Sweet Comfort: The Classic Arroz con Leche Recipe

Fact Checked By: Macaria Valerie

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Embark on a culinary adventure with Arroz con Leche, a delightful and traditional rice pudding that has captured hearts and palates across various cultures. This simple yet exquisite dessert is a perfect blend of rice, milk, and sugar, infused with the warm, aromatic flavors of cinnamon and vanilla. Often enriched with the zest of lemon or orange, Arroz con Leche is not just a dish, but a symphony of flavors and textures. Its comforting creaminess and subtle sweetness make it a favorite among both children and adults, serving as a nostalgic reminder of home cooking for many. In this recipe, we will guide you through the steps to create this timeless dessert, ensuring that you can recreate the magic of Arroz con Leche in your own kitchen. Whether as a cozy treat on a chilly evening or a delightful dessert for family gatherings, Arroz con Leche is sure to bring warmth and joy to your table.

Arroz Con Leche Recipe

Arroz Con Leche Recipe

Arroz con Leche is a classic, creamy rice pudding made with simple ingredients like white rice, milk, sugar, and cinnamon. This comforting dessert is characterized by its creamy texture, achieved by slowly simmering the rice in milk until soft and thickened. It’s typically flavored with cinnamon and lemon or orange zest, adding a fragrant depth to the dish. Vanilla extract is also commonly used to enhance its sweet, comforting aroma. Arroz con Leche is versatile and can be served warm or cold, often garnished with ground cinnamon and optionally enriched with raisins or a drizzle of condensed milk. This dish is a favorite in many cultures for its comforting simplicity and sweet, creamy flavor.

Here’s a simple and delicious recipe for a traditional version:


  • 1 cup of white rice (short grain or medium grain rice works best)
  • 4 cups of whole milk
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon (or orange zest for a different flavor)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Ground cinnamon for garnish
  • Optional:
  • Raisins or dried fruit (added at the end)
  • Condensed milk or cream for a richer texture


  • Rinse the Rice: Rinse the rice under cold water until the water runs clear. This step helps to remove excess starch.
  • Cook the Rice with Water: In a large saucepan, combine the rinsed rice, water, and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the water is almost completely absorbed.
  • Add Milk and Flavorings: Add the milk, sugar, lemon zest, and a pinch of salt to the saucepan. Stir to combine.
  • Simmer: Cook the mixture on a low simmer, stirring frequently to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Continue cooking until the rice is soft and the mixture has thickened to a pudding-like consistency. This usually takes about 25-30 minutes.
  • Add Vanilla: Once the rice is cooked and the mixture is thick, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
  • Serve: Remove the cinnamon stick and serve the arroz con leche warm, or let it cool and refrigerate. It can be served cold or reheated.
  • Garnish: Sprinkle with ground cinnamon before serving. If desired, add raisins or a drizzle of condensed milk or cream for added richness.

Enjoy your homemade Arroz con Leche, a comforting and delightful dessert!


To make a delightful Arroz con Leche, here are some tips to ensure your rice pudding turns out perfectly:

  • Rice Selection: Use short or medium-grain rice as they are starchier than long-grain varieties, which helps create a creamy texture.
  • Rinsing Rice: Rinse the rice under cold water until the water runs clear. This step removes excess starch and prevents the pudding from becoming too gluey.
  • Slow Cooking: Cook the rice slowly and gently in the milk. This ensures the rice grains cook evenly and absorb the flavors without burning.
  • Stirring: Regular stirring is crucial to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot and to help release the starches, contributing to a creamier texture.
  • Milk Type: Whole milk is preferred for its richness, but you can use alternatives like skim milk, almond milk, or coconut milk for different flavors and dietary needs.
  • Flavorings: Classic arroz con leche is flavored with cinnamon and lemon or orange zest. These should be added early in the cooking process to infuse the milk.
  • Sweetness: Adjust the sugar according to your taste. You can also experiment with sweeteners like brown sugar, honey, or condensed milk for different flavors.
  • Consistency: The pudding will thicken as it cools, so remove it from the heat when it’s still slightly looser than the desired final consistency.
  • Vanilla Essence: Add vanilla essence after removing the pudding from heat to preserve its flavor.
  • Serving: Arroz con Leche can be served either warm or cold. If serving cold, let it chill in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving.
  • Garnishes: Garnish with ground cinnamon, raisins, or even a sprinkle of nutmeg for added flavor.
  • Leftovers Storage: Store leftover Arroz con Leche in the refrigerator, covered, and consume within a few days.

Following these tips will help you create a deliciously creamy and flavorful Arroz con Leche that can be enjoyed as a perfect sweet treat at any time.

Why This Recipe Is Just So Good…

Arroz Con Leche Recipes

Arroz con Leche, or rice pudding, is beloved for several compelling reasons:

  • Comforting Texture: The creamy, smooth consistency of Arroz con Leche is inherently comforting, reminiscent of childhood and simpler times. It’s like a warm hug in a bowl.
  • Simple, Wholesome Ingredients: Made with basic pantry staples like rice, milk, sugar, and cinnamon, it’s a dish that’s both unpretentious and satisfying, showcasing how simple ingredients can create something delightful.
  • Versatile Flavors: The basic recipe is a canvas for various flavors. You can add lemon or orange zest, vanilla, raisins, or even spices like cardamom or nutmeg, allowing for endless customization.
  • Sweet, but Not Overwhelmingly So: The sweetness level in Arroz con Leche can be easily adjusted to suit different palates, making it appealing to both those who love sweet desserts and those who prefer subtler tastes.
  • Comfort Food Across Cultures: Rice pudding exists in various forms across many cultures, making Arroz con Leche a globally recognized comfort food that resonates with diverse groups of people.
  • Ideal for Any Season: It can be served warm, which is perfect for cold weather, or chilled, making it a refreshing summer treat.
  • Nostalgic Appeal: For many, Arroz con Leche brings back fond memories of family, childhood, and cultural traditions, adding an emotional element to its enjoyment.
  • Easy and Economical: The recipe is straightforward, easy to follow, and budget-friendly, making it accessible for anyone to make.
  • Perfect for Gatherings: Its ease of serving in individual portions or in a large dish makes it ideal for family dinners, potlucks, and other gatherings.
  • Nutritional Value: Rice and milk provide carbohydrates and protein, making it a somewhat nutritious option for a dessert.

In essence, the appeal of Arroz con Leche lies in its simplicity, comfort, and the joy of creating and savoring a dish that feels like a celebration of home and heritage.

Storage Instructions

Storing Arroz con Leche properly is crucial for maintaining its quality and ensuring safety when enjoying it later. Here are some key guidelines for storage:

  • Cooling Down: Allow the Arroz con Leche to cool to room temperature before storing. However, don’t leave it out for more than 2 hours to avoid bacterial growth.
  • Refrigeration: Transfer the cooled Arroz con Leche into airtight containers. This helps to keep it fresh, retain its moisture, and prevent it from absorbing odors or flavors from other foods in the refrigerator. Properly stored, it can last for up to 5 days in the fridge.
  • Freezing: Although it’s possible to freeze Arroz con Leche, be aware that the texture may change upon thawing. Dairy-based desserts can separate and become grainy when frozen and defrosted. If you choose to freeze it, use a freezer-safe container and consume it within a month for the best quality.
  • Thawing and Reheating (if frozen): Thaw frozen Arroz con Leche in the refrigerator overnight. To reheat, gently warm it on the stove over low heat, adding a little milk if necessary to loosen the texture.
  • Serving After Storage: If the Arroz con Leche has thickened too much in the fridge, you can stir in a small amount of milk or cream while gently reheating to bring back its creamy consistency.
  • Avoid Repeated Reheating: It’s best to only reheat the amount of Arroz con Leche you plan to eat at one time. Repeatedly cooling and reheating can affect its quality and increase the risk of foodborne illness.
  • Check Before Eating: Always check stored Arroz con Leche for any off smell, taste, or appearance before consuming. If in doubt, it’s safer to discard it.

By following these storage and reheating instructions, you can safely enjoy your Arroz con Leche for several days, ensuring its delightful taste and creamy texture are preserved.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Arroz Con Leche Recipe with Ingredients

Q: What is Arroz con Leche?

A: Arroz con Leche is a traditional rice pudding made from rice, milk, sugar, and cinnamon, often flavored with vanilla and lemon or orange zest. It’s a popular dessert in many Latin American countries and Spain.

Q: What type of rice should I use for Arroz con Leche?

A: Short-grain or medium-grain rice is best for Arroz con Leche because it’s starchier and creates a creamier texture. Long-grain rice is less ideal as it stays firmer and less creamy.

Q: Can I make Arroz con Leche dairy-free?

A: Yes, you can use almond milk, coconut milk, or any other non-dairy milk as a substitute for dairy milk to make a dairy-free version.

Q: How do I know when Arroz con Leche is done cooking?

A: Arroz con Leche is done when the rice is fully cooked and tender, and the mixture has thickened to a creamy pudding consistency. It will continue to thicken as it cools.

Q: Can I add sweeteners other than sugar?

A: Yes, you can use alternatives like honey, agave syrup, or artificial sweeteners. Keep in mind that these may alter the flavor slightly.

Q: Why do you add lemon or orange zest to Arroz con Leche?

A: Lemon or orange zest adds a fresh, citrusy aroma and flavor that complements the creaminess of the rice pudding, enhancing its overall taste.

Q: How long can I store Arroz con Leche?

A: Arroz con Leche can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Make sure it’s in an airtight container to maintain freshness.

Q: Can Arroz con Leche be frozen?

A: It’s possible to freeze Arroz con Leche, but the texture may change slightly upon thawing. It’s best consumed fresh for the creamiest texture.

Q: Is Arroz con Leche served hot or cold?

A: Arroz con Leche can be enjoyed either hot or cold, based on personal preference. It’s often served cold as a refreshing dessert.

Q: Can I reheat Arroz con Leche?

A: Yes, you can reheat it on the stove over low heat or in the microwave. You may need to add a little milk to loosen it up if it has thickened in the fridge.

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

A: Short-grain or medium-grain rice is ideal for Arroz con Leche. These types have a higher starch content, which releases during cooking, contributing to the creaminess of the pudding.

Q: Is there a preferred type of milk for making Arroz con Leche?

A: Whole milk is typically preferred for its richness and creaminess. However, you can use skim milk, almond milk, or coconut milk for a lighter version or for dietary preferences.

Q: How can I prevent my Arroz con Leche from getting too thick or gluey?

A: To prevent it from becoming too thick, stir it frequently during cooking and maintain a gentle simmer. Also, be careful not to overcook the rice. Adding the milk gradually can help control the consistency.

Q: Can I use brown rice for Arroz con Leche?

A: While you can use brown rice, it will significantly alter the texture and cooking time. Brown rice takes longer to cook and doesn’t release as much starch as white rice, resulting in a less creamy texture.

Q: Why is my Arroz con Leche sometimes grainy, and how can I fix it?

A: Graininess can occur if the milk is added too quickly or if the mixture is heated too rapidly, causing the proteins in the milk to coagulate. To avoid this, add milk slowly and cook on a low, steady heat.

Q: What’s the best way to infuse flavors into Arroz con Leche?

A: Adding cinnamon sticks, lemon or orange zest, and vanilla extract during the cooking process allows these flavors to infuse into the milk and rice. Ensure these are added early enough to impart their flavors effectively.

Q: Can I make Arroz con Leche in a rice cooker?

A: Yes, you can make Arroz con Leche in a rice cooker, although you may need to adjust the liquid quantities. The rice cooker simplifies the cooking process but may not give the same level of control over the final texture.

Q: How important is the resting period after cooking?

A: Allowing Arroz con Leche to rest after cooking lets the flavors meld and the texture set to the right consistency. It usually thickens upon cooling, so a resting period is crucial for achieving the perfect creamy texture.

Q: Can I sweeten Arroz con Leche without sugar?

A: Yes, you can use alternatives like honey, agave syrup, or artificial sweeteners. Keep in mind that these may change the flavor profile slightly.

Q: Is it possible to overcook Arroz con Leche, and how can I tell?

A: Overcooking can happen, leading to mushy rice and an overly thick pudding. It’s best to remove it from heat when it’s still a bit fluid, as it will continue to thicken as it cools. Regular taste tests towards the end of cooking can help judge the right consistency.

These expert responses can guide you in making a delicious, creamy Arroz con Leche, ensuring success whether you’re new to the dish or looking to perfect your recipe.


In conclusion, Arroz con Leche stands as a testament to the beauty of simplicity in cooking. This classic dessert, with its humble ingredients and straightforward preparation, delivers comfort and satisfaction in every spoonful. It’s a dish that transcends cultural boundaries, bringing together families and friends over its universally loved sweet and creamy taste. Whether served warm on a cold night or enjoyed cold as a refreshing treat, Arroz con Leche always offers a sense of home and nostalgia. Its versatility in flavors and toppings means there’s always a new way to enjoy this delightful rice pudding. So, the next time you crave something sweet and comforting, remember that a pot of Arroz con Leche is all you need to bring a touch of sweetness and joy to your day. Happy cooking and even happier indulging!

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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