Portuguese Rice Pudding | Arroz Doce

This Portuguese rice pudding, made by cooking rice with whole milk infused with citrus and cinnamon and making it like custard with the addition of egg yolks, is creamy and comforting. Finished with pistachios, the pudding is wonderful for dessert or breakfast, served hot or straight from the fridge.

A white serving platter filled with Portuguese rice pudding and topped with toasted pistachios and cinnamon

This traditional Portuguese rice pudding, arroz doce, is cooked risotto-style with a lilt of citrus and the warmness of cinnamon. Yet aside from a little stirring, it’s easy as can be. The inclusion of egg yolks ensures the pudding is as thick and creamy as any rice pudding you’ve ever had. And if the mere thought of a not-too-sweet pudding with the subtle lilt of lemon and orange doesn’t send you running to your pantry to check if you have sufficient rice to make this recipe right away, well, we can’t help you.–Angie Zoobkoff

Portuguese Rice Pudding | Arroz Doce

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 1 H
  • Serves 4 to 6
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  • 1 1/4 cups water, plus more if needed
  • Sea salt
  • 3/4 cups short-grain white rice, preferably Portuguese Carolino, Italian arborio, Spanish bomba, or Japanese sushi rice
  • Flaky sea salt
  • A couple of strips each of lemon and orange zest, plus more grated zest for garnish (optional)
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 3 1/2 cups whole milk, plus more as needed
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons superfine sugar (or just blitz granulated sugar in a blender until finely ground but not powdery)
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons light cream or more whole milk (optional)
  • 1 1/2 ounces pistachios, shelled
  • Ground cinnamon, for garnish


  • 1. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the water and a pinch of salt to a boil. Stir in the rice, reduce the heat to low, and gently simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the water is absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes. The rice won’t yet be tender. That’s okay. If the rice starts starts to stick, add a little more water.
  • 2. While the rice is cooking, in a separate saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the milk, sugar, strips of citrus zest, and cinnamon stick for 10 minutes. (If you’d like, you can tie the zest and cinnamon stick in a square of cheesecloth or tuck them in a teaball for ease of removal later.) Remove the pan from the heat. If you’d like the citrus and spice flavors to be prominent, let them remain in the mixture as it sits, covered and off the heat, for several minutes to infuse the milk. Otherwise immediately strain the milk and discard the solids.
  • 3. Gradually ladle some of the strained warm milk mixture into the pan of rice, stirring well after each addition as you would when making risotto. Continue to cook the rice mixture over low heat, gradually adding a ladleful of milk and stirring until it’s absorbed before adding more milk, until thick and creamy, 20 to 35 minutes.
  • 4. In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks and cream, if using. Pour a ladle full of the hot rice mixture into the yolks and stir until combined. Then slowly stir the yolk-rice mixture into the pudding. Continue to cook the rice pudding, stirring frequently so the rice doesn’t scorch, until it thickens, which will happen in just a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat. The rice pudding will thicken even more as it cools and will especially thicken if you refrigerate it overnight. If a thinner consistency is desired, add a little more milk.
  • 5. Serve the rice pudding warm or you can let it cool, cover, and refrigerate it overnight, keeping in mind it will thicken even more in the fridge. Serve it topped with pistachios and, if desired, a sprinkle each of ground cinnamon and grazed zest.

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