Looking for a creamy rice pudding recipe? This is my absolutely favourite rice pudding, that is, in my opinion, the best, most delicious rice pudding you can make!
I have been making this stove-top rice pudding forever. Decades :) It’s easily my favourite rice pudding recipe. And while it takes a little more time than some rice pudding recipes, it produces the most creamy and delicious rice pudding. It’s definitely worth it!
I know some people tend to think of it as quite humble food, but when done right, it’s about as far from humble food as you can get.
Rice – Classic, old-fashioned rice pudding rice is typically made with converted long grain rice, such as Uncle Ben’s™, and you can’t go wrong with this rice. I also love Arborio rice for rice pudding. I love the plump grains of rice and it cooks up wonderfully in the milk. Basmati and Jasmine are also long grain rice, that would be an option in the absence of the first two choices. I don’t recommend any other type of short-grain or quick-cooking rice for rice pudding, as it tends to result in a mushy pudding with this long-simmering recipe.
Milk – Whole, full-fat 3.5% b.f. milk is best for rice pudding. You can use 2%, if that’s all you have, though the resulting pudding won’t be quite as creamy. I wouldn’t use milk less than 2%, for best results.
Cream – The addition of heavy whipping cream (35% b.f.) contributes both to the creamy flavour of the pudding and to the thickening process. I recommend using the heavy cream. You may be able to use a lighter cream in a pinch, such as Half & Half 10% cream, but I haven’t tested it myself. I suspect it may result in a looser pudding to some extent.
White Granulated Sugar – The sugar is added simply for sweetness, so you can adjust the amount to your personal taste. I always suggest making the recipe as written first, then tweak after that. Likewise, other sweeteners will work here, but best to stick to granulated sweeteners if possible (vs liquid), to avoid thinning the pudding too much.
You will also need – eggs (2), salt, vanilla and raisins, if using.
This is a visual summary of the steps to make this rice pudding. Always refer to the Recipe Card below for complete instructions.
1. To start the rice pudding, you’ll bring the milk to a boil in a large pot, over medium heat. Be sure to use a large pot and watch it closely. When milk hits the boil, it can boil up and over the edge of the pot, which is never a good thing.
While the milk is heating, take a moment to prepare the custard ingredients (eggs, cream, sugar, vanilla and salt). I like to do this early in the process, so it has a chance to sit out and come to room temperature before using.
When the milk comes to the boil, stir in your rice, then reduce the temperature under the pot to about medium low, or whatever setting on your stovetop that maintains a gentle simmer.
2. You’ll need to stir down the pudding every 10 minutes for the first 30 minutes of cooking. The milk will form a skin on top. Just stir it back into the pudding.
After 30 minutes of cooking, you’ll need to check and stir every 5 minutes, taste testing the rice with each stir until the rice is tender. At this point, much of the liquid has been absorbed, so it’s important that you stir regularly and if necessary, add a bit more hot milk (or water) as needed, to the pot to avoid scorching the rice.
3. Once the rice is tender, slide the pot off the heat (to avoid scorching the rice) and slowly add a couple ladles off the hot rice/milk mixture to the egg mixture. You need to do this very slowly, a drop at a time, so you slowly bring the egg mixture up to the temperature of the rice mixture. If you add too much hot liquid at once, the eggs will cook an become a bit like scrambled eggs, which is definitely not what we want. Once you’ve added two ladles of hot rice mixture to the egg mixture. Add the egg mixture into the pot with the rice. Return the pudding to the heat over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture just breaks a bubble, then remove to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours. Pudding will thicken further as it refrigerates.
What is the best rice for rice pudding? It really is a matter of personal taste and whether the rice pudding recipe starts with cooked or uncooked rice. If it starts with cooked rice, pretty much any rice will work. This is not the case for rice pudding recipes that start with uncooked rice, as different rice will absorb liquid differently and affect the outcome. Converted white long grain rice, Jasmine, Basmati or Arborio Rice all all good choices for rice pudding that starts with uncooked rice.
Can I use brown rice for this rice pudding? No. Brown rice absorbs liquid in a different way than white rice and won’t perform well with this recipe that starts with uncooked rice. As mentioned above, brown rice will work in rice pudding recipes that start with cooked rice, so you may wish to seek one of those out if you want to use brown rice.
Can I reduce or replace the sugar? Yes, you can reduce the sugar to taste. For replacing with an alternate sweetener, I suggest replacing with a granulated substitute vs. a liquid sweetener, to avoid thinning out the pudding.
Can I use non-dairy milk for rice pudding? I think so, for the most part. I haven’t tried this myself, but I believe it will be fine to replace the milk with non-dairy milk for simmering the rice. Where it gets tricky is with the heavy cream, which contributes to the thickening of the pudding. Possible a non-dairy “cream” would work similarly, as it may have thickeners in it. Alternately, you may need to resort to a bit of cornstarch/water slurry at the end of cooking that you stir into the hot pudding as needed,to thicken it a bit.
Can I omit the eggs in rice pudding? No, not in this recipe. The eggs are responsible for the thickening of the pudding, as we are essentially make a custard here at the end.
Why is my rice pudding too thick or thin? This rice pudding will thicken as it refrigerates. If it’s a touch too thick for your liking, simply stir in a tablespoon or two of heavy cream and stir to loosen.
If your rice pudding has ended up too thin, it is likely that it didn’t cook it long enough at the end to thicken the custard. If it needs rescuing, pour it into a saucepan, heat, then stir in a bit of cornstarch mixed with cold water, a bit at a time, until the pudding thickens as needed. Re-refrigerate.
How long will rice pudding keep in the fridge? Rice pudding will keep nicely in the fridge for 3-4 days. If it becomes too thick, simply stir in a tablespoon or two of heavy cream to loosen.
Can you freeze rice pudding? Yes, you can. Rice pudding will keep well frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator.
There are a few places where this recipe can go wrong, so I thought I’d point them out, since I’ve done all of them at one point or another :)
1) Not watching the pot as your milk comes to a boil at the start of cooking and having it boil up and all over your stove. Use a large pot and watch very closely as it nears the boil (starts steaming), to avoid that mess.
2) Simmering the milk/rice mixture too vigorously and not stirring it down regularly. Either can result in rice scorching on the bottom of the pan or the mixture drying out before the rice has a chance to cook. Keep mixture at a gentle, just-barely simmer and stir it down regularly. I like to set the timer on my stove in 10/5-minute increments, to remind me, so I can’t forget about it cooking on the stove.
3) Adding too much hot liquid to your egg mixture too quickly. You need to bring the temperature of the egg mixture up very slowly (called “tempering”), so that the eggs don’t cook/curdle. Add a drop at a time (really!) at first and whisk continuously while adding. You can increase to a slow stream as you go along, but keep whisking and don’t rush it.
4) Not cooking the pudding long enough after you add the egg mixture, resulting in a soupy finished pudding. It can be hard to tell the first time you make it, when your custard has cooked long enough. It helps to know what you’re aiming for. It won’t look like the finished pudding in the photos. It will get there once it’s refrigerated and set, but off the stove, it should look much more saucy. BUT, the sauce part should be creamy and noticeably thickened – not thin like milk. My method is when the pudding nears the boil (lots of steam rising from the mixture), I will stop stirring for a 10-15 seconds, to see if any bubbles rise in the middle. If not, I keep cooking, stirring for another minute or so, then I stop again, to see if any bubbles rise. Once I see a bubble rise, I keep cooking, stirring, for only about 30-60 seconds more, then remove and pour into serving bowl.
5) Letting the liquid in the pot get too low. As rice absorbs liquid differently, you may find that the milk mostly disappears before your rice is cooked. If the mixture gets too dry, it may scorch on the bottom of the pan. Don’t hesitate to add more milk or water to the pot towards the end of cooking, to make sure the liquid is sufficient to suspend the rice off the bottom. For best results add hot milk or hot water, to prevent cooling down the mixture.
Get the Recipe: Extra Creamy Rice Pudding
- 4 cups (908 ml) whole milk, (3.5% b.f.), plus up to 1 cup more, as needed
- 1/2 cup (113 ml) long grain white rice or Arborio rice, *or see Notes for other rice options
- 2/3 cup (150 ml) heavy whipping cream, 35% b.f.
- 1/3 cup (67 g) white granulated sugar, or reduce to taste
- 2 large (2 large) egg yolks
- 1 1/2 tsp (7.5 ml) pure vanilla or vanilla bean paste
- 1/8 tsp (Pinch ) salt
- Optional : 1/2 cup raisins
- Rinse a large saucepan with cold water. Don't dry. Set on stove-top over medium heat. Add milk. Heat milk to boiling, over medium heat, stirring regularly. WATCH CLOSELY as it nears the boil! When milk hits the boil, it will boil up and possibly over. That's not a good thing.
- When milk boils, stir in rice and keep stirring until mixture returns to the boil. Reduce heat to a shade higher than low, or whatever level on your stove allows the mixture to gently simmer (bubble breaking the surface but not too vigorously). Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring down the mixture every 10 minutes (Important that you stir it down regularly and ensure that there is no rice sticking to the bottom of the pan. You will notice that the mixture has probably formed a skin on top. Don't remove it. Just stir it back in.)
- Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl, use a fork to whisk together the cream, sugar, yolks, vanilla and salt. Set aside on counter while rice is cooking, leaving fork in bowl. Set out a ladle to use, as well. I like to do this after the rice starts cooking, so that the mixture comes to room temperature by the time it's needed.
- Once milk/rice has simmered for 30 minutes, continue simmering, but stir down every 5 minutes. With each stir, start testing the done-ness of the rice by tasting a piece. You want the rice to be tender (so no hard center). **Depending on the rice you used, your mixture may start to get thick-ish at this point, with little milky liquid left. If so, add more hot milk or water to the pot, just as much as needed to loosen the mixture up, with each stir. Watch closely and don't let the mixture get dry or it will scorch. Continue cooking, stirring down and adding additional milk, as needed until the rice is tender. Most rice is generally done at about 45-50 minutes of total simmering time. A lot will depend on how vigorously your mixture is boiling, so there is no hard and fast rule. Taste testing is the best indicator.
- Once the rice is cooked, slide the pot off the heat to avoid scorching. Re-whisk your egg mixture with your fork. Using the ladle, spoon out a ladle-full of hot rice/milk mixture, taking as much liquid as possible, but not to worry if you bring some of the rice with it. With the ladle in your left hand (assuming your right-handed, if not, reverse) and using your right hand to start whisking the egg mixture with the fork, start adding the hot mixture to the eggs A DROP AT A TIME, at first, while continuously whisking with the fork. Increase to a slow stream, while whisking continuously, until the entire ladle-full has been added. Get another ladle-full of hot liquid and slowly add it to the egg mixture as well, whisking continuously. Keep adding hot liquid until you've got at least 1 1/2 cups-1 3/4 cups of now warmed liquid in your bowl. Once you have reached that point, pour the warmed egg mixture into your cooking pot.
- Return the saucepan to heat, over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring almost continuously, just until a dime-sized bubble breaks the surface of the pudding. Pudding should be noticeably thickened and saucy, but still more sauce than rice (pudding will set more in the fridge as it cools). If liquid seems almost like milk consistency (rather than heavy cream consistency), it's too thin. Cook, stirring, a little longer. **Note though that you never want to allow the mixture to vigorously boil after the egg mixture has been added, as you may end up with scrambled eggs.
- If using raisins, add to the bottom of a medium-large bowl. When pudding is cooked, immediately pour hot mixture over raisins. Stir well to combine. Allow to stand on counter for about 5 minutes, to allow the steam to reduce, then cover bowl with plastic wrap and place into the refrigerator. Allow to cool and set, at least 6 hours or preferably, over-night. Pudding will set as it cools. To serve, simply stir and spoon into bowls. Serve with a sprinkling of cinnamon, if desired. If pudding is or becomes too thick, simply add a tablespoon or so of heavy cream to mixture and stir in. If you enjoy your rice pudding warmed, you can warm slightly in the microwave or a small saucepan.