Top | Puddings, Custards, and Other Dairy Desserts

Rice Pudding

(recipe, Caroline Cummins)

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This classic dessert is basically just rice cooked in milk instead of water. Yes, you'll have to stand over the stove for half an hour, stirring, but just think of it as meditation time.


  1. 1 vanilla bean or 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  2. 6 cups whole milk
  3. ⅔ cup sugar
  4. ½ cup risotto rice, such as Vialone Nano, or sushi rice, such as Nishiki
  5. Pinch of cinnamon and/or freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
  6. ⅔ cup raisins (optional)


  1. If using the vanilla bean, split and scrape it into a large saucepan, then add the milk. Bring just to a boil, stirring, then remove from the heat.
  2. Stir in the sugar and the rice. Bring to a gentle simmer, stirring steadily, and continue to cook, stirring, for at least 30 minutes or until the rice has absorbed most of the milk, the pudding has a thick, creamy consistency, and the rice grains are chewy but tender to the bite. Remove from the heat.
  3. If using the vanilla extract instead of the vanilla bean, stir in the extract. If using the bean, remove it.
  4. Add the cinnamon and/or nutmeg as well as the raisins, if desired. Scrape the pudding into a single large dish or individual serving bowls. Serve warm or chilled.


If you like, serve the pudding topped with fresh soft fruit, such as berries, bananas, or peaches. For adults, try stirring in a slug of brandy at the end before pouring the pudding into bowls. The Food of Italy suggests adding raisins soaked in brandy or Marsala; for this, soak 2/3 cup raisins in 4 Tbsp. alcohol while you're cooking the pudding, then stir them in just before serving. For an Indian-flavored dessert, replace the vanilla bean with 6 to 8 green cardamom pods. For a tropical treat, replace some of the milk with a can of coconut milk (usually about 14 ounces of coconut milk). Add shredded coconut if desired.