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Arroz Con Leche (Mexican Rice Pudding)

Simple yet delicious Arroz Con Leche is the comfort food you’ve been waiting for! This popular Mexican dessert is an ultra-creamy version of rice pudding that’s lightly spiced with cinnamon and served either warm or cold. I guarantee you’re going to love it!

Cup of arroz con leche.
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Mexican Rice Pudding

If you’ve ever enjoyed a creamy and sweet arroz con leche recipe before, you know that eating it is basically like being wrapped in a warm cozy sweater. There’s something so comforting about this traditional Spanish and Latin American dessert that is made with rice, milk and sugar!

This recipe is inspired by the famous Mexican rice pudding served at a restaurant I love. I keep the flavorings very simple in my version, just adding a slight hint of cinnamon and vanilla. One of the great things about this dish is that it’s so versatile and you can jazz it up with all kinds of toppings and mix-ins to suit your taste.

Serve it for a weeknight dessert or maybe alongside some other Mexican-inspired recipes as part of a Cinco de Mayo celebration. It is sure to get rave reviews!

Keep reading for some great ideas on how you can customize this recipe to make it your own. I’ll also share some helpful tips along the way!

What is Arroz Con Leche?

Arroz con leche is a traditional sweet and creamy rice pudding dessert that is popular in many Latin American countries and Spain. 

The name translates to ‘rice with milk’ I think of it like a Mexican rice pudding and similar to another Mexican favorite, tres leche cake, it uses three different types of milk to get its rich and creamy texture. 

Recipe Ingredients

You can easily make this comforting dessert with budget-friendly pantry staples which makes it a great dish to whip up anytime!

Arroz con leche ingredients on counter.

Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.

  • Three different types of milk: I use whole milk (2% would also work), one can of evaporated milk, and one can of condensed milk. Evaporated and condensed milks are both concentrated shelf-stable milks so you can keep cans in your cupboard ready to use at a moment’s notice. The condensed milk is what will bring sweetness to the rice.
  • Vanilla: I use Mexican vanilla when I can find it, but regular vanilla extract will also work.
  • Cinnamon sticks: It’s more traditional to use the sticks instead of ground cinnamon as they give the rice a subtle cinnamon flavor and aroma, but you can also substitute ground cinnamon if that’s what you have on hand.
  • White rice: Short-grained white rice will give you the creamiest texture, but any white rice will do.
  • Optional toppings: Raisins, ground cinnamon, brown sugar, or honey are all great options.


If you’re like me, you like to know that you can customize a dessert to make it your own! Once you have this basic recipe for arroz con leche down, you can go ahead and experiment with different mix-ins and toppings. Here are some ideas I think you might like:

  • Coconut: Swap out one cup of milk for one cup of coconut milk to add a sweet coconutty flavor to the dessert. Sprinkle the top with some toasted coconut just before serving.
  • Fruit: Stir in some chopped bananas, mangoes, peaches, or strawberries to give the pudding a fruity burst of flavor. Dried fruit like raisins would also work.
  • Dulce de leche: Here’s another favorite Latin American flavor that goes great with rice pudding. Stir in a spoonful of dulce de leche or caramel sauce to the warm rice just before serving or drizzle some over the top for some added sweetness.
  • Spiced: Give the pudding a warm spicy flavor by adding some ground nutmeg, cardamom, or ginger.
  • Nuts: There’s something about the crunchiness of nuts with the creaminess of the rice that makes a delicious combination! Stir in some chopped almonds, pecans, or pistachios just before serving.
  • Sweet: The condensed milk makes the pudding sweet, but if you want to add a little bit more sweetness, try a drizzle of honey or a sprinkling of brown sugar when serving.

How to Make Arroz Con Leche

The rich creamy texture of this Mexican rice pudding makes it seem like this dessert would take ages to make, but it’s actually a very quick and simple one. You do want to make sure that you stir the rice frequently, so don’t walk away from it while it’s cooking, but a few minutes of stirring is totally worth it!

Showing how to make arroz con leche in a 6 step collage.
  1. Heat the milk. In a medium saucepan, stir together the milk, evaporated milk, condensed milk, and vanilla and heat over medium until warm.
  2. Boil the water. Get the water ready for cooking the rice by adding it to a large pot along with the cinnamon sticks and salt and bringing it all to a boil over medium-high heat.
  3. Cook the rice. We’re using the stovetop method for cooking rice, so simply pour the rice into the water, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook uncovered for about 15 minutes. Make sure you give it a couple of stirs as it cooks to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of your pot.
  4. Combine the milk and rice. Slowly stir the milk mixture into the rice and reduce the heat to low.
  5. Simmer. Leave the pot uncovered and simmer for about 20-30 minutes. Continue to stir the rice frequently so it doesn’t burn. Remove the pot from the heat and don’t forget to remove the cinnamon sticks.
  6. Rest. Let the rice pudding sit for 10 minutes before serving. It will thicken up slightly as it rests. You can serve it either warm or cold and remember to add your favorite toppings!

Expert Tips

  • A heavy-bottomed pot is the best option for cooking arroz con leche. Because of the dairy content, it can easily burn, so you’ll want to use a thick pot to ensure even cooking.
  • Don’t overcook the rice. Cook it until it’s cooked through but it’s still slightly firm when you bite on it. If you overcook the rice, it will turn mushy and will affect the overall texture of your dessert.
  • Add the milk slowly into the rice and stir it constantly to help develop a creamy consistency and to prevent everything from sticking.
  • If your pudding is too thick, stir in a splash of milk to help loosen it. If your pudding is too thin, let it sit off the heat to thicken up, or store it in the refrigerator for a few hours.
Arroz con leche cooking in a pot.

Recipe FAQs

What is the best rice to use?

I use white rice when making any rice pudding dish. Arborio, or Calrose are types of short-grain white rice that will give you the creamiest consistency. If you can find either of those, give them a try, but any white rice will do, including long-grain.

Can you make this dish with brown rice?

I haven’t tried it, but I don’t think brown rice would be the best choice for making arroz con leche. The texture is chewier than white rice which might make it harder to get a creamy texture. Plus, it takes a lot longer to cook than white rice.

How do I prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot?

Cook your rice in a heavy-bottomed pot to help prevent burning and remember to stir the mixture occasionally while it’s cooking to prevent it from sticking.

Can this dish be made ahead of time?

Yes, arroz con leche can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve it. It can be safely stored for up to 4 days. For the best results, store the rice without the toppings and only add them when you’re ready to serve. You may want to add in more milk to soften it.

Can arroz con leche be frozen?

Technically, you can freeze it, but since you’re freezing dairy, it might change the texture. If you plan to freeze it, make sure you store it in an airtight freezer-safe container and then let it thaw in the refrigerator before reheating it.

Serving Suggestions

Of course, arroz con leche makes the perfect dessert or breakfast all on its own, but if it’s a special occasion and you want to create more of a Mexican-themed dessert spread, it would be delicious paired with some homemade churros. Just add some fresh fruit like sliced bananas and mangoes and you’ll have an amazing sweet feast!

As for drinks, this cool and refreshing horchata recipe would be perfect or you can never go wrong with a strong cup of hot coffee (or iced coffee if you prefer!).

Storing + Reheating

Store any leftover rice in an airtight container as soon as possible after serving. Make sure you let the leftovers cool down to room temperature before transferring them to the container and storing them. They’ll keep nicely in the fridge for up to 4 days.

I suggest storing the rice without the toppings and only adding them when you’re ready to serve the dish. This way your fruit will stay fresh and your nuts will remain crunchy.

You can serve the leftovers warm or cold depending on how you like them.

How to Reheat

There are a few options for reheating your rice pudding depending on your preference. It will probably have thickened up a bit in the fridge, so you can stir in a splash of milk to loosen it while reheating.

Microwaving in a microwave-safe bowl in 30-second increments is the quickest option and is perfect for reheating individual portions.

You can also put the rice in a saucepan on the stovetop over low heat and warm it for a few minutes. Make sure you stir it frequently to prevent the rice from sticking to the pot.

The oven method is good to use when you’re reheating a larger amount of rice. Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C) and put the rice in an oven-safe dish and cover it with aluminum foil. Heat the rice for 10 – 15 minutes until it’s warmed through.

Arroz con leche in a glass cup.

Looking for more fun pudding recipes? Try my bread pudding with a homemade bread pudding sauce or the best banana pudding recipe.

More Mexican inspired desserts

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Arroz con leche in a glass cup.

Arroz Con Leche (Mexican Rice Pudding)

5 from 6 votes
↑ Click stars to rate now!
Author: Jamielyn Nye
Simple yet delicious Arroz Con Leche is the comfort food you’ve been waiting for! This popular Mexican dessert is an ultra-creamy version of rice pudding that’s lightly spiced with cinnamon and served either warm or cold. I guarantee you’re going to love it!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Rest Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 8



  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup white rice , rinsed well
  • 2-3 sticks cinnamon
  • pinch fine sea salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 (12-ounce) can condensed milk
  • ½ teaspoon Mexican vanilla , or vanilla extract

Optional toppings: Raisins, Ground cinnamon or cinnamon sugar, Brown sugar, or Honey


    • In a large pot, add the water, cinnamon sticks, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in the rice and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook uncovered for 15 minutes, or until the rice is cooked and water has evaporated. Stir occasionally.
    • In a medium saucepan, stir together the milk, evaporated milk and condensed milk over low heat until warm.
    • Stir the milk mixture into the rice along with the vanilla and reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until the mixture has thickened to your liking. Stir frequently to keep rice from burning. Once thickened remove from heat. Stir in a couple more Tablespoons of milk if you need to thin it down.
    • Let rest 15 minutes and remove cinnamon sticks before serving. Serve warm or cold and add your favorite toppings. I love to add a dusting of cinnamon sugar over the top.


    Serving: If you serve the arroz con leche cold, you may want to mix in a Tablespoon or two of milk, as it will thicken as it cools.
    Cinnamon: Cinnamon sticks are preferred but you can use 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon instead, if needed. If you’d like extra cinnamon flavor, you can add the cinnamon sticks with 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon to the rice while it cooks. 
    Storage: Store leftover rice in an airtight container in the fridge up to 5 days.


    Calories: 318kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 34mg | Sodium: 164mg | Potassium: 409mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 30g | Vitamin A: 317IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 325mg | Iron: 0.4mg

    Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.

    Course: Dessert
    Cuisine: Mexican
    Diet: Gluten Free

    Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!

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