Spanish Rice Pudding (Arroz Con Leche)

Arroz con leche

Marco Verch / Flickr / CC BY 2.0 

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 45 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
543 Calories
16g Fat
91g Carbs
9g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 543
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 16g 20%
Saturated Fat 10g 48%
Cholesterol 43mg 14%
Sodium 60mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 91g 33%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Protein 9g
Calcium 201mg 15%
*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.)

Arroz con leche is one of the most traditional and popular Spanish desserts.

Literally translated, arroz con leche means rice with milk, but it's actually a thick rice pudding that everyone makes a slightly different way.

Most recipes call for lemon peel and cinnamon sticks, and others add alcohol, additional spices, orange peel, and even a layer of caramelized sugar on top.

This classic arroz con leche recipe is served in households all over Spain. It is rich and sweet with a touch of lemon flavor. It is a very easy recipe and can be served warm or cold. Leftovers are great for breakfast.


  • 3 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups medium-grain rice (or pearl rice)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter (or margarine)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Peel of 1/2 lemon
  • Optional: 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Pour water into a large saucepan and bring to a boil.

  3. Add the rice. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 10 minutes. Turn off the burner and allow the rice to sit in the pot of water.

  4. Pour milk into another large saucepan and add sugar. Turn the burner to medium-low heat.

  5. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved.

  6. Bring milk to a boil over medium heat, being careful that it does not boil over.

  7. While you are waiting for the milk to boil, drain the water from the rice.

  8. Once the milk boils, add the drained rice, butter, cinnamon stick, and lemon peel. Allow to gently boil for about 15 to 20 minutes, until rice is soft.

  9. Remove cinnamon stick and lemon peel.

  10. Remove from heat and pour rice pudding into a serving dish.

  11. Sprinkle the top with ground cinnamon. Allow it to cool for 15 minutes before serving because the mixture retains a lot of heat.

  12. Arroz con leche can be served warm or cold. If you want to serve it cold, allow the rice mixture to cool down in the serving dish for 20 minutes, then refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Asturias Version of Rice Pudding

In the region of Asturias in Northern Spain, this dish is served with a crust of caramelized sugar on top.

  • The traditional method for forming the crust is to liberally sprinkle sugar on top, then place a very hot iron on top of the rice to caramelize or burn it.

  • You can accomplish the same thing by sprinkling the top with sugar and placing the dish under the broiler for a few minutes until sugar is caramelized or by using a small hand torch.

Glass Bakeware Warning

Do not use glass bakeware when broiling or when a recipe calls to add liquid to a hot pan, as glass may explode. Even if it states oven-safe or heat resistant, tempered glass products can, and do, break occasionally.