Arroz con Leche (Mexican Rice Pudding)
Warm and creamy, hearty and delicious, this Arroz con Leche recipe is a real winner for breakfast or dessert. Accentuated with the warm flavors of cinnamon and the addition of plump, chewy raisins there’s nothing quite so cozy and comforting as this Mexican rice pudding — it’s like a hug in a mug!
I have so many fond memories of this rice pudding – I can close my eyes while it’s simmering on the stovetop and it smells like my abuelita’s house. Memories are everything, and I’m so thankful I have this video of my mom and I in the kitchen where she shares how to make arroz con leche. I wish you could scratch and sniff this video!
I may be biased, but as far as I’m concerned, this is the best arroz con leche recipe around. This recipe is in our first published cookbook, so you know we love it dearly! 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.
What is Arroz con Leche?
Mexican arroz con leche is a delightful variation 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.
Every Latin American country has its own version of arroz con leche, and it seems that every family has their own special recipe. Some versions call for egg, citrus, or chocolate, but my mom’s recipe is extra special because it uses only staple pantry ingredients.
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.
Ingredients & Substitutions
This extraordinarily satisfying and easy arroz con leche recipe is made with affordable shelf-stable pantry ingredients, so a batch is never far from reach. The complete list of ingredients, quantities, and instructions can be found in the printable recipe card below.
- Water: Easy enough, right?
- Cinnamon Sticks & Whole Cloves: For infusing the water with tasty warmth. Using whole spices means they’ll last indefinitely on your shelves.
- Salt: Even dessert needs seasoning!
- Long-Grain Rice: Plain long-grain white rice is an inexpensive and versatile pantry ingredient. Feel free to swap in ritzier versions like basmati, or use long-grained brown rice for a more nutritious dish.
- Evaporated Milk & Sweetened Condensed Milk: For all the creamy vibes using only cans.
- Raisins: For juicy bursts of fruity sweetness throughout. Feel free to swap in your favorite dried fruit here including cherries, apricots, or cranberries. Just be sure to chop any larger fruits into smaller bite-sized pieces for even distribution.
- Ground Cinnamon: For sprinkling with an extra layer of flavor when serving.
How to Make Arroz con Leche
As promised, making my Mom’s Mexican arroz con leche recipe is super simple.
Make Cinnamon Tea: 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.
Simmer Rice: Add rice to the cinnamon tea and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook for 20 minutes.
Finish Rice Pudding: 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 the rice doesn’t get mushy.
Serve: 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!
While I love this simple arroz con leches recipe just the way my mom makes it, there is always room for you to customize just about any recipe to fit your needs and preferences. Here are a few options to consider:
Atole de Arroz: For a warm and silky beverage version of arroz con leche — transfer arroz con leche to a blender and purée until smooth.
Arroz con Dulce: This tropical-flavored vegan arroz con leche is popular in Puerto Rico. To make it, swap in canned full-fat coconut milk for the evaporated milk and use canned vegan sweetened condensed milk, preferably made from coconut milk to double down on the tropical flavor.
Vanilla or Almond Rice Pudding: Feel free to add a split vanilla bean or about a teaspoon of vanilla extract or paste. You can also opt to use almond extract for more of an amaretto vibe if you prefer.
Serving & Topping Suggestions
The great thing about this Mexican rice pudding is that it’s perfect for eating any time of day, all year round. I love this arroz con leche for breakfast and for dessert (or for a quick snack). It’s great hot from the stove or cold from the fridge. Here are a few topping suggestions to try:
- Soak raisins in brandy, rum, or tequila
- Sprinkle with ground cinnamon, nutmeg, or pumpkin pie spice
- Dollop with sweetened whipped cream
- Garnish with orange zest
- Dried cherries or cranberries
- Chopped chocolate
Storage & Reheating Instructons
Refrigerate: Arroz con leche can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Reheat: Reheat arroz con leche in a pot on the stove or in a microwave safe bowl. You may need to add a splash of water or milk since it will have thickened in the fridge.
Frequently Asked Questions
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. Basmati rice also fits the bill!
If you’re trying to up your fiber intake or lower the glycemic impact of your arroz con leche, use 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.
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.
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.
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.
More Rice Pudding and Breakfast Recipes
- 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.
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.
- This dish can be served for breakfast or dessert and tastes great hot or cold.
- Arroz con leche can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat it in a pot on the stove or in a microwave safe bowl. You may need to add a splash of water or milk since it will have thickened in the fridge.