This traditional Danish Rice Pudding recipe (risalamande) is the perfect holiday dessert. Try it with our easy raspberry sauce or add cherry sauce!
My grandma used to bring Danish rice pudding to big family events around Christmas. It was a GIANT bowl of fluffy, creamy rice pudding that we all gobbled up as the night wore on. She made it as a fun piece of our Danish heritage to share together, and the tradition now makes me think of her every time I make this delicious dessert at the holiday season.
If you’ve never eaten this Christmas favorite, you’re in for a literal treat! Risalamande (Danish Rice Pudding) is a fluffy, delicious delight from start to finish.
Besides some serious nostalgia, part of what I love is the what makes this delicious rice pudding different from typical rice pudding. Let’s dive in…
Our Danish Rice Pudding Recipe, At A Glance:
What Makes Danish Rice Pudding Special?
Danish rice pudding is the most popular Christmas dessert in Denmark, and a staple in many Danish households this time of year. The big difference between Danish rice pudding (risalamande or risengrød) and typical rice pudding is the addition of fluffy whipped cream, almonds, and red berry sauce. Then, of course, there’s the special almond game you play when you eat it. Let’s take a look at each component:
1. Whipped Cream
When you make Danish rice pudding, you’ll fold whipped cream into the cooled rice pudding base. This lightens the texture and gives the creamy pudding a fluffy, airy feel. (This was also a great way for people to stretch their budget during a time when cream was inexpensive and rice was more closely rationed.)
Many risalamande recipes include chopped almonds folded into the rice pudding, though some leave those out these days to accommodate allergies or to make this dish more budget-friendly.
During World War II, many families omitted the almonds since they were expensive and hard to find. In some families, this tradition has stuck, so their version only includes one whole almond hidden in the pudding, rather than chopped almonds AND a whole almond. (This is how my grandma made it!)
3. Red Berry Sauce
Then, to finish, Risalamande is typically served with a berry compote or berry sauce. Lingonberry sauce, sweet cherry sauce, and raspberry sauce are common, but some families even use strawberry sauce or cranberry sauce instead.
4. A Special Game
Risalamande is part of the Danish Christmas celebration, often served as a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day dessert. For many families, the Danish tradition calls for the Danish rice pudding to be served in a large bowl in the center of the table after Christmas dinner. Hidden in the pudding is one whole almond, and the game is that you must eat all the pudding until the almond is found.
The person who finds the whole almond wins a prize (called the almond gift), which can be something small like a marzipan pig, sweet, or small trinket. Sometimes, the person who finds it hides their hidden almond discovery until all the pudding is eaten–fun, right?
Simple Ingredients For Risalamande
Much like our traditional rice pudding recipe, this Danish rice pudding starts with simple ingredients. You’ll need:
- Arborio Rice. This plump, short-grain rice holds its shape even with a longer cooking time, making it ideal for rice pudding. (No mushiness!)
- Sugar. Some granulated sugar/white sugar sweetens the rice pudding base.
- Salt. Always. A little bit of salt balances the flavors beautifully.
- A Cinnamon Stick (Optional). If your family likes a hint of cinnamon, you can add a cinnamon stick to the rice pudding as it cooks, which will infuse the pudding with flavor without turning it fully brown the way ground cinnamon does.
- Whole Milk. Don’t try to swap in low fat milk here. It’s really a time to use whole milk!
- Heavy Cream. A must for the both the rice pudding base and the risalamande whipped cream.
- Vanilla Bean Paste or A Vanilla Bean. A vanilla bean is a delicious upgrade to this pudding, but isn’t always easily accessible. I often use vanilla bean paste since it’s less expensive and easier to find for me. (Check out our Types of Vanilla post for more info on swapping & substitutions!)
- Powdered Sugar. To help sweeten and stabilize the whipped cream.
- Almond Extract. My grandma always added a splash to the whipped cream and it adds LOVELY flavor.
- Almonds. If you like, you can add chopped almonds to the pudding. (Feel free to serve them on the side, or omit them, if you prefer.)
- One Whole Almond. Risalamande tradition holds that you must hide a single whole almond in the bowl. Whoever finds it wins a prize! (Blanched almonds without their skins work best!)
- A Quick Cherry Sauce or Raspberry Sauce. Then, you can serve the fluffy pudding with either cherry sauce or raspberry sauce. I’ve included a recipe for raspberry sauce below!
FAQ + Tips And Tricks For The Best Danish Rice Pudding
Keep The Temperature Low And Slow.
It’s tempting to turn the heat up to try to coax the rice to cook faster, but this is the OPPOSITE of what you want to do when you’re making rice pudding. Longer, slower cooking over low heat gives you plenty of time to stir often. Stirring releases starch from the rice which thickens the pudding and gives the rice the perfect texture.
Do You Serve Risalamande Warm Or Cold?
You can serve risalamande warm OR cold, depending on your family’s preference. I love cold rice pudding with chilled berry sauce, but you can absolutely serve it with warm cherry sauce/raspberry sauce or bring the pudding up to room temperature if you prefer!
There are LOTS of ways you can work ahead when making traditional Danish Christmas Rice Pudding! My favorite is to prep the rice pudding base, chop the almonds, and make the raspberry sauce the day before so they can chill and the flavor can develop. Then, you’ll whip the cream and assemble the Risalamande the day you plan to serve it. (The entire pudding can also be made a day in advance, though the almonds will soften more.)
What Do You Use For The Almond Present?
For this fun Christmas tradition, the almond gift (or almond present) is awarded to the person who finds the single whole almond in their rice pudding. This is usually a small gift (often a marzipan pig, chocolate, or a small toy/game).
What does “Risalamande” mean?
The name Risalamande is based on the French term “riz à l’amande,” which means “rice with almonds” or “almond rice.” Though it has a French-sounding name, this Danish dessert has a special place in Christmas Eve traditions and Danish culture.
🌟 Leave a star review below when you try our Danish Rice Pudding recipe! We can’t wait to hear what you think!Print