Portuguese Rice Pudding

Portuguese Rice Pudding

Portuguese rice pudding is cooked entirely on top of the stove in a risotto like manner. It traditionally is thickened and enriched further with egg yolks but has a voluptuous texture even without them and is lower in fat. Stir the rice frequently but NOT constantly because it can become too gummy. The classic Portuguese seasonings are lemon and cinnamon — but not vanilla. Use ground cinnamon to decorate the top; the easiest way is sifting it through a paper doily.–Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger

Portuguese Rice Pudding

  • Quick Glance
  • 35 M
  • 50 M
  • Serves 4


  • 1/2 cup short round rice, such as paella rice or risotto rice (Arborio)
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • Grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for garnish


  • 1. Wash and drain the rice. Place it in a large saucepan with plenty of water to cover. Stir, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 5 minutes, to blanch the rice. Drain the rice in a colander, rinse with warm water, drain again and set aside.
  • 2. While the rice is cooking, place 3 cups of milk in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, add the cinnamon sticks, lemon zest and salt. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off the heat and let the milk infuse until the rice is ready.
  • 3. Place the rice in another medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, and ladle in 1 cup of the warm milk. Stir well with a wooden spoon, then turn on the lowest possible heat and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the milk is absorbed. Ladle in another 1/2 cup of the warm milk, stir and cook until absorbed. Continue in this manner until you have used up all the milk (remove and discard the cinnamon sticks). Along with the last 1/2 cup of the milk, stir in the sugar, butter and ground cinnamon. When the last addition of the milk has been absorbed, turn off the heat and evaluate the consistency against your personal rice pudding preferences, bearing in mind it will be thicker when chilled. Add an additional 1/4 cup to 1 cup of milk (cold is fine) as desired.
  • 4. Turn the pudding out into a medium serving dish or divide between six individual serving dishes and decorate the top with ground cinnamon.


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  1. The infusion of lemon zest and cinnamon stick in the milk absolutely makes this pudding! I used 1% milk, and wonder how much richer I could go- it was so hearty. 1/2 a tsp seemed like a lot of ground cinnamon to stir in at the end of the cooking time, but neither I nor my kids had onjections as we ‘mmm’ed our way through our bowls.

    I suggest doubling the recipe- it’s a lot of work for a very scant 6 servings.

  2. I’ve seen some recipes for Portuguese Rice Pudding call for egg yolks, and the puddings I have made so far (ones without rice) used egg yolks. I was wondering if that is traditional. Either way, this recipe sounds delicious and I can’t wait to try it!

  3. Azorean rice pudding usually has egg yolks – mainland Portuguese usually leave out the egg yolks…

    1. Maria, I’ve had it both ways. My family is from the Azores, and some aunts use yolks, others don’t. and I’ve definitely had mainland rice pudding with yolks. In fact the mainland arroz doce recipe that I have in my cookbook uses yolks. I wonder if those kind of generalizations are less these days because of TV and the Internet.

    2. Hello. My Avô is from Pico and my Avó is from Faial. Never had egg yolk in our rice pudding unless my Avô from Graciosa was making it.

  4. In Brazil we make the same recipe but instead of brown sugar we use condensed milk. It is delish !

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