Riz au lait (French rice pudding)

Recently I was contacted by a film production company that was proposing to include me in a series. They were interested in what I do and mentioned they wanted to come over and film me in my office, along with all the people I work with. I hated to disappoint them, but I had to tell them that it’s just was me sitting in front of my computer, or hanging around my kitchen, wielding my camera while trying to balancing a spoon on the edge of a saucepan so it doesn’t fall in, or coaxing a quickly-melting scoop of ice cream into something that’ll look presentable when I publish the recipe for you.

I know there are people with food blogs that do have staff, studios, and so forth…talk about aspirations!…but I’m writing this at 6:45am while Romain is eating breakfast, watching the local news while I tap away at this Riz au lait post and recipe, occasionally looking over at me, probably wondering why he chose me rather than someone who leads une vie normale, a normal life. (And also, someone who doesn’t have to ask him if vie is masculine or feminine, so I can write it correctly here.)

One thing that makes me more French than him, though, is that I like Riz au lait, the French version of Rice Pudding, and he’s not much of a fan. To the French, sometimes things they had in school cafeterias weren’t exactly presented in their best light, shall we say. One friend made a face when describing plates of langue de bœuf (beef tongue) he had to eat as a kid, that were swimming in murky tomato sauce. When I interrupted Romain a few minutes ago to ask him to name his least-favorite dish, he said, “Tout n’était pas bon.” (Nothing was good.) He wasn’t a fan of the rice pudding at his school canteen then, and still isn’t much of one today.

On the flip side, another French friend likes Riz au lait so much that she eats a little pot of it, that comes from the supermarché (sold in little cups like yogurt), each morning for breakfast. I tasted one once, and they’re on the sweet side but certainly have their fans as there are several brands, and containers of it in different sizes. Me? I could eat Riz au lait for breakfast, but prefer the homemade version, which I mostly serve for dessert.

Short-grain and round rice (riz rond) are traditionally used for making rice pudding, which are starchy varieties of rice that give it that signature creamy texture. Arborio and carnaroli rice, used for risotto, fall into that category, and in the U.S., I noticed Carolina rice markets their round rice as “parboiled medium grain rice” which the label prominently says is “Perfect for making Paella, which I’ve used for rice pudding. (These two rice guides explain the different types of rice very well.) Bomba from Spain is another round rice you can use.

But you don’t need to hunt down extra-fancy rice to make rice pudding. There’s no need to complicate what’s meant to be a simple, basic, dessert. If the previous paragraph makes you hyperventilate and you can’t find round rice (in the U.S., you might want to stop in the Mexican or Spanish food aisle of the supermarket, rather than in the traditional rice aisle, to find round or short-grain rice) you’ll be happy to know that plain long- or medium-grain white rice works fine, too.

Some bistros in France will serve rice pudding from a big bowl, allowing guests to help themselves. It’s often accompanied by a caramel sauce, a standard one or a salted butter caramel. I went with salted candied almonds this time around, which are simple to make, and are one of my back-pocket hacks to add welcome crunch, color, and flavor to any dessert you shower them over.

Riz au lait (French rice pudding)
Print Recipe
4-6 servings
The exact cooking time is hard to pin down in a number. You want to cook the mixture until it resembles runny oatmeal and a good amount of the liquid is absorbed by the rice, but there's still some liquid in the pot. (You don't want to cook it until all the milk is absorbed.) The rice pudding will thicken up as it stands. If it's too stiff after it cools, you can thin it out with a splash of milk or cream. For non-dairy people, I've made this with rice milk and it works well, although the pudding will be decidedly less-rich. Using come coconut milk would probably add richness, if you want to use that in place of half the rice milk. If you don't have vanilla bean paste, or if you prefer, you could use a whole vanilla bean, split lengthwise, in place of the vanilla bean paste, which you can add in step #1. (In case you're wondering why I add a bit of vanilla extract, whether using vanilla beans or vanilla bean paste, I find that vanilla extract adds a more rounded vanilla flavor, even if using a bean or paste.) If the pudding is too stiff or thick once cooled, thin it with a bit of milk or cream, to bring it to the consistency you like. I like my rice pudding with this amount of sweetness, but you can reduce the amount of sugar to 4 tablespoons in step #1, then add more when the rice pudding has finished cooking., to suit your personal taste.
1 quart (1l) whole milk
2/3 cup (140g) white rice, preferably round rice
6 tablespoons (75g) sugar, or to taste (see headnote)
Big pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract, or a combination of both (see headnote)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Finely-grated zest of one lemon or orange, preferably unsprayed
1. Mix the milk, rice, sugar and salt in a medium-to-large saucepan. Heat, stirring occasionally until the mixture comes to a boil.
2. Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook, stirring frequently (to keep the rice from sticking together, as well as to the bottom and sides of the pot), until the rice is almost tender and much of the liquid is absorbed, about 20 to 25 minutes. Add the vanilla paste, if using, and continue to cook until the pudding mixture resembles very loose oatmeal and the rice grains are tender, which may take up to 15 minutes longer over very low heat.
3. Remove the heat and stir in the lemon or orange zest and vanilla extract, if using.

Serving: Serve the rice pudding warm, at room temperature, or cold. It's fine on its own, with a dusting of cinnamon, or some candied almonds. In France, it's sometimes served with salted butter caramel sauce.

To make the candied almonds, heat 1 tablespoon of sugar and water together in a skillet, stirring just until the sugar is melted. Toss 1 cup (80g) of sliced almonds in the syrup. Strew the almonds over a parchment- or silicone mat-lined baking sheet, sprinkle with flaky sea salt, and bake in a 350ºF/175ºC oven for until golden brown and caramelized (about 20 minutes), stirring twice during baking, to prevent clumping. (Recipe adapted from The Perfect Scoop.)



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93 comments

  • Mike Ogier
    February 7, 2020 10:45am

    Growing up in New Zealand every home had a copy of the Edmonds Cookbook.
    My mother would often make the rice pudding. Its baked in the oven and develops a skin that you either fight over or avoid!
    The Nutmeg on the skin really made it.
    https://edmondscooking.co.nz/recipes/desserts/rice-pudding/ Reply

    • Maggie
      February 7, 2020 4:30pm

      Yes ! I grew up in Scotland and my mother made her rice pudding baked in the oven, complete with fresh nutmeg and that delicious skin. Fantastic ! Reply

      • Dorene Inglis
        February 7, 2020 7:20pm

        Hi Maggie-my mother was from Scotland too. She made the oven baked rice pud. as well. Can’t find her recipe. Could I possibly have yours? Reply

        • Maggie
          February 8, 2020 4:15am

          Oh goodness, Dorene, I wish I had her recipe too. I’m so sorry, its just a memory unfortunately. I’ll ask around to my cousins and see if anyone has it. Reply

      • Darrell Bucket
        February 7, 2020 9:56pm

        Don’t tell David, but I might prefer your Edmonds recipe :) Reply

    • Candace Wishon
      February 7, 2020 5:04pm

      I am going to make your Normandy Apple Tart this weekend. Your Ballymoe Brown bread is superb. I come from a long line of Irish decent, and it is hard to find really good Irish recipes that have not been completely Americanized. My family says thank you! I am sure they will be thanking me for the tart too. My husband loves rice pudding, and I cannot wait to make this for him. Reply

      • February 7, 2020 5:06pm
        David Lebovitz

        That’s such a great bread, and glad you like it. It really makes a difference to use that Irish flour, which I found our King Arthur now sells in the U.S. Enjoy the tart as well! Reply

  • February 7, 2020 10:48am

    My Belgian husband does a version of this with leftover rice (as long as it doesn’t contain, say, curry). He spoons it into a cup, layering the spoonfuls with butter and sugar, then microwaves it as a dessert. He likes it even better if I’ve made the rice with coconut milk. Reply

  • Jane
    February 7, 2020 10:49am

    Hi David,
    I have just signed up for your post. I have just bought Ready for Dessert. I love it. Not just the the recipes but the stories that go with the recipes. I look forward to reading your articles. France is the only pomace I would love to visit. I was born in England but live in Australia ( since I was 6)

    Thank you Reply

  • kb
    February 7, 2020 11:11am

    It sounds wonderful. But I was very glad that the posting included a link to the baked in the oven version. I can no longer stand in front of the stove for stirring things for any length of time. One of these days I will simply have to get a portable burner so I can sit at the table to cook things that need lower heat and longer stirring times. Reply

    • Margery Collins
      February 7, 2020 2:07pm

      Get a folding stool that you can sit onbin front of the stove. I was a professional cook and due to back issues can’t stand for long anymore but still love to cook. I found a wooden folding stool at a yard sale… Reply

  • Adriana
    February 7, 2020 11:53am

    Arroz con Leche is a classic Colombian dessert, often made with raisins and sprinkled with cinnamon. The caramelized Almonds sound like a delightful addition. Reply

    • February 7, 2020 12:19pm
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, I’ve had rice puddings like that in Spain as well. The French aren’t big on cinnamon but a little is nice, and it’s sometimes served like that in France, too. Reply

      • Michael Carleton
        February 12, 2020 10:53am

        Regarding cinnamon – we held a traditional-as-possible Thanksgiving for our neighbors this past year (we live in Arles), and as one of the desserts, my son used leftover pie crust dough to make cinnamon pinwheels. Simple things, just rolled out, buttered, sugar and cinnamon, cut into rolls and baked. But honestly, they were attacked by the French with much more enthusiasm than the pumpkin and apple pies, all the other cookies, etc. They would tentatively taste one, then smile, “Ahhh….cannelle!”, and the plate was quickly gone…. Reply

        • February 12, 2020 11:34am
          David Lebovitz

          In my experience, most French people will appreciate, and enjoy, anything homemade…and will happily dig in! Reply

      • carmen
        February 21, 2020 2:30pm

        hello , another great yummy Lebanese flavor is to add crushed mastic with a tbsp. of orange blossom water and a tbsp. of rose water Reply

    • Rose
      February 7, 2020 4:51pm

      And a splash of condensed milk instead of sugar! Reply

  • February 7, 2020 11:57am

    So are you going to be in the series? Reply

    • February 7, 2020 12:18pm
      David Lebovitz

      Yes! My publisher is making plans for a book tour (dates and places) and they’re going to be listed here. Reply

      • February 7, 2020 12:51pm

        When I grew up, Milchreis was a favorite in German families, too. Considered a sweet entree, it was usually served with compote, or canned fruit, and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.
        I would have loved the crunchy almond topping! Reply

      • K Eckert
        February 7, 2020 2:14pm

        Please come to New Orleans on your tour. Reply

    • Barb Gerrett
      February 7, 2020 12:28pm

      Yum! Wonderful memories of eating this dessert as a child! Time to make it again! And yes, are you doing the series? Reply

    • taffy HOLVENSTOT
      February 7, 2020 8:22pm

      Just curious, David, what makes this French? It seems like so many other similar rice puddings I’ve made. Reply

  • Jennifer Jerzyk
    February 7, 2020 12:15pm

    Would love to see a post on “off the beaten path“ grocery products to buy in France. I’ll definitely look for riz rond the next time I’m in France. Thanks, David! Reply

    • February 7, 2020 12:17pm
      David Lebovitz

      I did a post a while back on goofy foods you find in a French supermarket but they’re usually not keen on people taking pictures in grocery stores in France, for some reason, so haven’t followed with another post – yet! Reply

      • Martin
        February 7, 2020 1:35pm

        Just the other day I was taking photos of specific foods in a grocery store and I totally got cornered by management. I asked why and they said that that’s something their competition might totally be up to. I said, how else am I supposed to plan dinner with my partner? Oh, in that case it’s OK, then, he said. To which I replied: “Point is, monsieur, you’ll never be able to tell who is doing it for what reason, and you can’t possibly be having this conversation with every single customer who has their phone out in the store. Maybe I am a competitor and I just lied to you… so I’m not sure how you could manage or police this at scale. But if I can’t plan my dinner here, I’ll gladly plan my dinner elsewhere. Now, may I continue?”

        All delivered with a giant smile and all the requisite pleasantries, of course. :D Reply

        • February 7, 2020 5:13pm

          Funny! A grocery store in North Carolina called the police when I was taking photos in their store… It was in the 1990s though, so I admit it was a bit odd. Reply

          • February 7, 2020 5:35pm
            David Lebovitz

            When we were shooting one of my books, the food stylist took a picture from the outside, of a butcher shop window. The butcher came out and tore her a new one. She was nearly in tears. I got in trouble at for taking a picture of a piece of cookware outside of a shop, that was on the sidewalk. It seemed rather benign to me, but he said it was his. (Which was true, but I’ve had people take picture of me, which theoretically is mine, too, and I just take it in stride.)
            : )

  • Gavrielle
    February 7, 2020 12:29pm

    Romain went to the wrong school! My business partner went to boarding school in Paris and she had amazing food – gourmet multicourse dinners (always including a cheese course, naturellement!) with wine and beer. Coming from an English boarding school where all the food was basically inedible (the local takeaway joints made a killing), she thought she’d landed in paradise. Reply

    • February 7, 2020 12:32pm
      David Lebovitz

      Perhaps the private schools had better food than the public ones? That may have been the case – especially if they are serving wine and beer! Reply

      • TAMAR AMIDON
        February 7, 2020 4:16pm

        Let’s face it, tho, any French school lunch is going to be infinitely better than any American one, given the state of public school food these days. Reply

      • Gavrielle
        February 8, 2020 11:34pm

        Yes, she’s legally blind and went to the Institut National des Jeunes Aveugles, which as she never tires of reminding me was founded by Napoleon:). Personally I think of you’re blind you deserve fabulous dinners, although this was not a view shared by the British boarding school who used to serve the blind students fish with bones in! Reply

  • Liz W.
    February 7, 2020 1:02pm

    For me this is the ultimate comfort food. Rice pudding with raisins and cinnamon, tomato soup and grilled cheese, and Seven-Up, was the go-to sick food when I was a child. It always made me feel better. Reply

    • Amy
      February 7, 2020 5:56pm

      My mom used to make make rice pudding but we called it creamed rice. We also ate it hot right along with dinner and not as dessert.
      When I wanted to make it myself as an adult, my mom’s recipe involved a blue coffee cup she used for measuring. Reply

  • Sarahb1313
    February 7, 2020 1:02pm

    My mother used to make this. I never thought about how hers was different until in Provence at a Table d’Hôte and she served rice pudding. All the memories came flooding back. It was the lemon zest. Of course we get rice pudding here, especially in diners and deli’s but it’s cinnamon….
    she also puts it in flan which also makes it unique and memorable! Reply

  • Meg
    February 7, 2020 1:52pm

    I’ve been looking for a good recipe that doesn’t involve baking. Although the English seem to love rice pudding having a crust, to me it just sounds weird! And my US recipes aren’t inspiring. Look forward to trying yours soon! Reply

  • February 7, 2020 1:52pm

    I have eaten rice pudding since childhood, usually with cinnamon. Recently I have been making a dried fig, raisin, walnut, lemon zest compote with just a splash of brandy and not much sugar. Just a tablespoon goes a long ways, so as to not overwhelm the rice. Reply

  • Gina Bisaillon
    February 7, 2020 1:54pm

    Looks like you were inspired by my Mexican sister-in-law, who made the best arroz con leche I ever had. Hers had lime rind, a piece of cinnamon bark and some vanilla bean in it, which she removed before serving. As a child in Montreal, riz au lait (aka pouding au riz) was on all restaurant menus. Whatever happened to such simple food? Reply

  • Constance Karpinski
    February 7, 2020 2:12pm

    Davide – je vous aime comme vous êtes! Reply

  • Mara
    February 7, 2020 2:25pm

    I like my rice pudding with raisins that have been soaked in brandy then drained and added in. Reply

  • Joanne Robinson
    February 7, 2020 2:31pm

    What an inspiration to make on a cold, snowy Ohio day. Thank you. Reply

  • CHANTAL
    February 7, 2020 2:33pm

    My Belgian mother added liquor soaked fruits confits to the cooked rice and topped it with whipped cream and almonds. Reply

  • Bricktop
    February 7, 2020 2:48pm

    You hadto ask if vie is masculine or feminine, when maybe the most famous French song evah is La Vie en Rose? Oh, c’est la vie! Reply

  • Rebecca
    February 7, 2020 3:11pm

    I googled to confirm this and was informed that 84% of French words that end in “e” are feminine. But it’s more fun to ask, n’est-ce pas? Reply

    • February 7, 2020 3:34pm
      David Lebovitz

      The issue is, in French there are always exceptions…like the other 16% of words ; ) Reply

  • Jeff in Brooklyn
    February 7, 2020 3:28pm

    I love the taste of basmati rice in rice pudding. Try it – you’ll never go back to a short grain rice.

    That basmati perfume with cinnamon, oh my! Reply

    • Bricktop
      February 7, 2020 5:18pm

      Jeff: I use cardamom with basmati (and raisins too). School lunches turned me off synonym in rice pud. Reply

    • Amy
      February 9, 2020 11:24am

      I was just wondering if basmati could be substituted – thank you! Reply

    • Zeo Phillpotts
      February 17, 2020 1:18am

      My Mum was English, and she made her “rice porridge” from the leftover rice from last nights dinner. She would simmer the rice, covered, for an hour or two in water. It rarely stuck ir burned this way. When there was just a little liquid left, she would add enough evaporated milk to loosen it up, a couple tblsp of butter, and brown sugar to taste. Seasoned with nutmeg. All this was done to personal preference, of course.
      I would always enjoy a cold bowl, straight from the fridge, after coming home from school. Mum, love you miss you…!! Reply

  • Dorothy
    February 7, 2020 3:55pm

    The caramelized almonds don’t last long in my house. They are so easy to make, and so delectable. Reply

  • TAMAR AMIDON
    February 7, 2020 4:18pm

    I used to make rice pudding with arborio for the kids when they were ill. Now they are grown and I realise I haven’t made any in years. Sometimes I add candied ginger and craisins, or just dribble some dark maple syrup and cinnamon over the top. I gotta do this again, soon, even if the kids are gone now Reply

  • Anna Maranta
    February 7, 2020 4:34pm

    Rice Pudding was a go-to breakfast for my children. Ours was a stove-top version made from rice previously prepared. We always doubled the quantity of rice made for future meals. When we had it in stock, Lundberg Brown Short Grain Rice, was my favourite to use for this.
    After dinner, we would pour the milk of the day over the rice until just covered, add about 1 T of raw sugar, honey or maple syrup per cup of rice, stir and let sit overnight.
    In the morning, stir again, add a pinch of cardamom and place over a medium-low heat. When it just begins to bubble, stir regularly until the mixture begins to thicken and smells fragrant. If it is too thick, add a small amount of additional milk until you reach your desired consistency.
    Serve topped with a sprinkle of toasted almond slivers, or a dollop of rose jam.

    If you have more than you need, place in ovenproof ramekins, cups or bowls, and keep in your fridge for up to 3 days. When ready to serve, sprinkle top with raw, demerara or other sugar and place in a 350F oven for 20 to 30 minutes to warm through. Reply

  • Sandra H
    February 7, 2020 4:53pm

    Oh boy, just reading this brought back memories of my Mom’s rice pudding which she made a delicious butterscotch sauce to serve with. It was my favourite comfort-type dessert. I remember coming home quite late from attending University evening classes (was a working Mom, now am retired!) when she and my Dad were visiting us. She had made a pot of rice pudding as well as butterscotch sauce, just for me and still warm, after everyone had gone to bed. While my family were not rice pudding fans, except for Grandma’s butterscotch sauce, I just remember feeling so good inside seeing her note to have some rice pudding and sauce, after a long day of work and school. Makes me feel good thinking of it now. Reply

    • JAIME
      February 7, 2020 7:33pm

      Thank you for sharing this heart-touching memory! Reply

  • Bricktop
    February 7, 2020 5:22pm

    I had always read that the riz au lait at L’Ami Jean (in the 7th) was supposedly superb. We checked it out and indeed it is the best I have had, to the extent I use their recipe for holiday dinners. Reply

  • Ellen
    February 7, 2020 5:24pm

    I was just saying the other day that rice pudding would be the perfect antidote to the dreary winter days we’ve been having. Going to make this today! Reply

  • Katy
    February 7, 2020 5:56pm

    Hearing you describe your “office” really made my morning. I could indulge myself in the visual and the warmth of your home. Thank you so much for sharing your life with us. Reply

    • Nancy
      February 10, 2020 1:14am

      Could you tell us where you got those beautiful, colorful cups? Love them! Reply

  • February 7, 2020 6:43pm

    Rice pudding is very much a school lunch dish here in the UK, with a really bad reputation. Only as an adult and trying it with all the good things like double cream and sugar as well as being warm rather than fridge cold, I’m now a converted fan! Will definitely be trying out this recipe! Reply

  • Madeline Bishop
    February 7, 2020 6:59pm

    Please come to Portland, Oregon on your tour. (James Beard country.) Or, we could feature you doing a demo at one of our gorgeous Pinot Noir wineries in the Willamette Valley. You will attract a crowd of fork-to-table cooks! Reply

    • February 7, 2020 7:10pm
      David Lebovitz

      My publisher has been trying to book me in Portland but there aren’t any venues that want to have events. I was going to come do something with Jeff Morgenthaler at Clyde Common, but I like doing something in a larger space that’s open to all when I go to a city as well, since his place would have to be a ticketed event due to space. (And he’d be making his amazing cocktails.) Reply

  • Lissa Mattson
    February 7, 2020 7:03pm

    Hi David,
    The recipe I use is from the January, 1984 Ladies’ Home Journal 100th Anniversary Issue. It was loved by my family for the last 36 years. My Dad loved it with strawberry sauce. The recipe calls for 6 C of whole milk, 3/4 C of Rice, 3/4 C sugar, 1C heavy cream and 3 egg yolks. Cinnamon, salt and vanilla Reply

    • February 7, 2020 7:11pm
      David Lebovitz

      I suspect a number of recipes use cream in place of some of the milk, to make them extra-creamy, and/or they slip a few yolks in as well. But I know people are watching their dairy and sugar intake, so I try to keep recipes “reasonable” : ) Reply

  • Carol
    February 7, 2020 7:12pm

    I used to beg my mother to cook extra rice so she could make my German grandmothers rice pudding. It is basically cooked rice in a sweet custard sauce made with egg yolks only, then the whites are beaten with sugar and folded in. That’s the only rice pudding I knew until a pasty baked square with rice and raisins appeared in a school cafeteria lunch. Quelle horreur! Yours sounds lovely, especially the almonds. Reply

    • Puteh
      February 8, 2020 6:18am

      Seems every place their version of rice Pudding. I am indian and we make ours with crushed cardamoms and boil it longer to let the rice breakdown and have it more liquidy. Reply

  • Sam
    February 7, 2020 7:17pm

    Don’t think anybody else will try this hippy family version – but just for fun, here it is. No measurements. One heavy pot, Le Creuset enamelled is great. Start with whatever quantity of left over brown rice you happen to have, or cook some specially. Pour over a LOT of full cream milk and leave to itself over a VERY LOW flame, stirring occasionally. Flavourings – throw in a bay leaf, or a little nutmeg, or a cinnamon stick. Or none of those but a vanilla pod. Or nothing at all. Your pudding is ready when the huge quantity has condensed down to a creamy mass mingling with the creamy rice. As it thickens, you should be present and stirring more. A last minute addition could be raisins. Leave to cool. Eat well chilled. My family says the condensed milk is so sweet that no sugar is necessary. But they are fond of maple syrup or honey poured over. Reply

  • Sam
    February 7, 2020 7:19pm

    Don’t think anybody else will try this hippy family version – but just for fun, here it is. No measurements. One heavy pot, Le Creuset enamelled is great. Start with whatever quantity of left over brown rice you happen to have, or cook some specially. Pour over a LOT of full cream milk and leave to itself over a VERY LOW flame, stirring occasionally. Flavourings – throw in a bay leaf, or a little nutmeg, or a cinnamon stick. Or none of those but a vanilla pod. Or nothing at all. Your pudding is ready when the huge quantity has condensed down to a creamy mass mingling with the creamy rice. As it thickens, you should be present and stirring more. A last minute addition could be raisins. Or grated lemon peel. Leave to cool. Eat well chilled. My family says the condensed cooked down milk is so sweet that no sugar is necessary. But they are fond of maple syrup or honey poured over. Reply

  • moi
    February 7, 2020 9:06pm

    The word is cantine not canteen. And it’s une cantine feminin. LOL
    Thank you for bringing back mixed memories of the meals at the cantine.
    The worst was the hachi Parmentier, a true dog’s breakfast. Reply

  • Rhonda
    February 7, 2020 9:26pm

    The Danes make a similar rice as a Christmas dessert called Ris a L’Amande ( yes, French name for a Danish dish). The rice is cooked slowly in milk, sugar is added, then the rice is cooled. Whipped cream and chopped almonds, along with one whole almond are added, and the rice is served with a hot cherry sauce. The person who finds the whole almond wins the prize, traditionally a marzipan pig.
    It’s delicious, and the prospect of finding that whole almond ensures that the dessert is eaten slowly and enjoyed! My late father-in-law was an expert at hiding the whole almond in his cheek until everyone had finished eating. Reply

    • Chris
      February 12, 2020 6:04pm

      The Swedes eat something similar for Christmas Eve, and whoever gets the almond is supposed to get married in the coming year. Same cousin always got the almond but never married. Unfortunately, my grandmother’s version was baked until hard and dry. We ate it with cream poured over, so it was hard and dry with cream poured over. Turned me off rice pudding for years. In fact, the only time my parents ever pulled the you’ll-get-at-every-meal-until-you-eat-it punishment was with rice pudding. Your version sounds much better. Reply

  • Joel L.
    February 8, 2020 4:58am

    I live in So. California and my wife is Japanese, so asian markets are a frequent source for a variety of products. Asian/Japanese short grain rice has high starch content and is good rice for riz au lait. Have also used it for risotto but it’s not as good as canaroli. Reply

  • Cathy
    February 8, 2020 5:56am

    David, have you tried ‘sweet rice’, some times called ‘glutinous rice’. It’s a short grain rice, used by Chinese for many dessert. Reply

    • February 8, 2020 8:50am
      David Lebovitz

      I love glutinous rice but haven’t made rice pudding with it. It’s quite sticky so it may be too think – is that what you use? Reply

  • Alice
    February 8, 2020 11:30am

    I’ve used Japanese sweet/glutinous rice with much success. It is quite sticky, so it might need more milk, but it definitely gets there. Can’t say for sure because I never measure. I often start my rice pudding from leftover cooked sticky rice and just cook it again in milk until I like the consistency. Fold in whipped cream if I’m feeling extra indulgent (I usually am). Reply

  • David
    February 8, 2020 12:41pm

    I used to live in Japan and I once made rice pudding for some Japanese people It did not go over well. It even seemed to offend some people (some Japanese people have a reverential relationship with rice). Reply

  • Sarah
    February 8, 2020 6:28pm

    I’ve used all coconut milk with added mango juice (I needed to use it up) for rice pudding, and it’s delicious. For ease, I made the rice to recipe (using the cocnut ‘water’ and mango juice for the liquid) in the rice cooker, then dumped it into a pot, added the remainder of the coconut milk and cooked until creamy. So yum. Reply

  • Laura Etheridge
    February 8, 2020 8:51pm

    Just want to say I love your blog, I’ve made several of your recs to great success and enjoy your writing a lot too. Obviously you don’t need any staff or studios. Thanks for doing it Reply

  • Carmen Mahood
    February 9, 2020 2:46am

    Going to Paris and taking your advice¡ Reply

  • February 9, 2020 4:01am

    I used to enjoy making rice pudding, although I haven’t done it in a while as my partner doesn’t really like it (he too had some bad experiences with stodgy foods growing up that has forever affected his tastes).

    The last one I made was actually a black rice pudding, which was a little bit different and also very tasty! Reply

  • Laura Etheridge
    February 9, 2020 11:51pm

    Made it yesterday, decadently delicious! A definite keeper Reply

  • Méghane
    February 10, 2020 9:27am

    I love reading those anecdotes from your daily life :)

    I will definitely try this recipe. The few pots I bought from the supermarket were too dry or too sweet for me. Reply

  • Claude
    February 10, 2020 2:31pm

    Je suis moi-même une victime de la langue de boeuf de la cantine scolaire mais j’ai survécu au riz au lait :) et je vais tester avec ce topping d’amandes. Reply

    • February 12, 2020 7:29am
      David Lebovitz

      Je suis désolé que tu doives aussi souffrir de la langue de bœuf de l’école ! Reply

  • Kiran
    February 11, 2020 12:12am

    Hello David

    Nice recipe. Thank you. I wondered if you ever tried cooking the rice first without sugar and then adding it towards the end so that it reduces your cooking time drastically. We have a similar recipe in India either using Cardamom with sugar or jaggery for different flavours and we add the sugar/ jaggery once the rice is softened. Just curious. Reply

    • February 12, 2020 7:28am
      David Lebovitz

      The cooking time, for me, isn’t a problem. I like tending things on the stove, and being part of the process of watching the reduction and the rice absorbing and swelling as the mixture cooks down. I have tried pre-boiling the rice first, which some people do to reduce the starch, but I like the starch since it’s a thickener. Reply

  • Lee
    February 11, 2020 7:26pm

    David, how does Romain pronounce the name of this delicious dish. Is there liaison between the “z” and “au”? Is it reez-oh-lay or ree-oh-lay? I asked my Quebec friends and they said “we just call it pouding au riz.” Go figure. Just for us language nerds. (And thanks for the recipes and blog – something positive to look forward to in these dark time.) Merci bien. Reply

    • February 12, 2020 7:27am
      David Lebovitz

      I’ve not heard anyone in France pronounce the “z” although the accent differs around the country. In Paris, I’ve only heard ree-oh-lay, which is how Romain (who is Parisian) pronounces it. Reply

      • Lee
        February 12, 2020 3:36pm

        Parfait. Now I know how I will pronounce it when in Paris (or Quebec). Merci. Reply

  • Teiko
    February 12, 2020 6:42pm

    David, you could also use Japanese rice, either the short or medium grain. And almond milk is a deliicious sub for dairy milk. Reply

  • Kelly Red
    February 12, 2020 10:15pm

    Oh this brings back such memories for me. Rice pudding was my fathers favorite dessert and when I was a teenager I shamelessly made it for him whenever I did something wrong or needed a “dad” favor like borrow the car or have him talk my mom into the jeans I wanted LOL
    Once for Father’s Day I gave him a booklet of coupons for rice pudding and bread pudding, another favorite. After he passed away the coupon booklet came back to me, head held on to it for over 40 years, a sweet memory of dad. Thank you David. Reply

  • Minoti Sahu
    February 14, 2020 5:05am

    Hi! I would like to share my mom’s recipe which I’ve modified a bit to make for my American friends. I use Basmati rice or, a special, small grain rice which I get from my parents harvest in India. Wash 2 handfuls about 3/4C of the rice, set aside. Melt ghee in a thick bottomed steel pan, fry some cashew pieces and raisins, set aside. In the same ghee, brown the washed rice, take it out of the pan, set aside separately. Pour ~1 gallon of milk, bring it almost to a boil, and let it simmer, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Add a few greed cardamon pods to the milk. When reduced by a quarter, add the rice, keep it simmering, stirring occasionally, until it is reduced to 1/2 a gallon. Add 3/4 can of condensed milk, a big pinch of salt, simmer for a little longer. Add the cashews and raisins. Enjoy it warm/room temperature/cold. SO this take a couple of hours or so to make, so I make it only for special occasions. Reply

  • Tammi
    February 16, 2020 11:24pm

    Made this recipe this weekend and it was fabulous. Turned my reluctant husband into a rice pudding believer. Thank you David Reply

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