Creamy Rice Pudding (and Frozen Rice Pudding)

Stovetop Rice Pudding

We opted to place ourselves under house arrest this weekend due to temperatures that, calculated with the wind chill, dropped below -40 at night. We wore our thickest socks and wrapped blankets around our shoulders against the chill that 100 year old windows do little to keep out. And since going to the store requires going outside, it was also an eat-what-we-have weekend – fortunately there was milk and cream and rice and coffee, and I know how to bake bread. We did not starve.

We talked about rice pudding on CBC last week, and it reminded me how much I adore it. Most often, I make rice pudding with the last of the rice in the pot, having made too much. I pour in plenty of milk, add some sugar or maple syrup or honey, then walk away and forget that I’ve done so – and later do penance by scrubbing the pot and the stovetop the boiling milk has overflowed onto. Even without the walking away part, this isn’t an ideal rice pudding method – starting with steamed long grains that have already separated themselves from each other. Most rice puddings of that sort (the fluffy-creamy-stovetop kind) start with short-grain rice like Arborio. I decided to take the direct route, with the intent to make a pot of diner-style rice pudding, rather than treat it as a salvage mission.

Rice pudding Collage

Some rice puddings are custardy with eggs or yolks, but this contains neither – just rice, half & half, sugar and vanilla. I snipped a chunk of bean out of my jar of homemade vanilla – which is really just vanilla beans preserved in vodka – but a splash of extract works, too. Or if you thought to tuck a bean into a jar of sugar, you could just add a shake of the infused sugar – or if you’re willing to spend an extra three minutes, whiz a whole bean into the sugar in the food processor for an even more intense, speckled ash-coloured vanilla sugar you can use straight from the jar. I love seeing the seeds.

vanilla sugar

We ate some warm, some cold, and some frozen – I took advantage of the arctic air and froze the insert to my ice cream maker, then turned half the rice pudding into frozen rice pudding – essentially dense, creamy ice cream that tastes like rice pud. For reals.

Frozen rice pudding

I’m a rice pudding purist – while I occasionally crave mine studded with raisins and sprinkled with cinnamon, most often I’ll go for straight-up cream and vanilla. But feel free to stir in a handful of raisins at the end, and finish your bowl with a dusting of cinnamon.

Stovetop Rice Pudding
Stovetop Rice Pudding

Creamy Rice Pudding

Recipe link


March 2, 2014

Although there are many, many similar versions of this stove-top rice pudding around, I took my initial direction from Dave Lieberman.

  • Makes: Serves 6.


1/2 cup short grain (Arborio) rice

2 tsp. butter

2 cups whole milk or half & half

1/4 cup sugar (white or brown)

1 vanilla bean or 1 tsp. good vanilla


1In a medium saucepan, bring the rice, butter and 1 cup water to a simmer; cook for 15 minutes, until tender. Add the cream, sugar and vanilla (bean or extract) and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the rice absorbs most of the cream and the mixture is thick and creamy.

2Serve immediately, while still warm, or cool it down - if it thickens up too much, stir in a little more cream to loosen it up.

Makes: Serves 6.

About Julie

17 comments on “Creamy Rice Pudding (and Frozen Rice Pudding)

  1. Jules @ WolfItDown
    March 3, 2014 at 5:02 am

    This looks fantastic! Such a good idea freezing it for some other time as well. I can imagine that a rice-cream softie would be soooo good 😀 I was thinking of making rice pudding the other week actually, but have yet to get aorund to it, wanted to see what it turned out like if I used almond mild, mmmm 😀

  2. Maureen
    March 3, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    Well finally a recipe from you that does not appeal to me! 😉

    Rainy and warm here in Victoria!

  3. Carol S-B
    March 3, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    The magic temperature that needs no translation: -40 is the same in Fahrenheit and Celsius. I think pudding is called for.

  4. Elaine
    March 4, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    Confession: I have never had rice pudding. But I do have a vanilla bean burning a hole in my pantry, and some milk, and some arborio rice. Clearly this is in the cards for tonight.

  5. Julie
    March 4, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    Elaine! You must! I’d be curious what it would taste like to someone who had never tried it before – no rice pudding memories!

  6. Kirsten
    March 4, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    Great minds think alike! I did the same thing given the temperature this weekend. I found your recipe on the CBC website and thought it was perfect to keep warm. Kids aren’t keen so I was “forced” to eat it all myself….

  7. Erica B.
    March 5, 2014 at 9:46 am

    Whilst you were stirring rice pudding I was moving in to an equally drafty abode. Rice pudding is C’s favourite dessert. I will be making this as soon as I figure out where I put the pots :)

  8. Maureen
    March 6, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    Makes me think longingly of the Mexican-style frozen treats sold here in Chicago by sidewalk vendors. One of my favorite flavors is “arroz con leche”… basically frozen rice pudding on a stick!

  9. Julie
    March 6, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    Maureen – clearly I need to go to Chicago!!

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  13. Janice
    June 12, 2014 at 2:44 am

    Fabulous … What’s the cream quantity in the Creamy Rice Pudding recipe, or just add cream until the consistency is about right?

  14. Jennie
    November 15, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    I had a lot of left over half and half from a tea and used it up in this recipe. I have made and eaten a lot of rice pudding in my 50 plus years of cooking but this was without a doubt the best I have eaten in a long, long time. My husband says to throw out the other recipes and just keep this one. I agree! again simplest is proved best. Thank you.

    • Julie
      November 23, 2014 at 11:01 pm

      Yay – I’m so glad to hear it Jennie!

  15. Sherri Rodriguez
    January 14, 2018 at 5:59 pm

    I’m currently in Central Ohio and was thinking of something to make to satisfy my sweet tooth. Since I do ALOT of Spanish/Mexican cooking I immediately thought of this. Your recipe was on the money. I’ll think of you with a smile on my face!??

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