Arroz con leche recipe


This creamy Spanish rice pudding recipe comes from my mother-in-law, Antonia. Her famous arroz con leche recipe is the perfect blend of cinnamon, sugar, and silky Spanish rice. You’ll try it once and be a fan for life!

The Secrets to Antonia’s Arroz con Leche

After watching her make this many times, I think there are a few key things to keep in mind:

  • Always use whole milk
  • Use a cinnamon stick (not cinnamon powder) — except for a dash on the top when finished
  • Don’t skip the pinch of salt (sea salt is best)
  • Add the sugar slowly and taste — if it’s too sweet you can’t go back!
  • Make it slowly – don’t be in a rush. Add the milk little by little and stir, stir, stir! This will make it super creamy.

Key Ingredients

You’ll need to buy Spanish bomba rice (or a similar round, short-grain rice), whole milk, sugar, cinnamon (ground and whole) and a pinch of salt along with some citrus peel gives great flavor.

Ingredient Notes & Substitutions

  • Milk: Whole milk is traditionally used, and I would definitely recommend using a full fat milk for the correct texture and flavor. If you must substitute, I like to use a full fat coconut milk. The flavor will be different but you’ll still get the creamy texture.
  • Sugar: This Spanish rice pudding is sweetened with plain white sugar. You can try other sweeteners without a problem.
  • Lemon Rind: Antonia’s arroz con leche always has a few large pieces of lemon rind in it. Orange rind also gives a lovely flavor.
  • Spices: This classic Spanish arroz con leche recipe uses only cinnamon, but sometimes I add other spices like star anise, clove, and cardamom.

Arroz con Leche: Step by Step

Arroz con leche

Making this rice pudding couldn’t be easier. It’s really only four steps!

Step 1: Cover the rice with either water (or for a more creamy version, with milk) and bring to a simmer along with the cinnamon stick and lemon rind.

Step 2: When the liquid is almost fully absorbed, add more milk to cover the rice again. Keep simmering and stirring, adding more milk every time the rice gets dry.

Step 3: When you’ve added almost the full liter, start to taste the rice. You want it fully cooked, but some people like it a little more firm than others. It’s a matter of preference.

Step 4: When it’s to your liking, take it off the heat. Add a pinch of salt, a dash of cinnamon, and add the sugar little by little until it’s the perfect sweetness for you. Enjoy your pudding warm or chill it in the fridge in small serving dishes for a couple of hours and eat it cold.

Spanish Arroz con Leche Recipe

This creamy Spanish arroz con leche recipe is my mother-in-law’s favorite. It’s Spanish rice pudding done right!


  • 1 cup of short grain rice Arroz Bomba is what I use in Spain but Arborio also works well.
  • 1-2 wide slices of lemon rind
  • 1 stick of cinnamon▢ 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 4 ¼ cups of whole milk (1 liter) you can substitute non-dairy milks if desired
  • Sugar to taste


  • Rinse the rice under cold water and then put it in a saucepan over a medium heat, just barely covered with water (you could also cover it with milk for even creamier arroz con leche).
Arroz con leche
  • Add the cinnamon stick and lemon rind. Stir continually until all of the water is absorbed.
  • Add milk about ½ cup at a time, stirring each time until all is absorbed. Continue adding up to the whole liter of milk, stirring continuously.
  • When is seems creamy enough, taste to make sure the texture of the rice is correct. Some prefer it al dente and others like it very cooked (almost mushy).
  • When it is to your liking, turn off the heat and add a pinch of salt and dash of cinnamon. Then, add the sugar a few tablespoons at a time until it is sweet enough for you. Enjoy warm or let cool.
Arroz con leche
  • Sprinkle a bit more cinnamon on top to decorate!
Arroz con leche


  • Always use whole milk for the best flavor and texture. If you must substitute, use full-fat coconut milk for a different (but equally delicious) version.
  • Use a cinnamon stick (not cinnamon powder) — except for a dash on the top when finished.
  • Don’t skip the pinch of salt (sea salt is best).
  • Add the sugar slowly and taste — if it’s too sweet you can’t go back!
  • Make it slowly – don’t be in a rush. Add the milk little by little and stir, stir, stir! This will make it super creamy.

Recipe Tips & FAQs

What does arroz con leche mean in Spanish?

It literally translates to rice with milk. It’s a common dessert that is enjoyed throughout all of Spain.

What rice is best for arroz con leche?

Bomba rice is the most common rice used for arroz con leche in Spain. It’s the same rice as paella rice — a short-grained rice that absorbs a lot of liquid. You can substitute Arborio rice.

Is arroz con leche from Spain?

Rice puddings are found throughout the world and many people think they may have originated in Asia. In Spain, the Moors brought rice and cinnamon to the Iberian Peninsula. Many Latin American countries also make versions of arroz con leche, often using sweet condensed milk instead of whole milk.

Is arroz con leche served hot or cold?

You can enjoy arroz con leche hot or cold, however in Spain it is most often served chilled for dessert.

More Delicious Spanish Desserts

If you love this traditional arroz con leche recipe, you must try these other classic Spanish desserts!

  • Flan: One of the most popular Spanish desserts, this creamy traditional flan recipe is a family favorite!
  • Crema Catalana: Similar to a creme brulee, crema Catalana is a delicious custard with burnt sugar on top.
  • Basque Cheesecake: The famous La Viña cheesecake recipe the whole world has been talking about!
  • Torrijas: This typical Easter dessert is a delicious cross between French toast and bread pudding.
  • Leche Frita: “Fried milk” is one of my favorite Spanish desserts. It’s a must-try for anyone with a sweet tooth!

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