This Mexican Arroz con Leche is so creamy, aromatic, and packed with nostalgic flavors. Serve warm topped with a pinch of cinnamon or cold as a fresh dessert topped with caramel or fresh berries!
Arroz con leche is a creamy and heartwarming Mexican dessert made of white rice, milk, sugar, and cinnamon. It can be served warm or cold.
As you might know, rice pudding is a dessert widely known in the world. Almost every country has a version of this popular sweet treat. The dessert is a staple in Mexican cuisine too, has very few ingredients, and is very simple and easy to make.
The cooking method is what’s called slow-cook, and it involves mixing the ingredients in a large pot until the rice is cooked and finished with a creamy and decadent texture.
The main difference between rice pudding and arroz con leche is that the Spanish pudding is made with egg yolks, to make it creamy, while the Mexican dessert is often made with condensed or evaporated milk to get the same results.
- RICE: If you want to use Mexican rice but you don’t live in Mexico, check up on Mexican online stores or Amazon. Otherwise, use any medium-grain rice to make this recipe. Long-grain rice is also good, but since it contains less starch, the final dish will be not as creamy as medium-grain rice.
- MILK: I am using whole cow’s milk for this recipe, its fat content is perfect to make this Mexican rice pudding creamy. For more creaminess, you can also add a can of evaporated milk.
- CONDENSED MILK: I used homemade condensed milk but feel free to use store-bought.
- SUGAR: The recipe calls for white sugar. If you want to add other types of sweeteners just take in mind the taste and texture of the final dish may change as well.
- CINNAMON: Use 1 stick of Mexican canela or 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon (or half and half).
- LIME ZEST: For that little touch of citrus, you can swap for orange zest or peel.
- VANILLA: Use vanilla extract, paste, or a vanilla pod.
How To Make Arroz Con Leche
Place rice in a pot or large saucepan with milk, sugar, and cinnamon.
Turn heat to medium-high and bring to a boil while mixing all the time. Do not stop stirring or the milk will spill out.
Reduce heat to low and keep cooking for about 20 minutes while stirring regularly. NOTE: Do not let the pot unattended or the rice will stick to the pot’s bottom.
Once the rice is cooked through and creamy, adjust the consistency by adding a little more milk if you want.
Turn off the heat and mix in the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract, and lime zest.
The remaining heat will bring out the flavor and wonderful aroma of vanilla and lime.
Serve the rice pudding in bowls or serving cups, sprinkle with ground cinnamon for extra flavor, and serve warm or cold.
Notes & Tips
- Don’t leave the pot unattended. The milk and starch in the rice make it too easy to burn. It is best if you cook it while you are doing other things in the kitchen, so you are continuously checking out the pot.
- Stirring also helps to break some of the grains and make the pudding thicker and creamier.
- The texture is really up to you. If you like your rice a little liquid, you can add more milk at the end, about 2 minutes before turning off the heat. If, on the other hand, you want it to have a more pudding texture, you can cook it a little more.
- Rinse the rice before cooking or not? There is a long debated topic about why and why not we should rinse the rice before cooking. I always rinse my rice, even when making this recipe. But I understand that some people would find it unnecessary (for instance, my Italian husband). For this recipe, I rinsed the rice slightly, not to the point where the water became clear but just a quick rinse under cold water.
- Other types of milk. Some recipes use also evaporated milk to make it creamier or add half and half, or even heavy cream.
- Other spices. Besides cinnamon, you can also use star anise, cardamom, nutmeg, or whole cloves to make it more aromatic.
- Add texture. Raisins are the first option when it comes to this Mexican rice pudding, but other dried fruits or nuts work too, think of pistachios, pecans, coconut, or dried cranberries.
- Make it vegan. Use coconut milk and coconut cream, soy milk, or almond milk to make it vegan-friendly.
How To Eat
Mexican rice pudding can be served hot, warm, at room temperature, or even cold from the fridge.
As a dessert, snack, or even for breakfast with chopped fresh fruit on top, this Mexican recipe is truly versatile.
In cold weather, you can make it with more milk so it can be suitable for drinking and serve it with animal crackers or galletas Marías.
If served cold, you can sprinkle your favorite nuts, grated coconut, chocolate sauce, or a dollop of cajeta on top, it makes the perfect chilled dessert for sunny days!
Store And Reheat
- Fridge: Allow your Mexican rice pudding to cool to room temperature, then transfer it to an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Freezer: Allow to cool down, transfer to a bag or container, label it with the cooking date, and store for up to 3 months in the freezer.
- Reheat: You can reheat arroz con leche on the stovetop, just add it to a pot with a splash of milk and reheat over medium heat while stirring constantly until warm.
Note: If you cooked arroz con leche in the night and boiled it thoroughly for several minutes, you can leave it out overnight. Just make sure to cover the pot well and leave the preparation on your countertop and not on the stove, as the remaining heat can spoil the dairy.
More Easy Mexican Desserts
- Carlota de Limon. This Mexican icebox cake is fresh, tangy, and so limey.
- Fresas con crema. Strawberries and cream with a Mexican twist.
- Mexican Flan. So easy to make and one of the best desserts for family meals.
- Mexican Jello. Colorful and so pretty, this mosaic gelatin is a must-have for parties!
Watch The Video
Arroz Con Leche
- 1 cup white rice (read notes)
- 7 cups whole milk
- ½ cup condensed milk
- ¼ cup white sugar
- 1 lime (zest)
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder (+ more to serve)
- Add milk, rice, sugar, and cinnamon (stick and powdered) to a large saucepan or pot.
- Mix to combine and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low and keep cooking for about 20 minutes while stirring regularly (read notes).
- Once the rice is cooked through and creamy, adjust the consistency by adding a little more milk if you want.
- Turn off the heat. Mix in the condensed milk, vanilla extract, and lime zest.
- Serve in cups with a sprinkle of cinnamon powder.
- You can use Mexican rice, Basmati, Jasmine, or any other long or medium grain white rice will work too (like arborio, carnaroli, or roma).
- If you’re cooking this dessert on the stove, don’t leave it unattended for so long as the milk and starch in the rice make it too easy to burn.
- The texture is really up to you. If you like Mexican arroz con leche a little liquid, you can add more milk at the end, about 2 minutes before turning off the heat. If, on the other hand, you want it to have a more pudding texture, you can cook it a little more.
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Maricruz Avalos Flores is a Mexican cook and photographer living in Italy where she shares authentic Mexican & Italian recipes that can be easily made at home using easy-to-find ingredients.