Vanilla Rice Pudding: The best there's ever bean


A few years ago, I wrote a blog about bread pudding and how until I had my first bowlful, I wanted nothing to do with it. For a long time, I felt the same way about rice pudding, Rice to me belonged in stir-fry, not in dessert. And then a wacky twist of fate brought my new love and I together.

This past spring I ended up having a surprise surgery that left it very difficult for me to swallow solid foods for awhile. While recuperating on the couch, I delved heavily into the world of soft, squishy foods provided by friends and family. My favorite way to start the day became chocolate pudding and mashed potatoes became a luncheon mainstay.

At one point for variety we bought some tapioca pudding, and that proved to be quite delish. But I still had never had rice pudding. Something in the back of my mind always prevented me from picking up a container, or breaking out the saucepan.

Fast forward to a few months ago when Baking Sheet editor Susan Reid and I were chatting in the test kitchen. She was extolling the virtues of a good dish of warm rice pudding for curing the blues. I confessed to never having tried it, and vowed to give it a go. Ah Fate, you finally played a card on my side of the table. Simply put, rice pudding is da bomb.

I tried out a few different versions, and while all were quite yummy, I really like the plain vanilla versions best. I also like cooking the rice right in the cream/milk instead of using pre-cooked rice.

The thing that I think really makes this particular rice pudding recipe special is the vanilla itself. Our King Arthur Flour exclusive blend has a truly perfect combination of Madagascar and Tahitian vanillas. Pure, rich, and intensely vanilla, it is the only one I use now both at home and in the test kitchen.

Join me, and we’ll make this outstanding Vanilla Rice Pudding.

Place the milk, 3/4 cup cream, sugar, rice, and King Arthur Pure Vanilla Extract in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat.

Yes, the rice is raw at this point. This particular rice pudding is cooked more like a risotto; the rice absorbing the cream and sugar during the cooking process.

Continue to cook over medium heat as the mixture simmers and bubbles gently. No boiling! This would cause the cream to curdle.

The rice will start to absorb the liquid. It will grow and become more transparent, while the liquid will begin to thicken from the rice starch.

Bubble, bubble, bubble, stir, stir, stir. Around the 30 minute mark, you’ll want to begin tasting the rice to see if it is done yet. You want a firm grain, not soggy and mushy, but also no crunch.

When the rice seems nearly done, add the remaining 1/4 cup of cream and the Vanilla Bean Paste. Adding more vanilla late in the cooking time will keep it from cooking out too much, giving you the best vanilla flavor, plus the flecks of actual vanilla bean.

There! Lovely transparent grains of rice and a creamy sauce of vanilla. Right now, I can’t think of anything more soothing and lovely, except maybe a beautiful mermaid stroking your hair as she sings you off to sleep.

The pudding can be served warm or cold. I like to have a little dish while it is still warm, and then chill the rest to enjoy like ice cream. I can’t begin to tell you how fragrant this little dish of pudding is. The vanilla is at once exotic and familiar, enticing and comforting. I think I’ll grab my spoon and dig right in to the best of both worlds.

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Treat yourself to a bottle of amazing vanilla.

MaryJane Robbins

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...


  1. justplainbeth

    Could you use the scrapings of a vanilla bean at the end instead of the vanilla bean paste or crush??
    Absolutely! About half a beans worth should do the trick very nicely. ~ MaryJane

  2. Sandra Alicante

    It is one of my husband’s favourite puddings. I have to make it a litre at a time!
    It definitely makes a difference to add vanilla late on, you get a much better flavour. I actually make mine with skimmed milk and add a small knob of butter. It is a well known ‘nursery ‘ food, out of fashion for the younger people who only know it from pots bought in the supermarket!
    A friend of mine who visits us, insists on my making it and she eats it with fresh pineapple. I eat mine cold only, with a dollop of jam or caramel…mmm
    Oh Sandra, now you’ve done it. Caramel!? I never thought to top it with caramel. Now my weight loss resolution is in serious danger! ~ MaryJane

  3. Darla Fox

    I have always loved rice pudding. Lately, I have been using quinoa in recipes and have substituted it for half the rice. I also use brown rice and add raisins. It is all delicious!

    I love doing a quinoa pudding! A little coconut milk and some toasted flakes on top…heaven in a bowl! I’ll also sometimes throw in a cardamom pod and add some golden raisins for a little twist. I love that this can go in so many directions! Kim@KAF

  4. nelll

    ‘Ah Fate, you finally played a card on my side of the table. Simply put, rice pudding is da bomb.’

    Now, why did I read that, ‘you played a CARB on my side of the table’ – twice?

    Couldn’t be the voice of conscience, after the post-holiday weigh-in, could it?
    Bwaaah haaa haaa! Yes, definitely your subconscious rearing its head. A good poke with a bread stick will get it to go away. ;) ~ MaryJane

  5. deidremefford

    Possibly because of the Spanish influence here in CA I always toss in few inches of cinnamon bark.
    Mmmm, sounds great to me. I’m wondering if a handful of mini chocolate chips tossed into barely warm pudding would give you total creamy , melty goodness. ~ MaryJane

  6. sandra Alicante

    My friend of the pineapple persuasion, tried the chocolate version and loved it. Not bothered with choc chips, she just put a few squares of eating chocolate in it and declared it the best ever!
    Well, I guess I know what I’m doing later! ~ MaryJane

  7. Cindy Leigh

    Oh, heaven! My grandmother served her homemade rice pudding with her home canned plums and syrup. It’s still my go-to comfort food.

    I personally like mine with a layer of passion fruit curd, so simple yet delicious!-Jon

  8. knitwitter

    Whenever I have leftover rice from Chinese food I use it to make rice pudding. I toss it in the pan, cover it with milk, add a scoop of sugar, a handful of raisins, and a pinch of salt, then just simmer and stir until it’s nice and thick. Add in some vanilla, a little cinnamon, and some fresh nutmeg, and it’s good to go.

    Sounds quick and easy, what a great way to use up white rice! I think I will do that tonight…-Jon

    Thanks for sharing. We make rice about twice a week at our house, so often have leftovers hanging around. Now I can put it to good use. Sorry chicken flock, more rice for me! ~ MaryJane

  9. jtee4short

    @ Jon: Since discovering easy microwave lemon curd here I have become a fan of curds! How do you make passion fruit curd? I have never bought a passion fruit.

    I usually make it using passion fruit puree, which I admit is easier to find when working in bakeries. However, lemon curd is also fantastic with rice pudding if you are unable to find the puree!-Jon

  10. JuliaJ

    Short or medium grain rice (think risotto) make a creamier rice pudding than long grain rice. I use skim milk and dribble in a well-beaten egg at the very end (stirring madly) to thicken the pudding. And I add the vanilla and a bit of nutmeg at the end. The recipe I use was originally from Bookbinders’ restaurant in Philadelphia, and I believe also called for butter, but I never thought the pudding needed it.
    I had thought about the egg at the end, but my allergies were acting up during recipe development, so no eggs for me. You could give it a try in this recipe, I think it would be fine. ~ MaryJane

  11. lisamaebakes

    This is torture! I’ve just moved to Chicago for four months to attend L’Art du Gateau at the French Pastry School and don’t have a kitchen to cook in for myself. This recipe sounds just like the one I inherited from my mother-in-law. The only difference is that she chills hers and then folds in whipped cream. Divine and decadent and now I’m craving it. Alas, I’ll have to add it to my list of make-when-I-get-home recipes.

    Mmm your version sounds light and delicious!-Jon

  12. hyarb

    I’ve liked rice pudding since as long as I can remember, but this may be the best recipe ever — I’m looking forward to trying it! I like that it doesn’t have eggs in it but is creamy all on its own. A little cinnamon might be a nice addition, but…not necessarily.

    A little cinnamon would be a lovely addition I think!-Jon

  13. nancymorris

    This recipe is the closest one I have seen that reminds me of the rice pudding my mother made in the 1960’s. So many rice pudding recipes call for egg yokes which sounds OK but a little extra work. I don’t think my mom ever measured anything. She dumped whole milk, rice, and sugar into an loaf pan, put it in what I assume was a low oven and I think stirred it occasionally during the first half of baking. My sister and I fought over the crust that formed on the top. When she threw in a big handful of raisins that made it even better!

    Isn’t it great how food can bring back so many good memories? Just one bite and you are back in your childhood!-Jon

  14. takefive34

    You didn’t specify the type of rice to use, but the first picture leads me to believe it’s arborio…………am I right?? In any case, I’ve been searching for a straightforward rice pudding recipe (no “bells and whistles”, please!!), and the KAF crew has once again come through!! I’ll be making this ASAP!!!

    An arborio or sushi rice would be perfect, so you are very correct!-Jon

  15. gobluem82

    I love rice pudding, especially with raisins added! We have it often for breakfast–all things considered, it’s fairly nutritious.
    who me? err, no, I haven’t had this for breakfast with a touch of chocolate sauce. nope, nope, nope ;) ~ MaryJane

  16. Marianna

    But… have you tried rice pudding with fiori di sicilia? ah, sublime….
    mmmm, I’ve seen an orange blossom water version, the fiori would be an upscale version of that. Awesome! ~ MaryJane

  17. Mother of Pearl

    Our favorite Christmas dessert is Danish style rice pudding – cooked in milk and chilled like this, but then you fold in whipped cream and serve it with cherry sauce. There is a whole blanched almond in the pudding and the one who gets the almond in their bowl gets a prize – usually marzipan. So good! We only eat it on Christmas but that’s part of what makes it so wonderful.
    Oh Mother, this is going on my list too. Good thing we just bought a 15# bag of sushi rice! So much pudding, so little time! ~ MaryJane

  18. AJ

    A few years ago I ran across and eventually made a coconut milk version in my crock pot.

    Why not?! Sounds like a great way to come home to a warm treat! kim@KAF

  19. kakugoriichigo

    Ahh, oral surgery. Fun times…not. I remember being desperate to get back to even just warm food from only cold, only soft things. Popsicles only get you so far, even if they do feel pretty good on the gaping wounds.

    Rice pudding was one of my Grandmother’s staples, but she always baked it! Very nice with little crispy bits around the edges.

    I make mine with Zoji, my rice cooker. Super easy, and the nonstick bowl makes for really easy cleanup too.

    Dad likes his rice pudding cold. I prefer it warm, with some cold jam (suggestion: plum/cinnamon) dropped on top.

    Also, rice pudding paletas are excellent.
    No oral surgery this time, just a bionic spine :). I love the idea of paletas with rice pudding though. I have a new-to-me bigger freezer, so I have room for two batches now. Thanks for sharing! ~ MaryJane

  20. Noodlehead

    This is similar to the Indian kheer. For kheer, long grain rice is cooked in full-fat milk and it’s flavored with saffron and/or cardamom. Nuts are added for a crunch. Yum!
    My daughter and I adore saffron. We’ll have to give this a go. I know when she was in France she had a milk and rice curry snack that she adored. I wonder if it is similar? ~ MaryJane

  21. MariaNita

    here in the Philippines, we use coconut cream/milk and glutinous rice in cooking rice pudding but use freshly shredded sweet corn instead of raisins. smells heavenly.
    Wow, that is really interesting. Would you share a recipe here? I’d love to give it a try and I think I have everything in my pantry. ~ MaryJane

  22. MariaNita

    sure MJ, here’s the recipe:
    1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 3-4 ears of fresh corn, don’t forget to scrape the cob with a spoon to get the corn “milk”)
    1 cup glutinous rice
    1 can coconut milk (about 2 cups)
    3 cups water
    3/4 to 1 cup sugar
    Combine all the ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil, lower the heat, stir occasionally to prevent the rice from sticking and let it simmer until the rice is cooked.
    Thanks for sharing! Elisabeth

  23. PastorK

    I tried this last night, the flavor was good, but it came out super thick. It was almost one solid clump. I thought maybe the rice was cooked too long, but it still had a tooth to it and it was still good. Any ideas?
    I think it may have been over-cooked and too much of the liquid evaporated.

  24. creary1898

    I love rice pudding and have tried many recipes from Greek, Italian-all sorts! This one appealed to me because it is very similar to my favorite-only this one is much richer and very tasty,
    the vanilla is the key. Also, there are no RAISINS or any type fruit! Nell

  25. patriciaannk

    It looks like this is a gluten-free recipe. I’m hoping recipes will be added to the gluten-free recipe category.

    This can certainly be gluten free as long as ALL the ingredients are gluten-free. Our KAF Pure Vanilla and Vanilla Bean Crush are not a gluten-free items, so we cannot consider it completely free of gluten. Kim@KAF

  26. annabekah

    Just had to share….because I am dieting, and because I was desperately craving this rice pudding, I decided to try it with skim milk and half and half. Plus, I never have arborio on hand, so I used regular long-grain white rice. It truly is an acceptable “lighter” recipe, prepared this way!! Still amazingly creamy and VERY vanilla-y!

    Thanks for the feedback – always good to know that these low-fat substitutions, which we all need to make sometimes, work well here… PJH

  27. Lani

    Have you used Wild Rice? Saw an old Native American Recipe for Wild Rice Pie. It’s Just Cooked Wild Rice, Maple Syrup, and Eggs, in a Pie Crust. I have made this without a crust. Nice and nutty. Next time I do this, I am going to add the maple syrup to Wild Rice as it cooks. Maybe sprinkle some Maple Sugar on top. Tried this with left over Chinese Fried Rice. I used up some left over Mini Tart cups. IT was GREAT. I wonder how this would work with Pine Nuts??? Has anyone Ever Made a Pine Nut Pudding?

    Lani, we’ve been using wild rice in the fall breads we’ve been testing and baking for publication, but you make a good point, wild rice would be mighty tasty. Pine nuts tend to get soggy when cooked in liquids; that’s something we haven’t tried in pudding… Susan


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