Arroz con Leche: Mexican Rice Pudding

by Ann Marie Michaels on October 14, 2010

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Arroz con Leche, or Mexican Rice Pudding, is popular in Mexico and all throughout Latin America and in Spain. Ask anyone from a Latin country if they like Arroz con Leche and their eyes will light up like a kid on Christmas morning.

Mexican rice pudding is not unique to Latin America. People eat rice pudding all over the world on every continent. It is typically eaten for dessert, but you can also serve it for breakfast. My 3-year-old loves Arroz con Leche with a side of bacon for breakfast.

Most Arroz con Leche recipes tell you to cook the rice in the milk. I changed the recipe, because I am using raw milk and cream or butter and I don’t want to boil it.

When I tested this rice pudding recipe, I asked my Honduran housekeeper and our Mexican babysitter to taste it. They said it was perfect, exactly like they make it.

Recipe Notes
You can add as much or as little butter or cream as you like. I used just a few tablespoons of butter. You could also use cream. I used very little sweetener. If you like it sweeter, you can add more sugar or add a little honey on top at the end.

A Note on the Photograph
The photo above is not mine. Most people use white rice for their Arroz con Leche. I do not. Brown rice, soaked for 1-2 days, is infinitely more nutritious than white rice. I also find it more flavorful. Now that I’m acclimated to brown rice, white rice tastes like paper.

Notes on Soaking Brown Rice
Why should we soak brown rice? Brown rice is more nutritious than white rice (which is pretty much empty calories), but brown rice does contain anti-nutrients. According to Wikipedia:

Phytic acid has a strong binding affinity to important minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. When a mineral binds to phytic acid, it becomes insoluble, precipitates and will be nonabsorbable in the intestines. This process can therefore contribute to mineral deficiencies…

I recommend soaking with warm water and a little yogurt or kefir… but there is a better way that works to ferment the rice much faster. Check out this neat post on the Whole Health Source blog on the most effective way how to soak brown rice. This is an accelerated fermentation method — the procedure comes from a traditional Chinese recipe for rice noodles. I’m going to start doing it this way from now on, since we eat brown rice often.

Arroz con Leche or Mexican Rice Pudding


Filtered water — where to buy water purifier
Whey, yogurt, kefir or buttermilk (2 TBS) — where to buy yogurt
Short-grain brown rice, organic, and sprouted if possible (2 cups DRY) — where to buy sprouted brown rice
Whole milk, raw if possible, from grass-fed cows (1 1/2-2 cups) — where to buy raw milk
Eggs, large, pastured or free-range organic (3) — where to buy egg
Sucanat, palm sugar or honey (1/3 cup) — where to buy sweeteners
Vanilla extract, organic if possible (1/2 tsp) — how to make vanilla extract
Sea salt (1 pinch) — where to buy sea salt
Cinnamon, ground (to taste) — where to buy cinnamon
Butter or cream, grass-fed, organic, not ultra-pasteurized (to taste) — where to buy butter
Optional: Raisins (1/2 cup)where to buy raisins


Optional: Rice cooker


1. Warm 2 cups of the filtered water in a small saucepan to about body temperature (warm to touch, but not hot).
2. Add the brown rice and the warm water, plus 2 tablespoons of whey, yogurt, kefir or buttermilk to a glass or enamelware bowl or mason jar.
3. Cover and let soak for 24-48 hours in a warm place. (I’ve soaked my rice for as long as 48 hours with no changes to texture or taste.)
4. Cook the rice in rice cooker according to instructions. If you don’t have a rice cooker, put the rice and water in a medium-size saucepan and bring to a boil over medium- high heat. Reduce to low heat and cover the pan.
5. Cook the rice for 45 minutes to one hour — until all the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender.
6. Add the milk, eggs, sweetener, vanilla extract, and salt to a medium mixing bowl and stir until blended.
7. Add the milk mixture and the rice to a medium saucepan on low to medium heat and stir together until it is the consistency you want. Add cinnamon to taste.
8. Serve in a dish, warm or at room temperature and sprinkle with cinnamon and optional extra honey.

Photo credit: Arroz con Leche by VeganWarrior on Flickr
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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary P. October 14, 2010 at 8:53 AM

Mmm, love rice pudding – going to try this version for sure :))


Julia October 14, 2010 at 9:04 AM

Looking forward to trying this, thanks for the recipe.


Anna-Marie October 14, 2010 at 9:25 AM

LOVE rice pudding. This one isn’t too different from my grandmother’s recipe :) I haven’t sweetened with honey before and I have some nice dark honey at home I can use. Yum!


Lisa Imerman October 14, 2010 at 9:37 AM

I love rice pudding and I make it with Brown Rice also, but I sweeten it with Maple Syrup (soo yummy!!). I also make it dairy free by using coconut milk instead of milk which is nice and creamy!! With coconut milk it is called Arroz con Ducle



Lisa Imerman October 14, 2010 at 9:38 AM

That should have read “Arroz con Dulche” typed it too fast and hit send.


Lovelyn October 14, 2010 at 9:46 AM

That rice pudding looks delicious. I haven’t made rice pudding in years. I’ll have to make some soon.
.-= Lovelyn´s last blog ..Tip of the Day =-.


judee October 14, 2010 at 9:59 AM

It look really good! How long do the milk mixture with the eggs have to cook on low?


Tara October 14, 2010 at 10:44 AM

Oh my. I love rice pudding. I’m soaking the rice now.
.-= Tara´s last blog ..Why Im not canning tomatoes =-.


cheeseslave October 14, 2010 at 11:29 AM

@ Judee – Not long — just until it melds together — until it’s the consistency that you like it!


FoodRenegade October 14, 2010 at 11:32 AM

I love that you adapted the recipe to keep the milk, butter, and even eggs raw! KUDOS to you. I haven’t eaten Arroz Con Leche in a long while, but when I make it again I’ll be sure to do it this way.


maria elena October 14, 2010 at 12:24 PM

mmm rice pudding sounds just about perfect right now! I cannot wait to try it!


emily October 14, 2010 at 6:40 PM

im curious about the longer suggested soaking time. is more simply better when it comes to grains? i thought brown rice or other grains need only 12 hours or so…
.-= emily´s last blog ..Almond Thumbprint Cookies for a Sweet New Year =-.


Rachel October 14, 2010 at 7:50 PM

I usually bake my rice, not boil. It’s the only way I’ve been successful. After soaking, do I do it the same way as usual instead of your boiling method?
I bake mine at 375 for 1 hour.
Also, must it be short grain, or will long grain work as well? What’s the difference?



Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen October 15, 2010 at 11:24 AM

Yummy – that looks so satisfying!
.-= Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen´s last blog ..Seven Days Newspaper Features The Leftover Queen &amp The Foodie Blogroll! =-.


Tara October 15, 2010 at 1:20 PM

I made this just now. Are you sure about the 4 cups of milk to one cup of rice? I thought it was a lot, but I went with the directions. I have rice soup. So I’m cooking it down now to see if I can reduce it. But the rice won’t absorb much since it’s already cooked. Good flavor though!


Mary Jo October 15, 2010 at 2:31 PM

i got rice soup too ;)


cheeseslave October 15, 2010 at 6:00 PM

I will retest to make sure I didn’t write it down wrong — I’ll comment after I retest — probably tomorrow


Christine October 15, 2010 at 8:23 PM

Ann Marie,

I have been using the new fermentation method of soaking the brown rice with its own starter for a couple months now. This method was described by Ramiel Nagel in a Wise Traditions article a while back. Just note, the starter does get stinky. You need to rinse the rice very well before cooking. I also soak my rice for at least 24 hours, or even longer, depending on when I have time to get to it. The soaking place has to also be very warm, like inside an oven with the light on. Soaking any grain at room temperature (or even cooler now that fall is here) will not break down any phytic acid. That being said, the rice tastes perfectly fine when cooked, and I always bake mine in the oven in bone broth. It is very digestible, and I think this method is far superior to using another acid like whey or yogurt and only soaking for 8 hours.
.-= Christine´s last blog ..RECIPE- Sprouted Chocolate Chip &amp Zucchini Cookies =-.


emily October 16, 2010 at 5:39 AM

christine- would you expand on he statement about grains needing to be soaked at warmer-then room temp?


Christine October 16, 2010 at 9:55 AM

Sure. Phytic acid only breaks down at certain temperatures. Ramiel Nagel and Amanda Rose have both done extensive research on the topic. They both found it varied by the grain for time, but the temperature had to be very warm. I forget the exact ideal temperature. But, it is not in the fridge, or on the countertop in cool weather. It can sit at room temp. for days and barely break down any phytic acid. The best place is a warm oven or dehydrator. And, the longer the better. Rami also suggests to sprout first, then sour ferment for 2 days on top of that if you are really concerned with phytates. Unfortunately, Sally doesn’t go into great detail with this. Because I have a daughter that I am actively healing cavities in, these details are important to me.
.-= Christine´s last blog ..RECIPE- Sprouted Chocolate Chip &amp Zucchini Cookies =-.


Heather October 16, 2010 at 3:52 PM

Looks amazing! I definitely need to try this.
.-= Heather´s last blog ..GF Meatballs Yum Yum Yum! =-.


Rachael Mae October 18, 2010 at 2:04 PM

K every body. I remember Sally saying that rice was super low in phytates and that soaking wasn’t really necessary although she did recommend cooking it in stock to break down what little there was. (obviously that won’t work for rice pudding:) Are you all just more devoted than I or healing cavities like Christine?

And I’m so disappointed that whey won’t work so well! I have tons from making yogurt and cheese and that is what I use to soak everything! Am I really just wasting my time if I use whey? Thanks Christine for the comment on temperature I’ve never paid very close attention to that.

I am excited to try your recipe Ann Marie, I’ve adapted my own but I’m excited to try yours!


sara October 19, 2010 at 8:15 AM

any update on the recipe retry? i’m excited to make this, but would love to avoid the rice soup. :)


Dawna October 20, 2010 at 9:48 AM

I am new to soaking so forgive my stupid question BUT when you soak grains/rice etc do you then dump the liquid that you used for soaking or do you use that liquid to cook the grains/rice etc ???


cheeseslave October 29, 2010 at 11:11 AM

OK guys I massively messed up this recipe!!!! So sorry!

I tested it again this morning and it came out perfect — but my ingredient amounts were WRONG. I am going to update the recipe.

I apologize to those of you who got soup. :-(


cheeseslave November 2, 2010 at 2:02 PM

OK I fixed the recipe. Somehow I had the amounts wrong — I am sorry!

First of all it is 2 cups DRY rice, not cooked. Which equals about 6 cups cooked rice.

Secondly it calls for 1 1/2 to 2 cups milk, not 4 cups. It would have been 4 cups if you want to cook the rice in the milk instead of water.

I increased the raisins and the sugar since I added more rice.

I promise — this new recipe works!


Lynda Moulton November 4, 2010 at 11:12 AM

when you soak rice etc do you then dump the liquid that you used for soaking or do you use that SAME liquid to cook the rice etc ???


Annie Milne November 4, 2010 at 9:04 PM

Has anyone utilized a crockpot to soak, then (rinse &) cook the rice? I’ve been playing around with it to perfect the timing, etc. and will now try to warm the soaking liquid.


cheeseslave November 5, 2010 at 2:20 PM

@ Lynda

No I would not use the same liquid to cook the rice. Dump it out.


cheeseslave November 5, 2010 at 2:21 PM

Interesting idea, Annie!


Sabrina December 13, 2010 at 11:52 AM

I was wondering how to store the brown rice after soaking it if I do not want to use it in a recipe immediately? Is it possible to do this? Do I need to dry it or should I just store it, as is, in the fridge after soaking? Thanks for the help!


Genet (aka. . .CountryMouse) October 24, 2011 at 7:27 PM

You know???? This is REALLY CLOSE to the way my granny made it . . .EXCEPT. . . .
She only cooked the rice/egg mix and about 1 and 1/2 cups of the milk. She cooked it until it was a bit thicker .. . . . .THEN AT THE END she added the sweetener and about 1/2 cup cream. .. . .She only stirred it in till the sweetener dissolved and all was incorporated. She said that sugar made the rice hard. ????? I have no idea if that is true or not . … . .
But I think that would be a yummy way to get the benefit of “raw” cream. . . .. .
Yummmy. . . . . .
I have rice soaking now :)


Mandy February 5, 2012 at 11:31 PM

I have a question about brown rice, sorry it’s a little off topic…
I have been using brown rice for a long time, but have recently started making my own stocks. When I have tried cooking the rice in homemade stock I cannot get the rice to cook. It’s like the fat in the stock coats the rice and then it won’t absorb the liquid. I have let it cook for a long time. Up to about 2 hours even. And the rice stays hard. I never had this problem cooking it in water or boxed stock. I don’t want to used the boxed stuff anymore though! Any help would be appreciated! Thanks


caroline December 31, 2012 at 12:46 PM

Hey! So we are making rice pudding at our house tonight for breakfast tomorrow. My mom cannot drink raw milk plain yet but she can drink kefir-can i use kefir instead of the raw milk?


Ann Marie Michaels December 31, 2012 at 3:10 PM

You could try, but it might be too sour — you would need to add more sweetener.

Coconut milk would work great.


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Michele April 25, 2013 at 4:01 AM

This method of soaking the rice sounds like the method Kim uses at the Nourishing Cook ( I have been coming off of GAPS and starting to reintroduce foods (chiropractic care and adding digestive enzymes are really helping with that!). Next food I’m testing out is rice. I’m actually trying this out today (water warming on the stove as we speak)! What perfect timing that you posted this recipe for rice pudding! Looks so yummy! As long as I am good with the rice, I definitely want to try this recipe! Thanks for posting!


Sharon September 3, 2013 at 12:19 PM

Wish your recipes had a pinterest button. It would make pinning so much faster.


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