This coconut rice pudding, or arroz con dulce recipe, is a comforting, traditional Puerto Rican dessert made with canned coconut milk, rice, and sweet spices. 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.
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This popular Latin dish can be enjoyed any time of the year, but is often enjoyed around the holidays as a super comforting dessert to end a meal.
If you find yourself loving traditional Puerto Rican recipes like this dessert, you should absolutely try my Authentic Puerto Rican-style arroz con leche recipe and Tembleque (Coconut Pudding) as they uses similar ingredients and flavors.
Making this arroz con dulce recipe for dessert tonight? Here’s what you’ll need from the store:
- Rice (short or medium grain is best)
- Water (for soaking the rice) + water (for cooking)
- Chunk of fresh ginger, peeled
- Cinnamon sticks
- Whole cloves
- Ground nutmeg
- Brown sugar
- A pinch of salt
- Coconut milk
- Ground cinnamon to garnish
- Raisins (optional)
See recipe card for quantities.
Making Puerto Rican rice pudding requires similar steps to making most rice dishes. To get that creamy sweet flavor we’re infusing the liquid we cook the rice in with all the delicious spices plus coconut cream.
Start by combining 2 cups of water and your rice. Soaking the rice for at least 2 hours allows it to cook evenly in the liquid without getting mushy.
In a large saucepan combine 3 more cups of water, your can of coconut milk, ginger, cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg, and salt.
Bring this to a simmer and continue to simmer for 10 minutes until the mixture begins to turn brown and the spices start to infuse into the liquid.
At this point it’s time to scoop out the solids (cinnamon sticks, ginger and cloves) with a spoon before bringing it to a boil and adding the soaked rice, brown sugar and raisins (if using).
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!
Next, stir the mixture so the rice is evenly combined, turn heat down to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes. At this point, check the rice to make sure it’s not dry, adding hot water in ¼ cup increments if needed.
Allow the rice pudding to cool before serving in small bowls with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon to garnish. And just like that, you’ve made arroz con dulce Puerto Rico!
This recipe is naturally gluten free and vegan, so it’s pretty accessible to most eaters!
There are many ways to make arroz con dulce, so know that there are plenty of variations for this popular dessert. Even across different countries there are similarities and different versions of rice pudding.
Here are some of my tips to make this dish work for whoever you’re cooking for:
- Raisin flexibility - as mentioned above, raisins can be polarizing. You either hate them or you love them. Add them generously or omit them completely; you do you!
- Deluxe - add a bit of whipped cream or whipped coconut cream, some cinnamon sticks and freshly grated nutmeg to really dress this dish up.
- Parfait - layer your rice pudding with berries and coconut flakes to mimic a parfait and add some flair!
This coconut rice pudding is best enjoyed the day it's made, but it does keep fairly well in the fridge. Cover with plastic wrap and enjoy within a few days for best results.
Wait to top with garnish until just before serving.
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.
Soaking your rice is 100% essential as it helps ensure your rice pudding doesn’t turn to mush.
Just trust me on this one.