Thursday, June 8, 2023

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    Know the Arroz con leche dessert and -some of- its variations

    Rice pudding, popularly known as arroz con leche, is a typical creamy dessert of the gastronomy of many Latin American countries. It is mostly homemade with rice and milk, but since its original recipe has spread out around the world, different variations have been created incorporating other ingredients. In many places it has been converted into the favorite comforting breakfast.

    In this post I would like to present to you the original recipe of this dessert and some of the better known variations prepared in different countries. You are going to find these recipes quite interesting and tasty.

    Original Arroz con Leche preparation

    The original and basic recipe of this dessert is primarily made by slowly cooking rice with milk and sugar, and adding simple pantry ingredients. It is easy to make and does not take a lot of time, around 30 minutes. See below the ingredients and directions for this appetizing dessert. 


    • 1 cup of rice.
    • 2 cups of water.
    • 2 cups of whole milk.
    • 2 cinnamon sticks.
    • 1 tablespoon of lime zest.
    • 1½ cup of sugar.


    To prepare this authentic rice pudding please just follow the easy directions I describe below.

    • Rinse rice in cool water until it runs clear. Then drain any excess of it.
    • Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan.
    • Stir in the rice, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered.
    • Add milk and sugar.
    • Return the pot to a simmer.
    • Cook, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes.
    • When rice is done, remove from heat and let it rest.

    It is served hot or cold and is usually sprinkled with raisins, cinnamon, vanilla or lemon peel for flavoring.

    Variations of the arroz con leche recipe

    One of the reasons this dessert has become so popular is because it just calls for ingredients that surely you have in your pantry. You can even add others of your choice.

    Likewise, depending on the amount of sugar added or if you include other ingredients like citrus fruit, your dessert will not get too sweet but rather pleasant. That is what has been done in some regions, making a proper version of this creamy pudding.

    Mexican Arroz con Leche

    This Mexican rice pudding recipe is similar to the Spanish version that I will show you next. They only have a few subtle differences. In Mexican cuisine it’s like a tradition to prepare it and they add, in some cases, raisins as a topping, which are sometimes flambé in local beverages like mescal or tequila.

    It is a recipe that satisfies any sweet tooth with just 6 simple ingredients:

    • Long-grain white rice.
    • Milk (2% or whole milk).
    • Sugar.
    • Cinnamon sticks.
    • A pinch of salt.

    Spanish Arroz con Leche

    This rice pudding is on the list of classic recipes from Spain is arroz con leche. This variation includes the addition of lemon or orange peel for a spicy flavor. Also, it is commonly sprinkled, when served, with cinnamon on top. As to rice type, it is frequently used short grain rice like Arborio. But if you are fond of aromatic varieties, you may use long grain jasmine rice.

    Some tips for the preparation that I recommended are:

    • Make sure to use cinnamon sticks, not cinnamon powder.
    • Be sure to add the sugar slowly and taste it frequently. If you overdo it, you can’t go back.
    • Always use whole milk.
    • Use sea salt, which enhances the flavor.

    Colombian Arroz con Leche

    For the preparation of this rice pudding in Colombia they add butter to the cooking liquid. This provides your rice pudding with an extra creamy and velvety texture. It will look and taste somehow like risotto. In general, I have found they use as main ingredients the following ones:

    • Long-grain white rice.
    • Whole milk.
    • Sugar.
    • Water.
    • Cinnamon sticks.
    • Pinch of salt.
    • Vanilla extract.
    • Sweetened condensed milk.
    • Butter. 

    Your guests will love it and you will be recognized as an expert rice pudding chef.

    British Rice Pudding

    This straightforward recipe has been an English supper staple for centuries. In this version you require a few ingredients that you already have in your cupboard all year round.

    This British-style recipe requires:

    • Short grain rice or the one usually labeled as pudding rice on the package.
    • Whole milk, but I have also used semi-skimmed milk and achieved a still tasty and creamy pudding. 
    • White caster or granulated sugar.
    • Salted or unsalted rice butter. I like salted butter.
    • A few grates of nutmeg to achieve a traditional nutty flavor to the baked rice pudding.

    You will love this recipe because it is very simple to make, and requires budget friendly ingredients. Also, you can vary its flavors and can enjoy it hot or cold. 

    Puerto Rican Arroz Con Leche 

    This version of rice pudding is a really comforting food with pleasant and delightful ingredients are used, namely:

    • Tender grains of rice: They are cooked in a fragrant cinnamon and spice infusion.
    • Raisins: They are studded after the pudding is ready.
    • Coconut milk: This distinguishes arroz con leche boricua from regular rice pudding, in which dairy milk is added.
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