Rice pudding is the ultimate comfort food and incredibly simple to make from scratch. There are endless variations and you can add flavoring to the base pudding mixture as well, but here’s our favorite basic rice pudding recipe, plus a few tips.

From what type of rice to use to how to make it vegan, and what to put it in for extra flavor and texture, you’ll be all set to make the best rice pudding of your life.

You can use virtually any kind of rice, including brown rice or black rice (they’ll just take longer to cook and will have a firmer texture), but white rice is most common. Medium- and long-grain rice (like jasmine or basmati, respectively) will give you great results, but short-grain or sticky rice will be even creamier. You can even use risotto rice like arborio or carnaroli for an extra thick and creamy pudding.

Just don’t use instant rice or parboiled rice for rice pudding.

Full-fat coconut milk makes a perfectly luscious rice pudding (and one that’s well suited to the addition of tropical fruit like mango), but you can use other plant-based milk as well.

Yep! Leftover cooked rice is not only perfect for fried rice, it’s also great for rice pudding. Just cook it on low heat with the milk, sugar, and other add-ins until it’s warm, creamy, and thickened to your liking. Some such recipes also include eggs to help thicken the pudding, but we don’t think they’re necessary.

Here’s a super basic version that you can memorize and riff on as you please.

  • Medium saucepan
  • Wooden or silicone spoon
  • Quart of whole milk
  • Cup of uncooked white long-grain, white short-grain, or Arborio rice
  • Handful of granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Optional: a quarter teaspoon of vanilla or almond extract, chopped nuts, dried fruit, a dash of nutmeg, cinnamon, brown sugar, honey, or any combination of these

1. Pour a quart of whole milk into a medium saucepan. You can substitute 2% for a healthier version, or add some half-and-half or cream to make it creamier, or use coconut milk for a vegan version.

2. Stir in a full cup of uncooked white long-grain, white short-grain, or arborio rice; a handful of granulated sugar; a pinch of salt; and any additional flavorings. Try a quarter teaspoon of vanilla or almond extract, some brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, or agave syrup. To make a chocolate rice pudding, stir in some cocoa powder or even add some Hershey’s chocolate syrup.

3. Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring the mixture almost to a boil. It will start to steam right before it comes to the boil and that is a good indicator that you should turn the heat down.

4. Reduce the heat to low and let the pudding simmer, uncovered, and stir occasionally for about 20 minutes. Cook until all the milk is absorbed, and the rice is fully cooked through.

5. Next, stir in the add-ins. Raisins, dried cranberries, blueberries, or even chocolate chips are all good choices. Make sure the add-ins are evenly distributed and serve.

Rice pudding can be served warm, or chilled after a few hours in the refrigerator. Pour into individual ramekins or serve as one big pudding in a large bowl. Top with some whipped cream or a few fresh berries for a delightful dessert.

Here are some more options for making this cozy, creamy dessert:

Stovetop rice pudding is already easy, but if you want an even more laid-back method, make it in the slow cooker. This is also a great way to feed a crowd. Get our Crock Pot Rice Pudding recipe.

Long-grain basmati rice retains a firmer texture yet coconut milk still makes this a creamy pudding; the rice also adds another aromatic layer of flavor to the dish. Get our Coconut Milk Basmati Rice Pudding recipe.

Sticky rice and evaporated milk combine for a deliciously rich pudding; bittersweet chocolate tempers the sugar rush. Get our Champorado Filipino Rice Pudding recipe.

Typically used for risotto, arborio rice also makes great rice pudding if you like yours extra creamy. Serving broiled plums on top is a nice sweet-tart contrast, but any cooked fruit will work. Get our Creamy Arborio Rice Pudding with Broiled Plums recipe.