Classic Arroz Con Leche is an indulgently creamy homemade dessert that comes together on the stovetop with ease! Serve this sweet, classic treat warm or cold, lightly dusted with ground cinnamon and watch it disappear!
Arroz Con Leche: A Creamy Stovetop Dessert
Are you a rice pudding fan? I know some people don’t love it, but I absolutely adore it. And it’s so easy to make! Arroz con leche is a classic Spanish rice pudding dish with a long history, made with cream, white rice, vanilla, and cinnamon. It is seriously delicious!
You can serve arroz con leche as soon as it’s finished cooking and has had a little time to stand and thicken. Served warm like this, it’s a cozy-comfy treat that’s perfect for a chilly evening or afternoon. But you can also put arroz con leche in the fridge for several hours. Served cold, it’s almost ice-cream-like! Sweet, creamy, and refreshing.
This recipe is one we have been testing for years and years. My Puerto Rican husband Jorge has been hard at work testing every batch until I got it perfect. So here it is, our pride and joy, the best Arroz Con Leche recipe!
Is Arroz Con Leche Healthy?
That’s a good question! Arroz con leche is gluten-free, so that makes it an appealing dessert choice for those who need to avoid gluten for health reasons. And when you’re making it from scratch, it’s definitely easier to control the sugar.
But overall, I would definitely say this is a traditional dessert that is more of a treat than a “healthy food.” On the other hand, if you’re making it yourself, you can tweak what goes into it and know that it’s better for you than many commercial desserts.
What You’ll Need
This simple, homespun recipe uses just a few ingredients that are easy to keep on hand. The evaporated milk, condensed milk, and whole milk (or cream) are probably familiar to those of you who love tres leches cake! (Note: for specific ingredient amounts, see the recipe card at the bottom of this post.)
- Rice: You’ll want plain white rice for this recipe, although jasmine, arborio, and/or basmati could all be used if desired. Each one will change the recipe taste and texture slightly.
- Water: For cooking the rice, of course!
- A Cinnamon Stick: Or sprinkle in some ground cinnamon, if you prefer.
- Milk: I use whole milk, but for an even richer arroz con leche, you could use cream or half and half. It’s going to be pretty rich anyway, though, thanks to the other milks!
- Sweetened Condensed Milk: Thick, sweet, and frankly delicious, this ingredient is easy to find on the baking aisle of the grocery store. You can also make it from scratch, if you have the time and prefer to do so.
- Evaporated Milk: Evaporated milk is basically normal milk that’s sort of concentrated, and shelf-stable. It has a bold creamy taste. Again, this is usually available on the baking aisle, in cans.
- Sugar: I use regular granulated sugar most of the time, but you could substitute your favorite sweetener, to taste. Brown sugar adds a little depth and flavor, if you want to give it a try instead!
- Vanilla: Use pure vanilla extract for the best flavor. Or to be more fancy, scrape a 2-inch piece of vanilla bean into the mix!
- Raisins: These are optional, so feel free to leave them out if you don’t like raisins. Sometimes I include them for a tangy-sweet contrast, and other times I leave them out.
- Ground Cinnamon: For serving.
How to Make Arroz Con Leche
You don’t have to rinse the rice before cooking it, but that one extra step can really improve the texture of the final dish, so I do highly recommend it. Rinsing rice removes any extra starch off of the rice, which keeps it from becoming gummy while it cooks.
- Rinse and Cook the Rice. Place the rice in a fine mesh strainer, and rinse it under running water until the water runs clear. You may have to do this a cup or so at a time, depending on the size of your strainer. Place the rice and water along with the cinnamon stick in a large saucepan, bring it to a boil, and then lower the heat so that the rice gently simmers. Cook until the rice is soft, about 30 minutes. Be careful not to break it up by stirring too much.
- Add the Remaining Ingredients. Once the rice is soft, stir in the whole milk, condensed milk, evaporated milk, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. If you are using raisins, add them as well. Bring the mixture back to a gentle simmer, and cook for another 15 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened.
- Let Thicken and Serve. Remove the arroz con leche from the heat. Give it some time to cool, keeping in mind that it will thicken as it cools. You can serve the Arroz con Leche now, while it is warm, or let it cool to room temperature and then put it in the refrigerator to chill and serve cold. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon before serving.
Tips for Success
Are you ready to make this cozy dessert? I promise you’ll love it! But before you get started, make sure to check out these helpful tips and tricks!
- Toast the Cinnamon: Some cooks highly recommend lightly toasting the cinnamon stick in a dry pan before using. If you have time, this can enhance the cinnamon flavor in the dish. If not, no worries! It will still taste amazing!
- Adjust the Thickness: Once you’ve added the three types of milk to the mixture, it will thicken up as it continues to simmer. So if you like it extra thick, cook it a little longer. Keep in mind that it also thickens as it chills (if serving cold).
- Adjust the Sweetness: If you prefer a less sweet arroz con leche, try replacing the sweetened condensed milk with another can of evaporated milk. From there, sweeten as desired with honey, sugar, or even maple syrup.
This beloved dessert is said to heal the soul, and if you try it, I’m sure you’ll agree! As-is, it’s a comforting classic. But did you know you can also top it with all kinds of goodies, for a customized dessert? Here are some of the best ways to top arroz con leche!
- Shredded Coconut
- Chopped Nuts
- Caramel Sauce
- Dulce de Leche
- Halved Cherries
- Chopped Apples
- Semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
How to Store and Reheat Rice Pudding
- Fridge: Arroz con leche can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for about 5 days.
- Freezer: To freeze, store in an airtight container or freezer bag, and freeze for up to 3 months.
- To reheat: Place the desired portion in a saucepan over low heat. You may need to add a little splash of water if the arroz con leche seems too dry. Heat until warm through. You can also microwave it for 30 seconds at a time, stirring to prevent hot and cold spots.
Arroz Con Leche (Spanish Rice Pudding)
- 2 cups white rice
- 4 cups water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 can, 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
- 1 can, 12 oz evaporated milk
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ cup raisins, optional
- Ground cinnamon, for serving
- Place the rice in a fine mesh strainer, and rinse it until the water runs clear.
- Place the rice, cinnamon, and water in a large saucepan. Bring the rice to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to a simmer, and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the rice is soft. Be careful not to break the rice by stirring it too much.
- Once the rice is soft, add the whole milk, condensed milk, evaporated milk, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. If you are using raisins, add them as well.
- Bring the mixture to a low simmer and cook for another 15 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened.
- Remove from the heat and allow to sit and thicken even more. You can serve the Arroz con Leche now, while it is warm, or let it cool completely and refrigerate it to serve chilled. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon before serving.
More Delicious Latin Recipes
Looking for some more great Latin recipes? Here are some reader favorites you won’t want to miss:
- Homemade Sweet Plantains (Fried Plantains)
- The Best Coquito (Puerto Rican Coconut Eggnog)
- Fresh Huevos Rancheros
- Puerto Rican Beef Sancocho
- Homemade Tamales
- Best Beef Picadillo
- Arroz Con Gandules (Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas)
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