Sweet Traditions Unveiled: A Guide on How to Make Arroz Con Dulce

Fact Checked By: Macaria Valerie

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Embark on a culinary journey to the heart of Puerto Rican tradition with the enchanting process of making Arroz con Dulce. This sweet rice pudding, a staple of festive gatherings and cherished family moments, offers more than just a delightful treat; it represents a rich tapestry of culture and flavor. As you prepare to create this beloved dessert, you are not just following a recipe; you are weaving together a story steeped in heritage and seasoned with the warmth of shared experiences.

In this guide to crafting Arroz con Dulce, we delve into the artistry behind this classic dish, highlighting the nuances that transform simple ingredients into a symphony of taste and texture. From the selection of the perfect grain of rice to the subtle infusion of aromatic spices, each step in this recipe is a testament to the timeless allure of this traditional dessert. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or a culinary novice, the journey to making Arroz con Dulce is as rewarding as the delicious outcome. Let’s begin this culinary adventure, where tradition meets taste, and every spoonful tells a story.

How to Make Arroz Con Dulce

Arroz con Dulce is a sweet, creamy Puerto Rican dessert that translates to “sweet rice.” It’s a type of rice pudding made with short-grain rice, often Arborio, soaked and then cooked in a mixture of coconut milk, evaporated milk, and spices like cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. Sweetened with sugar and enriched with raisins and lime zest, this dessert is known for its rich, velvety texture and aromatic flavor profile. Typically served chilled, Arroz con Dulce is a popular treat during holidays and special occasions, cherished for its comforting warmth and delightful sweetness.

Here’s a basic recipe to make this delicious treat:

  • 2 cups of short-grain rice (such as Arborio)
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 can (13.5 oz) of coconut milk
  • 1 can (12 oz) of evaporated milk
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of raisins
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 2-3 pieces of fresh ginger (about an inch each)
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • Soak the Rice: Rinse the rice until the water runs clear. Soak the rice in water for at least 2 hours or overnight. This helps to soften the rice and reduce cooking time.
  • Boil the Spices: In a large pot, boil 4 cups of water with the cinnamon stick, cloves, ground ginger, and pieces of fresh ginger. After boiling for about 10 minutes, remove from heat and let it cool.
  • Cook the Rice: Strain the spices out of the water. Add the soaked rice (drained of its soaking water) and salt to the spiced water. Cook on medium heat until the rice is tender, about 15-20 minutes.
  • Add Milk and Sugar: Once the rice is tender, add coconut milk, evaporated milk, and sugar. Stir well and continue cooking on low heat.
  • Add Raisins and Zest: Add the raisins, nutmeg, and lime zest. Stir to combine.
  • Simmer: Let the mixture simmer, stirring frequently, until it thickens to a pudding-like consistency. This may take about 15-20 minutes. Be careful not to let it burn at the bottom.
  • Final Touches: Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
  • Cool and Serve: Let the Arroz con Dulce cool at room temperature. It will continue to thicken as it cools. Once cooled, you can refrigerate it. Serve chilled.
  • Garnish (Optional): Before serving, you can garnish with additional cinnamon or lime zest.

Enjoy your Arroz con Dulce! This creamy, spiced rice pudding is a delightful treat that brings the flavors of Puerto Rico to your table.


Making Arroz con Dulce, like any traditional dish, comes with its own set of tips and tricks to ensure the best results. Here are some useful tips for making this delightful dessert:

  • Rice Selection: Use short-grain rice, such as Arborio, which is commonly used in risottos. This type of rice is starchy and absorbs liquid well, leading to a creamier pudding.
  • Soaking the Rice: Soak the rice for at least 2 hours or overnight. This softens the grains and reduces the cooking time, ensuring a creamier texture in the final dish.
  • Spice Infusion: Boil the spices in water before adding the rice. This technique helps to infuse the water with the flavors of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, which will then be absorbed by the rice.
  • Control the Heat: Cook the rice on medium to low heat to prevent it from burning. Stirring frequently is key to avoid sticking and to ensure even cooking.
  • Sweetness Adjustment: Adjust the amount of sugar according to your taste. Some prefer a sweeter pudding, while others like it less sweet.
  • Milk Proportions: Be careful with the proportions of coconut milk and evaporated milk. Too much liquid can make the pudding too runny, while too little can make it too dry.
  • Adding Raisins: Add raisins according to your preference. They add a nice texture and sweetness to the pudding. You can soak them in rum or warm water to plump them up before adding them to the rice.
  • Stirring is Crucial: Frequent stirring is important, especially as the mixture thickens, to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning.
  • Cooling Time: Allow the pudding to cool at room temperature before refrigerating. Arroz con Dulce thickens as it cools, so it might seem a bit liquidy when it’s hot.
  • Garnishing: Garnish with cinnamon or lime zest before serving. This adds an extra layer of flavor and makes the dish more visually appealing.
  • Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It can be enjoyed cold, or you can reheat it gently before serving.

Remember, making Arroz con Dulce is as much about the process as it is about the ingredients. Take your time and enjoy the act of creating this traditional dessert!

Why This Recipe Is Just So Good…

Arroz con Dulce is a beloved recipe for several reasons that contribute to its irresistible appeal:

  • Rich Creaminess: The combination of coconut milk and evaporated milk creates a luxuriously creamy texture, which is a hallmark of a great rice pudding. This creaminess contrasts beautifully with the tender grains of rice, making each bite both rich and satisfying.
  • Complex Flavor Profile: The dish features a symphony of flavors – the sweetness from the sugar, the warm spice notes from cinnamon, cloves, and ginger, and the subtle tanginess from the lime zest. This blend of flavors gives Arroz con Dulce a depth and complexity that is both comforting and intriguing.
  • Comforting and Nostalgic: For many, Arroz con Dulce is a dish that evokes memories and traditions, particularly around holidays and family gatherings. This emotional connection often enhances the enjoyment of the dessert.
  • Textural Contrast: The plump raisins add a delightful textural contrast to the creamy rice. If they are soaked in rum or warm water before being added, they also contribute an additional layer of flavor.
  • Versatility in Sweetness: The recipe allows for adjustment in the level of sweetness, catering to personal preferences. Whether you prefer it less sweet or indulgently sweet, the recipe can be easily modified.
  • Aromatic Experience: The aromatic spices not only add flavor but also create a delightful aroma that enhances the overall sensory experience of eating the dessert.
  • Nutritional Value: While being a dessert, it also provides some nutritional benefits. Rice is a good source of energy, and coconut milk brings in beneficial fats.
  • Cultural Richness: Arroz con Dulce is more than just a dish; it’s a part of Puerto Rican culinary heritage. This cultural aspect adds an intangible value to the recipe, making it a cherished part of culinary traditions.

In essence, Arroz con Dulce is not just appreciated for its taste but also for the memories it evokes, the sensory experience it provides, and the cultural heritage it represents. This combination of factors contributes to why this recipe is so beloved and enjoyable.

Storage Instructions

Storing Arroz con Dulce properly is essential to maintain its flavor and texture, and to ensure it remains safe to eat. Here are the storage instructions:


  • Cool Down: Allow the Arroz con Dulce to cool to room temperature after cooking. Avoid leaving it out for too long (not more than 2 hours) to prevent bacterial growth.
  • Airtight Container: Transfer the cooled pudding into an airtight container. This helps to keep it moist and prevents it from absorbing odors from other foods in the fridge.
  • Refrigeration Time: Properly stored, Arroz con Dulce can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Freezing (If Necessary):

  • Cooling: Ensure the dessert is completely cooled before freezing.
  • Freezer-Safe Containers: Use freezer-safe containers or bags. If using containers, leave some space at the top as the pudding may expand slightly when frozen.
  • Freezing Time: Arroz con Dulce can be frozen for up to 1 month. The texture might change slightly upon thawing, with the rice becoming a bit softer.
  • Labeling: It’s a good practice to label the containers with the date of freezing.

Thawing and Reheating:

  • Thawing: Thaw in the refrigerator if frozen. It’s best to thaw it overnight.
  • Reheating (Optional): If you prefer to eat it warm, gently reheat in the microwave or on the stove. Add a little milk if the pudding seems too thick after thawing.

Additional Tips:

  • Stir Before Serving: If the pudding separates or becomes too thick in the fridge, a good stir or adding a small amount of milk can help restore its creamy texture.
  • Do Not Refreeze: Once thawed, do not refreeze the Arroz con Dulce as this can affect the quality and safety.
  • Safety Check: Always check for any signs of spoilage like an off smell or mold before consuming, especially if it has been stored for several days.

Properly storing Arroz con Dulce ensures that you can safely enjoy this delightful dessert even a few days after preparation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

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

Q: How does the choice of rice affect the final texture and flavor of Arroz con Dulce?

A: The type of rice is crucial in Arroz con Dulce. Short-grain rice, like Arborio, is preferred because of its high starch content, which contributes to the creaminess of the pudding. Long-grain rice, on the other hand, tends to be firmer and less creamy. The choice of rice directly impacts the pudding’s texture, mouthfeel, and its ability to absorb flavors from the milk and spices.

Q: Can Arroz con Dulce be made with a dairy-free alternative without compromising its traditional taste?

A: Yes, Arroz con Dulce can be adapted for a dairy-free diet. Coconut milk is already a key ingredient, and other dairy components like evaporated milk can be replaced with almond milk, oat milk, or soy milk. These alternatives can mimic the creaminess and richness of dairy milk, although the flavor profile might slightly differ from the traditional version.

Q: What is the significance of soaking the rice before cooking in this recipe?

A: Soaking the rice is an important step in making Arroz con Dulce. It softens the grains, allowing them to cook more evenly and absorb flavors better. Soaking also shortens the cooking time and helps the rice achieve the desired creamy texture without becoming mushy.

Q: Is it possible to make Arroz con Dulce in a pressure cooker or Instant Pot, and what adjustments are needed?

A: Arroz con Dulce can be made in a pressure cooker or Instant Pot, which can significantly reduce cooking time. The key adjustment is to reduce the amount of liquid, as less evaporation occurs in a sealed environment. It’s also important to release the pressure naturally to avoid disrupting the rice’s texture.

Q: How does the addition of lime zest influence the flavor profile of Arroz con Dulce?

A: Lime zest adds a bright, citrusy note to Arroz con Dulce, creating a balance against the rich, creamy, and sweet flavors. It adds a layer of freshness and can enhance the overall depth of flavor in the dessert.

Q: What are the best practices for adding spices to this dish, and how do they contribute to its overall flavor?

A: The best practice is to infuse the cooking liquid with spices like cinnamon, cloves, and ginger before adding the rice. This method allows the spices to release their essential oils and flavors into the liquid, which are then absorbed by the rice. The spices contribute warmth, depth, and traditional flavor to the dish.

These expert-level questions and answers delve into the nuances of making Arroz con Dulce, highlighting the importance of ingredient selection, preparation techniques, and understanding the role each component plays in creating this cherished dessert.


In conclusion, the creation of Arroz con Dulce is more than just the preparation of a dessert; it’s an act of preserving and celebrating a rich culinary heritage. This sweet, creamy rice pudding, infused with the warmth of spices and the richness of coconut milk, is a testament to the art of traditional cooking. As each spoonful of Arroz con Dulce melts in your mouth, it brings with it the essence of festivity, comfort, and the joy of shared experiences.

Through this journey of making Arroz con Dulce, we connect with a timeless tradition, embracing the nuances that make this dish a beloved treasure in Puerto Rican cuisine. Whether it graces your table during a holiday, a family gathering, or as a special treat, Arroz con Dulce stands as a symbol of culinary craftsmanship and the enduring power of food to bring people together. As you master this recipe, you don’t just add a dish to your culinary repertoire; you partake in a legacy of flavor, culture, and sweet memories, one delightful 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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