Cuban Rice Pudding (Arroz con Leche) is one of my favorites! This recipe is an authentic and traditional recipe. It’s rich, creamy, sweet, and a one of those Cuban desserts that I just crave!
Whenever I go to a Cuban bakery, I always order the “arroz con leche” and put it to the test! It has to be the right consistency, and just the right sweetness. This recipe will give you just that! It’s perfectly creamy, sweet, and topped with a sprinkle cinnamon. I made sure to have my Cuban parents try this recipe and it was give a big thumbs up!
How to make Cuban rice pudding (arroz con leche):
The first step is to cook and soften the rice and give it some flavor. I like to use short grain rice for this recipe. It will give you a smoother texture and it’s a bit starchier so it will also thicken up better than long grain rice.
You’ll also want to add some flavor to the rice while it cooks. This is done by cooking the rice with a cinnamon stick, strip of lemon peel, and a pinch of salt. The pudding will not come out tasting lemony but you don’t want to skip the peel. Once you smell the lemon peel and cinnamon stick cooking, you’ll instantly get that arroz con leche smell thats so distinct and yummy!
You’ll cook this mixture for 20 minutes on medium heat while stirring every few minutes. All the water will absorb and the rice should be softened. I like to take out a couple grains of rice (let them cool off) and squish them between my fingers to make sure they’re soft.
After the rice has cooked, you can add in the whole milk, condensed milk, and vanilla.
Sugar or Condensed milk?
I LOVE LOVE LOVE condensed milk! So if I have the option to use it, I will. Traditionally, my family has always made arroz con leche with condensed milk. It’s much creamier than using sugar, has the perfect amount of sweetness for this recipe, and you get to lick the spatula after your scrape it into the pot. That’s a win for me!
Now…a little warning: this WILL get sticky! So keep stirring and don’t let it burn on the bottom of your pot. If you do start to get some sticky spots on the bottom of your pot, do NOT scrape them up into your rice pudding. Just leave it alone and soak your pot when you’re done cooking.
The rice will get cooked again for 30 minutes on medium low heat. It should look like the picture below when it’s all done. You don’t need to wait for it to be SUPER thick because it will also thicken as it cools in the refrigerator.
Once the rice pudding is done cooking, you can remove the cinnamon stick and the lemon peel. Then you can either put it in a covered bowl or individual dishes to refrigerate. Make sure to sprinkle with cinnamon!
Cuban Rice Pudding (Arroz con Leche)
- 1/2 cup short grain rice
- 2 cups water
- long strip of lemon peel
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 pinch of salt
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 (14 ounce) can of sweetened condensed milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ground cinnamon for garnish
- Add the rice, water, lemon peel, cinnamon stick, and pinch of salt to a large saucepan. (I like to use a non-stick, heavy-bottomed pot)
- Cook over medium heat while stirring frequently for 20 minutes. The water should be absorbed and the rice should be softened.
- Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the condensed milk, whole milk, and vanilla. Place back on the stove and lower to medium low.
- Cook for 30 minutes while continuously stirring. If the bottom starts to stick, lower your heat and do NOT scrape the bottom of the pot. This will only loosen burnt bits and incorporate them into your rice and we don't want that.
- The mixture will be thickened after the 30 minutes but will continue to thicken as it cools.
- Add the rice pudding to a bowl or individual dishes, top with a bit of ground cinnamon, and refrigerate for a few hours until cooled.