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Danish Rice Pudding (Risalamande)

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This traditional Danish Rice Pudding recipe (risalamande) is the perfect holiday dessert. Try it with our easy raspberry sauce or add cherry sauce!

Danish rice pudding in dessert bowls topped with raspberry 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…

A bowl of risalamande (Danish rice pudding) with raspberry sauce

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.)

2. Almonds

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?

making danish rice pudding step by step
making raspberry sauce and risalamande, step by step

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!

Do You Serve Risalamade With Cherry Sauce or Raspberry Sauce?

Great question! Traditional Risalamande is often served with cherry sauce, but some families (like mine!) use raspberry sauce or another red berry sauce (like Lingonberry or even strawberry) instead. You can use either for this recipe!

Risalamande with raspberry sauce in dessert bowls

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!

Make-Ahead Tips:

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.

A bowl of risalamande (Danish rice pudding) with raspberry sauce

🌟 Leave a star review below when you try our Danish Rice Pudding recipe! We can’t wait to hear what you think!

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Danish rice pudding in dessert bowls topped with raspberry sauce

Danish Rice Pudding (Risalamande)


  • Author: Emily Dixon, Sweets & Thank You
  • Total Time: 5 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 cups pudding 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

This traditional Danish Rice Pudding recipe (risalamande) is the perfect holiday dessert. Try it with our easy raspberry sauce or add cherry sauce! 


Ingredients

Scale

For The Rice Pudding Base:

  • 3/4 cup Arborio rice*
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt*
  • 1 cinnamon stick (optional)*
  • 4 cups Whole Milk*
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream*
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

For The Risalamande:

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 Tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 1/41/2 teaspoon almond extract*
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds (ideally blanched almonds), optional*
  • Optional: 1 whole almond* (a whole blanched almond is best!)

For The Raspberry Sauce:

  • 1 (10 oz.) bag frozen raspberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Optional: fresh raspberries, to serve (this is just for looks!)

Instructions

Make The Rice Pudding Base:

  1. Combine arborio rice, sugar, salt and cinnamon stick. Pour in the whole milk and stir to combine.
  2. Simmer & Cook To Thicken. Bring the pudding to a low simmer and cook 40-45 minutes over medium heat, stirring every few minutes to prevent burning or sticking on the bottom of the pan. (If the pudding starts to boil, reduce heat to keep it at a low simmer.) Keep in mind the rice will cook faster and need more attention toward the end of the cook time. The rice pudding should still look loose at this point, since the rice will continue to absorb the milk as it cools. As long as the rice is tender and you’ve cooked it for the 40-45 minutes, trust that it will set up as it cools! 
  3. Finish Pudding. Remove from the heat and stir in 1/4-1/2 cup heavy cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste. 
  4. Chill At Least 4 Hours. Transfer rice pudding to an airtight container, cover, and refrigerate at least 4 hours (up to overnight) to chill completely and to allow the rice to continue absorbing liquid. 

Make The Raspberry Sauce:

  1. Combine. In a medium saucepan, combine raspberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and water. 
  2. Cook. Stir over medium heat until the sauce starts to bubble and thicken. 
  3. Chill. Transfer raspberry sauce to an airtight container and chill in the fridge. (At least 2-3 hours)

Make The Risalamande:

  1. Combine. In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl (glass or metal), combine 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, 3 Tablespoons powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract. 
  2. Whip. With a beater attachment or a hand mixer, whip the cream mixture on medium-high speed 6-8 minutes until it has doubled in volume and stiff peaks form. (The whipped cream will show the path of the beaters as it mixes, and the whipped cream should hold its shape if you dip a spoon into it and rotate it around.) 

Assemble The Pudding. 

  1. Combine. In a large mixing bowl, combine chilled rice pudding base and chopped almonds (if using). Use a spatula to loosen up the pudding a bit (it will be quite thick!) 
  2. Fold In Whipped Cream. Add the whipped cream and gently fold it into the rice pudding mixture, using a spatula to scrape around the edges of the bowl and into the center, repeating until the pudding is lightened in color and texture and evenly combined. 
  3. Hide An Almond. Then, hide a single almond (whole almond) in the pudding. 
  4. Serve. To follow Danish Christmas Eve tradition, serve Risalamande in a large bowl in the center of the table with raspberry sauce and fresh raspberries on the side and eat until someone finds the hidden almond. That person wins a small prize (or at least bragging rights!). Or, you can spoon rice pudding into dessert dishes and top with raspberry sauce and fresh raspberries. 
  5. Store. Leftover Danish rice pudding will keep covered in an airtight container in the refrigerator 2-3 days. 

Notes

  • Arborio Rice. This is the best rice for rice pudding since it’ll hold its shape even with a longer cook time, and it will release starch that helps thicken the pudding as it cooks. 
  • Salt. I’m using kosher salt. If you’re using fine table salt, start with half of the amount. 
  • Cinnamon. A cinnamon stick is optional for a little cinnamon flavor. Don’t substitute ground cinnamon, since it will turn your pudding brown. 
  • Whole Milk. Don’t substitute low fat or fat-free milk here as the pudding won’t have the same flavor texture. 
  • Heavy Cream. This is sometimes called heavy whipping cream or whipping cream. 
  • Vanilla Bean Paste can be a more affordable option for many, but if you’d prefer to use a vanilla bean, split the bean lengthwise, scrape out the black seeds with a sharp knife, and add both the seeds AND the vanilla bean pod to the milk with the cinnamon stick. Remove and discard the vanilla pod when you remove the cinnamon stick. (In Denmark, many people use vanilla sugar for the whipped cream, which isn’t always accessible in the U.S.) 
  • Almonds. If you have nut allergies or people in your group who don’t like almonds, you can also serve them on the side with the raspberry sauce. Then those who want them can add them! Blanched almonds work best since they don’t have dark skins. (Omit both almonds and almond extract for almond allergies)
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Chill Time: 4 hours
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Danish

Keywords: Danish rice pudding recipe, risalamande pudding, risekrem pudding,

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One Comment

  1. I had a lot of this rice pudding this holiday season, and yet I don’t think I’ve had enough! It is so good and I can’t help but want more!
    And it is fun to play the almond game.