When it comes to rich and creamy desserts, rice pudding is at the top of my list of favorites. Delectably cozy served fresh and warm or even chilled, my homemade rice pudding recipe is perfumed with sweet vanilla bean and studded with rum-soaked raisins to make it extra indulgent!
Rice Pudding, a Deliciously Indulgent Classic Treat
When I think of cozy, comforting, classic-style desserts, a creamy bowl of homemade rice pudding always comes to mind.
Thick, rich and lightly sweetened, rice pudding is a simple treat that can be rustic or refined. It can easily be dressed up with a few fragrant add-ins, to make it extra fancy, or left nice and plain, its flavor and texture indulgent enough just as it is.
Even the process of preparing rice pudding from scratch is a bit of a zen-like ritual for me...
I appreciate stirring the thickening rice as it softens, watching the mixture gently bubble until everything is soft and creamy, sending rich dairy and vanilla bean fragrances wafting throughout the kitchen.
Whether served warm, straight from the pot, or nice and cold out of the fridge, rice pudding is truly a simple pleasure.
In the warmer months the chilled rice pudding refreshes me, and in the cooler fall and winter months, the warmth of when it's freshly prepared comforts me in the way a soft blanket would.
Rice pudding is just one of those deliciously versatile desserts, and I enjoy my bowl studded with some rum-soaked raisins, which offers a touch of sophisticated flavor.
Creamy and soft in under forty minutes, it's a dessert for all occasions, a true classic that never ceases to be a real indulgence!
How to Make Rice Pudding
One of the wonderful things about preparing homemade rice pudding is how truly simple it is, and how few ingredients you need, even if you're adding a handful of “extras” in.
I use arborio rice, which is the same rice used in preparing risotto, and the reason I like this rice is because it is starchier and yields a creamier rice pudding once cooked.
Because I love my rice pudding extra creamy, I use a combination of both whole milk and half and half. I love how velvety both of these make the pudding, and creates that rich mouth feel.
To create an extra aromatic and flavorful rice pudding, I use a vanilla bean which I split open and gently scrape of its inner paste, adding that to the pot as the rice cooks in the dairy.
And because I love the combo of rum and raisins (natural partners), I soak raisins in a small amount of rum while the pudding cooks, then add those in at the end. (This is optional, of course.)
Here's a sneak peek at my rice pudding recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To begin, I soak my raisins in some rum while the rice pudding cooks, to have ready to add in. (This is optional)
- For the rice pudding, I combine the arborio rice, milk, half and half, vanilla paste, salt and sugar in a medium pot (non-stick is best) set over medium-high heat, and bring the mixture to a vigorous simmer; then, I reduce the heat to medium-low or low and allow things to gently simmer for 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the rice from sticking, or until the rice is tender and the mixture thickened.
- To finish the pudding, I add in my rum raisins (if using), as well as a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg for spice.
- I serve warm, or allow the rice pudding to cool and then spoon it into mason jars with lids, and keep chilled in the fridge.
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 5
Nutrition Info: 364 calories (per ½ cup serving)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes
- ½ cup (heaping) raisins
- 3 tablespoons dark rum
- ¾ cup arborio rice
- 5 cups whole milk
- 1 cup half and half
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, scraped for it's “paste”
- Pinch ground cinnamon
- Pinch (very tiny pinch) ground nutmeg
- Combine the raisins with the rum, and allow them to soak while you prepare your rice pudding.
- Combine the rice, milk, half and half, salt, sugar and paste from the vanilla bean in a medium pot, and stir. Set the rice pudding over medium heat and bring to a vigorous simmer, then reduce heat and simmer gently for 35-40 minutes, or until the rice is tender and plump, stirring occasionally to prevent rice from sticking to bottom of pot.
- Finish by adding in the rum-soaked raisins (you can drain them of any excess rum, or dump it all right into the pudding!) and the pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg and stir to combine. When ready, divide into equal portions and serve warm, or chill completely and serve cold (for this I like to use medium size mason jars with lids).
Tips & Tidbits for my Rice Pudding:
- Arborio rice for a creamy texture: This recipe calls for arborio rice, which is the rice used in making risotto. It yields a slightly starchier texture and a plumper grain of rice when cooked, which makes for a wonderfully creamy rice pudding.
- Half and half for creamier consistency: I like to use a cup of half & half in combination with whole milk for a richer flavor, but feel free to use all whole milk, if you desire; and, if possible, avoid using low-fat milk as it will not produce as creamy a rice pudding.
- Substitute pure vanilla extract for the bean, in a pinch: You can substitute about 2-3 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract in place of the paste from the vanilla bean pod, if you prefer But the vanilla bean will offer more intense vanilla flavor and aroma.
- Leave out the rum raisins, if you desire: While the rum raisins are a flavorful add-in, feel free to leave them out. Another option is to add in plain raisins, dried cranberries or even dried cherries.
- Chill your rice pudding: If you choose to chill your rice pudding, spoon it into mason jars (or containers with tight fitting lids) and allow it to completely cool before closing the lid, then keep it in the fridge until ready to serve.
- How long to keep rice pudding: Stored in the fridge, rice pudding should remain fresh for 3-5 days—if you don't eat it first!
- Make vanilla sugar out of your used up bean: It is so easy and such a great thing to make your own vanilla sugar! Simple stick the scraped vanilla bean into your container of granulate sugar (push it down so that it is covered) and it will infuse it with wonderful vanilla. You'll have that extra hint of vanilla in everything you use your sugar in!
Craving more delicious sweet treats? Check out this Chocolate Pudding, this Apple Cranberry Pie, this Brownie Cake, these Caramel Apple Pie Bars!
Cook's Note: This recipe was originally published in 2017, and has been updated with even more love!
Ingrid—thanks so much for this rice pudding recipe! It is one of my hubby's favorite desserts so this is going to be our dessert for Christmas dinner. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you, Michael, and son!
The Cozy Apron
Sue, I’m excited you’re making this! Wonderful! And just know at first it may seem like a lot of liquid to rice, but it totally thickens up as it cooks, especially towards the end. May you all enjoy, and we are sending our warmest wishes for a wonderful holiday to you & yours, and much love! ❤️
Ingrid, the rice pudding was great!!! So creamy and a perfect ending to our surprise White Christmas here in southern Ohio! Hope you had a wonderful and blessed Christmas!
The Cozy Apron
Hi Sue, so glad this recipe hit the spot! And how wonderful you all had a snowy Christmas —we miss that so much here! We’ll have to live vicariously through you!
I can't wait till morning to make this. I know it is going to be good. Thank you.
The Cozy Apron
Donna, so glad you’re making this! I hope you thoroughly enjoy it, and that it’s every bit as delicious as you’re hoping it to be. (Sweet dreams!)
Bringing up my two daughters, who are 11 months apart, rice pudding was a treat we shared three ways after church on Sundays. We also split the dinner three ways. I have tried many a recipe none
measured up to the restaurants.
Anxious to try out for Christmas. I have waited two years for them to visit at Christmas as I live in Florida. We always had it topped with whipped cream and cinnamon sugar. Thank you for sharing!
The Cozy Apron
Elizabeth, what precious and heartwarming memories you have shared here of you and your daughters enjoying rice pudding together...
I am so very glad for you that the three of you will be together again this year after two years, and my genuine hope is that you enjoy my recipe for rice pudding just as much as you did eating it at that restaurant all those years ago.
May you enjoy the process of preparing it and sharing it with your girls, and may you all enjoy every bite! Happy holidays!
My mother uses this rice pudding recipe, and the whole family loves it. I'm trying my hand at it right now - it smells amazing as it simmers. Can't wait for it to be done! Thank you for the great recipe.
The Cozy Apron
Amanda, I was so touched by your comment. I love this! I'm honored to read that your mom has been using this recipe for rice pudding and preparing it for all of you to enjoy...and now to have you trying your hand at it? Fantastic!
I hope it turned out delicious for you, and that this classic little treat will continue bringing your family a touch of sweet pleasure and coziness. 😉
Happy cooking, Amanda! Thank you for sharing.