Creamy, sweet and so, so easy to make. The Very Best Rice Pudding recipe is classic and comforting. Made in one pot with just a few ingredients like rice, milk, sugar and vanilla…cooked until thick, then served warm or chilled. This Rice Pudding will be a go-to dessert recipe for years to come.
Ahhhh, rice pudding. Anytime I stuff a spoonful of it into my mouth it instantly takes me back to my childhood….to my pop-pop’s kitchen….to happy, comforting memories. He made this all the time and he was my very favorite person way back then. I have so many memories cooking with my pop-pop that, now that I’m thinking of it, he was the person that influenced me most in the kitchen. He was my hero…a Polish WWII veteran who bravely brought his entire family here to the US to start a new life. I’m so glad he did…I’ll share more about him another time because let’s keep this a happy, happy post. He’s no longer with us but a lot of his recipes have been passed down and I’m going to share them with all of you. 🙂
The Very Best Rice Pudding recipe is what I remember pop-pop’s version to be like. Nobody really knows the exact measurements of everything he used so I had to guesstimate a bit. All I know is he was adamant about using Carolina rice…which I’m not sure if it’s medium grain, long grain, or arborio…so some testing had to be done since I couldn’t find “Carolina” rice. I settled on medium grain because it held together well and didn’t get too mushy when cooked for a long time. The arborio remained a bit to al dente for my liking so we’ll keep that for risotto.
Be sure to cook the pudding long enough…undercooking the pudding will cause it to be soupy…still tasty but not thick like pudding. A good way to check if it’s cooked long enough is to run your finger along the back of your spoon to see if you can draw a line that doesn’t seep back together….if the line remains, you have pudding!
I remember his pudding to be slightly sweet but not too much so that it made your teeth hurt. I don’t think he used vanilla but I did….a whole vanilla bean which may have made him cringe because he was a bit more frugal than I am and vanilla beans are not cheap. If you have a bit of sticker shock with vanilla beans, you can certainly use vanilla extract. But I love the look of the flecks throughout the pudding and the flavor can’t be beat. Another alternative would be Vanilla Bean Paste, which I LOVE, but I ran out and my grocery store hasn’t restocked it in months. So, beans it was!
I think my pop-pop would have been please with the Very Best Rice Pudding…being that it really is the Very Best Rice Pudding. It’s comfort food at it’s finest….just like this vanilla pudding. Or if you have a chocolate craving, try this one. Or have a pudding buffet with all three. I’m sure nobody would mind.
- 8 cups whole milk
- 1 cup raw medium-grain white rice
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 vanilla bean, split, or 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- In a large saucepan, add the milk, rice, salt, vanilla bean (if using, extract...don't add it yet.) and sugar over medium heat.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered for 15 minutes stirring occasionally.
- Uncover and continue to simmer until the rice is tender and the pudding has reduced to about 3 1/2 cups. Continue to stir constantly to prevent scorching.
- Fish out the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the butter, vanilla bean seeds or vanilla extract.
- Transfer the pudding to a bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming.
- Chill for 1 hour or overnight.
- Serve warm or chilled.