How to Make Middle Eastern Rice Pudding

Rice Pudding
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  • Total: 90 mins
  • Prep: 0 mins
  • Cook: 90 mins
  • Yield: 3 cups (6 servings)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
733 Calories
13g Fat
140g Carbs
15g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 3 cups (6 servings)
Amount per serving
Calories 733
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 13g 16%
Saturated Fat 6g 28%
Cholesterol 24mg 8%
Sodium 581mg 25%
Total Carbohydrate 140g 51%
Dietary Fiber 4g 13%
Protein 15g
Calcium 364mg 28%
*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.)

In the U.S., rose water is more common in beauty products than in recipes, but the ingredient has a long history as part of Middle Eastern cuisine. Not only can it be used in rice pudding, but rosewater is also often added for flavor to marzipan, Turkish delight, sweet lassi, and baklava.

Rosewater is made by steeping rose petals in water, which creates a liquid that has a delicate floral aroma and flavor. Using it in rice pudding adds an unexpected flavor that's sure to delight, particularly when it's contrasted against the bold spice of cardamom. You can find bottles of rose water at specialty markets (particularly Middle Eastern grocers) or purchase it online, but look for bottles in which the liquid is clear and resembles regular tap water—any liquid that's pink might have additives in it.


  • 1 cup long-grain rice, such as basmati (uncooked)
  • 5 cups whole milk, plus 3 tablespoons
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon ground cardamom
  • 2 tablespoons rosewater
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Steps to Make It

  1. Rinse the rice well with cold water to remove any starchy coating from the grains.

  2. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine rice and milk. Bring the liquid to a low boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer.

  3. Simmer until creamy, approximately 45 minutes. Stir the mixture occassionally to ensure the rice isn't sticking to the bottom of the pan.

  4. Add remaining 3 tablespoons of milk, sugar, cardamom, salt, and cornstarch to rice and stir thoroughly. Add rosewater and bring to a boil for 1 minute.

  5. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes to thicken and transfer to serving bowls.

  6. Serve immediately or refrigerate for at least one hour.


  • Top the pudding with another dash of ground cardamom and a mint leaf before serving.
  • Serve the rice pudding immediately for a warm dessert, or chill it for at least an hour a cold dessert.

Recipe Variations

  • Make a baked rice pudding by cooking the rice in 2 cups of milk until tender. Combine the cooked rice with the remaining ingredients in a prepared casserole dish and bake it in a 350 F oven for 60 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the middle of the dish comes out clean.
  • To decrease the number of calories and grams of fat in the dessert use 2 percent milk instead of whole. However, the dish will not be as creamy and rich with the lower-fat milk.
  • To add more texture to the recipe, you can chop up pistachios and crumble them on top of the pudding. Other additional ingredients could include vanilla extract or cinnamon mixed into the pudding or a drizzle of honey or raisins on top of the dessert.