Portuguese Rice Pudding, Arroz Doce, is a traditional Portuguese dessert recipe made with cooked rice, sugar, milk, eggs, cinnamon, and lemon peel.

Portuguese Rice Pudding made with leftover rice

Portuguese Rice Pudding {Arroz doce}

If you love rice pudding you have to try the Portuguese version, Arroz Doce. It is a deliciously creamy dessert made with cooked rice, lemon, milk, sugar, and eggs.

The milk and eggs give the rice pudding a rich, custard flavor and the lemon rind that is cooked with the milk adds a light lemon-y flavor to the dessert.

It’s a traditional Portuguese recipe, like our homemade chourico, caldo verde soup, and shrimp turnovers, that I grew up eating at family gatherings. It is the ultimate comfort food and since it is served hot, room temperature, or even chilled, it is the perfect addition to any holiday meal.

And just in case you doubt my Portuguese cooking skills my mom came over to do a little quality assurance testing for me and this Portuguese rice pudding passed the mom taste-test!

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how to make Portuguese Rice Pudding

What Ingredients Do I Need?

  • Short Grain White Rice – Short grain rice isn’t a kind of rice it is a category of rice. On the rice package the label should classify the rice as long grain rice, medium grain rice, or short grain rice. Any white, short grain rice will work. For this recipe I used Arborio short grain rice because I like the texture that it gives the pudding.
  • Milk – For this recipe I recommend whole milk so you get a rich, creamy pudding. If you prefer you can use 2% milk.
  • Sugar – The sugar should be granulated white sugar.
  • Egg yolks – The egg yolks add to the thick and creamy, custard-like texture and flavor of the pudding.
  • Lemon rind – Cut large pieces of lemon rind from a fresh lemon. This will steep in the milk and add a beautiful, subtle, lemon flavor to the dessert.
  • Butter – This should be salted butter. If you use unsalted you can add a little more salt at the end.
  • Vanilla – A higher quality vanilla adds even more flavor to this delicious dessert.
  • Salt – Just a pinch! This helps bring out the flavor in the dish.
  • Cinnamon – The cinnamon is optional as it is only used as decoration at the end. I do love the flavor it adds to the rice pudding though so I highly recommend you add a sprinkle even if you skip the decorative design.

How to Make Rice Pudding on the Stove Top:

  1. Cook rice according to the package instructions.
  2. In a small pot heat your milk, stopping just before it begins to simmer.
  3. In a small bowl whisk the eggs yolks and then temper them by very slowly pouring just a bit of the hot milk into the eggs and whisking quickly so that they do not cook. Add the tempered eggs to the hot milk whisking constantly.
  4. Add the sugar, butter, vanilla, and lemon rinds to the milk and whisk together.
  5. Pour the milk mixture into the cooked rice and stir together.
  6. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes until you reach an oatmeal consistency.
  7. Divide rice pudding into dishes, or pour into one large dish, and let cool.
  8. Once the pudding has cooled to room temperature use a stencil and ground cinnamon to create a design on top. This is optional. If you would like to save time you can sprinkle a bit of cinnamon over the top of your rice pudding.
  9. Serve immediately or store in refrigerator until needed
Portuguese Rice Pudding topped with cinnamon design made with a stencil

How to Create the Decorative Cinnamon Topping on Arroz Doce

My favorite part is the topping. Traditionally arroz doce is topped with a cinnamon design, usually in a lattice pattern. I played around with mine a little and used a damask stencil that I have. I think it turned out so pretty!

The key is to fill your rice pudding up to the top of the container (but not higher) and then gently press the stencil to the top of the rice pudding, leaving little to no room between the stencil and pudding. This will give you a sharper looking image with the cinnamon.

Lightly sprinkle the cinnamon over the stencil and then gently peel the stencil up. Be careful not to knock the excess cinnamon back onto the pudding as you lift the stencil off!

Do You Serve Rice Pudding Hot or Cold?

This easy recipe is awesome for holiday meals or parties because it can be made ahead of time and served slightly chilled or at room temperature.

If you are making it ahead of time you won’t put the cinnamon on until you are ready to serve. To store the rice pudding place it in the dish or dishes you will be serving it in and then cover them with plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

When ready to serve remove the plastic wrap from the dish and decorate your pudding with the cinnamon.

Some people like their rice pudding warm and that’s ok too! If you prefer to serve it hot you can warm it back up on the stove top over low heat or put it in the microwave for a few minutes.

Portuguese Rice Pudding great recipe using leftover rice

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Servings: 8
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 40 mins

Portuguese Rice Pudding {Arroz Doce}

Portuguese Rice Pudding, Arroz Doce, is a traditional Portuguese Christmas dessert recipe made with rice, sugar, milk, eggs, cinnamon, and lemon peel.
Portuguese Rice Pudding made with leftover rice
Print Recipe
4.43 from 7 votes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Short Grain White Rice, uncooked
  • 2 cups Water
  • 2 cups Whole Milk
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 2 Egg yolks
  • 1 Lemon rind
  • 1 tablespoon Butter
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • Cinnamon, optional

Instructions

  • Cook rice according to the package instructions.
  • In a small pot heat your milk, stopping just before it begins to simmer.
  • In a small bowl whisk the eggs yolks and then temper them by very slowly pouring just a bit of the hot milk into the eggs and whisking quickly so that they do not cook. Add the tempered eggs to the hot milk whisking constantly.
  • Add the sugar, butter, vanilla, and lemon rinds to the milk and whisk together.
  • Pour the milk mixture into the cooked rice and stir together.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes until you reach an oatmeal consistency.
  • Once the pudding has reached the desired texture remove the lemon peels and divide the rice pudding into dishes, or pour into one large dish, and let cool.
  • Once the pudding has cooled to room temperature use a stencil and ground cinnamon to create a design on top. This is optional. If you would like to save time you can sprinkle a bit of cinnamon over the top of your rice pudding.
  • Serve immediately or store in refrigerator until needed

Nutrition

Serving: 0.66cup, Calories: 252kcal, Carbohydrates: 48g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 59mg, Sodium: 45mg, Potassium: 104mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 28g, Vitamin A: 207IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 77mg, Iron: 1mg
Nutrition Disclaimer: We are not certified nutritionists. Nutrition facts are an estimate and are provided as a courtesy. They are generated by an online API which recognizes ingredient names and amounts and makes calculations based on the serving size. Results may vary.
Author: Kat Jeter & Melinda Caldwell
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Portuguese
Keyword: arroz doce, rice pudding

This recipe was originally published on 10/29/15. It was republished with an updated recipe and photos on 3/4/20.