There are some foods that you just need to experience for yourself to understand their popularity. For me, the milk-pudding-type foods always arouse suspicion. Bread pudding for instance- why would you make bread into pudding? Tres leches cake- who decided to pour milk into their cake?? Arroz con leche, which translates to rice with milk in English, is another one of these milky desserts. Like bread pudding and tres leches cake, this combo of milk, rice and warm spices is far more delicious than it sounds!

Arroz con leche, otherwise known as Mexican rice pudding, consists of rice cooked in milk, with raisins and cinnamon for flavor. This simple comfort food is one of the oldest desserts in Spain, but it is enjoyed throughout South America and Asia as well. Many believe that arroz con leche actually originated with the Moors and was brought to Spain when Spain was under Moorish influence. This tasty dessert was then brought to Mexico in the 1500s when the Spaniards arrived, hence its name.

To achieve the sweet flavor and soft texture of this dulce Spanish dessert, most prefer to use short grain white rice. While brown rice will result in a healthier version, the consistency might be slightly altered. Long grain rice will work as well, but it has a lower starch content than short grain rice, so your rice pudding may be less creamy. For extra flavor in this arroz con leche recipe, you can also add a teaspoon of vanilla extract or a 1/2 cup sugar for added sweetness.

Although Mexican rice pudding is a dessert, it does provide high amounts of calcium, potassium and vitamin a. So while this rice pudding recipe may not be the best choice for a low-carbohydrate diet, you will be soaking up some good nutritional value as you enjoy this sweet pudding. Not to mention, this sweet postre is so yummy and comforting that your guests won't stop saying gracias and asking for seconds!

How to Make Arroz con Leche

To make this delicious but easy recipe, combine rice, water and a cinnamon stick in a medium saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil on medium to high heat, and leave to cook uncovered until rice is soft and tender, about 18 minutes.

Strain water out of the mixture and take out the cinnamon stick. Then put rice back into the pan, and add in your three milks- whole milk, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk.

Bring to a boil on medium heat to high heat, and cook uncovered for about 20 minutes, until your arroz con leche has thickened substantially. Stir every few minutes to ensure the rice doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.

Turn off heat and add in raisins, stirring until fully mixed in. Top with ground cinnamon for garnish, and you're all set to enjoy this yummy dessert!

Buen provecho!

Watch: The 6 Agave Spirits of Mexico

Arroz con Leche (Mexican Rice Pudding) 

Prep Time: 5 minutes | Cook Time: 40 minutes

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup short grain white rice
  • 7 cups water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 12 oz evaporated milk
  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup raisins optional
  • ground cinnamon for dusting

Instructions

Combine rice, water, and cinnamon stick in sauce pan. Bring to a boil on medium-high, and cook uncovered until rice is tender, about 18 minutes.

Discard the cinnamon, strain out the water, and return the rice to the pan.

Add the whole, evaporated, and condensed milks to the rice.

Bring to a boil on medium-high, and cook uncovered until the mixture has thickened, about 20 minutes. Stir often to prevent rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Turn off heat and stir in raisins.

Serve, topped with ground cinnamon for garnish.

Notes

To achieve the sweet flavor and soft texture of this dulce Spanish dessert, most prefer to use short grain white rice. While brown rice will result in a healthier version, the consistency might be slightly altered. Long grain rice will work as well, but it has a lower starch content than short grain rice, so your rice pudding may be less creamy.For extra flavor in this arroz con leche recipe, you can also add a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Some recipes also call for a 1/2 cup sugar for added sweetness!