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Gluten-Free Rice Pudding

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Our gluten-free rice pudding recipe has all the classic flavor and creamy texture you crave. We love this easy, delicious dessert!

glass bowls of gluten-free rice pudding topped with cinnamon sticks

Traditional rice pudding feels like one of the most humble desserts out there. It’s made simply, from pantry staples that don’t cost much, but it’s got a rich and storied history through many cultures and countries. Many countries have a signature spin or variation on this classic treat, but today, I’m making mine American-style.

This gluten-free rice pudding recipe doesn’t require any fancy decorating or pastry skills. If you can stir, you can make rice pudding!

But don’t be fooled! Even though the ingredients list might look basic, there’s a lot to love about this creamy rice pudding recipe.

Let’s make a batch! Here’s all you need to get started next time a craving hits…

ingredients for gluten-free rice pudding

Simple Ingredients For Gluten-Free Rice Pudding

Part of what’s so great about this traditional recipe is how simple and inexpensive the ingredients can be. The basic ingredients are:

  • UNCOOKED Arborio Rice. This plump, short-grain rice is perfect for rice pudding or risotto because it releases starch as it cooks, which helps thicken the pudding, but it still maintains its texture. I highly recommend it.
  • Sugar. Regular granulated sugar (white sugar) adds a touch of sweetness. (Keep in mind that rice pudding tastes more subtly sweet than, say, chocolate pudding!)
  • Salt. Always! A tiny bit of salt helps balance the flavors.
  • Cinnamon Stick. For a kiss of cinnamon flavor. (Feel free to leave this out if you prefer!)
  • Whole Milk. Now is a time to use whole milk! Don’t substitute low-fat or fat-free milk here, please. The pudding won’t have the same thickness or flavor, and can come out a bit watery.
  • Vanilla Bean Paste or Vanilla Bean. While vanilla beans will be the most elegant and give you the strongest vanilla flavor, they’re not always easily accessible or affordable. Vanilla bean paste is a great option for still getting those pretty vanilla flecks and delicious vanilla flavor, but you can check out our Types of Vanilla post to get more info on swaps and substitutions!
  • Heavy Cream. Again, don’t skip it! That little extra richness at the end makes ALL the difference in the texture of this delicious rice pudding!

Is Rice Pudding Made With Cooked Rice or Uncooked Rice?

There are recipes for both out there, but my recipe below calls for uncooked rice (raw rice). It will not work the same if you use cooked rice. Always follow what your recipe calls for!

making gluten-free rice pudding, step by step

How To Make Homemade Rice Pudding, Step By Step

  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. 
  5. Stir & Serve. When you’re ready to serve, stir the pudding, and spoon into dessert cups. If desired, you can let the pudding come to room temperature before serving, though I prefer it cold! 
  6. Store leftover rice pudding in an airtight container up to 3-4 days. 
gluten-free rice pudding with raspberry sauce and pistachios

Variations & Twists To Try

Now that you know how to make basic rice pudding, let’s talk about variations, toppings, and mix-ins! Here are a few delicious ways to change up this simple dessert:

  • Top With Berries or Berry Sauce. Fresh berries are delicious next to rice pudding. Raspberries, raspberry sauce, or cherry sauce are common, but feel free to try strawberry sauce, mixed berries, blueberries, and more!
  • Add Raisins. Probably the most classic rice pudding mix-in! You can add the raisins at the end, or add some on top of each serving.
  • Add Chopped Nuts. Chopped, toasted almonds or pistachios are a common addition to rice pudding! The nutty crunch is lovely next to the creamy pudding.
  • Use A Vanilla Bean. An elegant, delicious upgrade! 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 pod when you remove the cinnamon stick.
  • Add Almond Extract. I little kiss of almond extract goes a long way!
  • Fold In Whipped Cream. To mimic the texture of Danish rice pudding or Norwegian rice pudding, try folding in some whipped cream!
  • Fold In Mascarpone Cheese. A luscious, rich addition that’s lovely with a little extra vanilla bean paste or a little orange zest.
glass bowls of gluten-free rice pudding topped with cinnamon sticks

FAQ + Tips And Tricks For The BEst Gluten-Free Rice Pudding

Watch The Temperature! It’s tempting to crank the heat up to try to coax the rice to cook faster, but DON’T DO IT. The low and slow method will help thicken the pudding (more stirring = creamier pudding), give you the best texture for your rice, and prevent milk from separating.

How To Store Rice Pudding. My family always FLIES through a batch of rice pudding, but if you have leftovers (lucky!), just store them in an airtight container in the fridge 3-4 days.

Can You Freeze Rice Pudding? Yes, though I find it’s best eaten fresh. To freeze rice pudding, transfer cooled pudding to freezer bags or a freezer-safe container and store in the freezer up to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge before eating for best results. Keep in mind the rice will soften and the milk may slightly separate upon thawing. Just give it a good stir before serving!

Do You Eat Rice Pudding Warm Or Cold? You can eat this comforting dessert warm, cold, or room temperature, but my preference is cold rice pudding.

Use The Right Rice

I always recommend arborio rice (sometimes called risotto rice) for rice pudding. It maintains its plump texture and releases starch which helps thicken the pudding as it cooks. You will not get the same results with another type of rice. I don’t recommend brown rice, long-grain rice, basmati rice, or sushi rice here.

glass bowls of gluten-free rice pudding topped with cinnamon sticks

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glass bowls of gluten-free rice pudding topped with cinnamon sticks

Gluten-Free Rice Pudding


  • Author: Emily Dixon, Sweets & Thank You
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 4 cups pudding 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Our gluten-free rice pudding recipe has all the classic flavor and creamy texture you crave. We love this easy, delicious dessert!


Ingredients

Scale

For The Rice Pudding:

  • 1/2 cup uncooked arborio rice*
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt*
  • 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
  • 3 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/41/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste*

Optional Toppings: 

  • Raisins, chopped almonds, fresh berries or berry sauce/cherry sauce, chopped pistachios, or whipped cream. 

Instructions

  1. Combine arborio rice, sugar, salt and cinnamon stick in a large saucepan. 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-low 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 mixture 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. 
  5. Stir & Serve. When you’re ready to serve, stir the pudding, and spoon into dessert cups. If desired, you can let the pudding come to room temperature before serving, though I prefer it cold! 
  6. Store leftover rice pudding in an airtight container up to 3-4 days. 

Notes

  • Arborio Rice. This plump, short-grain rice is perfect for rice pudding or risotto because it releases starch as it cooks, which helps thicken the pudding, but it still maintains its texture. (You will not get the same results with another type of rice.) This recipe will NOT work with cooked rice. 
  • Salt. I’m using kosher salt, but if you’re using fine table salt, you’ll want to start with half of the amount.
  • Cinnamon. A cinnamon stick helps infuse cinnamon flavor into the pudding without changing the color. If you can’t find cinnamon sticks, you can add a little ground cinnamon, to taste. But keep in mind, it will color the pudding slightly more brown.
  • Vanilla. 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 pod when you remove the cinnamon stick.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: gluten free rice pudding, gluten free rice pudding recipe

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