Start to Finish: 1 1/2 hours
Servings: 6 to 8
Difficulty Level: Intermediate

Rice pudding recipes vary in the proportions of rice to milk and eggs, creating puddings with either more custardlike consistencies or ones with denser textures containing more rice than custard. This recipe, adapted from Joy of Cooking, falls somewhere in the middle density range. It also reflects the frugality of old-fashioned cooks, experts at never letting leftovers go to waste, because it uses rice that has already been cooked.


  • 1 1/2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soft butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup raisins


Heat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grease a 2-quart baking dish with an additional 1/2 teaspoon of butter on the bottom and sides.

Combine the first seven ingredients in a bowl and stir them with a fork until they are well mixed. Add the lemon juice and zest, then the raisins, and stir again.

Pour the pudding mixture into the greased baking dish and set the dish inside a baking pan. Set the dish and pan in the oven and pour an inch of very hot water into the baking pan.

Bake the pudding for about 50 minutes, or until it appears mostly set and jiggles only slightly.

Remove the baking dish from the baking pan and serve the pudding hot. Or let it cool then refrigerate the pudding to serve later either cold or at room temperature.


If you have less than 1 1/2 cups of cooked rice on hand, either cook more rice or reduce the amount of milk slightly to account for the difference.

To give your rice pudding a different flavor, add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg and sprinkle some cinnamon as a garnish before serving. For orange-flavored pudding, use orange zest, orange juice and orange extract in place of the vanilla and lemon. Or, use coconut milk instead of regular milk and add 1/4 cup of shredded coconut to the mix, then garnish the pudding with toasted, shredded coconut.

Soak the raisins for 15 to 20 minutes in brandy, sherry or orange juice for a sophisticated flavor.


Rice pudding hardens and sets up more firmly once it comes out of the oven, so err on the side of taking it out of the oven slightly early rather than letting it stay in and overcook.

If the pudding has cooked too long, serve it with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream. Or, serve it the old-fashioned way with a splash of fresh cream poured over the top.

Never let any foods, including rice pudding, sit out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours because bacteria in food double every 20 minutes, according to the website.