Arroz con Leche Receta (Spanish Rice Pudding Recipe)

Yes folks, you’ve read the title correctly, today it’s getting “domestic” around here at TRIS. Although I wouldn’t call myself a great cook, I love experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen (a passion I inherited from my mother – anyone remember when she substituted the milk in Kraft Mac and Cheese with sour cream, water, and sugar??) šŸ™‚

Since I’m living in Spain, I figured now was the appropriate time to “try my hand” at preparing this traditional Spanish dish: arroz con leche (literally “rice with milk” but more commonly called “rice pudding” in the US)

Why Arroz con Leche?

For a number of reasons really….

  1. Ā I had all the ingredients on hand. (always a plus!) šŸ™‚
  2. Ā No baking is required. (last time I tried to use the oven here I burnt the brownies and blew a fuse…. whoopsies.
  3. Ā It’s a dessert. (and it’s typical of Asturias!)
  4. Ā I’ve ordered it many times in restaurants and I’m never let down.
  5. Ā In many of the recipe books IĀ consultedĀ its preparation is considered “easy”. (Score!)

Interesting Facts about the Dessert

According to the recipe books Diego’s mom has around the house, arroz con leche was probably first prepared in Spain during this countries’ “Muslim Era” (8th-15th centuries) – Ā the time inĀ history when an Islamic-Arabic people occupied Spain and Portugal. Ā Historians believe this to be true because the mainĀ ingredientsĀ of this dish – rice, milk, and the various spices are common in Arabic cuisine.

When the Spanish conquered the “New World” – they brought with them this recipe to the native people. Because of this,Ā variations ofĀ arroz con lecheĀ are also a common in Mexican, Cuban, and Central and South American cooking.


I wish I could say that I followed this recipe exactly from a Asturian cook book – but alsa, as I typically do, I modified the recipe I was following based on the ingredients I had and the time I wanted to spend in the kitchen (I think the first recipe book I consulted told me I should “continuously stir the pudding on the stove for at least an hour…) I love dessert, but not that much! šŸ˜‰ So if you’re looking for a 100 percent authentic recipe perhaps you should consult another source…. šŸ™‚

Anyhow, let’s get cooking!


  1. 2 cups water
  2. 2 cups milk (I used skim milk but would recommend using whole or at least 2 percent)
  3. 1 cup rice uncooked
  4. 6 TBS sweetener of choice (I used a sugar/maple syrup combo)
  5. 1 TBS butter (optional)
  6. 2 TSP groundĀ cinnamon
  7. Dash of ground nutmeg
  8. Dash of salt
  9. Rind of half a lemon


Prep time: one hour

  • Combine water, rice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon rind in a large bowl.
  • Stir until cinnamon and nutmeg aren’t clumpy in the water.
  • Set aside for one hour.
Cooking time: 30-40 minutes
  • After waiting at least an hour, dump the “spiced up” water and rice mixture into a medium sized pot (with lid) on the stove.
  • Set your stove’s heat setting to “medium high” and cover pot with lid.
  • Heat mixture until it beings to boil.
While you’re waiting for the water to being to boil, don’t be like me and take a bathroom break… because this is what happens….

It's not a true cooking experience without a few spills, right? šŸ™‚

The water boils over and then you (Lucy) have a lot of “explaining to do to Ricki!” šŸ™‚

Moving on….

  • Once the water beings to boil reduce heat to “medium”.
  • Ā Let mixture simmer for a few minutes.
  • When most of the water has evaporated/has been absorbed by the rice, remove the lemon rind with a fork.
Now comes the “tedious” part…
  • Reduce stove heat to “low”.
  • Ā Add half a cup of milk to the rice mixture.
  • After adding the milk, stir mixture until milk starts to absorb into the rice, making sure the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom or sides of the pot.
  • During the next 20 minutes, add the rest of the milk, half a cup at a time, while continuing to stir the rice.

The stove can't be too hot when you add the milk or else you'll burn the pudding!

Understandably, 20 minutes is a long time to wait in the kitchen for something to cook šŸ˜‰ Feel free to distract yourself with the followingĀ activities…. (Just don’t forget to keep stirring the rice!)

“Swiffering” the kitchen floor is always a good way to pass the time…. or it’s also acceptable to…..
No comment....
….take awesome photos of yourself holding kitchen utensils in your mouth because both hands are needed to steady the Ipad camera. Ā šŸ˜‰
  • After all the milk has been added, do a “taste test” to see if the rice is soft enough for your liking.
  • If the rice is too tough, cook a little longer.
  • Once you areĀ satisfiedĀ with the texture of the rice, turn off the heat of stove top.
  • Add the 6 TBS of sweetener to the pudding (I used 2 TSP of maple syrup and 4 TBS of sugar).
  • Mix the pudding untilĀ sweetenerĀ is fully blended.
  • If you desire, now is the time to add the 1 TBS of butter.
  • Mix the pudding until butter is fully blended and remove pot from stove top.

Not a "typical Spanish" sweetener, but still delicious!

Yes, Paula Dean's influence followed me to Spain!

  • Pudding should now have a soupy “oatmeal” like texture and constancy.
  • Do one final “taste test” to make sure you have added enoughĀ sweetener.
  • Transfer pudding to a large bowl and let it cool to room temperature.
  • Once cooled, cover bowl andĀ refrigerate.
  • Serve chilled – topped with a little extra cinnamon, nutmeg, and (if you’re really fancy) some grated lemon zest!
  • Makes approx. 4 servings.

Can you spy my large jar of peanut butter I smuggled here from the US???

I forgot to take a photo of the final result, so this stolen one will have to do šŸ˜¦

Final Thoughts
  • Diego (my authentic Spanish “taste tester”) gave my version of arroz con leche a 7/10, not too shabby!
  • Because I used skim milk, the result was much less “rich” than what I was use to tasting in aĀ restaurantĀ (that’s why I added butter to my recipe) – therefore I recommend that you use whole milk (or at least 2 percent)… even though it’s less healthy!
  • The pudding tastes even better then next day after being refrigerated overnight!!
  • Feel free to play around with the type of sweetener/milk/spices you use – I read recipes that called for everything from coconut milk instead of cow’s milk (theĀ BrazilianĀ version), limes instead of lemons (the Mexican version), andĀ substitutingĀ nutmeg for laurel leaves (A Spanish variation).
That’s why I loved making arroz con leche – it’s soĀ versatile and (believe me when I say this) its preparation is practically “fool proof”Ā šŸ˜‰

Remember folks, if this girl can make it..... (trust me) so can you!! šŸ™‚


10 thoughts on “Arroz con Leche Receta (Spanish Rice Pudding Recipe)

  1. Two things to be said about all this.. the Arroz con leche was really good, I could probably give it a 7,5/10!…
    And never leave Rachel next to an oven:
    “No baking is required. (last time I tried to use the oven here I burnt the brownies and blew a fuseā€¦. whoopsies”…
    That wasnt the first time.. in Sydney she burnt every single thing she tried baking! So I guess(hope) those brownies were her last experiment!! šŸ˜‰

    • Yes, now I am sticking to “stove top desserts”. Ha remember those ” no bake brownies” I ended up making for Belen and Father when the first ones failed?? I’m almost certain they threw them away that night after we left…. whoopsies šŸ˜‰

  2. The recipe sounds delicious. I can’t wait to try it.
    I think I’ll add a bit of sour cream to mine…..

  3. This does sound really good! Has Diego ever heard of Bread Pudding? I know that is popular in the south, where David is from, but I think you cook it a little differently than the rice pudding. I do want to try this! I’ll let you know how it goes. On a side note, last Sunday David and I were invited over to my friend Christian’s house and I was instructed to make dessert for us. For our wedding she bought David and I this organic cookbook, so I thought it would be perfect to make one of its recipes for Chocolate Mouse. It sounded delicious! Well, once I got 2/3 through the recipe it required that I beat three egg whites until it got to the consistency of whipped cream (aka meringues). I seriously beat those eggs for 30mins and they would not fluff one bit! Then I brought in the big guns: I employed David and his power mixer, but STILL the eggs would not fluff. Completely fed up, I looked up online to figure out the problem, and it said that if the weather is humid (which it was that day) you have no luck and the eggs will never change consistency…:-( huge bummer. BUT, also as a product of Debie Miller, I decided to take what ingredients that I had (eggs, chocolate, sugar, etc.), mix them with a box of cake mix, and bake an equally delicious cake! Problem solved…or so I thought. Turned out my batter required less cooking time than what was recommended on the box, and I ended up burning the cake. šŸ˜¦ Although another tragedy, I would not give up! I flipped the cake out of the pan, allowed it to cool, and then attempted to carve out the non-burnt parts. My plan was to transfer the good cake onto a new plate, and then frost the entire thing; no one would know or taste the difference! Ha. BUT the frosting got clumpy, and instead of spreading, just balled itself, and the remnant cake, into big globs šŸ˜¦ As a last ditch effort, I ran to the cupboard, grabbed four cups and tried layering the cake crumbles and frosting into some sort of “cake trifle.” But alas, the frosting refused to layer in the cups, once again taking on the form or massive globs. At this point I was DONE! David had been out of the apartment since the time I had popped the cake into the oven, so when he came home, I explained in a frustrated manner my failed baking experience. Although defeated, and with only a few hours before our dinner date at Christian’s apartment, David and I broke out two forks and literally feasted on a frosting-cake mound! Then, right before we went to dinner, we stopped at Dominick’s and bought an apple pie, and some vanilla ice cream. So, for a long story (still long, sorry) I too have failed in some baking adventures…maybe its just not in our blood and we should just stick to cooking, and buy our desserts instead!

    • hahahaha that is a hilarious story Erin!!!!! I must run in our family because you should have seen the mess I made when I tried to make homemade gingerbread houses for Diego and I to decorate at Christmas. It was a nightmare and unlike what happened with you, I had to throw everything away because it turned out burnt and gross šŸ˜¦ I loved that you and David were able to enjoy the remains of your failed baking attempt! We should definitely follow Aunt Harriet’s advice and try to make one of Gram’s recipes… I sure it wouldn’t turn out bad! hehehe thanks again for sharing – i loved reading this!!

  4. You should both (Erin and Rachel) try the desert recipe that your grandmother gave me years ago, and it is also the one I put in Erin’s cookbook (last page). There is no baking at all. You mix the ingredients and throw it in the freezer and take it out an hour before you want to serve it. It truly is foolproof and very good. And since it is in your blood, there are probably ingredients where you could substitute something else.

    Rachel – I love your blog. You are such a wonderful writer. I look forward to your next story.

    Love, Aunt Harriet

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