creamy rice pudding

How to Make Rice Pudding like the French – Riz au lait!

When my Frenchman asked me to make rice pudding years ago, it was a no-brainer. I remembered what my Scottish Granny and Mum had done: rained in some rice into a pint of milk, added sugar, cinnamon, sultanas and nutmeg, dotted it with butter and baked it slowly until a caramelised rice pudding emerged with a film of buttery, bubbled skin.

We ate it warm from the oven as the reassuring aromas of cinnamon wafted around the kitchen. This was comfort food at its best, my Madeleine de Proust; that feeling of drifting back for a fleeting moment, remembering Grandpa supping his rice pudding using an oversized spoon, as Agnes poured him more of the coveted extra cream from the top of the milk around the enormous bowl’s rim.

best baked rice pudding easy recipe

Carmelised rice pudding as Granny used to make in Scotland

Suddenly the bubble burst. “Your rice pudding is so different to my Mum’s. She didn’t have skin on it; I remember vanilla rather than cinnamon, and we didn’t eat it warm like this,” gently prodded my Frenchman. My baked rice pudding wasn’t sexy.

It was time to do some homework. I looked up Granny’s ‘Black Book’, full of her children’s scrawls, splatters and notes for different Scottish sweet recipes ranging from neighbours such as Mrs Patterson to the Jimmy Young Show’s dictations from the radio. Nothing. No rice pudding. As Grandpa ate it just about every third day there was no need for Agnes to write it down.

I did discover that, in the north, the French also bake their rice pudding. In Normandy they make a slow-baked Terrinée, Beurgoule or Teurgoule not unlike this, although they add another half litre of milk and bake at 80°C for 6 hours.

Baked Rice Pudding Recipe: In a buttered gratin dish, rain in 100g short grain rice into 1 litre whole milk, add 80g sugar, a cinnamon stick & 50g sultanas. Dot with 40g butter and top with freshly grated nutmeg. Bake uncovered at 110°C for 2 hours.

baked rice pudding with toasted skin from the oven

How do I look? Am I a skinny rice pudding, then?

It was time to make a different, extra creamy rice pudding or ‘riz au lait’ (reeh-oh-lay.) Bathed in a vanilla milk, showered with freshly grated nutmeg and eaten chilled. Personally, I prefer it at room temperature and can’t resist sneaking a bowl of it before placing the rest in the fridge once it’s cool. After a few trials, here’s my riz au lait; tried, tested and approved by my adorable French hubby pampered person.
Just don’t tell his Mum.

Creamy rice pudding with dried fruits and egg yolks

How can you make a rice pudding look sexy when it’s not even skinny?

Creamy Riz au Lait Rice Pudding Recipe

Serves 4

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes

100g pudding/short-grain rice
500ml whole milk
1 vanilla pod (or cinnamon stick)*
80g chopped dried fruit (sultanas, apricots)
50g (25+25) light brown sugar
2 egg yolks
20g butter (optional)
pinch of finely grated nutmeg

* or use 1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Fill a large saucepan with water. Add the rice and bring to the boil. Once boiling, cook for a couple of minutes then drain the rice in a sieve or colander.

2. Pour the milk (whole, full milk for best creaminess) into the large saucepan.  Split the vanilla pod down the middle,  scrape out the seeds and add to the milk (or add vanilla extract/cinnamon stick) with 25g of the sugar. Rain in the rice and simmer gently for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to that no skin forms on the milk.

3. Add the chopped fruits. Continue to stir now and again as it heats gently for about another 10 minutes. Check that the rice is cooked but not mushy.

4. In a bowl, whisk together the yolks with the rest of the sugar and grated nutmeg until it’s light and creamy. Add the hot rice (and butter, if using – this just adds a little extra creamy luxury) and mix well. Ensure you take this off the heat so not to overheat and curdle the yolks.

Serve at room temperature or once cool, chill in the fridge.  Grate a little nutmeg on top.

Mini French rice pudding creamy desserts

And a wee ‘riz au lait’ for baby bear

As my baby bear, Lucie, doesn’t like drinking milk, this is a great way for her to fill up on calcium. And as an obsessed macaron maker, macaronivores will love this recipe to use up more yolks!

creamy rice pudding

Speaking of macarons, I’ve been caught making them again in the reflection. Are you a macaron addict, too?

40 replies
  1. Charlie
    Charlie says:

    Jill:
    Both of these look delicious, but I am more used to the version you grew up with.
    I do like it creamy though. And Hot!
    I’m going to try your french one, but am tempted to use both the vanilla bean and the cinnamon stick together.

    Reply
  2. denise
    denise says:

    After the yolks are added, should mixture go back on stove to cook? The recipe doesn’t say to cook them and I’m concerned about bacterias.

    Reply
    • Jill Colonna
      Jill Colonna says:

      Hi Denise,
      No need to worry. I say in the recipe that you’re adding the yolk mixture to the HOT rice pudding and to take off the heat so the eggs won’t curdle. Just by adding it to the hot rice, they will gently cook. Always ensure, though, that you use the best quality fresh pasteurised eggs.

      Reply
      • denise
        denise says:

        Thank you for the information. Following the directions I made yesterday. Delicious! It was good hot and cold. I substituted 1% milk to save on fat calories.

        Reply
  3. stephanie
    stephanie says:

    Hi Jill

    I have your book, and love making macaroons! I myself have made 6500 macaroons for our local good food and wine show last year, it was a complete hit! I have started a small blog type thing and will soon be posting one f your recipes, and of course, will credit you as well as mention your blog

    keep up the great work!!

    Reply
    • Jill
      Jill says:

      Thanks so much, Stephanie. When someone makes and likes these recipes, it makes it all worthwhile! Appreciate the feedback.

      Reply
  4. Mum
    Mum says:

    Guess what Dad is having for dessert tomorrow. I haven’t made this since you met ze Frenchman. You sure have inspired me to do this. Snow forecast for tomorrow so trip to Marks and Spencer for food cancelled.

    Reply
  5. Choclette
    Choclette says:

    That rice pudding looks seriously good Jill – I would never have thought of adding egg yolks. I can see that would make it extra rich and delicious and thus very French.

    Reply
  6. Jo Summers
    Jo Summers says:

    Hi Jill, I enjoy your newsletters each time, very interesting. (and I have your book) We moved from the UK (husband British too) to the USA, California, many years ago, then discovered Provence and decided to retire here in the VAR, and TGV as often as we can to Paris. We love France and the French.
    My rice pudding recipe is exactly the same as your mum made, (must be a British thing). I believe the American version is like the French recipe, too.
    My husband loves all things French, and we will make your French recipe, thank you for that.
    So simple, but so delish.
    Lovely to read ‘about’ you on your blog. My husband wants to know about your interest in wine.

    Reply
    • Jill
      Jill says:

      Thanks for that, Jo. So glad you enjoy popping in here, as your comment is what keeps me motivated to keep this up!
      Your life in the VAR with Paris breaks sounds the perfect life. Wine interest? Well, started out thinking I’d do it as a career; did the first diploma of the Wine & Spirits Education Trust then met ze Frenchman and joined the OECD in Paris instead. Now just continue to appreciate matching wines with food and enjoy our local wine club tastings. Cheers!

      Reply
  7. MaryMoh
    MaryMoh says:

    Looks so creamy and delicious….mmmm. I have made once before….. from a packet. How easy huh. Sounds so much like cheating….hehe. That’s cause I don’t know how to make. maybe more of lazy rather than don’t know 😛 Love your baked version. I think I should try again one day. Talk about macarons, it’s a long time I have not made them. Now you make me feel like wanting to make again! 😀 Oh, I got your macarons book. Love all the pictures!

    Reply
  8. Patricia Green
    Patricia Green says:

    Although I like the good old British version I also like the one my grandmother in Belgium used to make. Pretty much the same as the French version without the vanilla but with saffron. Eaten cold with dark brown muscovada sugar it is heavenly.

    Reply
    • Jill
      Jill says:

      Thanks, Patricia – so glad you mentioned this. I love the different national versions of the good ol’ rice pud. Saffron in Belgium? Amazing. Reminds me of Indian takes on it, too with added cardamom. Oh, so many fun variations to try! Love the stuff.

      Reply
  9. Melissa@EyesBigger
    Melissa@EyesBigger says:

    I have been thinking about rice pudd all through Christmas and new year’s. I haven’t had it since I was a kid but my mum is British and the version I’m used to is more like your original one. Somehow, having it cold doesn’t seem right! We used to put a scoop of ice cream on top and let it melt on the warm pudding and seep into all the cracks. I like the idea of more vanilla flavour though – I might try a combo pudding with a mix of the two!

    Reply
    • Jill
      Jill says:

      I hear you, Melissa. I can’t eat it cold. It’s in the genes, like you. But ice cream? On rice pudding? That’s a newbie. Is that Canadian? My eyes are definitely bigger than my stomach, just thinking about it!

      Reply
    • Jill
      Jill says:

      Aha. I’m like you, Liz. I do make both and although hubby sticks to the creamy, my kids love each one, bless them. It’s going to be hard choosing their nationality later, though 😉

      Reply
  10. Sara
    Sara says:

    Mmmmmmmmm they both sound heavenly!

    Wonder if would work with semi skimmed milk, I know it wouldn’t be as creamy but would helpwith the New Year diet I’m meant to be doing! X

    Reply
    • Jill
      Jill says:

      Whole milk is best here but if you really must do your diet stuff, Sara. Although do you really need to? Go the French route and forget it; stick to regular meal times, vary each time, moderate and don’t snack 😉 Since living in France for 20 yrs I haven’t dieted again (I was obsessed) and I’ve even lost weight thanks to the French…

      Reply
  11. Cupcake Crusher
    Cupcake Crusher says:

    When I was little, my mum used to buy “riz au lait” in tins, and I don’t know why, but that was one of my favourites since it was creamy.
    I’m going to try your recipe (your photos are superb – it’s real hard to make it look as divine as it really is and you succeeded as usual) since it reminds me of my childhood…
    Thank you so much for making me smile once more Jill.
    I recommend this for everyone!

    Reply
    • Jill
      Jill says:

      Ah, the tins! Ambrosia comes to mind and I won’t even go into the sachets of semolina pudding (actually as memories go, this wasn’t that bad as long as we could dollop lots of jam on the hot pudding!) Thanks for the smile with your comment. Means so much.

      Reply
      • Charlyne D.
        Charlyne D. says:

        Sorry…We Americans don’t use measurements of grams or ml.s…We measure with cups (c.) , teaspoons (tspn.) or tablespoons(T.) , Quarts (qt), pints. (pt) and gallons (gal.)when need be…..any chance you could convert your measurements to those of us here (over the “pond”) ?? I’m dying to try your recipe.

        Reply
        • Jill
          Jill says:

          Sorry. I work in weight, not volume, as for macarons in particular it’s much more precise and works better. However, I’ve added a measuring conversion chart to the sidebar so hope this helps you, Charlyne.
          And I thoroughly recommend a digital scale, as you can simply switch from ounces to grams without any bother.

          Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] adores his rice pudding – especially this creamy recipe that he often enjoys chilled for breakfast.  This time, I’ve revisited it with a seasonal […]

  2. […] mind drifted to one of our most comforting classics: warm rice pudding. Normally, I either make my rice pudding using egg yolks for a rich treat or simply bake it as my Mum and Granny did – but I discovered this simple […]

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