A bowl of rich, creamy Rice Pudding is like a big hug from your Grandma on a cold and dreary day. It’s a classic comfort dessert that is not overly sweet, with hints of cinnamon and studded with plump raisins, and can be enjoyed warm or cold. Chances are, everything you need to make it right now is already in your pantry. It’s so easy!
Old Fashioned Rice Pudding Recipe
If you love our homemade tapioca pudding, you’ll love its cousin, rice pudding – similar, but unique in their own ways. Rice pudding at its basic level is just white rice that’s cooked in sweetened milk. The rice absorbs the liquid, expands, and becomes super creamy after slow simmering for a while. It’s usually lightly spiced with cinnamon, with or without raisins. We love the taste and aroma of cinnamon as it cooks and are in the pro-raisin camp, which plump up and add a special sweetness that just seems at home in this dessert.
You can make rice pudding with uncooked rice or cooked rice, but our preferred way is from scratch with uncooked rice, which will deliver the absolute best results.
Here are the ingredients needed to make this rice pudding recipe:
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.)
- Rice: uncooked medium-grain white rice for best results. Don’t rinse! Rinsing the rice removes a lot of the starch, which is needed to make the pudding creamy. (See my notes about other types of rice below.)
- Milk: Any type of milk will work, but the higher fat content, the creamier (and better!) the pudding will be. I always use whole milk. I’ve heard of positive results from using almond milk or coconut milk, but haven’t tried either of those myself.
- Granulated Sugar: yep, you need sugar. Remember, this is a dessert. The good news for anyone trying to cut back is that this pudding is pretty forgiving in that department. You can start with a certain amount, then taste and add more toward the end of cooking if you want it sweeter. After you make it once, you could even play around with a combination of granulated sugar and brown sugar the next time.
- Egg: I make this pudding with tempered egg, which adds to the creaminess. I include notes in the recipe card to make it without, if preferred.
- Butter: unsalted butter is added in at the end, which makes this dessert extra rich and creamy.
- Vanilla: a little bit of vanilla extract is stirred in at the end of cooking to finish it off. It’s subtle, but really makes a delicious difference.
- Salt: a little bit of salt is added, which elevates all the other flavors.
- Add-ins: the best rice pudding, in my humble opinion, includes cinnamon and raisins. But you can easily customize this dessert with other spices (like nutmeg) and dried fruit, or simply omit both.
Best Type of Rice for Rice Pudding
The type of rice used to make rice pudding is pretty important. It is the star of the show, after all. And not all grains produce the same results.
- Medium grain rice – in my experience, uncooked medium grain rice is the best rice to use. It produces a creamy pudding with soft grains that don’t turn to mush.
- Arborio rice (used for risotto) – this is my second choice, which produces the same results as the medium grain, BUT it requires more liquid and takes longer to cook.
- Long grain white rice – this is fine. Since I use it so often in other dishes, I always have a ton of it on hand, therefore it has made its way into my rice pudding before. But it doesn’t really provide that plump textural feel that medium grain does, and if you cook it too long it gets mushy.
- Jasmine rice (short grain rice) – short grain white rice or jasmine rice will give you a very soft (almost mushy, but not quite) end result.
- Basmati rice – while basmati rice works, the nutty flavor isn’t something I enjoy in this dessert pudding.
- Brown rice – brown rice is a hard no for me. It’s simply too firm for this pudding and doesn’t deliver that classic taste.
How to Make Rice Pudding
Rice pudding is traditionally made on the stovetop, by combining all the ingredients in a saucepan and simmering for a length of time. It requires frequent stirring until the rice is tender and the pudding is thickened. It’s super easy, but a labor of love because you cannot walk away! Like risotto, it takes commitment and needs your undivided attention. Have all your ingredients ready and don’t try to multitask.
(Scroll down to the printable recipe card for details and measurements, and don’t miss the video below.)
Can I Make Rice Pudding with Cooked Rice?
The short answer: sure, you can make it with cooked rice. Long answer: it’s just not the same. Rice should be uncooked. The ideal taste and texture of rice pudding comes from constantly stirring raw rice as it cooks, which releases the starch. That’s what thickens the milk mixture and makes it so wonderfully creamy.
Video: Homemade Rice Pudding
- How long is rice pudding good for? Any leftovers should be stored in an airtight container or individual custard cups in the refrigerator. It will keep up to 5 days. I recommend placing some plastic wrap on the surface of the pudding, to avoid a skin forming.
- To reheat rice pudding: Reheat over low heat and add more milk to thin out as needed, since the pudding will continue to thicken as it chills.
- Can you freeze rice pudding? You can, but I don’t recommend it. Once thawed, the pudding separates and becomes grainy and not very creamy. It’s best eaten fresh or chilled and/or reheated.
More Pudding Recipes:
- 5 & 1/2 cups whole milk , divided (plus more if needed)
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup uncooked medium grain white rice (don't rinse)
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ground cinnamon , for garnish
- whole milk , for drizzling
- Combine 5 cups of the milk, sugar, and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently so the sugar doesn't scorch on the bottom of the pan (watching carefully, as the liquid will quickly rise to the top of the pan.)
- Once milk is boiling, add rice and reduce heat to low/medium-low, adjusting to maintain a gentle simmer (it should still be bubbling.) Cook, stirring every 1-2 minutes while scraping the base and sides of the pan with a wooden spoon, until mixture is thick and rice is tender, about 22 minutes. (NOTE: the ratio of milk to rice in the beginning will seem ridiculously high, but it will reduce and thicken, I promise!)
- Temper the egg: in a large measuring cup, whisk together the egg and remaining 1/2 cup milk. Slowly pour 1/2 cup of the hot rice into the egg mixture, then add that back into the pot; stir to combine.
- Add in the raisins and cinnamon; cook for another 3-5 minutes or so, stirring constantly, until raisins plump and pudding is thickened.
- Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla.
- If pudding seems too thick, you can add in 1/4 cup extra milk, only if needed to loosen and achieve desired consistency.
- Pour mixture into individual custard cups or bowls and serve warm with a little drizzle of milk and sprinkle of cinnamon. (The rice pudding will continue to thicken as it cools. Thin out with more milk if desired.)NOTE: making rice pudding is so easy, but its success is all in the details. Read the full article for FAQS, helpful info, and storage. Directions for making this recipe without the egg is below.