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 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 Rossi

Riz au Lait

  • Quick Glance
  • 10 M
  • 45 M
  • Serves 6 to 8
Print RecipeBuy the Orange Appeal cookbook

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  • 1 cup uncooked short-grain rice
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons granulated white sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 small orange, preferably organic, very finely zested and juiced (at least 1/3 cup or 80 ml juice and about 2 teaspoons zest)
  • 1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 1/4 cups whole milk, half-and-half, or half milk and half light or heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Softly whipped cream, creme fraiche, or marmalade, for serving (optional)


  • 1. Place the rice in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse under running water until the water runs clear, about 1 minute. Then place in a medium saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes and then drain.
  • 2. 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 down the center and scrape out the seeds, adding both the pod and the seeds to the pan, or add the vanilla extract at this time. Pour the milk over the rice, stir, and place over medium heat. Bring it just up to a boil and then immediately turn down the heat to as low as possible.
  • 3. 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. Be sure to keep an eye on it as you do not want the mixture to cook too long or dry. The pudding is done when the rice has absorbed almost all of the liquid and is very tender and almost melting in the mouth; riz au lait or French rice pudding should not be al dente. The pudding should be thick and very creamy and not at all dry.
  • 4. Remove the saucepan 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 but vigorously stir in the orange juice gradually until well blended, about 1 minute. Taste and, if you want the pudding a little sweeter, add the last tablespoon of sugar.
  • 5. 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.

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.

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