How to Make Rice Pudding for Family and Friends

Learn How to Make Old Fashioned Rice Pudding with Cooked Rice

How to Make Rice Pudding for Family and Friends

Rice pudding. Those two words have a way of evoking pleasant memories of days gone by. I took a bowl of sweet rice pudding to my elderly neighbor. He told me how his Grandma made huge pans of rice pudding on her wood stove. Comforting rice pudding is among the most treasured of desserts.

Like vintage bread puddings and easy pie recipes, homemade rice puddings are showing up as featured desserts in restaurants and at home. Warm or chilled, a bowl of rice pudding is just the best way to end a meal. Learn how to make rice pudding and you’ll have a dessert that says “I love you” in a way that nothing else can.

How to Make Rice Pudding: A Basic Old Fashioned Recipe

Once you learn how to make rice pudding, try different flavorings and toppings.


  • 3/4 cup short or medium grain rice
  • 2 cups whole milk, divided into 1-1/2 cups and 1/2 cup
  • 3/4 cup sugar or less to taste
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla


    1. Cook rice: Bring 1-1/2 cups water to a boil. Stir in rice. Lower to a simmer and cook, covered, 15-20 minutes, or until rice is tender and all or most of the liquid is absorbed.
    2. Separately, over low heat, pour in 1-1/2 cups milk and the sugar in a pan. Cook until sugar dissolves. Stir in cooked rice. Continue to cook until mixture is creamy and fairly thick, about 10 minutes or so. Stir occasionally. This can be made ahead and rewarmed.
    3. Whisk egg, vanilla and 1/2 cup milk together. Pour this into rice mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until egg is cooked, about 8 to ten minutes. The mixture may bubble around the edges a little but that’s ok.
    4. A dash of cinnamon finishes it off. Serves six.
Old fashioned basic rice pudding

Rice Pudding with Coconut Milk, Almonds and Cherries

When I learned how to make rice pudding with coconut milk, I knew I had the perfect dessert for entertaining. Some coconut milk has a layer of “cream” on top. Stir that into the milk before using.


  • 2 cans plain coconut milk (not cream of coconut, just milk made from fresh coconut)
  • 1-1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-1/4 cups short-grain rice
  • 1 cup golden raisins, dried cherries, chopped, or your favorite dried fruit
  • 3/4 cup toasted almonds


Heat milk, water, sugar, salt and vanilla to a boil over medium heat in a three-quart saucepan. Stir in rice, reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered, until rice is tender, about 20 minutes or so. Stir occasionally and watch so that mixture doesn’t boil over. Most, if not all, of the liquid, will be absorbed. Stir in fruit and nuts or use them as a topping. Serves six.



Change it up: Make a Rice Mold

Press your hot rice mixture into a springform pan or nine-inch ring mold that has been sprayed with cooking spray for easy release. Chill thoroughly and unmold. This looks nice garnished with mandarin oranges if desired. Slice to serve.

Oven Baked Rice Pudding

It’s easy to learn how to make rice pudding in the oven. I bake this in an oven-proof round casserole dish. If baking in a shallow casserole, it will take less time to bake, so check it after 35 minutes.

  • 1-1/2 cups cooked rice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Coarse sugar for sprinkling on top (optional)


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spray a 1-quart casserole or brush with butter on the bottom and sides.
  • Whisk eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and sugar together until well-blended. Pour over rice and blend well.
  • Stir in fruit and pour into casserole.
  • Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.
  • Sprinkle with coarse sugar.
  • Serve with whipped cream. Serves four to five.
Perfectly cooked rice

Make it Dairy Free

Substitute these liquids for the milk:

  • Unsweetened coconut milk
  • Almond milk
  • Soy milk
  • Lactose-free milk if lactose intolerant

What Kind of Rice is Best?

I’ve had jasmine rice pudding flavored with saffron and rose water and very creamy rice puddings made with risotto and sushi short grain rice. My own childhood memories include a basic rice pudding made with converted, long grain rice. Most cooks would agree, however, that medium or short grain rice (sometimes the 2 terms are interchanged) are the best choices.Labels will indicate the kind of rice in the bag.

  • Medium and short grain kinds of rice are very starchy and cook up soft and sticky. They include sushi and risotto rice.
  • Long-grain and converted rice contains less starch and cooks up drier and grains are more separate.
  • Jasmine and Basmati long grain kinds of rice were developed for their distinct flavor profiles.
First row: Jasmine
Second row: Short grain, medium grain
Top row: Jasmine

What’s your favorite childhood dessert? One of my students, known for her old-fashioned old fashioned peanut butter fudge recipe, makes batches of it with her children, just as her mom did with her.

When a chef friend learned how to make bread pudding and his mom’s rice pudding, he put both on his restaurant menu. They’re still his most requested desserts.

So no matter what comforting, from scratch, sweet treat is your favorite, I hope you make it often. And if it’s rice pudding, invite me over!

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