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Classic arroz con leche is a Mexican variation of rice pudding that is sweetened with condensed milk and topped with cinnamon.

This delicious Mexican dessert is simple to make and a classic rice pudding recipe. If you love cinnamon and love Mexican sweets, you also won’t be able to resist our Mexican Hot Chocolate or Horchata!

Arroz con leche served in glasses and seasoned with cinnamon.

What is Arroz con Leche?

Arroz con leche was a dessert that my mom grew up on. My great-grandma made it, and I wanted to find a recipe that tasted just like hers.

Fortunately, I did just that and now have introduced this delicious dessert to my own children. But, what is it exactly?

If you’re not familiar with Mexican rice pudding, arroz con leche translates to rice with milk and can include other ingredients like cinnamon and raisins. The dish also has some sort of sweetener, whether it’s sugar or sweetened condensed milk.

This rice can be served warm or cold, but either way you have it, it’s a tapioca-like treat that is delicious. It can also be served as a breakfast dish too!

Cooking rice in a pot with cinnamon.

How to Make Arroz Con Leche

RICE. Combine water, rice, and cinnamon sticks in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, uncovered, and cook for 16–18 minutes.

SEASON. Drain any remaining liquid, remove the cinnamon sticks, and return the rice to the pan over medium-high heat.

SAUCE. Add sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and whole milk. Bring the milk mixture to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring constantly. The milk can easily burn, so it is important to stir constantly as it thickens.

ENJOY! Divide rice among serving cups and sprinkle with cinnamon. Serve warm.

Topping Suggestions

There are lots of toppings you can add to this easy arroz con leche recipe from fruit to nuts. Here are some of our favorites:

  • brown sugar or honey
  • raisins, craisins, or dried fruit
  • nutmeg or cinnamon
  • coconut or chopped nuts

Recipe Tips

Make perfect Mexican sweet rice by starting with the best rice.

Rice. Long-grain white rice works best, brown rice may be used. Jasmine rice or basmati rice are both types of long-grain rice and are great choices for this recipe. For best results, avoid instant rice.

When cooking the rice be sure each piece has time to absorb the milk and becomes a soft and creamy consistency. If all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is not quite done, then add ½ cup water and continue to simmer so that the rice does not come out crunchy.

Make it without sweetened condensed milk. The sweetened condensed milk makes it more rich and creamy, but it can also be omitted. Use a mixture of ¾ cup more milk and ¾ cup sugar instead.

Make it in the slow cooker. We actually have a slow-cooker Rice Pudding on the site. Ingredients aren’t exactly the same, but the taste is very similar.

Variations. Golden and regular raisins are a classic to add to this dish. To use raisins, add them once you are cooking the rice (during the last 20 minutes).

Other additions include some of the toppings we listed above. Various fruits, nuts, and spices will change the recipe and add a bit more flavor.

Storing This Dessert

Make ahead of time. Allow Mexican rice pudding to come to room temperature before pouring it into an airtight container. It will keep in the fridge for 5-6 days.

FREEZE. It can be frozen, but it may not have quite the same texture once it thaws. Leftover rice pudding can be stored in the same manner.

To reheat. We reheat it in a pot and add a bit more cinnamon to the top before serving. If it’s too thick, add a splash of milk when reheating. If you are in hurry you can reheat smaller portions in the microwave.

Arroz con leche aka rice pudding served in glasses with cinnamon sticks.

Recipe FAQ

What type of rice can be used to make arroz con leche?

You’ll want to choose long-grain white rice such as jasmine rice or basmati rice when making arroz con leche. For best results do not use instant rice.

Why is the rice crunchy when I make arroz con leche?

One reason that rice may still be crunchy is that it has not been cooked long enough; another reason is that there was not enough liquid added. If it looks undercooked and dry, add ½ cup water and continue to cook.

For more Sweet Mexican recipes, check out:

5 from 401 votes

Arroz con Leche Recipe

By: Lil’ Luna
Classic arroz con leche is a Mexican variation of rice pudding that is sweetened with condensed milk and topped with cinnamon.
Servings: 10
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Total: 45 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 7 cups water
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ground cinnamon for topping

Instructions 

  • Combine water, rice, and cinnamon sticks in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, uncovered, and cook for 16–18 minutes.
  • Drain any remaining liquid, remove the cinnamon sticks, and return the rice to the pan over medium-high heat. Add sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and whole milk, and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring constantly. The milk can easily burn, so it is important to stir constantly as it thickens.
  • Divide rice among serving cups and sprinkle with cinnamon. Serve warm.

Video

Notes

Make ahead of time. Store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container for a few days. Reheat it in a pot and add a bit more cinnamon to the top before serving.
Variations. For a more intense cinnamon-flavored rice pudding, add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon in Step 2 when adding the milks. You can also add raisins at this point if you wish.
Toppings. Try topping each serving with a sprinkle of brown sugar, nutmeg, or coconut or with a drizzle of honey.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g, Calories: 84kcal, Carbohydrates: 17g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 0.5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 3mg, Sodium: 19mg, Potassium: 62mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 42IU, Vitamin C: 0.03mg, Calcium: 48mg, Iron: 0.2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Mexican
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About Kristyn

My name is Kristyn and I’m the mom of SIX stinkin’ cute kids and the wife to my smokin’ hot hubby, Lo. My mom’s maiden name is Luna, and I’m one of the many crafty “Lil’ Lunas” in the fam. On this site I like to share all things creative - from recipes to home decor to gifts and home decor ideas. Welcome!

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131 Comments

  1. Was so excited to find an easy recipe for this! I followed it exactly, but it came out really soupy. How can I fix this?

    1. It should thicken up quite a bit when it cools (especially if you are serving it cold). However, you can cook it a bit longer too and that will help to thicken it up.

  2. I’ve made this a few times already and it’s perfect. Next week I am making 15 batches of it for a PTO dinner fundraiser. After next week everyone in my very small New Hampshire town will have tasted this rice pudding!

  3. Can you help me understand the first step please. After I combine the ingredients I feel like it takes over ten minutes for it to start boiling, uncovered, on med – high. After it boils then I just keep it boiling for another 16 – 18minutes?
    Or should I be boiling it like on high first. Then uncover it, reduce to med – high and leave it like that for 16 – 18mins?

    1. Yes, I’d say just follow what the instructions say, so cooking the rice on med-high until it boils and then leave uncovered and cook for 16-18 minutes. Hope you enjoy the recipe!!