Rice Pudding with Bourbon-Soaked Raisins

This classic stovetop rice pudding recipe is wonderfully creamy, flavored with cinnamon and has bourbon-soaked raisins stirred in at the end.

A bowl of rice pudding with raising on a dish towel.

I was always that person that gave rice pudding the side eye. You know, the skeptical sideways glance that said, “Maybe, but deep down, I know I won’t like it.” For years, I had the hardest time wrapping my head around a sweet dessert that was based primarily on rice. Rice, as far as I was concerned, was meant to be served alongside chicken and a salad.

Then I started seeing rice pudding pop up in a number of places. At first, my initial reactions were the same – I just couldn’t get into it. Before long, I was starting to feel a little tug at my taste buds. Most of the rice pudding dishes I was seeing looked not just good, but down right delicious.

Once I finally tried it, I realized that I had been missing out on an amazing dessert – rich and creamy, loaded with flavor, and absolutely worthy of being deemed comfort food.

MY OTHER RECIPES

A batch of rice pudding in the pot with a wooden spoon lifting a spoonful out.

How Do You Make Rice Pudding?

What I failed to realize during my unofficial boycott of rice pudding is that it’s very much a dessert version of risotto. Rice pudding uses the same basic premise as risotto (slow and steady with lots of stirring!), but instead of broth, you use water, milk, and cream to achieve a creamy, pudding-like consistency with the rice.

Once you add your flavors of choice – here we have bourbon, raisins, vanilla, and cinnamon – this dessert reaches an entirely new level.

Rice being cooked in a pot on the stove.

What Is the Best Type of Rice to Use for Rice Pudding?

Medium-grain rice is ideal and will produce the creamiest rice pudding.

The most common type of medium-grain rice is Arborio, which is typically used in risotto. That makes sense because rice pudding is basically a milky sweet version of risotto!

A pot of rice cooked and ready to be turned into rice pudding.

Is Rice Pudding Supposed to Be Served Hot or Cold?

You can eat it either way!

Eat it warm straight from the stove, or reheat with a splash of milk to get it back to that just-cooked creamy consistency.

On the flip side, you can also eat it chilled, which many people prefer.

I’ve eaten it warm, at room temperature and chilled, and can honestly say I enjoyed each one, and don’t really have a favorite. It has a creamier consistency when warm, and then firms up a bit as it cools, so go with whatever your personal preference is!

A bowl of raisins with a smaller bowl of bourbon.

How Do You Make Rice Pudding in the Oven?

Baked rice pudding is completely different than this stovetop version. Most baked rice puddings are made with eggs and assembled in much the same way as you would a bread pudding. For this version, you usually use cooked rice and combine it with a custard mixture and bake it in a water bath. I’m loving this old-fashioned recipe.

Since you use cooked rice, it’s a perfect dessert to make with leftover rice!

A pot of rice pudding with bourbon-soaked raising on top.

The flavor combinations here are virtually limitless, although it seems that cinnamon and raisins are fairly traditional when it comes to rice pudding. I couldn’t help but to soak the raisins in bourbon; after doing so in other recipes, I’ve found that it gives a nice extra kick of flavor.

Do you have a favorite type of rice pudding? Maybe one your mom or grandma always used to make? I’d love it if you shared it in the comments below!

Two bowls of rice pudding with bourbon-soaked raisins.

If You Like This Rice Pudding Recipe, Try These:

Four years ago: No Bake Peanut Butter Lover’s Pie
Five years ago: Thin Crust Pizza
Nine years ago: Spumoni Ice Cream Terrine

A close up photo of a bowl of rice pudding.

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Rice Pudding with Bourbon-Soaked Raisins

This classic stovetop rice pudding recipe is wonderfully creamy, flavored with cinnamon and has bourbon-soaked raisins stirred in at the end.

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup (110 grams) raisins
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  • 2 cups (480 ml) water
  • 1 cup (198 grams) medium-grain white rice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2½ cups (600 ml) whole milk
  • 2½ cups (600 ml) half-and-half
  • ⅔ cup (132 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Combine the raisins and the bourbon together in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. As soon as it reaches a simmer, remove from heat, cover, and set aside.
  2. Bring 2 cups water to boil in large, heavy-bottomed pot (at least 3 quarts). Stir in the rice and salt; cover and simmer over low heat, stirring once or twice until the water is almost fully absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Add the milk, half-and-half, and sugar. Increase the heat to medium-high to bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to maintain simmer without boiling. Cook uncovered, stirring frequently, until the mixture starts to thicken, about 30 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, stirring every couple of minutes to prevent sticking and scorching, until a spoon is just able to stand up in the pudding, about 15 minutes longer.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the raisins (with any extra bourbon), vanilla extract, and cinnamon. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled. (It can be covered with plastic wrap on the surface of the pudding and then refrigerated up to 2 days.) You can stir in some extra milk if reheating it, to achieve the original creamy consistency, if you’d like.

Recipe Notes:

  • You can omit the bourbon if you don’t wish to use liquor. Simply add the plain raisins to the pudding when directed in the recipe.
  • You can completely omit the raisins if you don’t like them. Feel free to substitute another dried fruit if you wish, or leave out entirely.
  • If you cannot find half and half where you live, you can substitute half whole milk and half heavy cream.

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!

(Recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)

All images and text ©Brown Eyed Baker, LLC.

This recipe was originally published on April 10, 2012.

[photos by Whitney Wright]