Exploring the Sweet Tradition of Arroz con Dulce Recipe: A Puerto Rican Delight

Fact Checked By: Macaria Valerie

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In the rich tapestry of Puerto Rican cuisine, a standout dessert that has captivated both locals and food enthusiasts alike is Arroz con Dulce. This sweet, creamy rice pudding is more than just a treat; it’s a cultural symbol, weaving together the flavors of the island’s culinary heritage. Arroz con Dulce, translating to ‘sweet rice,’ is a delightful blend of tender rice, aromatic spices, and the tropical richness of coconut milk, coming together to create a dessert that’s both comforting and indulgent. Its roots are deeply embedded in Puerto Rican festivities and family gatherings, making it a dish that resonates with warmth, nostalgia, and the joy of shared experiences. As we delve into the nuances of this beloved recipe, we uncover the secrets behind its enduring appeal and learn how to bring a taste of Puerto Rican tradition to our own kitchens.

Arroz Con Dulce Recipe

Arroz con Dulce is a sweet, creamy Puerto Rican dessert made with rice, coconut milk, sugar, and spices like cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. The rice is soaked, then cooked in a spiced infusion and coconut milk until tender. Sugar and raisins are added for sweetness and texture. It’s often garnished with ground cinnamon and can be served warm or chilled for a firmer texture. This dish is a delightful blend of sweet, spicy, and creamy flavors.

Arroz con Dulce is a traditional Puerto Rican dessert. Here’s a basic recipe for it:


  • 1 cup of short-grain rice
  • 4 cups of coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cups of water
  • 1 piece of ginger, peeled
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • Ground cinnamon, for garnish


  • Soak the Rice: Rinse the rice until the water runs clear. Soak the rice in water for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
  • Prepare the Spice Infusion: In a pot, combine water, ginger, cinnamon sticks, and cloves. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Strain and keep the liquid.
  • Cook the Rice: In the same pot, add the strained liquid, coconut milk, and salt. Bring to a boil. Drain the rice and add it to the pot. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add Sugar and Raisins: After 20 minutes, add sugar and raisins to the rice. Stir well and continue to cook for another 15-20 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the mixture has thickened.
  • Serve: Once the rice is cooked and the mixture is thick, remove from heat. Let it cool down a bit, then spoon into serving dishes. Garnish with ground cinnamon.
  • Chill (Optional): For a firmer texture, chill in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving.

Enjoy your Arroz con Dulce! Remember, you can adjust the sugar and spices to suit your taste preferences.


Here are some tips to enhance your Arroz con Dulce recipe:

  • Rice Soaking: Soak the rice for at least 2 hours, or overnight if possible. This helps the rice absorb more flavor and achieve a softer texture when cooked.
  • Use Quality Coconut Milk: The richness of coconut milk is key to this dish. Use full-fat coconut milk for a creamier texture and richer flavor.
  • Gentle Cooking: Cook the rice mixture on low heat to prevent burning and ensure even cooking. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
  • Spice Infusion: For a more intense flavor, consider simmering the spices in the coconut milk for a few minutes before adding the rice. This enhances the infusion of flavors.
  • Balance of Sweetness: Adjust the sugar according to your taste. You can also use brown sugar for a deeper flavor.
  • Raisin Variations: If you’re not a fan of raisins, you can omit them or replace them with another dried fruit like dried cranberries or chopped dates.
  • Let it Rest: After cooking, let the Arroz con Dulce rest for a few minutes to set. It thickens as it cools, enhancing the texture.
  • Serving Temperature: This dish can be enjoyed both warm and cold. If you prefer it chilled, refrigerate it for a few hours before serving.
  • Garnish Variations: While ground cinnamon is traditional, you can also garnish with toasted coconut flakes, a sprinkle of nutmeg, or a dollop of whipped cream for added flavor and texture.
  • Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It can last for several days.

These tips will help you make a delicious and authentic Arroz con Dulce. Enjoy your cooking!

Why This Recipe Is Just So Good…

Arroz con Dulce is highly regarded for several reasons that make it a delightful treat:

  • Rich Flavor Profile: The combination of creamy coconut milk, warm spices like cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, and the sweetness from the sugar and raisins creates a rich and complex flavor profile. Each ingredient complements the others, resulting in a harmonious blend of tastes.
  • Texture Contrast: The creamy, soft texture of the rice cooked in coconut milk contrasts beautifully with the occasional chewiness of the raisins. This contrast in textures makes each bite interesting and satisfying.
  • Comforting Warmth: The warm spices typically used in Arroz con Dulce, like cinnamon and ginger, offer a comforting, homey quality. This makes it particularly appealing as a comfort food or a treat during colder months.
  • Versatility in Serving: It can be enjoyed warm or cold, making it versatile for different occasions and preferences. Whether as a cozy warm dessert in winter or a chilled treat in summer, it adapts well to different temperatures.
  • Cultural Significance: As a traditional Puerto Rican dish, Arroz con Dulce often evokes nostalgic feelings and cultural pride among those who grew up with it. The recipe is often passed down through generations, making it more than just a dessert but a part of family heritage.
  • Sweetness Level: The level of sweetness in Arroz con Dulce can be adjusted to personal preference, making it appealing to a wide range of palates. Whether you prefer it less sweet or indulgently sweet, it can be tailored to suit your taste.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: Its creamy texture, sprinkled with ground cinnamon and perhaps garnished with additional items like toasted coconut, makes it visually appealing. A well-presented Arroz con Dulce can be a feast for the eyes as well as the palate.

These factors combine to make Arroz con Dulce not just a dessert, but an experience of taste, texture, and tradition that many find irresistible.

Storage Instructions

To store Arroz con Dulce effectively, follow these guidelines:

  • Cooling: Allow the Arroz con Dulce to cool to room temperature before storing. Storing it while hot can cause condensation, which may make the rice soggy.
  • Container: Use an airtight container to store the dessert. This keeps it from absorbing odors from other foods in the refrigerator and maintains its freshness.
  • Refrigeration: Place the sealed container in the refrigerator. Arroz con Dulce should be kept cold to preserve its texture and prevent spoilage.
  • Shelf Life: Properly stored, Arroz con Dulce can last in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.
  • Freezing (Optional): Although it’s best enjoyed fresh, you can freeze Arroz con Dulce for longer storage. Freeze it in an airtight container or heavy-duty freezer bags. When frozen, it can last for up to 2 months. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
  • Reheating: If you prefer to eat it warm, gently reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop over low heat. Add a little milk or water if the mixture seems too thick upon reheating.

Remember, always check for any signs of spoilage like a sour smell or mold before consuming leftovers.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Here are some expert-level questions and answers about Arroz con Dulce:

Q: What type of rice is best for Arroz con Dulce?

A: Short-grain rice is preferred because it’s starchy and absorbs the flavors well, leading to a creamier texture.

Q: Can I use something other than coconut milk?

A: Coconut milk is essential for the traditional flavor, but you can use other milk types like almond milk or dairy milk, though this will change the taste and texture.

Q: Do I need to soak the rice before cooking?

A: Yes, soaking the rice helps it cook evenly and absorb flavors better. It’s recommended to soak it for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Q: How long does Arroz con Dulce last in the fridge?

A: It can last in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days when stored in an airtight container.

Q: Can Arroz con Dulce be frozen?

A: Yes, you can freeze it in an airtight container for up to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge before serving.

Q: Why do I need to cook the spices in water first?

A: This step extracts the maximum flavor from the spices, which then gets infused into the rice for a deeper taste.

Q: Can I make Arroz con Dulce without sugar?

A: Yes, you can use alternative sweeteners like honey or agave syrup, but the taste will be slightly different.

Q: What if I don’t like raisins?

A: You can omit the raisins or substitute them with other dried fruits like cranberries or chopped dates.

Q: Can I make Arroz con Dulce vegan?

A: Absolutely. Use a plant-based milk alternative and ensure your sugar (or sweetener) is vegan-friendly.

Q: Why is my Arroz con Dulce too dry/thick?

A: This could be due to not enough liquid or cooking it for too long. You can adjust by adding more liquid and reducing the cooking time.

Q: What type of rice works best for Arroz con Dulce and why?

A: Short-grain rice is ideal for Arroz con Dulce because it’s more starchy than long-grain rice. This starchiness contributes to the creamy texture of the dessert. The rice grains absorb the flavors well while maintaining a soft, pleasant texture.

Q: How does the soaking of rice affect the final dish?

A: Soaking the rice before cooking helps soften the grains and reduces cooking time. It also ensures the rice cooks evenly and absorbs the flavors from the spices and coconut milk more effectively, leading to a more flavorful dish.

Q: Can Arroz con Dulce be made with a dairy milk alternative to coconut milk?

A: While coconut milk is traditional and provides a unique flavor and creaminess, dairy milk or other plant-based milks can be used. However, this will significantly alter the taste and texture of the dish.

Q: Why is it important to simmer the spices in water before adding them to the rice?

A: Simmering spices like cinnamon, cloves, and ginger in water before adding them to the rice helps extract their flavors more effectively. This spice-infused water imparts a deeper, more aromatic flavor to the rice.

Q: Is it possible to make Arroz con Dulce without sugar? What are the alternatives?

A: Yes, you can make Arroz con Dulce without traditional sugar by using alternatives like honey, agave syrup, or artificial sweeteners. Keep in mind that each sweetener will impart a different flavor profile and sweetness level.

Q: How can the texture of Arroz con Dulce be adjusted?

A: The texture can be adjusted by varying the cooking time and the amount of liquid used. For a firmer texture, cook the rice for a shorter time with less liquid. For a creamier, softer texture, cook longer with more liquid.

Q: What are some common variations or additions to the traditional Arroz con Dulce recipe?

A: Common variations include adding different dried fruits like apricots or cranberries, using various types of sweeteners, or topping with toasted nuts for added crunch. Some versions also incorporate citrus zest for a fresh, tangy flavor.

These questions and answers provide a deeper understanding of the complexities and variations in preparing Arroz con Dulce.


In conclusion, Arroz con Dulce stands as more than just a dessert; it is a testament to Puerto Rico’s rich culinary heritage, a dish that encapsulates the warmth of its people and the vibrancy of its culture. Each spoonful of this creamy, spiced rice pudding not only offers a taste of tropical sweetness but also tells a story of tradition passed down through generations. As we’ve seen, its versatility in terms of ingredients and serving options makes it a fitting dessert for various occasions, be it a festive celebration or a quiet, cozy evening. Whether you adhere to the traditional recipe or put your own spin on it, Arroz con Dulce is sure to delight and comfort. It’s a reminder of the power of food to connect us to places, people, and memories, and a sweet note that some flavors truly are timeless. As you prepare this dish in your own kitchen, remember that you’re not just cooking a recipe; you’re keeping a piece of cultural heritage alive, one delicious spoonful at a time.

Photo of author

Macaria Valerie

About the author

With over 15 years of experience in the culinary world, Macaria Valerie has developed a unique niche expertise in the art and science of rice cooking. Born in Taipei and raised in San Francisco, Macaria's passion for perfectly cooked rice is a blend of her Taiwanese roots and modern culinary techniques. She has traveled across Asia, gathering traditional rice recipes and cooking methodologies. Macaria is not just about plain rice. She's explored the depths of risotto in Italy, paella in Spain, biryani in India, and sushi in Japan. Yet, she believes that the core of these dishes lies in mastering the basic foundation - the rice. In her popular blog, "Expert Reviews Best Rice Cooker", Macaria shares not only her favorite rice recipes but also reviews the latest in rice cooker technology. She's been a consultant for major kitchen appliance brands, aiding in the development and testing of their rice cooker lines. In her spare time, Macaria conducts workshops and classes, ensuring that the art of cooking perfect rice is accessible to everyone. Whether you're aiming for a simple bowl of fluffy white rice or venturing into the intricate world of flavored rice dishes, Macaria Valerie is your go-to guide in the rice cooker niche.

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