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Yes, Arroz con Leche CAN be made dairy-free! This Vegan Arroz con Leche is both sweet and sticky, and made using white rice, cinnamon and your favorite dairy-free milk for an easy and delicious Mexican rice pudding recipe.
Every once in awhile, I listen to Miguel's request and make one of his childhood favorite recipes (like this Spanish rice, for example). This Arroz con Leche is another example, and it's not only husband-approved, but he said it reminds him of his childhood. He also said that, though many people consider this a dessert, you can really eat it any time of day -- win!
Why you'll love this recipe
- It's vegan + gluten free, and refined sugar-free
- You only need 5 total ingredients
- The texture and consistency are spot-on, but can also be easily customized to your liking
Rice - Long grain white rice
Milk - ANY kind of dairy-free milk. Personally, I think oat milk or soy milk work best, simply because they're the most similar tasting to dairy milk (again, in my opinion). But, any milk should work!
Maple syrup - Would NOT recommend subbing honey, but could sub cane sugar if you prefer.
Cinnamon - You need cinnamon sticks, but additional ground cinnamon is optional. I like sprinkling a little on top.
Step 1: Cook the rice with water. Add the rice, water and cinnamon sticks to a large pot or dutch oven, then bring it to a boil and boil the rice for 8-10 minutes or until it's absorbed the water.
Step 2: Add the milk. Remove the cinnamon sticks, then add the milk, syrup and vanilla and again, bring the rice to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer rice for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally so the rice doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot.
Step 3: Sweeten as needed. Now, do a taste test and see if you want to add more maple syrup and/or a little ground cinnamon. At this point, you can also add a little more milk if you want the consistency to be more milky.
Tips and tricks
- As far as dairy-free milks go, I think oat milk or soy milk work best in this recipe. That's not to say almond or coconut won't work, I just think oat and soy are slightly sweeter, and arroz con leche is intended to be on the sweeter side.
- Don't forget to stir the rice every few minutes while it's simmering in the milk; this helps the rice cook more quickly and prevents it from sticking to the bottom of your saucepan/dutch oven.
- Rice: Can use long grain brown rice, though the texture will be a bit different (not as sticky)
- Syrup: If you want to use actual sugar, you can. I'd start with 2 tablespoons of cane sugar, taste test, and then add more as needed.
How should I store this?
Store arroz con leche in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. I don't recommend freezing it.
If you made this recipe, be sure to leave a comment and star rating below. Thanks!
Vegan Arroz con Leche
- 1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
- 2 cups water
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 3 cups dairy free milk or more
- 1/3 cup maple syrup or more to taste
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon optional
- Add rice, water and cinnamon sticks to a large saucepan or dutch oven and bring to a boil. Boil rice for 8-10 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed the water.
- Then, remove the cinnamon sticks and add the milk, syrup and vanilla and stir, then bring mixture to to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste test and add more syrup and/or ground cinnamon if desired.
- Serve warm, or place in the refrigerator for a few hours then enjoy cold and enjoy!
UPDATE NOTE: This post was originally published in March 2015. It was updated with new text and photos in July 2020.