Sweet and simple, this creamy Arroz con Leche recipe is a real winner. You’ll love the warm flavors of cinnamon and addition of plump raisins. One of the easiest and most delicious Mexican comfort food dishes. Serve this delectable rice pudding for dessert or as a decadent breakfast to start your day on the right foot.
This has been one heck of a year for us all, and many of us have missed seeing our families for months now. I’m missing my mom more than usual these days, so I decided to whip up a big batch of this comforting arroz con leche to transport me back to my childhood.
Warm and creamy, hearty and delicious, there’s nothing quite like this Mexican rice pudding to act as a hug in a mug. I have so many fond memories about this dish – I can close my eyes and it smells like my grandma’s house. I wish you could scratch and sniff this video. Since you can’t, go ahead and make the real thing instead. I promise you won’t regret it.
What is Arroz con Leche?
Arroz con Leche is a type of rice pudding. It literally translates to “rice with milk,” which is fitting for this recipe! Rice is cooked with milk, sugar, and spices to a porridge-like consistency that is enjoyed for both breakfast and dessert in Mexico. Some versions call for egg, citrus or chocolate, but my mom’s recipe is extra special and uses only pantry staple ingredients.
Why This Recipe is Perfect
Every country has its own version of arroz con leche, and it seems that every family has their own special recipe. My mom uses long grain rice, two kinds of milk, and whole spices like cinnamon and cloves to make her arroz con leche. She also adds plump raisins to the mix, offering sweet bursts of flavor throughout.
Unlike many rice pudding recipes that use pre-cooked rice, I love my mom’s recipe for doing just the opposite. By cooking the rice in the sweet and lightly spiced milk mixture, the grains are completely permeated with the cozy flavor we all adore. It also makes for a better consistency – the grains of rice maintain their bite and the sauce becomes thick and creamy.
Even if you are operating on the tightest of budgets (I’ve been there!), this recipe is for you. Using just a few pantry ingredients that work hard for you, this creamy, dreamy dish is well within everyone’s reach.
How to Make Mexican Rice Pudding
This recipe starts with making a sort of tea-like mixture. You bring salted water to a boil with the cloves and cinnamon sticks. As soon as it boils, remove it from the heat, cover and allow it to steep for about 45 minutes. The flavor from the spices will infuse the water as it sits.
After steeping, remove and discard the cinnamon and cloves. Add the rice, stir, and bring the mixture to a low boil over medium heat.
Finally, stir in the raisins (if using), condensed milk, and evaporated milk, continuing to cook for about 5 minutes. Be sure to stir only infrequently and gently to keep the shape of the rice grains in tact.
Serve warm in bowls, or allow to chill overnight in the refrigerator. Sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon before serving for an extra punch of flavor. Enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I make this rice pudding recipe ahead of time?
You sure can! While I love eating arroz con leche hot from the stove, it is equally delicious served cold. It will keep in a lidded container in the refrigerator for up to a week, though if you make it that long, I’m pretty sure you have superhuman self control.
Can I freeze this recipe?
Due to the creamy nature of this recipe and the texture of the rice, I don’t recommend that you freeze it. That said, you can freeze it for up to a month. Just expect the rice grains to be a little soggy and broken.
Can I make a vegan version of your arroz con leche?
Absolutely! In terms of evaporated milk substitutes, I would recommend using canned full-fat coconut milk instead. Not only in the coconut flavor delicious in this application, it is also the easiest non-dairy substitute for evaporated milk. That said, you can also use soy, nut, flax or oat milk instead, although you will want to simmer those options over low heat to evaporate away some of the moisture before using.
How should I serve rice pudding?
I love this arroz con leche for breakfast and for dessert. It’s great hot or cold. If you want to be a little fancier, add a sprinkle of ground cinnamon. That said, this yummy dish is delicious all on it’s own.
What is the best type of rice to use for arroz con leche?
I personally love using long grain white rice for rice pudding. Many other recipes call for shorter grained or sticky rice instead, but I love the texture that long grain rice gives. Jasmine or basmati can also be used.
That said, if you’re trying to up your fiber intake or lower the glycemic impact of your arroz con leche, use a long grain brown rice instead. Just note that you may need to simmer your rice a bit longer for the correct consistency, as brown rice usually takes longer to cook than white.
I’m not a huge fan of raisins… what should I do?
If raisins aren’t your favorite, I say leave them out! You have a few other options too:
- Soaking raisins in brandy, tequila, or rum is a great way to spike the flavor. Just be sure that you keep the kids out of your stash!
- You can opt to add a different kind of dried fruit to the mix – cherries or cranberries are the first that come to mind.
- Chopped chocolate could also be added if that’s more inspiring to you. Chocolate for breakfast? You’re speaking my language!
- Finally, feel free to add some orange zest to the mix to take things in a more citrus direction.
Need more breakfast inspiration?
Here are some more sweet and classic breakfast recipes you’ll love:
- Cinnamon Horchata Rice Pudding
- Mexican Pumpkin Rice Pudding
- Mexican Apple-Cinnamon Oatmeal
- Atole de Vainilla
- Old-Fashioned Mexican Oatmeal (Avena)
If you made this easy Arroz con Leche recipe, please be sure to rate and review it below! I’d love to know how it turned out for you.
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Arroz con Leche (Mexican Rice Pudding)
- Over high heat, bring the water to a boil with the cinnamon sticks, cloves, and salt.
- Remove from the heat and cover. Steep for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Remove cinnamon sticks and cloves and discard. Add rice and over medium heat boil for 20 minutes.
- Add the evaporated milk, condensed milk, and raisins and continue to cook over low heat for about 5 minutes. Stir gently but be careful not to stir too much so rice doesn’t get mushy.
- Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with cinnamon.
- If using long grain brown rice just note that you may need to simmer your rice a bit longer for the correct consistency, as brown rice usually takes longer to cook than white.
- This dish can be served for breakfast or dessert and tastes great hot or cold.
Originally published: November 2014. This recipe is also published in the Muy Bueno cookbook.