Rice pudding with strawberries makes a delightful summer dessert. Rice pudding is perfect any time of year but it’s extraordinary when topped with a compote made from fresh, sweet, juicy strawberries. The combination is pure luxury.
This is best made to order, although you could cook it in advance to the point before the cream is added, and chill that quickly (in a thin layer in as wide a container as possible), later reheating with a touch more milk plus the cream, until the consistency is suitably molten and flowing.–Ed Smith
Rice Pudding with Strawberries
For the creamed rice
- 6 ounces arborio* or carnaroli risotto rice (about 1 cup)
- 3 1/2 cups whole milk plus more if needed
- 1 vanilla bean split with seeds scraped out
- 3 strips orange zest via a vegetable peeler, and preferably organic
- Scant 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt
- 1/4 cup superfine sugar (or blitz granulated sugar in a food processor until finely ground)
- Scant 2/3 to 1 cup heavy cream
For the strawberry conserve
- 1 pound 2 ounces fresh strawberries hulled and halved
- 1 heaping tablespoon superfine sugar (or blitz granulated sugar in a food processor until finely ground)
Make the creamed rice
- Place the rice in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse under cold running water until the water draining through begins to clear, 30 to 60 seconds. Dump the grains into a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan. Add the milk, vanilla pod and seeds, orange zest, and salt, set over medium heat and warm to a simmer, stirring occasionally to ensure the rice is not sticking.
- Once simmering, reduce the heat to as low as possible. Place a lid on top, leaving it slightly ajar, and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring at first occasionally, then over the last 5 minutes relatively frequently as the ratio of liquid to rice reduces. Remove from the heat.
- Taste the rice. It should be almost cooked through, but still with a slight bite, and there should be a fair amount of liquid remaining, with the grains almost swimming rather than clumping together. If not, add enough milk to loosen.
- Remove the orange zest and vanilla pod, stir in the sugar. Leave the rice to sit and swell further for 10 minutes with the lid on-–returning a couple of times to give it a quick stir.
Make the strawberry conserve
- In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine the strawberries and sugar, mix to coat berries. Warm until the sugar dissolves, then increase the heat to bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook until the strawberries leach a syrupy liquid and are softening but are still bright red and intact, about 2 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes.
- Once the rice has finished resting, it should be soft and luscious, but a little stiff. Add a scant 2/3 cup of cream and stir-–this should ensure that once decanted the rice flows, rather than stands stiffly. Add a dash more cream if necessary (if it seems like a lot more is needed, then add extra milk).
- Serve in shallow bowls, topped with the strawberry conserve.
*What kind of rice should I use for rice pudding?Rice pudding works best with starchy rice, like arborio or carnaroli rice which are both used for risotto. Risotto is, if you think about it, a savory rice pudding so it stands to reason that it works just as well in a sweet version. In some places, you can buy a specific version of short-grained rice that’s marketed specifically for pudding. There are lots of recipes that use long-grained rice but the outcome won’t be as rich or toothsome.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
I love rice pudding and make it often. It's good to have a go-to rice pudding recipe in your repertoire. I think of it more as a winter dish, but this twist with fresh strawberries transforms rice pudding into a summer treat. I serve rice pudding room temp or cold. For a nice contrast, serve the rice pudding cold with warm strawberry conserve.
I prefer making rice pudding on the stove, rather than in the oven. I find it a quick and easy preparation, easy to start before you prep for your meal and it is finished for dessert with little effort. This holds true with this recipe.
This recipe for rice pudding with strawberries was similar to the one I usually make (from Jacques Pepin). One difference was to add the sugar after the rice and milk have cooked. I read the recipe closely thinking there was an error! This method worked just as well as adding it earlier, along with the rice and milk. I’d be curious to know why this recipe adds it later if there is a cooking principle or concept behind it.
The addition of orange zest provides a delicious, delicate flavor. I think the preference for sweetness varies greatly, and I love recipes that work with sugar quantities that are flexible. Rice pudding is one of those recipes that you can successfully adapt the amount of sugar to your liking.
We found the strawberry conserve wasn’t overly sweet, so it offered a nice contrast to the sweet rice. I used farm-picked strawberries that were fairly sweet, so if you do not have fresh sweet strawberries, you might add more sugar to the conserve. Next time, I'd also add a few drops of lemon juice. (Leftover conserve--if you have any--is delicious on toast).
This recipe for rice pudding with strawberries is a keeper! I was a bit worried about how al dente it was after 30 minutes of cooking. However, letting it rest allowed for the rice to soften even more, yet still retain its bite, and adding the cream ensured the rich fatty flavor every rice pudding deserves. I never make my rice al dente for rice pudding, and I'll start doing that now because of this recipe.
At the beginning of the recipe, it says to not add the cream if you plan on refrigerating it and reheating it. I added the cream to mine, let it sit on the stove to cool down, and then put it in the fridge for about an hour and a half or so, and it was still the same consistency and tasted just as good cold as it did warm.
I usually add lime zest to my rice pudding, so I was excited to see orange zest included in this recipe. The orange essence that lingers after you take a bite, combined with the warm, abundant vanilla flavor and tarty/sweet strawberries makes for a stellar creamed rice, (I have to admit I don't enjoy calling it that) that is worthy of repetition in anyone's kitchen. I will be making this again and again. I absolutely loved it.
Originally published August 15, 2021