Don’t sleep on this creamy cardamom rice pudding – it’s absolutely delicious! Made on the stovetop with just five ingredients, this is one of my favorite desserts when I want something light but cozy. It’s one of my go-to desserts to make for guests, holidays, or Sunday dinners!

Two glass bowls of cardamom rice pudding with strawberry compote on a white counter next to a jar of jam, spoons, cardamom pods, and white blossoms.

If there’s one dessert in this world that I think is underrated, it’s rice pudding. I feel like there’s this idea that it’s grandma-ish, as if that has ever been a bad thing? Like, what better excuse to break out our grandma’s vintage teacups to eat pudding out of one and drink bourbon out of another?

And of course, we’re adding cardamom because what else? As you may have noticed in my orange cardamom crème brûlée and Cardamom Cake with Coffee Buttercream, it’s my favorite spice to add a special touch to desserts without any extra work.

This rice pudding with cardamom is ridiculously creamy with a hint of spice, a dose of vanilla, and lovely chewy texture thanks to the rice. It’s the perfect vehicle for any kind of topping you like, and it’s absolutely one of my go-to desserts for guests. Simple and unexpected. Let’s make it!

Why you’ll love this pudding

I was first introduced to rice pudding in the form of Kozy Shack when I was a kid and immediately became obsessed. But, it wasn’t until I went to pastry school until I learned how easy the homemade version is!

  • This recipe is simple and made with pantry staples.
  • It’s made on the stovetop in just one pot.
  • Serve it with any toppings you like!
  • Make it for guests or just as a quick, cozy dessert for any occasion.

Ingredient List

Wood and white bowls of rice, sugar, milk, cardamom, and salt on a white counter next to a bottle of vanilla bean paste.

Stovetop rice pudding is made with five ingredients (ok, six if you include salt) and you probably already have most of them in your pantry! You’ll need:

  • Milk – whole milk is my choice for a thick pudding. Lower fat varieties don’t set as well and may make for a thin pudding.
  • Sugar – just a touch of regular white sugar will add a hint of sweetness to this recipe without overpowering the dish.
  • Kosher salt – as with all desserts, I add a pinch of Kosher salt to balance the sweetness and add extra flavor.
  • Cardamom – freshly-ground tastes best but pre-ground will also work. The cardamom will add a light floral spice.
  • Rice – I usually go with plain ol’ long-grain white rice because it still has a bit of a bite after it’s cooked. But, the pudding stays nice and creamy!
  • Vanilla – my new obsession is vanilla bean paste because it adds so much vanilla flavor. But of course, extract is totally fine as well!

Let’s make pudding!

Three steps to making custard. In photo 1, a hand is pouring sugar into a pot of milk on a white counter. In photo 2, the hand is pouring spices into the milk. In photo 3, a hand is pouring rice into the milk.
  1. First, add the whole milk to a medium saucepan.
  2. Then, add the sugar, salt, cardamom, and rice.
  3. Set the pot over medium-low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves.
Steps to making custard; in photo 1, a hand uses a wood spoon to stir milk in a pot on a white counter. In photo 2, a hand is spooning the custard over the pot. In photo 3, the hand is mixing vanilla paste into the custard.
  1. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer, stirring often to prevent the pudding from burning or sticking.
  2. Cook the pudding for 50-55 minutes until the rice is tender and the pudding is the consistency of yogurt.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and add the vanilla bean extract.
  4. Serve the pudding warm, or let it come to room temperature and chill in the refrigerator. Serve with any of your favorite toppings!

Storing, reheating, & make-ahead

To store leftover rice pudding, let it cool at room temperature for about 30 minutes so it’s not piping hot. Then, store it in an airtight container and refrigerate for 3-4 days.

To reheat the pudding, you have a couple of options. For small portions, just reheat it in a heat-proof bowl in the microwave for about 30-60 seconds. Add a splash of milk if the pudding is too thick. For larger portions, spoon the pudding into a saucepan and add a splash of milk. Heat over low, stirring constantly, until the pudding is heated through. Add more milk, if necessary.

This pudding is also a great make-ahead dessert! I prefer to make it either the night before or morning-of the day I want to serve this recipe. It can be served chilled or reheated using the instructions above. If the pudding thickens too much in the fridge, just stir in a splash of whole milk before serving!

Serving ideas

This rice pudding with cardamom is honestly great on its own, but you can also make it a little fancier with toppings! A few of my favorites:

  • Sauces – strawberry compote is my go-to but lemon curd, chocolate sauce, or salted caramel are also delicious!
  • Fruit – I love strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries, or peaches.
  • Spices – a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg goes amazingly with the cardamom.
  • Nuts – try toasted pistachios, walnuts, pecans, or almonds.
  • Dried fruit – coconut is my favorite, but you could also add raisins if you like a more traditional rice pudding!
Two glass dishes of cardamom rice pudding with strawberries next to cardamom pods, a jar of jam, spoons, and white blossoms on a white counter.

Ingredient Variations

  • Milk – I have not tried a dairy-free version. But, since the starch from the rice thickens this pudding, I imagine that creamy oat milk or full-fat coconut milk would also work.
  • Rice – if you don’t have long-grain white rice, you can always use short-grain instead.
  • Cardamom – if you don’t have cardamom, try another warm spice. Cinnamon, nutmeg, or even apple pie spice would be great too!

Recipe tips

  • Cook the pudding low and slow. Otherwise, the milk will evaporate and the rice won’t cook. This recipe will take about 50-55 minutes before the rice cooks and the milk thickens into pudding.
  • Stir the pudding very often to prevent the milk from burning and the rice from sticking.
  • The pudding will thicken more as it cools. Let it simmer until it’s the consistency of yogurt and once it’s chilled, it will be perfect.
  • Add milk to thin the pudding if it’s a little too thick. Just stir in a splash of milk and it’ll be good to go!

Common Questions

What is the best rice to use?

Personally, I like long-grain white rice because it has just a bit of a bite when it’s fully cooked. For extra creamy pudding, use short-grain white rice. Some recipes call for arborio, but I’m personally not a fan. The flavor was a little too intense and overpowered the cardamom flavor. Also, I would avoid brown rice, it’s too firm for this pudding.

Can I use other types of milk?

I personally haven’t tried alternative milks. But, since we’re using the starch in the rice to thicken this pudding (rather than eggs), I think creamy oat milk or full-fat coconut milk would be fine!

Is this recipe freezer-friendly?

Honestly, I do not recommend freezing this rice pudding. Since pudding has a lot of water in it, it will affect the creamy texture and thin out the pudding once it defrosts.

Can I halve this pudding?

Yes! For small-batch stovetop rice pudding, just halve this recipe. Make sure to cook it low-and-slow at a gentle simmer so the rice cooks properly!

Two glass dishes of cardamom rice pudding with strawberries next to jam, spoons, cardamom pods, and white flowers on a white table.

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Creamy Cardamom Rice Pudding

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
This cardamom rice pudding is absolutely delicious! It's made on the stovetop with just five ingredients for a simple, light, and cozy dessert. This pudding is one of my go-tos to make for guests, holidays, or Sunday dinners!

Ingredients

  • 5 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (more or less, to taste)
  • 1/2 cup uncooked white rice (long or short-grain)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)

Equipment

  • Medium saucepan

Instructions 

  • Combine the milk, sugar, salt, cardamom, and rice in a medium saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil over medium-low heat, stirring to prevent burning.
  • Then, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring very often, until the rice is tender and the pudding is the consistency of yogurt, about 50-55 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla bean paste or extract.
  • Serve the pudding warm, or let it cool and store it in an airtight container. Refrigerate until chilled and serve with any of your favorite toppings.

Notes

For pudding with a bit of a bite, use long-grain white rice. For extra creamy pudding, use short-grain.
Cardamom is strong, especially when freshly-ground. If you want a more subtle flavor, start with 1/4 teaspoon and add more to taste. You can also use cinnamon, nutmeg, or pumpkin spice.
Make sure to keep the milk at a gentle simmer or the milk will evaporate before the rice finishes cooking.
If the finished pudding is too thick, stir in a splash of milk to thin it to your desired texture.
Cuisine: American
Course: Dessert
Serving: 1serving, Calories: 318kcal, Carbohydrates: 45.1g, Protein: 11.5g, Fat: 10.1g, Saturated Fat: 5.7g, Cholesterol: 31mg, Sodium: 414mg, Potassium: 467mg, Fiber: 0.4g, Sugar: 28.7g, Calcium: 352mg, Iron: 1mg
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xo Sara Lynn

Song of the day – Dearly Departed by Shakey Graves