How to Make the Perfect, Authentic Arroz Con Leche

Arroz con leche is a classic Spanish dessert.

  • Arroz con leche, literally meaning “rice with milk” is a classic Spanish dessert.
  • The key to nailing the rice-pudding dessert is to flavor it with cinnamon and to use full-fat milk.
  • It’s a very simple dish to prepare, as it only requires slow cooking and frequent stirring.
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It’s unlikely you’ll miss it if ever you’re browsing through a Spanish recipe book.

It can be served hot or cold depending on the time of year.

Though everyone has their own version of the recipe, it’s one that’s passed down from one generation to the next.

Though it’s a simple dessert, there’s a reason it’s a go-to for many — it’s versatile enough that it’s always a crowd-pleaser.

There is, however simple a dish it may seem, a trick to getting arroz con leche right. It’s important to pick the right ingredients to make sure it’s as creamy as possible.

Follow these steps to make perfect arroz con leche.

How to make perfect arroz con leche

The ingredients you need include:

  • 250 grams of round or short grain rice —  it releases starch better than longer grain rices during cooking
  • three liters of whole milk — the fat makes it creamier
  • 100 mililliters of cream 
  • 250 grams of sugar 
  • two cinnamon sticks 
  • cinnamon powder, to taste
  • the rind of one lemon 
  • salt

arroz con leche

It’s important to pick the right ingredients to make sure it’s as creamy as possible.

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Once you have your ingredients, you can start cooking.

  • Put the rice in boiling water in a large pot and stir to release the starch. 
  • After about 5-10 minutes, remove the water and return the rice to medium heat. 
  • Add the hot milk little by little. 
  • Add a teaspoon of salt, the lemon rind, the cinnamon, and the cream. The most important part of making arroz con leche is to make sure you keep stirring the mixture to prevent it sticking. You can do this for about 40 minutes.
  • Once the texture of the pudding is creamy, add more hot milk and stir without stopping. 
  • When all the milk has been absorbed, add the sugar and stir for another 5-10 minutes. 
  • Taste the rice to check that the grains are cooked and that the texture of the pudding is thick enough. If the rice is still hard but not creamy enough, feel free to add a little more milk, ensuring the liquid doesn’t stick.
  • Before the mixture cools, remove the cinnamon sticks and lemon rind.
  • When serving, you can sprinkle the top of the pudding with sugar and cinnamon. You can caramelize this under the grill or, ideally, with a blowtorch to create a crunchy layer similar to the one you might find on a crème brûlée.

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