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Vanilla Rice Pudding

There tend to be two camps when it comes to rice pudding: those who think it should be served cold and those who think it should be served hot/warmed. I can say completely unequivocally that both camps will be satisfied with this recipe. It’s just that good.

I need to go on the record again by saying that vanilla is often underrated and treated like “plain” but it’s anything but plain, especially here. This recipe really lets the vanilla shine and if you use a good vanilla bean rather than extract you’re going to be shocked at just how sweet and flavorful vanilla is. In fact, I read an interesting article recently about the history and wonderousness of vanilla in The Guardian that was definitely worth a read.

The best part about this recipe is that, other than keeping track so that it doesn’t boil over or burn, you can basically leave it alone and it cooks itself. I used mostly 2% milk to cut down on the fat and honestly, you can’t tell the difference. It cooks down and condenses while it cooks and when it’s finished you have a pudding everyone will love; hot or cold.

Vanilla Rice Pudding


  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 4 ½ cups 2% milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup risotto rice (arborio rice)
  • ½ cup sugar


  1. In a heavy bottomed soup sauce pan add the cream and milk.
  2. Slice the vanilla bean down the middle and using the flat part of the knife blade scrape downwards on the pod until you’ve scraped out the black inner seeds. Whisk to combine and unclump the bean paste. Drop the whole pod into the pot also.
  3. Add in the nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom and whisk to combine.
  4. Bring the milk to a boil and add in the rice then turn the heat down to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring periodically.
  5. After simmering add in the sugar and stir well to combine.
  6. Simmer an additional 15 minutes stirring periodically to allow the mixture to thicken.
  7. Remove it from the heat and put it in a bowl and cover it by placing a layer of plastic wrap directly on the top of the pudding and pressing down gently so it’s touching the complete surface of the pudding. Chill for about 5-6 hours and then serve.
  8. (If you want to serve it warm you still have to chill it to get the texture right. Just reheat it in a saucepan or microwave with a little milk to smooth it out.)

Cooking time (duration): 25

Diet type: Vegetarian

Number of servings (yield): 8

Meal type: dessert