How to make a creamy French rice pudding with reduced sugar, some sultana raisins – without the cream. Either serve on its own chilled or at room temperature with fresh fruits for breakfast or for a more decadent dessert, serve with salted caramel sauce and toasted nougatine.

glass pots of rice pudding

Baked Rice Pudding

When my Frenchman asked me to make a typical riz au lait (pronounced: Ree-olay) years ago, I thought it was a no-brainer. Riz au lait in English is just a French rice pudding. I remembered what my Scottish Granny and Mum had done: rained in some rice into a pint of milk, added sugar, cinnamon, sultanas and nutmeg, dotted it with butter and baked it slowly until a caramelised rice pudding emerged with a film of buttery, bubbled skin.

We ate it warm from the oven as the reassuring aromas of cinnamon wafted around the kitchen. This was comfort food at its best, my Madeleine de Proust; that feeling of drifting back for a fleeting moment. I remembering Grandpa supping his rice pudding using an oversized spoon, as my Granny, Agnes poured him more of the coveted extra cream from the top of the milk around the enormous bowl’s rim.baked rice pudding with toasted skin from the oven

My bubble burst. “Your rice pudding is so different to my Mum’s. She didn’t have skin on it; I remember vanilla rather than cinnamon, and we didn’t eat it warm like this,” gently prodded my Frenchman. My baked rice pudding needed to be more French.

It was time to do some homework. I did discover that, in the north, the French also bake their rice pudding. In Normandy they make a slow-baked Terrinée, Beurgoule or Teurgoule not unlike this, although they add more milk, sugar and bake at 80°C for 6 hours. The result is a baked, more caramelised version.

  • My Scottish Baked Rice Pudding Recipe: In a buttered gratin dish, rain in 100g short grain rice into 1 litre whole milk, add 50g sugar, a cinnamon stick & 50g sultanas. Dot with 25g butter and top with freshly grated nutmeg. Bake uncovered at 110°C fan for 2 hours.

glass pots of creamy rice puddings

How to Make a Rice Pudding, Creamy French-Style

So it was time to make an extra creamy French rice pudding like hubby had described. Known as ‘riz au lait‘ (pronounced reeh-oh-lay), it’s bathed in a vanilla milk and eaten chilled. Personally, I prefer it at room temperature and can’t resist sneaking a bowl of it before placing the rest in the fridge once it’s cool.

It’s a cross between two French recipes. Initially by Raymond Blanc’s recipe (his Mother’s recipe in his book, Blanc Mange). He adds sultana raisins like the family loves it and 3 egg yolks at the end of cooking. The other is Bernard & Dominique Loiseau’s recipe (from ‘Cuisine en famille‘) which uses 2 yolks and only half of the milk, making the rice puddings much more compact.  However, if you prefer yours in between extra creamy and more compact, reduce the milk to about 700ml (1 1/4 pints).

After many years,  here’s my riz au lait. Tried, tested and approved over and over by French hubby and our – now adult – baby bears.

glass pots of rice pudding topped with edible pansies

Vegan Rice Puddings

This recipe is vegetarian, but if you’re looking for a vegan rice pudding recipe, try these Almond Milk Rice Puddings. Top with fresh fruits like blueberries, raspberries or strawberries.

preparing rice pudding with bowl of yolks and sugar

Which Type of Rice is Best for Rice Pudding?

The best type is often just sold in supermarkets as ‘pudding rice’. In France, you’ll find this simply labelled as ‘Riz rond‘ which is best as it’s short-grain, round rice. Otherwise arborio or carnaroli rice (also used for risotto) is good too.

French Rice Pudding with 2 Yolks

As we have been mad about making macarons and need egg whites, I love using a couple of egg yolks in this recipe.  Added to the hot rice at the end of cooking, the result is an extra creamy version (without using any cream) and nourishing too.

Once the hot rice pudding is poured into bowls, leave aside to cool then chill covered in the fridge until ready to serve.

glass pots of creamy rice puddings

glass bowls of rice puddings topped with golden sultana raisins

French Rice Pudding with Caramel Sauce

If you like French rice pudding to be a bit more decadent for dessert, top with salted caramel sauce. For some extra topping of toasted nuts in caramel, then top with this easy nougatine. This is inspired by chef Stéphane Jégo of l’Ami Jean in Paris, famous for his Parisian riz au lait dessert with all the frills.

Feel free to adapt the recipe using vanilla and replace with the zest of an orange and some nutmeg and cinnamon for something more warming in the winter months. Fan of Spring rhubarb? Enjoy it with this rhubarb and rose compote or top with fresh strawberries.

What Can I Make with the 2 Leftover Egg Whites?

Two quick options: either French Tuiles or Financiers (teacakes). Both are also excellent served with this.

glass pots of rice pudding
5 from 2 votes

French Rice Pudding (riz au lait)

Author: Jill Colonna
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Chilling time30 mins
Total Time1 hr 15 mins
Course : Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine : French
Keyword : riz au lait, French rice pudding
Servings : 4 people
Calories : 212kcal


How to make a creamy rice pudding with reduced sugar, some sultana raisins. Either serve on its own chilled (or at room temperature) with fresh fruits for breakfast or for a more decadent dessert, serve with salted caramel sauce and nougatine.


  • 100 g (3.5oz, 1/2 cup) pudding rice (round, short grain)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla powder or extract (or a vanilla bean/pod) *
  • 50 g (2oz, 1/4 cup) light brown sugar
  • 1 liter (1 3/4 pints, 4 cups) whole milk (full cream)
  • 50 g (2oz, 1/4 cup) golden sultana raisins
  • 2 egg yolks organic


  • Pour the milk into the large saucepan. Add the vanilla powder to the milk (or extract/vanilla bean scraped of seeds) with half/25g of the sugar. Rain in the rice and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to that no skin forms on the milk.
  • Add the sultana raisins. Continue to stir now and again as it heats gently for about another 10-15 minutes until the rice swells and it starts to thicken.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the yolks with the rest of the sugar until it's light and creamy. Add a couple of tablespoons of the hot rice milk and mix well then pour in the yolk mixture into the hot rice. Take off the heat (so not to overheat and curdle the yolks) and stir until well combined.
  • Pour into bowls and set aside to cool - then cover and chill for at least 30 minutes.


Replace vanilla with the zest of an orange and add a pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon for something more warming and spicy in the winter months.
Serve either on its own chilled or topped with fruit for breakfast. For a more decadent dessert, serve with salted caramel sauce and/or with our favourite nutty caramel nougatine.
Nutrition Information: 4g protein and 212 calories based on 4 portions.

Have you made and enjoyed this recipe? Please leave a rated review below. It means so much for your support.

For more easy dishes that we make ‘en famille’, see our family’s favourite French Classic recipes.

This recipe post was first published 17 January 2013 but is now completely updated with additional text and new images.

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Comments (40)

My mom and MIL make their rice pudding more like your mum. The French version sounds more elegant…I think I like both!!

Aha. I’m like you, Liz. I do make both and although hubby sticks to the creamy, my kids love each one, bless them. It’s going to be hard choosing their nationality later, though 😉

Mmmmmmmmm they both sound heavenly!

Wonder if would work with semi skimmed milk, I know it wouldn’t be as creamy but would helpwith the New Year diet I’m meant to be doing! X

Whole milk is best here but if you really must do your diet stuff, Sara. Although do you really need to? Go the French route and forget it; stick to regular meal times, vary each time, moderate and don’t snack 😉 Since living in France for 20 yrs I haven’t dieted again (I was obsessed) and I’ve even lost weight thanks to the French…

When I was little, my mum used to buy “riz au lait” in tins, and I don’t know why, but that was one of my favourites since it was creamy.
I’m going to try your recipe (your photos are superb – it’s real hard to make it look as divine as it really is and you succeeded as usual) since it reminds me of my childhood…
Thank you so much for making me smile once more Jill.
I recommend this for everyone!

Ah, the tins! Ambrosia comes to mind and I won’t even go into the sachets of semolina pudding (actually as memories go, this wasn’t that bad as long as we could dollop lots of jam on the hot pudding!) Thanks for the smile with your comment. Means so much.

Sorry…We Americans don’t use measurements of grams or ml.s…We measure with cups (c.) , teaspoons (tspn.) or tablespoons(T.) , Quarts (qt), pints. (pt) and gallons (gal.)when need be…..any chance you could convert your measurements to those of us here (over the “pond”) ?? I’m dying to try your recipe.

Sorry. I work in weight, not volume, as for macarons in particular it’s much more precise and works better. However, I’ve added a measuring conversion chart to the sidebar so hope this helps you, Charlyne.
And I thoroughly recommend a digital scale, as you can simply switch from ounces to grams without any bother.

Charlyne D.

All you need is a good kitchen scale that does multiple measures.

Couldn’t agree more, Charlie!