A traditional dessert from Portugal, Arroz Doce, is served even on Christmas Eve. This Portuguese Rice Pudding will give you that perfect balance of comfort and deliciousness. And it’s excellent; both served hot or straight from the fridge. You have to try it to believe it!
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They sometimes call this Portuguese Sweet Rice because it is (indeed) rice cooked in milk, with added sugar.
But it goes beyond that. There’s also a hint of vanilla and lemon in there — not too much to overpower the dish, just enough to round it all up.
It’s so good that locals prepare it the whole year-round, not just during the holidays!
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- Lemon – you would only use the rind (peel) for this arroz doce recipe.
- Sugar – regular white sugar.
- Cinnamon powder – just use your favorite brand.
- Vanilla – you need to open (split) it in the middle before adding to the rest of the ingredients.
- Salt – use whatever you have on hand.
- Eggs – medium-sized eggs (about 63 to 73 grams each).
- Milk – full cream milk, if possible.
- Rice – the ‘starchy’ ones are the best for this rice pudding — arborio or carnaroli rice. These are the same variety that you use for making risotto.
These types of rice still maintain a firm center, even if their outsides are almost falling apart. So, you still get a good bite in the midst of all the creaminess.
Start by mixing three and a half cups of water with salt on a medium or large-sized saucepan.
Add rice and lemon rind; and cook rice as normal (photo 1).
Once the rice is cooked, pour three and a half cups of hot milk (photo 2).
Add the vanilla bean, mix and continue simmering (for about 30 minutes) or until the liquid has reduced and the rice turns soft and creamy (photo 3).
Add sugar. Mix, then cover with a lid and bring to a boil (photo 4).
Combine and beat the remaining milk with the egg yolks (photo 5).
Remove the rice pudding from the heat and remove the vanilla bean and lemon rind.
Slowly add the tempered yolks while constantly stirring (photo 6).
Cover with a lid, bring the pan back into the heat, and bring to a boil.
Transfer arroz doce to serving plates and decorate with cinnamon powder on top.
- When you add the milk, make sure it’s hot, boiling, if possible. I normally just keep it simmering once it boils while waiting for the rice to cook.
- Do not forget to temper the yolks with cold (or room temperature) milk before adding to the sweet rice. It ensures that you will not cook the yolks when you add them to the simmering pudding.
- While lattice top is the classic design for the cinnamon powder on top of arroz doce; you can design it in whatever way you want.
- Cinnamon stick. Some people prefer to use a cinnamon stick instead of powder. They take it at the same time as the vanilla bean.
- Vanilla extract. If you’re having a hard time looking for vanilla bean, a teaspoon of vanilla extract is an excellent alternative for this rice pudding recipe.
Short grain, round ones are the best types to use. The same ones are used for making risotto.
They’re perfect for rice pudding because they release more starch, hence the creaminess, while still maintaining a firm center.
Yes, all rice pudding will become thick and firm once they’re cold.
It’s better not to do that since it’s got eggs and milk.
It’s safer to place it in the refrigerator as soon as it cools down — about two hours from taking it off the heat.
Once it’s cold, place it in an airtight container, then keep it in the refrigerator — it’s suitable for 3 to 4 days.
Yes, but make sure you store it in a tight, freezer-proof container first, then place it in the freezer for more extended storage.
It should be good for about three months.
I know some do not like using a microwave, but I have some friends who use it for quick reheating.
Otherwise, you can transfer it in a pan and place it on how heat — gently stirring until it gets to your preferred temperature.
Looks absolutely delicious right? Give arroz doce a try, and let me know what you think in the comment section below!
Arroz Doce Recipe (Portuguese Rice Pudding)
- Using a medium to a large-sized saucepan, combine 3 1/2 cups of water with salt and mix.
- Add the rice and lemon rind, cover with a lid and bring to a boil.
- Simmer until rice is cooked. This generally takes 20 minutes.
- Add the 3 & 1/2 cups of hot milk and the vanilla pod.
- Mix to combine, then cover and continue simmering until the liquid has reduced and the rice turns soft and creamy (about 20 to 30 minutes). Stir regularly the entire time.
- Add sugar and mix. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil.
- Temper egg yolks with the remaining milk (not hot!) and beat with a fork.
- Remove the sweet rice from the heat and take the rind and the vanilla bean out.
- Add the tempered yolks slowly while stirring constantly.
- Bring the saucepan back on the heat, cover with a lid, and bring to a boil.
- Taste and adjust seasoning, as desired.
- Remove from the heat and transfer to serving bowls.
- Decorate the top of arroz doce with cinnamon powder.
- Cook’s Tip #1: Starchy rice like arborio and carnaroli are the best types to use for arroz doce.
- Cook’s Tip #2: Ensure the milk is hot when you add it to the cooked rice.
- Cook’s Tip #3: Do not forget to temper the yolks with cold (or room temperature) milk before adding to the sweet rice. It ensures that you will not cook the yolks when you add them to the simmering pudding.
- Cook’s Tip #4: Lattice top is the traditional design for the cinnamon powder on top of arroz doce, but feel free to decorate it in whatever style you prefer.
- Variation #1: If you want to add a cinnamon stick, you should add it together with the vanilla bean.
- Variation #2: You can use a teaspoon of vanilla extract as a substitute for a vanilla bean in this rice pudding recipe.