this soon.
    Thanks,
    DL

    1. Adding an egg will definitely make the rice pudding more custard-like, but I find the pudding plenty creamy and delicious without it, plus it’s easier and even less expensive without egg. :)

  11. I never made rice pudding ever. I made this one and it was very good , tried another recipe next time i made it and it was not good! So this will be the recipe i will use for now on. P.S So creamy