Arroz con leche is one of the most traditional and popular Spanish desserts.
Literally translated, arroz con leche means rice with milk, but it's actually a thick rice pudding that everyone makes a slightly different way.
Most recipes call for lemon peel and cinnamon sticks, and others add alcohol, additional spices, orange peel and even a layer of caramelized sugar on top.
This classic arroz con leche recipe is served in households all over Spain. It is rich and sweet with a touch of lemon flavor. It is a very easy recipe and can be served warm or cold. Leftovers are great for breakfast.
A link to a delicious variation from the region of Asturias appears at the end of this recipe.
- 3 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups medium-grain or pearl rice
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 ounces unsalted butter or margarine
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Peel of 1/2 lemon
- 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (optional)
- Pour water into a large saucepan and bring to a boil. When it begins to boil, add the rice. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 10 minutes. Turn off the burner and allow the rice to sit in the pot of water.
- Pour milk into another large saucepan and add sugar. Turn the burner to medium-low heat. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved.
- Bring milk to a boil over medium heat, being careful that it does not boil over. While you are waiting for the milk to boil, drain the water from the rice.
- Once the milk boils, add the drained rice, butter, cinnamon stick and lemon peel. Allow to gently boil for about 15 to 20 minutes, until rice is soft. Remove cinnamon stick and lemon peel.
- Remove from heat and pour rice pudding into a serving dish. Sprinkle the top with ground cinnamon. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving because the mixture retains a lot of heat.
- Arroz con leche can be served warm or cold. If you want to serve it cold, allow the rice mixture to cool down in the serving dish for 20 minutes, then refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Asturias Version of Rice Pudding
In the region of Asturias in Northern Spain, this dish is served with a crust of caramelized sugar on top.
- The traditional method for forming the crust is to liberally sprinkle sugar on top, then place a very hot iron on top of the rice to caramelize or burn it.
- You can accomplish the same thing by sprinkling the top with sugar and placing the dish under the broiler for a few minutes until sugar is caramelized or by using a small hand torch.
Read more about the Spanish regional cuisine of Asturias.