Arroz con Leche I Recipe from Spain | Milk, Arborio Rice, Sugar, and Cinnamon

Arroz con Leche I

Arroz con Leche I Recipe from Spain | Milk, Arborio Rice, Sugar, and Cinnamon
Region / culture: Spain | Preparation time: 10 minutes | Cooking time: 40 minutes | Servings: 4


Arroz con Leche I
Arroz con Leche I

Arroz con Leche, a comforting and traditional dessert found in many cultures around the world, is essentially rice pudding flavored with cinnamon and lemon. This creamy, sweet dish is a favorite among both children and adults, making it a versatile dessert for any occasion. Whether served warm in the winter for a cozy night in or chilled during the summer months for a refreshing treat, Arroz con Leche is a timeless classic that brings a touch of nostalgia and warmth to the table.


The origins of Arroz con Leche can be traced back to the Moors during their occupation of Spain. The recipe has since traveled across the globe, adapting to the tastes and available ingredients of various cultures. In Latin America, it became a staple, with each country adding its unique twist. From the use of condensed milk for a richer flavor to the incorporation of raisins and other spices, Arroz con Leche has evolved while maintaining its comforting essence.


How to prepare

  1. In a saucepan or pot, combine the water, rice, cinnamon stick, lemon zest, salt, and sugar. Bring to a boil.
  2. Once boiling, reduce the heat, cover, and let it simmer until most of the water is absorbed. Check frequently to avoid burning.
  3. When most of the water has been absorbed, add the milk and continue cooking until the rice is very tender and has absorbed the liquid.
  4. Stir the mixture until it becomes creamy in texture.
  5. If needed, add a little more milk (whole fat).
  6. Remove the cinnamon stick.
  7. Serve the arroz con leche warm or chilled. Garnish with cinnamon powder on top and place cinnamon sticks on the side.


  • There are countless variations of Arroz con Leche. Some popular ones include adding coconut milk for a tropical twist, incorporating chocolate or cocoa powder for a chocolate version, or mixing in raisins soaked in rum for added texture and flavor.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

To achieve the perfect creamy texture, it's essential to use short-grain rice, which releases more starch than long-grain varieties. Stirring the mixture frequently as it cooks prevents the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan and ensures an even, smooth consistency. For those who prefer a richer flavor, substituting some of the milk with condensed milk can add depth and sweetness.

Serving Suggestions

Arroz con Leche can be served either warm or chilled, depending on preference. For a festive touch, garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon or a few thin slices of lemon zest. Serving it in individual bowls or glasses can make for an elegant presentation.

Cooking Techniques

The key to cooking Arroz con Leche lies in the slow simmering process, which allows the rice to become tender and the mixture to thicken to the right consistency. Using a heavy-bottomed pot can help distribute heat evenly and prevent burning.

Ingredient Substitutions

For a dairy-free version, substitute the milk with almond, coconut, or soy milk. If you're looking to reduce the sugar content, consider using a sugar substitute or reducing the amount of sugar and adding vanilla extract for natural sweetness.

Make Ahead Tips

Arroz con Leche can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To refresh the texture, add a little milk when reheating and stir well to restore its creamy consistency.

Presentation Ideas

For an elegant presentation, serve Arroz con Leche in clear glasses layered with fruit compote or caramel sauce. Garnishing with a cinnamon stick or a dusting of ground cinnamon can add a visually appealing and aromatic touch.

Pairing Recommendations

Arroz con Leche pairs beautifully with a variety of beverages, including coffee, tea, or a sweet dessert wine. For a non-alcoholic option, consider serving it with a spiced apple cider or a cinnamon-infused hot chocolate.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Store leftover Arroz con Leche in an airtight container in the refrigerator. To reheat, gently warm it on the stove over low heat, adding a splash of milk to thin it if necessary. Avoid microwaving, as this can cause the rice to become too soft.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

A serving of Arroz con Leche typically contains between 200-300 calories, making it a relatively indulgent dessert option. The exact calorie count can vary based on the type of milk and the amount of sugar used.


A serving of Arroz con Leche is primarily a source of carbohydrates, with the rice and sugar contributing to the majority of its carb content. A typical serving contains approximately 45-60 grams of carbohydrates, making it a high-energy dessert option.


The fat content in Arroz con Leche largely depends on the type of milk used. Whole milk will contribute a higher fat content, with a serving containing around 5-10 grams of fat. Using skim or low-fat milk can reduce the fat content significantly.


Arroz con Leche provides a modest amount of protein, primarily from the milk. A serving can contain between 4-8 grams of protein, depending on the milk's fat content and whether any additional dairy products are used.

Vitamins and minerals

This dessert is a good source of calcium and vitamin D if fortified milk is used. It also contains small amounts of other vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12, potassium, and magnesium, contributing to its nutritional profile.


The primary allergens in Arroz con Leche include dairy and, in some variations, nuts or gluten, depending on the garnishes or additional ingredients used. It's important for individuals with food allergies to be aware of these potential allergens.


Overall, Arroz con Leche is a comforting dessert that provides energy primarily through carbohydrates. While it does contain some protein and essential nutrients, it's also relatively high in sugar and can be high in fat depending on the milk used. Enjoying it in moderation can make it a delightful addition to a balanced diet.


Arroz con Leche is a versatile and beloved dessert that combines the simple flavors of rice, milk, and cinnamon into a comforting dish. With its rich history and the ability to adapt to various dietary needs and flavor preferences, it's a timeless classic that can be enjoyed in many forms. Whether you stick to the traditional recipe or experiment with your own variations, Arroz con Leche is sure to bring warmth and sweetness to any meal.

How did I get this recipe?

I can't forget the moment I stumbled upon this recipe for Arroz con Leche. It was during one of my travels to Mexico, a country known for its vibrant culture and delicious cuisine. I had always been fascinated by the way Mexican grandmothers cooked with such love and passion, passing down their recipes from generation to generation.

I remember walking down the bustling streets of Mexico City, surrounded by the sights and sounds of the bustling market. The air was filled with the mouth-watering aroma of spices and freshly cooked foods. As I wandered through the market, I came across a small stall where an elderly woman was selling homemade desserts.

Curious, I approached the stall and struck up a conversation with the woman. She was warm and welcoming, with a twinkle in her eye as she talked about her love for cooking. I couldn't resist asking her about her favorite dessert recipe, and that's when she mentioned Arroz con Leche.

She explained that Arroz con Leche was a traditional Mexican dessert made with rice, milk, sugar, and cinnamon. It was a simple yet comforting dish that reminded her of her childhood. Intrigued, I asked her if she would be willing to share the recipe with me.

With a smile, she nodded and invited me to her home the following day. As we sat in her cozy kitchen, she began to walk me through the steps of making Arroz con Leche. She started by rinsing the rice and cooking it in a pot with milk, sugar, and a stick of cinnamon. The aroma that wafted through the kitchen was heavenly, filling me with a sense of nostalgia.

As the rice cooked, she shared stories of her own grandmother, who had taught her how to make Arroz con Leche when she was just a little girl. She spoke of the love and care that went into preparing the dish, and how it brought her family together around the dinner table.

I watched intently as she stirred the rice, the milk slowly thickening and taking on a creamy consistency. Once the rice was tender and the mixture had thickened, she removed the pot from the heat and let it cool slightly. Then, she added a sprinkle of cinnamon on top for that final touch of flavor.

As we sat down to enjoy the dessert together, I took my first bite of the creamy Arroz con Leche. It was warm and comforting, with a hint of sweetness and a subtle spiciness from the cinnamon. I closed my eyes and savored the moment, feeling grateful for the opportunity to learn this recipe from such a kind and generous woman.

From that day on, Arroz con Leche became a staple in my own kitchen. Whenever I made it, I would think back to that afternoon in Mexico City, and the memories of the kind woman who had shared her recipe with me. I realized then that food was more than just nourishment – it was a way to connect with others, to share stories and traditions, and to create lasting memories.

And so, whenever I make Arroz con Leche for my own family and friends, I do so with the same love and care that was passed down to me. I may not be a Mexican grandmother, but I am proud to carry on the tradition of this delicious dessert, knowing that it brings joy and comfort to those who enjoy it.

In the end, I am grateful for that chance encounter in the bustling market of Mexico City, and for the precious gift of a recipe that has brought so much warmth and happiness into my life. Cooking has always been a way for me to express my love and creativity, and Arroz con Leche is just one example of how a simple dish can hold so much meaning and nostalgia.


| Rice Pudding Recipes | Spanish Desserts | Spanish Recipes |

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