This Rice Pudding is simple to make, uses only six ingredients, and is incredibly luscious and delicious!
Rice Pudding is easily one of the best desserts ever, with all the flavors of a rich vanilla ice cream but with more texture.
That’s my more PC way of saying what my husband says when he eats it, which is: “Mmm…this tastes like chunky vanilla ice cream.”
Either way you put it, it has sweet and rich dairy flavor with fragrant vanilla, and each spoonful is creamy but textured from the rice.
Let’s go through all the checkpoints for making the best version possible, from scratch.
Because if you’ve only ever tasted store-bought rice pudding, or if you’ve never had freshly made rice pudding before, it’s truly incredible.
How to Make the Best Rice Pudding:
Use Uncooked Rice
I’m not a fan of rice puddings using pre-cooked rice, because you want the flavor of the milk and the vanilla to go inside the rice, not just floating around it.
Cooking the rice from a raw state ensures this cohesiveness.
Don’t Rinse the Rice
Additionally, starting with uncooked rice lets us use it in an unwashed state, which helps in thickening the pudding naturally.
This is particularly helpful since we aren’t using egg yolks here, keeping the recipe and process very simple.
Because of this, I highly recommend using a quality organic rice. I use long-grain.
Use Organic Dairy (it makes a HUGE difference)
Using organic milk and cream here is highly recommended.
There very well may be some decent quality non-organic milk out there, but I’ve noticed that organic dairy has tremendously more flavor than the typical inexpensive standard milk.
If you are skeptical, go buy a carton of each and do a taste test side by side. We’ve even found that when purchasing shredded mozzarella cheese for pizzas, the conventional cheese has no flavor but the organic cheese has sweet and rich pronounced flavors.
In short: make sure the milk and cream you’re using actually taste like something.
Use a Vanilla Bean (I know they’re expensive right now, but it’s important)
Using an actual vanilla bean here will make for the best rice pudding of all (and if you can, use a Grade A vanilla bean [affiliate] over Grade B).
The flavor of true vanilla from the bean is unmatched and the vanilla specks give the pudding subtle textural interest.
In the past I’ve used vanilla paste, but a fresh scraped bean is superior.
Use a Splash of Heavy Cream at the End for Lusciousness
It’s nice to finish the rice pudding with some extra richness at the end.
I see butter commonly used, but I think cream is better.
I find the butter to be too heavy/greasy, while the cream has a luscious fluid richness to it. It keeps the rice pudding “milky.”
Okay, let’s dive into the process!
Step by Step Process for How to Make Rice Pudding:
In a saucepan, combine long-grain rice, a scraped vanilla bean with the seeds and pod thrown in, granulated sugar, and whole milk.
Stir well to combine, then bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat. The vanilla specks should be distributed after a little whisking:
Cook the rice pudding for about 35 minutes, stirring or whisking every few minutes to prevent sticking, until the rice is tender and the milk has cooked down considerably.
You want to adjust the heat on your stove so that it never comes to a full rolling boil, but maintains a gentle simmer. This is usually medium low or medium heat.
When the rice is soft, turn the heat off and add the heavy cream:
Stir through the heavy cream, until it’s evenly distributed:
The mixture is a lot more fluid now.
I noted in the recipe box that the amount of cream you add can be increased if you want a more fluid and milky rice pudding. Just keep in mind that as the rice pudding chills, it will thicken a little bit.
Refrigerate the rice pudding for at least 4 hours to completely chill it before serving:
Creme Brulee is another one of my favorite minimal ingredient desserts.
Rice Pudding FAQ and Tips:
- How to store leftovers: Keep in the fridge for up to 5 days, making sure to put it in an airtight container so it doesn’t absorb off flavors from the fridge.
- Can you freeze it? I don’t recommend it, since the dairy will curdle and the texture won’t be as good.
- What kind of rice to use: I use a standard long grain white rice, but you can use more or less any kind of rice. Jasmine is great too because it’s really fragrant.
- Is this gluten free? Yes, rice is a grain but it’s naturally free of gluten.
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1/2 cup long-grain white rice (organic recommended)
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 3.5 cups whole milk (organic highly recommended)
- 1/4 cup heavy cream (organic highly recommended)
- Split the vanilla bean using a paring knife and scrape all the vanilla seeds out from the inside.
- Place the scraped seeds AND the empty vanilla bean into a medium saucepan, along with the rice (do not rinse the rice beforehand), sugar, salt, and milk.
- Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce to medium low and cook for 35-40 minutes, stirring every couple minutes to prevent sticking, until the rice is soft and the liquid has cooked down a lot. Try to ensure it never comes to a full rolling boil (if it does, turn the heat down).
- Turn the heat off and stir in the heavy cream. Note: if you'd like more cream, you can double or triple the amount you add here, per personal preference. Keep in mind the pudding will thicken more as it cools.
- Chill the rice pudding for at least 4 hours before serving. Enjoy!
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.