Simplified Recipe for How to Make Arroz con Leche

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Arroz con leche, or rice pudding, is a beloved dessert that has been enjoyed for generations. It’s a creamy, sweet treat that’s perfect for any occasion, and it’s surprisingly easy to make. In this post, we’ll take a look at how to make arroz con leche with cooked white rice as well as providing some tips on how to make it even better.

Arroz con leche served in glassware.

Arroz con leche is a popular breakfast staple in latino, latin American and hispanic cultures. It’s especially popular and frequently made during the winter and chillier months. Think of it as a stick-to-your bones kind of meal, just like oatmeal. Although, this sweet rice pudding is typically served as a breakfast meal, it’s often enjoyed as a delicious dessert when a sweet craving kicks in!

As a kid, I grew up eating a lot of Mexican arroz con leche and still love it to this day. Every warm bowl puts a smile on my face and  brings me back to the days my Ita (grandma) and Lelo (grandpa) would babysit me. I now look forward to sharing a bit of my Mexican heritage with my daughter in the form of this creamy arroz con leche recipe. 

I wanted to make this recipe unique and swapped out using condensed milk for cream of coconut. It added the right amount of sweetness and hint of coconut flavoring.   

Here are a few other delicious recipes inspired by my heritage that may interest you: Mexican Dessert Bars and my Abuelita Hot Chocolate Brownies.

Ingredients

Below, are the following ingredients that you’ll want to gather ahead of time:

Cooked rice for arroz con leche.
  • Cooked rice
  • Milk
  • Evaporated milk
  • Vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Sweetened cream of coconut (can use condensed milk in lieu of)
  • Dash of cinnamon for garnishing
  • Toasted coconut for garnishing

See recipe card for quantities.

When to Serve Arroz con Leche

Once your rice pudding has cooled down a bit, it’s ready to serve. You can enjoy it warm or cold. You can even add a sprinkle of ground cinnamon or other warm, whole spices on top for an extra burst of flavor. This creamy pudding can be served as breakfast or as a dessert. 

Rice pudding in serving dish.

Have leftovers? Consider freezing them! We have a new article that answers the question, “can you freeze arroz con leche?” and it covers the various ways of freezing it to enjoy later!

Consider preparing a big batch of this easy arroz con leche recipe for those moments when you’re hosting a large family gathering. 

Tips for Making the Classic Arroz con Leche

  • Use a heavy-bottomed, large pot to prevent the milk from scorching on the bottom.
  • Stir frequently to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • Use a combination of evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk or sweetened cream of coconut for a rich and creamy texture.

Substitutions

Here are a few substitutions you can use and still achieve an equally delicious recipe:

  • Milk – instead of whole milk, you can use plant-based milk such as or coconut milk any other kinds of milk.
  • Cream of coconut – you can substitute with sweetened condensed milk 

Different Variations

This dish can be enjoyed and prepared many different ways depending on what region of a country you’re in. In Cuba and Costa Rica, it’s common to add a lemon peel or lemon zest to the rice pudding as it’s cooking. The Spanish version calls for adding in lemon, an orange peel or orange zest. In South America, regions in the country of Peru use an orange or lime peel during the cooking process.  

The core ingredient list that remains consistent across various countries include:

  1. Rice: White, long-grain rice is the primary component.
  2. Milk: Full-fat cow’s milk is commonly used, but variations include condensed milk, evaporated milk, or coconut milk. These are the same milks used in a traditional tres leches cake recipe.
  3. Sugar: Granulated sugar is the primary sweetener.
  4. Cinnamon: Ground cinnamon or cinnamon sticks are added for flavor.

What Toppings Can I Use?

One might wonder, “how to make arroz con leche truly unforgettable?” The answer lies in the finishing touches. Whether you choose a sprinkle of cinnamon for a classic, warm touch, a drizzle of honey for a subtle sweetness, or fresh fruit like apricots or strawberries for a refreshing twist, these toppings elevate your already perfect recipe to an entirely new level of deliciousness.

  • Plump Raisins – it’s common to add regular or golden raisins to your Mexican rice pudding
  • Nuts – chopped pecans would add a fun texture 
  • Toasted coconut – I added this due to the coconut flavor I incorporated by using the sweetened cream of coconut
  • Brown sugar – you can add a more caramel-like sweetness with brown sugar
How to make arroz con leche.

Conclusion

Arroz con leche is a classic sweet dish that’s perfect for any occasion. With just a few simple ingredients and some basic cooking skills, you can create a delicious, creamy dessert that everyone will love. Follow these tips and you too will learn how to make arroz con leche perfect every time!

Equipment

The only equipment you’ll really need is a rice cooker and a large saucepan or pot.

Storage

Store leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Store up to 4 days. When reheating, add a splash of milk and mix into your bowl and stir. Even when stored in an airtight container, this rice porridge tends to dry out because the rice is soaking up the remaining liquid.    

Top tip

Cook your rice ahead of time. I like to cook mine the day before. This allows some time for a bit of the moisture to be released and for the rice to not get too soggy when added to the milk.

FAQ

What if I don’t have any cream of coconut?

You can use a can of condensed milk instead, which is typically used in traditional rice pudding recipes. Start with half a can and add more to taste. 

What is the best rice to use when making arroz con leche?

We recommend using a long grain rice like either jasmine rice or basmati rice.

Easy Arroz con Leche

Learn how to make arroz con leche with cooked rice. Its deliciousness and simplicity will have you wanting to make it again as soon as it's gone!
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Prep Time:10 minutes
Cook Time:10 minutes
Total Time:20 minutes
Servings: 8

Equipment

  • rice cooker

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked white rice
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk or plant-based milk
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut cream can use condensed milk in lieu of
  • dash of cinnamon for garnishing
  • toasted coconut flakes for garnishing

Instructions

  • Cook 2 cups of rice in your rice cooker. I made mine the day before. Heat up a large pot and keep setting on low heat. Once the pot is hot, add in whole milk, evaporated milk and vanilla extract. Keep on low heat. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Then add cinnamon sticks. Boil on low heat for 5 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks.
  • Stir in 1 cup of coconut cream (can use condensed milk instead. Start with half a can and add more to taste). Add in cooked rice. Put on low heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve warm in small bowls and garnish with a dash of cinnamon and toasted coconut flakes. Enjoy!

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