Arroz Con Leche

If there is one particular flavor or smell that describes my childhood that would be cinnamon. I grew up in my grandfather’s pastry shop and it seems like every pastry had cinnamon. Custards were always flavored with cinnamon, even pastry cream which according to all current recipes, it is supposed to be made with vanilla.

Arroz con Leche is our version of rice pudding but in this case there are no eggs involved, no zest, no vanilla, no raisins, only milk, sugar, salt and cinnamon. So simple but so warm. I can say this is my all time favorite comfort food and of course, comes from my grandmother Miren.

I could dedicate an entire post to my grandmother. I suppose most people can but MY grandmother was very special, IS very special I should say. She worked along side my grandfather in the pastry shop. He got most of the credit for their success but she was the backbone. Always very warm, quiet, giving and a very, very strong woman.

Her arroz con leche is legendary in our family but she never wrote down the recipe so my mom and I worked on it for a few days to finally come up with the right quantities of ingredients to make something that resembled my grandmother’s recipe. I think we got it and it’s fantastic. The key has to be good ingredients and lots of love and attention. This is not a recipe that you can whip up in a Kitchen Aid, pour in a pan and leave it in a hot oven. Oh no, you must stand by the stove for almost the entire cooking process, stir and stir, let it do its pil-pil (which is the Basque word for simmering). In this case the love and detail in the cooking process are key. and I often compare it to making a milk risotto.

We always had excellent ingredients available in the pastry shop. The raw cows milk came from the farm up the street every morning. It was delivered in large metal containers and you could always see the fat layer right on top. It was my grandmother’s job to boil it twice to pasteurize it so it could be used in the recipes for the pastry shop. I remember the cream layer on top of the milk… That used to be our afternoon snack spread on a piece of bread sprinkled with sugar. Decadent to say the least. Considering I do not have access to raw milk in Florida, I always use organic whole milk.

Arroz Con Leche

2 liters (half a gallon) of organic whole milk
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
100 grams (1/2 cup) of organic milled sugar
100 grams Valencia short grain rice or Arborio rice

In a saucepan, slowly heat the milk, salt and the cinnamon stick. Bring it to a low simmer, the lower the better.

Add the rice and the sugar and stir. It has to cook for about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes in low heat and it must be stirred often, every 5 minutes or so. We want to keep the heat low enough that it doesn’t burn the sugar but high enough that there are small simmer bubbles forming.

The milk will start to turn a little caramel color and that is due to the caramelization of the sugar. A thin layer of fat will also form on the top. Keep stirring and that will disappear although personally I love when that happens.

Ladle into bowls, top with crumbled Maria cookies or graham crackers and sprinkle freshly grated cinnamon on top.

If you don’t want a skin to form on top of the milk, cover the surface with plastic film and then refrigerate. As I mentioned before, I think that’s the best part but that’s just my personal taste.

Enjoy! On egin!

Lavender and Orange Macaroons coming soon….

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26 Responses to “Arroz Con Leche”

  1. Tartelette says:

    I trust grandmothers, they had that special touch..or it was us being mesmorized by their magic. Either way the recipe is divine and I bet the final product quite tasty. Keep it up!

  2. Vera says:

    Aran, thank you very much for the pudding recipe. It was delicious. Our whole family enjoyed it.

  3. morgana says:

    Estoy empezando desde el principio (para intentar no perderme nada de lo que has publicado) y me encuentro con el arroz con leche. ¡¡¡ Qué bueno que está !!! Espero que más gente aparte de los hispano se atrevan a hacerlo, que no saben lo que se pierden…

    Gracias por todo. Sólo por conocerte ya merecía la pena haberse apuntado a las DBrs

  4. Cheryl says:

    Aran, I’m SO excited you replied to my comment on your Petit Suisse post with a link back to this earlier recipe. I literally cannot wait to make it. (I’m considering packing my kids into the car to go buy organic whole milk right now, and it’s 102 degrees in San Jose.) I’ll let you know how it goes, and if I blog about it I’ll definitely link back to your original post. Thanks!

  5. Aran says:

    Hi Cheryl! I’d love to hear how your rice pudding turns out. Please, please, please let me know ok? Nothing makes happier to see that others enjoy my recipes. Thanks again!

  6. Hi Aran,

    Thank you so much for the recipe. BEST RICE PUDDING EVER! super easy to make too. I made 1/4 of the recipe as only me and my boyfriend was going to enjoy it. I wished I made the whole batch. It was that good!!

  7. Vana says:

    A favorite recipe:) my mom will make it growing up for us girls every sunday. I should try your recipe and make it for my son:)

  8. Jenny says:

    Your story sounds so much like mine. I grew up surrounded by the delicious smells of my grandma’s kitchen. I’m Mexican so cooking is a huge deal when you are a girl. My grandma’s arroz con leche is also a legend in the family. She hasn’t cook in many years as she is very very sick and that is unfortunate, nobody has been able to cook as good as her. Also, she never wrote the recipe for her arroz con leche. I remember when I was little asking her for the recipe but she never measured anything so she gave me all the ingredients in “pinches” and “handfuls” To measure the rice she use to grab it with her hand and toss it in the milk, that was it, same with the sugar. I use to complain that her hands where smaller than my hands so my arroz con leche was always a failure. After many years of trying I think I finally got it right and again, very similar to your recipe, although she used to add a small piece of key lime peel as well.
    Thank you for taking me back to my grandma’s kitchen :)

  9. Anonymous says:

    This is what we in Sweden call “risgrynsgröt”, a porridge on rice… or “Santa’s porridge”, because we often eat it at Christmastime. We eat it with sprinkled cinnamon and sugar on top, with milk. Yum!

  10. rob says:

    there are a gazillion rice pudding recipes out there, each family believing they have the One. my Mom’s was egg-less too and slowly baked in the oven for several hours.
    Every half hour or so she stirred it, first having to break the ballooned milk skin that had developed. All the recipes are great but the best is the one you grew up on.

  11. thanks! i absolutely cannot wait to try this. go gluten-free desert.

  12. What a beautiful tribute to your Grandparents! The entire time I was reading I was thinking…”oh and I’m betting the farm they had raw milk!” Sure enough. I’m planning to use your recipe with the raw milk/cream we have access to and link back because I truly love your story! (and your site!!) Beautiful work!

  13. Anonymous says:

    sorry to be so late asking a question as you posted this awhile back..but i have a daughter who is lactose free..what do you suggest?

    i know many of you may think this is
    an impossibility..but i love arroz con leche, and would love to make it for her as well.

    thank you!

  14. Rowaida says:

    Thank you Aran for this delicious recipes, I cooked it for my son last night and today he had for breakfast, he loved it. The cinnamon made the taste so delicious.
    Love your recipes.
    Rowaida Flayhan

  15. I am a big rice pudding lover and love almost every version of it – from the Danish Ris a la Mande to the Persian Sheer Berenj (see recipes on – but I must say your Arroz con Leche became my favorite – by far!! Thanks for this great recipe!

  16. Christina says:

    Thank you for your WONDERFUL recipe, photographs, and blog. I recently discovered you from another blogger (Lifeflix) who highly recommended your Arroz con Leche. I halved the recipe, and at first thought there was too much milk in relation to the rice, but it thickened up nicely and turned out so delicious. I am so glad to have found your beautiful, inspiring blog. Thanks also for experimenting with gluten-free ingredients!! Best of luck with your health issues.
    :) Christina

  17. laura says:

    Aran, I have been wanting to try this for the longest time, having seen you mention it several times. I bought the organic whole milk twice with intentions of using it for this recipe, only to have it disappear too quickly to get it into the pot… but I finally had all the ingredients together a couple of nights ago and was able to make it. It was perfect. I love that it is simple in its ingredients as well as how creamy and rich it turned out. My little 18 mo. old boy also loved it! Thank you.

  18. Laura- glad you made it. It’s my favorite! Thank you!

  19. Lindsey says:

    Mmm, rice pudding! The best ever dessert. Ours is very similar to this, but I would have to say it’s actually more like your Quinoa pudding recipe, with rice instead of Quiona. :-)

  20. Anonymous says:

    Hola guapa, me encanta tu blog, asi que me quedo por aqui, un saludo desde España!

  21. I am thrilled to see this recipe- Puerto Rican friends made this for me and I just loved it. I can’t wait to try this! I found you via 6 Bittersweets’ page- looking forward to checking you out more and learning from your photography and recipes.

  22. mandy says:

    thanks so much for this recipe. I have been trying to get rice pudding figured out for years and I never thought to try arborio rice. I’m going to try it in the oven-a couple of hours at 325 degrees, stirring every half hour or so. I have a young toddler so I can’t find an hour to stand at the stove. I hope it works! Your blog is the most beautiful I’ve seen!

  23. Claire says:

    A silly question, but should the rice be cooked or not before it is added?

  24. […] et Vanille. It’s also gorgeous. If that doesn’t sell you though, go straight to her arroz con leche for a beautifully simple rice pudding recipe that will do you […]

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