Easy Traditional British Rice Pudding

Traditional British rice pudding with a choice of roasted rhubarb or homemade jam toppings

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 2 hrs 30 mins
Rest Time: 15 mins
Total: 2 hrs 55 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
416 Calories
35g Fat
19g Carbs
7g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 416
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 35g 45%
Saturated Fat 22g 111%
Cholesterol 109mg 36%
Sodium 98mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 19g 7%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 14g
Protein 7g
Vitamin C 3mg 15%
Calcium 219mg 17%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 274mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

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.

The 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-grain rice, similar to what you would use for risotto (such as arborio), works best for a thick and creamy dish; it makes for good pudding rice. Plan ahead when making this recipe, as it cooks for 2 1/2 hours and needs 15 minutes or so to stand once you pull it out of the oven.

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

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"This pudding was delicious and very easy to make. I liked that it was baked with no need to stand over a pan stirring. It's not overly sweet, but a dollop of jam or sweet poached fruit adds plenty of sweetness to it. I used raspberry jam and about one-quarter to one-third of a whole nutmeg." —Diana Rattray

A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon/25 grams butter, for greasing the dish

  • 3 1/2 cups/850 milliliters whole milk

  • 1 1/4 cup/285 milliliters double cream (heavy cream)

  • 1 vanilla pod, split

  • 4 ounces/110 grams short-grain white rice (about 2/3 cup)

  • 2 tablespoons/25 grams golden caster sugar (or superfine white sugar)

  • 2 strips lemon zest

  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg, for topping

  • Poached pears, for serving, optional

  • Roasted rhubarb, for serving, optional

  • Homemade jam, for serving, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. Heat the oven to 300 F/150 C.

    Ingredients for making British rice pudding
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  2. Lightly butter a 1.25-liter ovenproof pudding dish or an 8 x 8-inch square baking dish.

    Lightly buttered baking dish for the pudding
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  3. 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.

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

    Move the pan off the heat, and remove the vanilla bean from the pan
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  5. 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.

    The pudding is added to the baking dish
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  6. Grate a thick layer of nutmeg to generously cover the top.

    A thick layer of nutmeg is added to the top of the pudding
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  7. 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.

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

    The pudding is pudding cooling on a marble cutting board
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Tips

  • Use full-fat milk and cream for the creamiest result.
  • Do not throw away vanilla beans after you scrape the seeds out. Put them into a jar of sugar with a tight-fitting lid to make vanilla sugar. Every time you use a pod, add it to the jar. They'll flavor the sugar with the sweet scent of vanilla, making it perfect for use in baking, ice cream, and desserts.

Recipe Variation

  • Vanilla beans can be pricey or hard to find sometimes. If you can't find one, you can substitute about 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste.

How to Store and Freeze Rice Pudding

  • Refrigerate leftover rice pudding in an airtight container for up to 4 days. You can reheat it gently on the stovetop with a couple of tablespoons of milk in the bottom of a saucepan.
  • For longer storage, you can freeze rice pudding in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Simply defrost it in the refrigerator. and then reheat as directed, if desired.