This vegan rice pudding is a simple yet delicious dessert inspired by the classic Mexican arroz con leche. It's prepared with just a few pantry ingredients and can be easily made in advance if you have guests coming over. And with our healthy, low-fat spin, you can enjoy it without guilt! Let's get started!
Arroz con leche translates into "rice with milk", and it belongs to the big family of rice puddings. Almost every country has its own variation, but common ingredients include rice, milk, a sweetener, spices, and toppings for extra flavour. It's a thick and creamy dessert that can be baked or boiled, served warm or cold.
In Latin American and the Caribbean, arroz con leche is a popular dessert where the ingredients vary from region to region: for this recipe, we chose the Mexican rice pudding, which consists of milk, cinnamon, sugar, orange peel, and raisins. Raisins can be pre-soaked in tequila and then added to the rice mixture. You can also find Mexican arroz con leche made with chocolate or lime.
To make our rice pudding vegan, we swapped cow's milk with plant-based milk. We opted for coconut milk drink — the chilled coconut-based milk you can find in the dairy-free milk section at the supermarket. You can also use tinned coconut milk for a thicker and richer result, but keep in mind it will be higher in fats. Alternatively, you can use oat, almond, or soy milk.
The best rice for pudding is white rice, as it becomes soft and slightly sticky when you simmer it in milk. You can use regular long-grain rice or, even better, short-grain rice varieties like Italian arborio risotto rice or Spanish paella rice. Japanese sushi rice is good too if you already have it at home, but it will make the pudding slightly mushy. In any case, avoid using long-grain basmati rice for pudding, as it won't give creamy results.
As for the other ingredients, we kept the classic orange peel, raisins, and cinnamon, but we reduced the total amount of sugars by swapping white sugar with maple syrup. The result is a cosy and aromatic arroz con leche with only 180 calories per serving, 12% RDI of sugars and 3% RDI of fats.
- White Rice (short-grain or long-grain)
- Coconut Milk Drink (or oat/almond milk)
- Maple Syrup
- Ground Cinnamon
- Zested Orange
Rinse and drain the white rice, then add it to a pot.
Tip in the coconut milk drink, maple syrup, cinnamon, raisins, orange zest, and mix well.
Bring the milk to a boil, cover, and simmer the pudding over low heat for 20-30 minutes or according to package instructions, stirring occasionally.
If you see any foam forming on the surface of the pudding, skim it off with a spoon.
At the end of cooking time, the rice should be creamy, like a runny risotto; if it feels too dry, add a splash of milk.
Divide the pudding among serving bowls or cups, cover it with cling film, and let it cool down completely in the fridge.
Before serving, you can drizzle the arroz con leche with a little cold milk, dust it with ground cinnamon, and garnish it with extra orange zest.
You can swap orange zest with lime zest.
You can add the raisins at the last 5 minutes of cooking time; this way, the rice will stay whiter.