Easy Traditional British Rice Pudding

Easy traditional British rice pudding recipe

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  • Total: 2 hrs 45 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 2 hrs 30 mins
  • Yield: 6 servings

Some puddings simply never go out of style, and a traditional British rice pudding is one of them. This straightforward recipe has been an English supper staple for centuries.

This homiest of comfort foods, rice pudding cooks low and slow, filling the house with an enticingly sweet aroma. It calls for common ingredients you can keep on hand to grab when the mood for a nostalgic dessert strikes. Short-grained rice, similar to what you would use for risotto, works best for a thick and creamy dish. Plan ahead when making rice pudding, as it cooks for two and a half hours and needs 15 minutes or so to stand once you pull it out of the oven. Luckily, it's largely a hands-off sweet treat.

Top your homemade rice pudding with classic British toppings like roasted rhubarb, poached pears, or high-quality jam. Or stray from tradition and try caramel sauce, amaretto cherries, or stir in cinnamon and raisins.


  • 1 tablespoon/25 grams butter (for greasing the dish)
  • 3 cups/850 milliliters whole milk
  • 1 cup/285 milliliters double cream (heavy cream)
  • 1 vanilla pod (split)
  • 4 ounces/110 grams short-grain white rice
  • 4 teaspoons/25 grams golden caster sugar (or superfine white sugar)
  • 2 strips of lemon zest
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • Serving suggestion: poached pears, roasted rhubarb, or homemade jam

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for British rice pudding
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  2. Preheat the oven to 300 F/150 C.

  3. Lightly butter a 1.25-liter ovenproof pudding dish or an 8-inch square baking dish.

    Lightly butter a pudding dish
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  4. Combine the milk and cream in a saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod using the back of a knife. Add the seeds to the pan and stir to disperse them. Drop in the vanilla pod. Heat the milk and cream through very gently; do not let it boil.

    Combine milk and cream in saucepan
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  5. Move the pan off the heat and leave the milk to infuse for 5 minutes. Remove the vanilla pod.

    Move pan off heat
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  6. Spread the rice and sugar in the buttered dish. Pour the warmed milk over it and stir thoroughly. Add the lemon strips and stir again.

    Spread milk and sugar in dish
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  7. Grate a thick layer of nutmeg to generously cover the top.

    Grate thick layer of nutmeg
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  8. Place the dish on a baking sheet, and carefully put it in the center of the preheated oven. Bake the pudding for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until it turns creamy and thick and forms a skin of nutmeg on top.

    Bake rice pudding
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  9. Let the pudding cool and set for about 15 minutes.

    Let pudding cool
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  10. Serve the rice pudding on its own or with stewed fruit such as poached pears or roasted rhubarb. You could also add a dollop of homemade jam on top.

    Rice pudding
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck


  • Use full-fat milk and cream for the creamiest result.
  •  Do not throw away vanilla beans even after you scrape the seeds out; simply pop them into a jar of sugar with a tight-fitting lid. Every time you have a used pod, add it to the jar. The pods flavor the sugar with the sweet scent of vanilla, making it perfect for use in baking, ice cream, and desserts.