Riz au Lait ~ French Rice Pudding

Riz au lait is another way of saying French rice pudding. It’s just made without egg but with plenty of milk and sugar and it’s so gosh darn easy and impossible to stop eating. Quite possibly the thing we love most about the French.

Serving bowl and small bowl of French rice pudding topped with whipped cream, along with spoons on a lace tablecloth

Traditional French rice pudding is made from simple pantry staples—rice, sugar, milk, vanilla, and orange—that are slowly simmered together until creamy and soothing. It’s an easy, thrifty dessert from a time gone by, a classic nursery treat, explains cookbook author Jamie Schler. We think it may become your most beloved comfort food. Because it contains no egg, its considerably less custardy than most American versions of rice pudding, and we love it for that.–Renee Schettler

Riz au Lait | French Rice Pudding

  • Quick Glance
  • (2)
  • 10 M
  • 45 M
  • Serves 6 to 8
5/5 - 2 reviews
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Place the rice in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse under running water until the water runs clear, about 1 minute.

Then place the rice in a medium saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Drain the rice. Wipe out the pan and return the rice to the pan along with 1 tablespoon sugar, salt, and the orange zest. Slice the vanilla bean along its center and scrape out the seeds, adding both the pod and the seeds to the pan, or add the vanilla extract. Pour the milk over the rice, stir, and place over medium heat. Bring it just to a boil and then immediately turn down the heat to as low as possible.

Cover the saucepan, leaving it slightly ajar, and let the pudding gently simmer, stirring often so the rice neither sticks to the bottom of the pan nor bubbles up and over 20 to 35 minutes, depending on the type of the rice you’re using. Keep watch as you don’t want the mixture to cook too long or dry but is thick and very creamy and the rice is tender and has absorbed almost all of the liquid.

Remove the pan from the heat and carefully remove and discard the vanilla bean. Add the butter and 3 tablespoons sugar and stir until the butter is melted and well blended into the rice, 30 to 60 seconds.

Carefully, gradually, and vigorously stir in the orange juice until well blended, about 1 minute. Taste and, if you want the pudding a little sweeter, add the last tablespoon of sugar.

Spoon the riz au lait into 6 dessert bowls and serve warm or cold, keeping in mind the flavors will be somewhat muted if served cold. Originally published February 9, 2018.

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    Extra Orange-y Riz au Lait

    • For an even more pronounced orange flavor, add a few drops orange essence or extract to the pudding along with the vanilla bean or extract or, for a warmer, more complex flavor, add a few drops orange blossom water.

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    This orange riz au lait is truly something special. Without a doubt, this will be my go-to rice pudding recipe from now on. It’s creamy and just sweet enough (I used all 5 tablespoons of sugar), but it's the combination of the orange and vanilla bean that really makes the recipe. These two ingredients combine to create the loveliest flavor—subtle and delicate yet incredibly fragrant. Unfortunately, my family members aren't rice pudding fans. (I know, I know. Crazy, right?!)

    Since they won't eat it for dessert, I've taken to making rice pudding for myself for breakfast, which is how I served this recipe. It makes for wonderful comfort food on a cold morning, like a fancied-up version of porridge. With winter approaching, I'm so glad to have this delicious recipe that comes together easily. I can say with certainty that I will make it many, many time in the coming months. Though I haven't tried the recipe using vanilla extract, I would recommend using vanilla bean in this recipe if you can. I have a strong hunch that while the finished product would still be delicious, you wouldn't achieve quite the same delicate balance of flavors using extract.

    On our first really cold day of the season, this rice pudding with its creamy texture and rich orange and vanilla flavor was a wonderful breakfast treat. I would also serve it after a home-style dinner or to my kids for an afternoon snack. I love how the rice broke down but retained some texture. This recipe is an easy one for me to make any time as I usually have all of the ingredients on hand. After experimenting with my family serving it at different temperatures, we all decided that it was best served warm. It became congealed after refrigeration and lost its creaminess. When served cold, this dish also lost its wonderful orange aroma.


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    1. Made this tonight. It was delicious! The directions were great. I added 2 teaspoons orange flower water at the end to make it more like the rice pudding at my favorite Lebanese restaurant. I am getting rid of all my other attempts at rice pudding recipes. This is the best!!

      1. Maria, this is SO terrific to hear! Many thanks for taking the time to let us know how much you love it—and to share the brilliant orange water trick. We’re definitely taking a cue from you on that. And we suspect others will as well. Thank you! Thrilled to hear this fit the bill…

    2. Omg, this is delicious! I love the combination of orange and vanilla. I added orange blossom water as well as the juice of an orange and vanilla. My rice wasn’t quite done when I took it off the flame at 35 mins. Possibly my rice was old–will cook it a little longer when I dip into the same bag of rice next time I make this recipe.

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