Middle Eastern Rice Pudding With Rose Water

Rice Pudding
James Baigrie/The Image Bank/Getty Images
Prep: 0 mins
Cook: 90 mins
Total: 90 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Yield: 3 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
276 Calories
7g Fat
47g Carbs
7g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 276
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 7g 9%
Saturated Fat 4g 20%
Cholesterol 21mg 7%
Sodium 444mg 19%
Total Carbohydrate 47g 17%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 36g
Protein 7g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 255mg 20%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 295mg 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.)

Rice pudding is enjoyed around the world and each region has its own version. In the Middle East, rice pudding can take on many flavors, from spices like cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg, to infused waters such as orange blossom water and rose water. With a mixture of long-grain rice, milk, sugar, cardamom, cornstarch, and rose water, this recipe for rice pudding is creamy and satisfying, with both a hint of mint from the cardamom and floral notes from the rose water. It can be enjoyed either hot or chilled.

Rose water is made by steeping rose petals in water, which creates a liquid that has a delicate floral aroma and taste. 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. In the United States, rose water is more common in beauty products than in recipes, but the ingredient has a long history as part of Middle Eastern cuisine. You can find bottles of rose water at specialty markets (particularly Middle Eastern grocers) or purchase it online; make sure it is clear and resembles regular tap water—any liquid that's pink might have additives in it. Not only used in rice pudding, rose water is also often added to marzipan, Turkish delight, sweet lassi, and baklava.


  • 1 cup long-grain rice, such as basmati, uncooked

  • 5 cups plus 3 tablespoons whole milk

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon ground cardamom, plus more for garnish, if desired

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

  • 2 tablespoons rose water

  • Fresh mint leaves, for garnish, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

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

  3. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the rice and 5 cups milk. Bring the liquid to a low boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer.

  4. Simmer until creamy, about 45 minutes. Stir the mixture occasionally to ensure the rice isn't sticking to the bottom of the pan.

  5. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of milk along with the sugar, cardamom, salt, and cornstarch to the rice mixture and stir thoroughly. Add the rose water and bring to a boil for 1 minute.

  6. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes to thicken.

  7. Transfer to serving bowls and serve immediately, or refrigerate for at least 1 hour and serve chilled.

  8. If desired, top each serving with a dash of ground cardamom and fresh mint leaves. Enjoy.

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 greased casserole dish and bake in a 350 F oven for 1 hour, or until a knife inserted in the middle 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 lower-fat milk.
  • To add more texture to the recipe, you can chop up pistachios and crumble them on top of the pudding.
  • For added flavor, mix in a little vanilla extract or cinnamon, or drizzle some honey or sprinkle raisins on top of the dessert.