Spanish Rice Pudding (Arroz Con Leche)

Spanish Rice Pudding (Arroz Con Leche)

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 45 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
411 Calories
16g Fat
67g Carbs
8g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 411
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 16g 21%
Saturated Fat 10g 48%
Cholesterol 43mg 14%
Sodium 155mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 67g 24%
Dietary Fiber 6g 20%
Total Sugars 37g
Protein 8g
Vitamin C 98mg 490%
Calcium 203mg 16%
Iron 1mg 7%
Potassium 464mg 10%
*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 stick cinnamon stick

  • Lemon peel from 1/2 lemon, 2 3/8-inch-diameter strip

  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Spanish Rice Pudding (Arroz Con Leche) ingredients

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

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

    water in a saucepan

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  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.

    rice cooking in a pot

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

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

    milk and sugar in a saucepan

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  5. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved.

    milk and sugar mixture in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

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

    boiling milk mixture in a saucepan

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

    rice in a colander

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  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.

    add the drained rice, butter, cinnamon stick, and lemon peel to the milk and rice mixture

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  9. Remove cinnamon stick and lemon peel.

    remove lemon and cinnamon from the rice mixture

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

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

    rice pudding in a bowl

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

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

    Spanish Rice Pudding (Arroz Con Leche) with cinnamon on top

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  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.