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Carolina Gold Rice Pudding

Luscious. Lovely.

6 to 8 portions


4 hours or up to overnight to soak the rice, about 15 minutes to cook it, and about 20 minutes to prepare the pudding


Created in the style of the French classic, riz à l’impératrice, this ethereal dessert has none of the stodgy, pitted egginess of baked rice puddings, and it doesn’t slump in a dish like a starchy-sweet cafeteria comeback either. Rather, meltingly soft individual grains succumb to a chilled custard base lightened with chantilly whipped cream—in fashion terms, pure silk charmeuse. Impossibly light, impossibly rich, irresistible.

Cooking Remarks

This recipe comes together in a short series of steps: cook the rice in milk and sugar, make a stirred custard or crème anglaise, combine the two, and fold in whipped cream. The rice cooks best when the pot is covered, but the milk has a powerful urge to boil over. Best solution: a standard electric rice cooker. These cookers work as well as a double boiler when it comes to insulation, and the pot insert is typically nonstick. Cover the insert until the rice comes to a boil, then vent the rising steam by pulling the lid slightly off center. As the rice absorbs the milk, close the lid completely. If you don’t have a rice cooker, use a saucepan, but keep your eye on it.

equipment mise en place

For this recipe, you will need a 5½-cup electric rice cooker and a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan (or two medium saucepans); a wooden spoon; a medium mixing bowl; two large mixing bowls; a whisk; a ladle; a fine-mesh strainer; a quart of ice cubes to chill the pudding; a stand mixer, handheld mixer, or balloon whisk to whip the cream; and a rubber spatula.

  • for the rice:

    • 5.7
    • 12
      ounces (1½ cups) whole milk

    • 4
      ounces (½ cup) spring or filtered water

    • 1.75
      ounces (¼ cup) sugar

    • ¼
      teaspoon fine sea salt

    • teaspoon ground cinnamon

    • 2
      tablespoons currants (optional)
  • for the custard:

    • 12
      ounces (1½ cups) whole milk

    • teaspoon fine sea salt

    • ½
      vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise and pulp scraped or 
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 4
      large egg yolks

    • 1.75
      ounces (¼ cup) sugar

    • 6
      ounces (¾ cup) cold heavy cream

    Cook the rice: Place the rice, milk, and water in a 5½-cup electric rice cooker insert or medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and stir once. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to overnight.


    If you are using an electric rice cooker, add the sugar, salt, and cinnamon to the rice mixture in the insert and stir. Cover the insert, lower it into the housing, and turn on the cooker. When the milk boils, move the lid slightly off center until the rice has absorbed some of the milk. Replace the lid and cook, stirring occasionally. When the cooker indicates the rice is done, sprinkle the currants over the hot rice to plump them and replace the lid.\n\nIf you are using a saucepan, add the sugar, salt, and cinnamon to the rice mixture in the saucepan and stir. Set the pan over medium-high heat, cover most of the way, and bring the liquid to a simmer, stirring once or twice. Reduce the heat to low and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the rice has absorbed the milk, about 15 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat, sprinkle the currants over the rice, and replace the lid.


    Make the custard: Bring the milk, salt, and vanilla bean, if using, to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk a ladleful of hot milk into the yolks to warm them, and then whisk the tempered yolk mixture into the saucepan. Cook the custard over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon, about 5 minutes. Do not boil. Remove from the heat and pour the custard immediately through a fine-mesh strainer into a large mixing bowl. Add the vanilla extract, if using. Stir in the cooked rice. (If the rice is sticky, use a whisk to separate the grains.) Place the mixing bowl over a larger bowl filled with ice and water and stir the pudding until it is cold.


    To finish the pudding, using a stand mixer, handheld mixer, or balloon whisk, whip the cream until it holds soft peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the chilled rice pudding. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. (If you like, spoon the pudding into wine glasses or serving dishes before refrigerating).