This arroz con dulce recipe is a comforting, traditional Puerto Rican dessert made with canned coconut milk, rice, brown sugar and warming spices. This coconut rice pudding recipe yeilds about 4 servings, making it perfect for sharing. For best results, soak the short grain rice for 2 hours before cooking. This allows the rice to cook evenly in the liquid without becoming mushy.

A bowl of coconut rice pudding

This coconut infused rice pudding is one of those traditional Puerto Rican recipes that leaves everyone satisfied thanks to the creamy smooth texture and rich spiced flavors. It’s one of my mom’s favorite desserts, as it always fills the house with aromatic smells.

There are variations of this cozy dessert throughout Latin America, likely because it’s surprisingly easy to make and share with a crowd.

In this family recipe, coconut milk is simmered with fresh ginger, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and nutmeg, then used to cook the rice. This step helps infuse the rice with lots of flavor from both the coconut and the warming spices. It also gives the pudding that creamy smooth texture we love.

You’ll want to make sure to plan ahead when making this, so that you have time to soak the rice for at least 2 hours before using. This step is important in achieving rice pudding that isn’t mushy.

If you’re a fan of Puerto Rican desserts, you must check out my Puerto Rican-style arroz con leche recipe and Tembleque (Coconut Pudding) as they highlight similar ingredients and flavors. 

Rice in a strainer

Ingredients

Making this coconut rice pudding recipe for dessert tonight? Here’s what you’ll need from the store:

  • Rice: Use short or medium grain rice and make sure to soak it before using. I know it can be tempting to make this dish in a pinch and skip the soaking of the rice step… but don’t.
  • Water (for soaking the rice) + water (for cooking)
  • Fresh ginger, peeled 
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Whole cloves
  • Ground nutmeg 
  • Brown sugar: We’re using brown sugar to sweeten things up, instead of evaporated milk or sweetened condensed milk.
  • Salt
  • Coconut milk
  • Ground cinnamon to garnish
  • Optional: raisins

See recipe card for quantities.

Note: If you’re not big on raisins, feel free to leave them out. That said, most Puerto Ricans will tell you the raisins are an essential part of the dish. Do as you wish! 

Instructions

Soaking your rice is 100% essential as it helps ensure the rice in your pudding doesn’t turn to mush.

Soaking the Rice

The 2 hour soak of our rice before getting started with cooking may seem tedious, but it’s an essential step.

That delicate balance between perfectly cooked rice (with the slightest bite) and a creamy smooth pudding that it’s cooked in can easily turn mushy if you skip this step.

Trust me when I say this is the secret to achieving the perfect rice pudding!

Rice in a strainer

Brown Sugar vs. Sweetened Condensed Milk

Many arroz con dulce recipes require a can of sweetened condensed milk and/or evaporated milk to sweeten things up and add to the creamy rich texture.

I find that using a few tablespoons of brown sugar (paired with the can of coconut milk) does the trick, and keeps the ingredient list pretty simple.

Storage Tips

  • Arroz con dulce is best enjoyed the day it’s made, but it does keep fairly well in the fridge.
  • Store in an air tight container and enjoy within a few days for best results. 
  • Wait to top with garnish until just before serving. 
A spoonful of coconut rice pudding

More Puerto Rican Desserts

Buen Provecho,

Salima written in cursive
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A bowl of coconut rice pudding

Arroz con Dulce (Coconut Rice Pudding)

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 2 reviews
  • Author: Salima Benkhalti
  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Dessert, Breakfast
  • Method: Boiled
  • Cuisine: Puerto Rican, Latin
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

This arroz con dulce recipe is a comforting, traditional Puerto Rican dessert made with canned coconut milk, rice, brown sugar and warming spices. This coconut rice pudding recipe yields about 4 servings, making it perfect for sharing. For best results, soak the short grain rice for 2 hours before cooking. This allows the rice to cook evenly in the liquid without becoming mushy.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 cup rice (short or medium grain is best)
  • 2 cups water (for soaking the rice) + 3 cups water (for cooking)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 inch chunk of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 34 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • Ground cinnamon to garnish
  • 1/4 cup raisins (optional)

Instructions

  1. Soak the rice. In a large bowl combine 2 cups water and rice. Soak for at least 2 hours, if not overnight before straining and setting aside.
  2. Warm the spices. In a large saucepan combine 3 cups water, coconut milk, ginger, cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg, and salt. Bring to a simmer and continue to simmer for 10 minutes until the mixture begins to turn light brown and the spices start to infuse into the liquid. 
  3. Remove whole spices and add rice, sugar, and raisins. Scoop out the solids (cinnamon sticks, ginger and cloves) before bringing to a boil and adding the soaked rice, brown sugar and raisins (if using). 
  4. Simmer on low. Stir the mixture so the rice is evenly combined, turn heat down to low, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes. At this point, check the rice to make sure it’s not dry and adding a splash or two of water if needed.
  5. Serve. Allow the rice pudding to cool slightly before serving in small bowls with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon to garnish. Enjoy!