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Creamy Rice Pudding Recipe

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Dreamy, creamy stovetop rice pudding. This is the best.

This extra creamy rice pudding recipe is, quite simply, the best. Naturally-creamy arborio rice combines with milk, vanilla, and crème fraîche for a sweet, decadent stovetop rice pudding that’s over-the-top good. No eggs or baking necessary.

Creamy Rice Pudding in cup

All About This Creamy Rice Pudding Recipe

Rice pudding is a dessert I tend to forget about for a long time, and then suddenly crave. Rice pudding may not exactly scream “modern! glamour! excitement!” This stovetop rice pudding recipe does, however, make a timeless, creamy, perfect dessert.

Adapted from one of the country’s all-time greatest pastry chefs, Claudia Fleming, this stovetop rice pudding recipe triples the creaminess by using a few key ingredients.

The ingredients for this easy rice pudding include:

  1. Starchy arborio rice,
  2. Whole milk,
  3. Vanilla extract,
  4. Granulated sugar, and
  5. A simple, “secret” ingredient at the end.
  6. Cinnamon and orange-steeped raisins add even more flavor.

creamy rice pudding recipe

This Is a No-Egg Rice Pudding Recipe. Here’s Why.

One thing you won’t see in this creamy rice pudding recipe? Eggs. Many rice pudding recipes call for eggs. Eggs are a common ingredient in custards. Eggs act as a thickener and binder.

But this recipe calls for no eggs, and is thick enough without them. This is because the arborio rice, with its natural starch, acts as thickener enough. The crème fraîche also helps thicken the rice pudding even more, in addition to a subtle tang to balance the sweetness from the granulated sugar and vanilla extract.

ingredients arborio rice vanilla milk

Arborio Rice Makes the Creamiest Rice Pudding

Rice pudding is pretty flexible when it comes to choosing a rice. Many recipes call for fragrant jasmine or plain white rice. Fewer call for arborio rice — but should. Here’s why I love this arborio rice pudding recipe.

Arborio rice is a short grain rice. Short grain rice produces more starch than medium-grain rice or long-grain rice. More starch means a sticky, creamy texture. Long grain rice varieties, such as basmati, have less starch. The individual grains will separate even when cooked, so those make a drier, fluffy rice.

Stovetop Rice Pudding Recipe with arborio rice

Most commonly associated with risotto, starchy arborio rice creates a creamy texture all on its own, without any dairy. That’s why using arborio makes creamy rice pudding even creamier.

Milk and the creamy arborio rice together create a doubly creamy rice pudding. But this recipe goes for the trifecta: a triple cream. Fold in a dollop of crème fraîche or sour cream at the end. (Trust me.) The crème fraîche adds another layer of creamy texture, as well as a subtle flavor that cuts just enough into the sweetness to add a bit more dimension.

riasins and orange zest in pot with grand marnier

Crème Fraîche vs. Sour Cream

This recipe calls for the addition of crème fraîche at the end. Crème fraîche is thickened, cultured cream with a slightly soured flavor and high fat content. Sour cream is an easy 1:1 substitute for crème fraîche.

Sour cream tastes slightly more tangy and has a lower fat content, but the effect will be similar in the final product. Serious Eats did a deep-dive into the differences between the sour cream and crème fraîche, for further reading.

A Special Add-In

Such a creamy, special rice pudding needs special raisins to match. Plain raisins, a common rice pudding mix-in, are good. But golden raisins steeped in cinnamon, orange juice, and Grand Marnier are better.

If you don’t have Grand Marnier, Cointreau or even orange juice makes a good substitute, or leave it out altogether. The subtle orange and cinnamon flavor will be enough to enhance the custard.

bowl of creamy arborio rice pudding with orange zest and raisins

Stovetop Creamy Rice Pudding: Recipe Notes

  • You can easily source arborio rice for this pudding recipe at any major supermarket, grocery, Italian store, or online
  • Stir the rice pudding frequently while cooking. Stirring helps release the starch, and ensures that the rice on the bottom does not brown.
  • Stir 3/4 of the raisins into the arborio rice pudding, and reserve the rest to garnish, along with a bit of orange zest

creamy rice pudding recipe

If you love this rice pudding recipe, you’ll also love:

bowl of creamy arborio rice pudding with orange zest and raisins

Creamy Stovetop Arborio Rice Pudding

An easy stovetop rice pudding, now even creamier with naturally starchy arborio rice and crème fraîche.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time50 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keywords:: arborio, dessert, easy, pudding, raisins, rice, rice pudding, stovetop
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
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Ingredients

For the Rice Pudding

  • 5 cups whole milk (you can substitute low fat, but not skim)
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup arborio rice
  • 3/4 cup crème fraîche or sour cream

For the Steeped Golden Raisins

  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or fresh orange juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • zest from 1/2 orange
  • enough cold water to cover the raisins fully

Instructions

For the Rice Pudding

  • In a large saucepan, bring the milk, sugar, and vanilla to a boil. Add the rice. Stir, and boil for one minute.
  • Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook for 45 to 50 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened and creamy.
  • Pour the rice pudding into a wide bowl and stir until cooled to room temperature.
    PRO TIP: Speed the cooling process by putting the bowl over an ice bath. Even setting it over a bag of frozen vegetables will help speed things along.
    TIP: Don't be worried if the rice pudding looks slightly loose. It will firm up more when chilled.

For the Raisins and to Finish

  • While the rice pudding simmers, zest an orange, if desired, and set aside to garnish.
    Heat the raisins, Grand Marnier or orange juice, cinnamon, and enough water to cover the raisins in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then immediately remove from heat. Steep for about 15 minutes. Drain.
  • Whip the crème fraîche or sour cream to with a fork to lighten it into a smooth creamy texture. Gently fold into the rice pudding, along with 3/4 of the raisins. Chill until cool.
  • Spoon the rice pudding into serving bowls. Top with a few more raisins and, if desired, a small sprinkle of cinnamon and the orange zest.
    This rice pudding will keep, refrigerated, for up to two days. Rice pudding tastes best very cool, but not cold.

15 comments

  • Hi Lisa, thanks for sharing your recipes with us…I’ve never had a fail.
    I just want to let you know that the photo’s are still not printing when we opt to have them printed with the recipe. I’m one of those people that find the photo’s very helpful, so I just thought I’d let you know.

    • Unpeeled

      Hi, Leona! Argh-that is so frustrating; my apologies. I just started working with a new tech person, and will bump this to the top of the list for fixes. I appreciate the note and hope to resolve this very soon.

  • Followed the recipe as written. It never firmed up, and I ended up with a bowl full of rice and milk soup.

    Looking for another recipe to see how to fix this mess.

    • Unpeeled

      Oh dear! I am sorry this happened. I wonder why…My troubleshooting tips would be to make sure the rice pudding cooks uncovered, which releases some of the excess moisture, and to only use arborio rice. I am so sorry this didn’t work out for you. I know well how frustrating this can be. If I can think of any other notes, I will pass them along.

  • Inge D

    Will try this recipe

  • 5 stars
    The sour cream is brilliant!
    I bumped up proportions to use a whole cup of Arborio. Not sure if that’s why, but I found that I had to add more water to get the rice to fully cook. Or maybe I was too aggressive with the heat. It worked out fine though.
    I ended up turning the raisin-soaking broth into an orange-cinnamon caramel sauce.
    I’m actually a raisin-hater; I find them cloying in desserts. But in this recipe, I like that they become less sweet and more flavorful while steeping.

    • Unpeeled

      So glad you enjoyed it. Hmm…yes, you’d have to adjust the water in proportion to the rice, and that might also affect the cooking time. Glad you liked the raisins as well. I don’t love overly-sweet dishes, generally, so I find that the citrus cuts through nicely.

  • Danielle Stein

    5 stars
    Gotta have those raisins! This is a wonderful rice pudding recipe. Thank you.

  • I remember my mom making rice pudding for a treat when I was a kid. I’m so excited to give this recipe a try! Can I substitute plain Greek yogurt for the sour cream?

    • Unpeeled

      Yes, you can! That’s my go-to substitution as well 🙂 Just use full-fat Greek yogurt, if possible.

  • What an excellent selection of recipes. I intend to make many of them-starting today.

  • 5 stars
    Fabulous.

  • 5 stars
    My family and I enjoyed this over the weekend and there is NONE LEFT! (Though, I did do a half recipe.) The arborio rice was rich and creamy. I used orange juice to steep the raisins with cinnamon and I loved the flavor with the pudding.

  • 5 stars
    Wow this is 100% amazing. I made a half recipe and it was plenty for me and my family. Cannot say enough good things about how good this is. Especially with the raisins.

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