Arroz Con Leche (Mexican Rice Pudding)

Pudding it out there
You don’t see a lot of pudding anymore. True, there are the pudding cups calling your name from the dairy aisle. But, actual pudding is not to be found. Growing up it was everywhere. If you were one of the cool kids who got the Jello Pudding cup in your lunch, it was a very good day. Then there was the pudding pop in the frozen section. Jello was trying to take over the world in the 80s…

My grandmother was a big fan of tapioca pudding. It’s one of my absolute favorites as well. If we were lucky, she would make some when we visited her house. She had these cool, stemmed glass cups that she used specifically for the pudding. I still have them—only now I’ve upped the game a bit.

I think it’s because of my love for tapioca that I fell head-over-heels for the Mexican version, Arroz con Leche. Truth be told, they are not exactly the same. Tapioca tends to be a bit thicker and has more of a custard consistency.

It’s the cinnamon in the Arroz that does it for me. And sometimes I add a little lime zest for some zing if I’m feeling sassy. Many traditional recipes add raisins to the pudding. Personally I am not a fan. The soft rice with the raisins is a textural problem for me. Plus, my kids hate raisins.

You can top the pudding with lots of fun stuff from pineapple to mango and some grated coconut. As the days get hotter, this simple chilled dessert option can be a nice change from the usual ice cream. And, it a fantastic ending to you taco Tuesday!

Arroz Con Leche Recipe
Yields 4 servings
Adapted from Lil Luna

This pudding is delicious as directed in the recipe, and also takes well to the addition of toppings. Some suggested toppings are grated coconut, diced fruit (such as fresh mango, banana, and pineapple), toasted slivered almonds or chopped walnuts, and brown sugar for extra sweetness.

7 cups water
1 cup long-grain white rice
3 cinnamon sticks
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest
ground cinnamon

Cook the rice
Put the water, rice, and cinnamon sticks in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the liquid to a boil and allow to cook for 16-18 minutes.

Make the pudding
Drain the liquid from the sauce pan, remove the cinnamon sticks, and put rice back into the pan. Add all 3 type of milk—evaporated, condensed, and whole—to the pan. Add the (optional) grated lime zest. Allow the milk to come to a boil.

Reduce heat to low and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring continuously so as not to burn the milk as it reduces.

Serve the pudding
Pour the rice puffing into individual cups and sprinkle ground cinnamon on top.

Serve warm.

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