Best Rice for Rice Pudding: Creamiest Results

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Sweet, creamy, and heavenly—that’s rice pudding for you. Or, at least, when done correctly.

My friend cooked this dessert once. Only then did I realize that pudding can be literally hard to swallow.

Her pudding wasn’t creamy, and some grains were too firm. A comfort food turned uncomfortable. 

Turns out, she was using the wrong rice for rice pudding. 

I don’t want you to make the same mistake. 

So, here are my top rice recommendations when cooking rice pudding. 

Why The Rice Matters in Rice Pudding

Rice pudding in a white bowl.

I’m a firm believer that if you’re planning to use the wrong type of rice for rice pudding, you might as well cook a different dish instead. 

See, in many dishes, rice is just one of the many important ingredients you’ll use. 

But, as the dessert’s name suggests, rice is the main character when cooking rice pudding.

It takes up almost 70% of the entire dish (a not-so-scientific guess, lol)

So, the rice you choose will literally determine the creaminess, consistency, and flavor profile of your rice pudding.

That said, take note of the rice varieties mentioned below! 

Best Rice Variety for Rice Pudding: Arborio Rice

Let me share my shortcut to achieving that iconic creaminess of rice pudding. 

Arborio Rice

Raw arborio rice in a clay pot.

Arborio rice is my go-to rice variety when making rice pudding. 

I first used this type of rice when I finally cooked risotto the right way.

When I realized how creamy Arborio rice can be, I immediately switched to using it for rice pudding as well. 

More Reasons to Use Arborio Rice for Rice Pudding

Texture: Despite having high enough starch content to make rice pudding creamy, Arborio rice doesn’t “break down” when cooked. It still provides that ideal semi-chewy texture we all love when eating rice pudding.

Flavor Absorption: When I tried using long grain white rice for rice pudding (like a recipe suggested), I ended up with a pudding where all the flavor was in the liquid. After switching to Arborio rice, I never encountered the same problem again! 

Consistency: Arborio rice cooks evenly (not all rice varieties have this quality). So, you won’t have an odd mix of creamy grains and random hard grains once the pudding is cooked.

Rice Runner-ups for Rice Pudding

I believe Arborio rice is the superior rice for rice pudding. But whenever I need alternatives, here are the rice varieties I go for. 

Carnaroli Rice

Carnaroli rice food in blue background.

Like Arborio rice, Carnaroli rice is also commonly used for creamy dishes due to its high starch content (even higher than Arborio rice). 

It also absorbs flavor extremely well, which is ideal for rice pudding. 

The only downside I can really think about using Carnaroli rice is that it’s typically harder to find, and it usually costs more than Arborio rice. 

Sushi Rice (​​Japanese Short-Grain Rice)

Though this rice variety is most commonly used for sushi, it works well with creamy dishes like rice pudding as well. 

I usually recommend this alternative to friends who have a hard time finding Arborio rice or want more budget-friendly ingredients when cooking.

If you’re using sushi rice for rice pudding, though, wash it thoroughly (4 to 5 times). 

Sushi rice has a high surface starch that can make the pudding too thick if it’s not rinsed enough. 

Bonus: Best Rice for Arroz Con Leche

For most rice pudding recipes, I use Arborio rice.

But, when it’s time to cook arroz con leche, best believe I’m using long-grain white rice. 

That’s the most common rice they use in Mexico for this traditional recipe. 

And, of course, I’m not one to rewrite tradition. 

Road to the Creamiest Rice Pudding 

Now that you know which types of rice are suitable for rice pudding, you’re fully equipped to create the creamiest rice pudding you’ll ever make. 

Fun fact: Rice pudding can be eaten warm or cool, so I suggest trying it out both ways to see what works best for you! 

Yield: 4

Simple Yet Creamy Rice Pudding

Rice pudding with cinnamon on top in a white bowl.

The perfect comfort food for winter and a delightful dessert during summer.

Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes


  • 1/2 cup of uncooked Arborio rice
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 2 cups of whole milk
  • ¼ cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • Ground cinnamon (optional)
  • A pinch of salt


  1. In a heavy-bottom saucepan, bring water, butter, and salt to a boil. 
  2. Add the uncooked Arborio rice and let the saucepan return to a boil while stirring occasionally.
  3. Turn the heat to the lowest possible setting. 
  4. Stir or shake the pan occasionally until the rice absorbs most of the water in about 15 minutes. 
  5. In a separate heavy-bottom saucepan, mix the milk, sugar, vanilla extract, and ground cinnamon (if using) and let it simmer. 
  6. Add the cooked rice to the milk mixture and gently fold it in. Let the saucepan simmer until it absorbs most of the milk (10 to 15 minutes) 
  7. Serve warm or cool, and enjoy! 

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