Arroz con Leche
This step by step guide to making an authentic rice pudding, is easy to follow and can be made with simple pantry ingredients. Better yet, it doesn’t take a whole lot of time and can be made way in advance. With just a few steps, you’ll have this dessert done and in the fridge in just under 30 minutes flat.
Rinse Mahatma® Basmati Rice in cool water until the water runs clear. Drain any excess water. After, in a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil.
Stir in the rice, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered. Then, add milk, cinnamon sticks, lime zest and sugar.
Return the pot to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. When rice is done, remove the cinnamon sticks.
Optional: Serve garnished with raisins and ground cinnamon.
Arroz con Leche is a creamy homemade dessert made primarily with rice and milk. The original recipe has travelled all over the world and evolved into different local variations. While it’s most often enjoyed for a sweet treat, in some European countries this sweet rice porridge-like food is eaten for a comforting breakfast.
There is a lot of debate surrounding the origins of this dish. Most theories imply that Muslim countries brought this tradition to Spain during the conquest of the Iberian Peninsula. From there, it has passed along to all Hispanic countries, where it shortly became a family favorite.
With a simple cooking method, you can indulge in this delicacy in no time. Simply gather all the ingredients together, combine in a pot and simmer while occasionally stirring until the rice gets that creamy, velvety texture. Some people prefer rice pudding warm, right from the pot, while others refrigerate it for a chilled treat.
One of the reasons this dessert has become so popular is because it calls for simple, pantry ingredients that everybody has access to. Likewise, depending on the amount of sugar added or if other ingredients like citrus fruit are used, the result is not overpoweringly sweet but rather pleasant and comforting. Would you be able to tell the difference between the recipes from one country or another? Let’s find out!
The Spanish variation calls for a zesty twist with the addition of lemon or orange peel. However, similar to other local recipes, it is commonly served with cinnamon sprinkled on top. Likewise, instead of using long grain varieties, the European recipe usually calls for shorter grains like Arborio Rice.
Pro tip: When peeling fruit such as oranges or lemons, make sure to avoid the white pith, right under the skin, as it has a bitter taste.
Comparatively, there are only subtle differences between the Spanish and Mexican versions of this treat. Nonetheless, in some towns, the raisins used for the dessert topping are sometimes flambé in local beverages like tequila or mezcal for a punch of flavor.
If you’re interested in more Mexican meals, start with our traditional Mexican Rice recipe made by infusing Mahatma® Rice with all of the classics!
The use of spices is oftentimes what sets different Arroz con Leche recipes apart. In Peru, milk is infused with cinnamon but also with cloves for a bolder aftertaste.
The Cuban method adds an extra step before actually cooking the rice. For many Latin Americans, the secret to the best rice pudding recipe is soaking the rice for at least two hours before simmering in milk, to ensure grains will turn out perfectly tender.
The Colombian recipe has a secret ingredient addition that you will definitely want to try. In the same way as risotto, to achieve an extra creamy and velvety pudding texture, some butter is added to the cooking liquid.
Last but not least, in Puerto Rico, cinnamon sticks are not used to infuse milk before cooking the rice. The ingredient list is shorter, but the result is equally delicious and butter is also added as a binding agent.
If you have an Instant Pot at home, you can use your appliance to make a rich rice pudding. Once you stir in all the ingredients, press the “Porridge” function. Then let the pressure naturally release and enjoy. For an extra sweet touch, you can add some condensed milk to the cooked mixture or dulce de leche as a topping like in this Cajeta Rice Pudding.
As you have seen from all these recipe variations, Arroz con leche is a popular Latin American dish. Although it is technically Spanish for “rice pudding”, the dessert has become so popular that even in non-Spanish speaking countries it is called by its Spanish name.
Mix up your topping choices! Thanks to its bold flavor, this recipe holds enormous opportunities to make cooking a family activity. Gather together and encourage all participants to personalize their own dish by adding the topping of choice. Shredded coconut, white chocolate shards, dried fruits, or dark chocolate are sure to add a little twist.
If you don’t have any lime zest handy, feel free to use orange or lemon zest to keep a touch of citrus in the mix. Citrus flavors are key to balance out the sweet ingredients.