As you probably know, I grew up in Spain and if there is one thing that everyone can agree on is that Spanish people know how to eat! We’ve got the best food, freshest ingredients and I mean, to me there’s nothing like it. Spanish cuisine isn’t super elaborate and I actually really like that – they just use super good-quality ingredients and let them shine through.
This is one of those irreplaceable nostalgic comfort-food recipes that doesn’t look pretty, it’s not fancy at all but it just can’t be beat. It’s sweet, it’s cinnamony, it’s creamy and delicious and you can have it either warm or cold but either way it always hits the spot. Even though rice pudding is made in lots of different cuisines, the recipes can vary significantly. This is how I’ve grown up eating it, its a family favorite and I hope you love it as much as I do.
- 1L of milk – ideally whole milk
- 100g of rice – short-grain works best here, something like arborio, risotto or bomba rice
- Orange peel (1/4 to 1/2 orange)
- Lemon peel (1/2 – 1 lemon)
- 1 or 2 cinnamon sticks
- A vanilla pod – cut it in half lengthwise and use both the pod and the seeds inside (you can also use extract or vanilla bean paste)
- 70g sugar or a small can of condensed milk (370g)
- Optional: knob of butter (about 10g)
- Powdered cinnamon for dusting
How to make it:
- In a large pot, combine your milk, rice, citrus peels, cinnamon stick and vanilla
- Turn the stove on a very low heat and bring it up to a gentle bubble (do not boil!). Simmer it slowly for about 30-45 min, stirring every few minutes – if you don’t stir it frequently it’ll form a skin over the top really quickly
- After this time your mixture should be starting to thicken up and look creamy but your rice probably won’t be cooked all the way through yet. It’ll still be a bit runny which is exactly what we want
- At this point add the sugar and keep simmering it for another 5-10min, until your pudding is thick and creamy and your rice is fully cooked through
- Turn the heat off and carefully remove your citrus peels, cinnamon sticks and vanilla pod. Make sure to mix through while you’re doing this so that it doesn’t form a skin.
- Optional: add your knob of butter once you’ve removed all your flavorings and mix through
- Cover your pot and let it rest for about 10-15min, then serve or put it in the fridge to cool down (see below).
- If you want to eat it warm you can serve it at this point, just sprinkle some cinnamon on top and enjoy! (I love it with tons of cinnamon)
- If you prefer to eat it cold, transfer your warm mixture to an airtight container, sprinkle with cinnamon and make sure that no air is getting in there (again, trying to prevent a skin from forming!). Pop it in the fridge to cool down and let it sit there for a few hours, then serve!
- If you want to make it even creamier and more decadent, try substituting the sugar for a small can of condensed milk and thank me later! This is how my grandma prefers her arroz con leche. Just keep in mind that you’re adding liquid so you may need to cook it down a bit longer than with just sugar.
- If you want to make this the day before (I used to do that in medschool) just keep in mind that the rice will keep absorbing the liquid for a while after it’s off the heat. If you don’t like it too dry you can either reduce your cooking time a bit so it’s looser, or you can just add a bit of extra milk when you go eat it. Just mix it through really well and it should incorporate easily.
Let me tell you, there are few desserts that warm my heart as much as this one. This is probably where my love for cinnamon comes from actually – I just cannot get enough of it! When I was young my parents had to take it away from me because if not I’d eat it all and I wouldn’t leave any for the rest of the family. Just couldn’t get enough! Like I said, it’s super simple and doesn’t require lots of ingredients or effort so it’s really a great treat to have on hand.
Even if you’ve had rice pudding before I’m sure it won’t be quite like this one. When my mom and grandma made it at home I think they only put a tiny amount of lemon peel in there and as far as I remember there was no vanilla so this is not quite exactly like the one I used to have but in my opinion it’s even better! It may be a touch too sweet so if you try it and feel like it’s too much, just cut down on the amount of sugar a bit and it should do the trick.
I hope you give this recipe a try and love it as much as I do – it tastes like my childhood! Also let me know if you like simple traditional Spanish recipes like this one and if you’d like me to share more? I’d love to know what you like to see over here! Thanks for reading me and I hope to see you again soon!