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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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
Rice Pudding with Bourbon-Soaked Raisins
- ¾ cup (108.75 g) raisins
- 3 tablespoons bourbon
- 2 cups (500 ml) water
- 1 cup (185 g) medium-grain white rice
- ¼ teaspoon (0.25 teaspoon) salt
- 2½ cups (610 ml) whole milk
- 2½ cups (591.47 ml) half-and-half
- ⅔ cup (133.33 g) granulated sugar
- 1½ teaspoons (1.5 teaspoons) vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
This recipe was originally published on April 10, 2012.
[photos by Whitney Wright]
your recipes truly are some of the best around! i have been using your site for over 10 plus years now! i have made your candies, tarts, cakes, and some savory dishes! you really do know how to explain every step/detail in every recipe! thank you for sharing your talent with the world!! Peace
Followed your recipe… delicious! The I tried it but with brandied dried apricots which I first cut into half inch bits…also delicious. Hmmm. Thinking about more variations!
In England we use pudding rice, sugar and milk or milk and cream with a little nutmeg grated on top and baked in the oven. Simple but delicious comfort food and none of this standing around stirring a pot.
Finally found the perfect rice pudding recipe! Made it yesterday for the 1st time and it has already become my “go to” recipe. Thank you! It’s been a long search!
Love this recipe!
Instead of alcohol for the raisins, I used a liquid coffee creamer flavored “Bailey’s Irish Cream” …also used the creamer for part of the heavy cream…I got the alcohol richness without real alcohol 😁
Why not soak the raisins in the bourbon overnight and then add them when the rice is finished cooking?
It was always a great treat when my mom made rice pudding or tapioca pudding. She left raisins out because my dad didn’t like raisins. But I have also found that Greek restaurants or diners often have delicious homemade rice pudding. Just a suggestion, in case you have a craving and don’t feel like making it!
In Belgium we have a different version of rice pudding which I adore myself: the rice is cooked in full fat milk with a little white sugar (just a pinch) and a cinnamon stick. It’s cooked slowly on the stove top, constantly stirring the mixture until the rice is cooked through and the milk has thickened (45 minutes or so). Just before serving, we add powdered saffron to add flavour and colour. We serve this warm or cold with light or dark brown sugar on top. Heavenly!
That sounds delicious!
I have been a fan of rice pudding forever and have made several different versions over the years- but this was the best! I went back and soaked more raisins to throw in- I’d never thought to soak them in bourbon and they really put it over the top! Thanks for an amazing recipe!
Rum soaked raisins; you’re a woman after my grandma’s heart. She used to soak raisins in rum over the course of several days and then add them to vanilla ice cream for homemade rum raisin ice cream. It was so much you’d get tipsy off it.
Michelle that looks fabulous now all it need is some sweeter whipped cream folded in, after it’s cooled, to make Norwegian cream rice pudding a staple in my home growing up. Perfectly decadent…
I can’t put into words just how delicious this is, Michelle! I just finished making it, so I’m tasting it for the first time as I write this. The only I think I adjusted was the amount of bourbon — I doubled it. I’m from Derby City (that’s Louisville, KY and where the horses run on Derby Day) as we love our bourbon! Divine. Simply divine. Can’t wait to share with those I love. Thank you!
I just made this recipe last night and it turned out great! I omitted the raisins but it still came out delicious. Thank you!
My boyfriend and I are whole food vegans, so I made a couple of substitutions, vanilla soy milk for the whole milk and half & half, a mixture of maple syrup and agave in place of the sugar (used a little less since agave conversion is 2/3 to 1). I also left out the bourbon. It turned out beautifully! It’s nice to find an easily converted-to-vegan dessert recipe. Thanks!
I love rice pudding. And I haven’t been able to find a recipe that comes out right. I’ll have to try this one. Thanks for sharing.
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I love rice in anything at all. Hot, cold, savory, sweet – all delicious. This sounds so good.i have to try it.
I am going to try this for my father, he absolutely loves Rice Pudding. I am going to replace the Bourbon with some Amaretto instead.
I am so ready to hop on the sweet rice pudding band wagon! This looks delicious!
I have to agree in Europe rice pudding is extremely common. When I grew up my grandma made quite often for me with lots of cinnamon. Nom nom!
I will try your recipe next time, Michelle. But instead of raisins I will try it with cranberries.
I grew up eating rice pudding – it’s how we used leftover rice. My mom taught me to just keep adding milk and sugar until it was creamy and sweet. One of those recipes that doesn’t really have a recipe – delish!
I love, love, LOVE Chocolate Rice Pudding!!! My mom made it for the last 10 years before she died…the sad part is she got it perfected but never wrote it down before she died. :( My sister and I have been scouring recipes all over the net to try to find a good one but no such luck yet. When I read your recipe my mind immediately went to chocolate chips instead of raisins…Looks like Heather and I think alike. LOL
I’m going to give your recipe a try!!! :)
I’m terribly picky about the texture of my desserts (hence my usual reaction of turning my nose up at the sight of rice pudding) but your recipes always manage to persuade me to try new things. I think I’ll take the plunge :)
Love rice pudding :) I like it raisin less and flavored with orange zest.
I must say I was surprised when I initially discovered how uncommon rice pudding was across the pond. In (mainland) Europe I would say that it’s basically a staple dessert, especially in its simplest form which only uses (dessert-type) rice and milk sweetened with (vanilla) sugar. And in reply to Kris, it most definitely thickens on its own as the rice absorbs the milk much in the same way that a risotto does. Frankly I consider the thought of adding eggs to rice pudding somewhat blasphemous. :]
Ouch, that’s a bit harsh. :( Eggs make it rather like a custard with a lovely silky texture…being a huge fan of custard and rice pudding, adding egg yolks makes the pudding truly decadent! Adding cream cheese or even marshmallows can also add pizzaz to a simple rice pudding. I’ve been eating it all my life (egg version) and like to dress it up a bit. It’s a wonderful way to use up leftover rice from dinner!
I always felt the same way as you about rice pudding. You may have convinced me to try it…
I’m suprised there are no eggs in this recipe! Every rice pudding recipe and any time quickly throw it together with leftover rice from dinner, it always includes egg. I feel silly asking but how on earth does it thicken with just milk and half and half??
Hi Kris, The rice absorbs the milk and half-and-half and it creates a very creamy texture. I’m not sure if you’ve had risotto, but that’s exactly what happens when the rice absorbs the broth – it plumps and gets very creamy.
This looks so deliciously creamy! mmmm
I have been meaning to try making my own rice pudding. I’ve never tried it, but I’m dying to give it a whirl. It sounds dreamy!
Rice pudding was my enemy growing up, my mom made it every year for Christmas Eve and i never ate it. BUT NOW.. its seriously my favorite pudding! And one of my favorite desserts. Im putting this on my Tomake list for sho! Looks delish! much love.
I’m soooo making this immediately! Looks fantastic!
I haven’t had rice pudding in a long time. I need to make this recipe!
This looks so good! Love all of the ingredients and with the touch of bourbon…sounds delicious!
This looks amazing. I’ve never had rice pudding before, but now I’m really looking forward to trying it. Thanks for sharing!
I’m glad you’ve come around to rice pudding (and made this awesome recipe!) – it’s on of my favorite desserts!
Ohhh, your rice pudding looks fantstci. I’ve never been a big fan of rice except as a side with my dinner, but I am finding more and more use for it. I actually use it as my replacement for oatmeal int he morning. Crazy, but it tastes good.
I LOVE rice pudding, but no one else in my family does! I made it for Easter a few years ago and no one touched it. I’ll have to find a single serving adaptation! :)
Instead of just putting the raisins in as they are, I like to replace the bourbon with water and simmer them like that instead if alcohol can’t be used – it reconstitutes them and makes them wonderfully plump, tender and sweet :)
As I have a deep love of chocolate, I make mine with chocolate chips instead of raisins!
Oooh, love that idea!
My boys love rice pudding. I always bought it. One day I saw Jamie Oliver making it. I have made it his way every since. Now I will make two batches, yours for me and the other one for my boys. thank you
I grew up on rice pudding and associate it with cinnamon toast and being sick in bed. It was our comfort food. Love the twist on the raisins.
I’m right there with you about rice pudding. I’ve always looked at it with skeptical eyes and have always been surprised to see it on a public menu (ew! how dare they?!)…then I tried it awhile ago, and I was changed forever. I swallowed my mean thoughts about rice pudding and have craved it ever since!
I’m on the fence about rice pudding… think I’ll pin the recipe to try and find out whether it’s for me!
I can assure you there is nothing to be, “on the fence,” about when it comes to rice pudding. When it’s made with love (and a good chef,) it’s delicious and worth trying!
Bourbon soaked raisins?? Yes, please!
Mmmm, cinnamon rice pudding :) My favorite! And hey, bourbon makes everything better.
That is basically the exact path I took to a love of rice pudding. “I probs won’t like that…” to “How many different ways can I eat this?!?!?” I don’t make it enough (hardly ever), but this version sounds amazing! I kind of want it for breakfast…
This looks delicious! I’ve loved rice pudding since I was a little kid, but have never made it homemade!
I love rice pudding and I’ve made oatmeal raisin cookies with rum soaked raisins…now I need to do that with rice pudding like you did!