Rice Pudding

Warm or cold, this recipe is equally good.

Rice Pudding

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Total Time:
55 mins

Rice pudding can be both humble and elevated. It's often enjoyed as a quick dessert when the cupboard is nearly bare, but chefs also show off their well-honed skills with the perfectly crafted rice pudding. Because, for better or worse, when the ingredient list is so small, every step and every food really shines.

If you're new to rice pudding, it can be eaten hot or cold. The texture will change slightly, with cold rice pudding being a bit more firm.

You can also make this rice pudding recipe vegan: Coconut milk is an excellent substitution for dairy and adds a slightly tropical hint. You could also sub in any non-dairy alternative you have on hand.

If basic vanilla isn't enough flavor for your rice pudding, mix things up. Add 1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger, 1/2 teaspoon cardamom, and 1/2 teaspoon allspice for a chai-flavored rice pudding.

You could also stir in a serving of pumpkin pie spice for a fall treat. Raisins are another traditional stir-in, but you could opt for their tart cousins, Craisins (dried cranberries), for a bit of holiday taste. 


  • 5 cups whole milk

  • 1 cup arborio rice

  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 1 vanilla bean pod, seeds scraped, plus shell for flavor


  1. Stir rice, milk, sugar, and salt in a heavy-bottomed large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a slight boil; the sugar should have dissolved. Watch milk to avoid it boiling over.

    rice pudding ingredients

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

  2. Add cinnamon stick, vanilla bean seeds, and empty shell to pot. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer uncovered for approximately 45 minutes. Stir frequently to keep rice and milk from burning to the bottom of the pan.

    Rice Pudding with vanilla bean

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

  3. Remove from heat. The pudding should be thick and the rice should be tender. Remove the cinnamon stick and vanilla bean pod. Cool for approximately 5 minutes, and serve warm.

    rice pudding

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

    Make-Ahead Tip

    If you’re making rice pudding in advance, allow it to cool to room temperature, transfer it to an airtight container, and press some plastic wrap against the pudding to avoid a skin forming. Refrigerate for up to 5 days. To reheat, add some milk to thin it, and warm it over low heat. 

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