Rizogalo – Rice Pudding

Have you ever had rice pudding? I don’t mean store bought vanilla pudding with rice mixed in. I mean the real deal.

There are a ton of rice pudding recipes out there but I’m partial to this recipe for several reasons. First, I like the texture. This is not a custard and not a porridge. Instead, this rice pudding is more like a bowl of rice with very thick and sweet milk. I’m not sure if that makes sense so hopefully my pictures give you a better idea of the texture.

Second, it tastes delicious. It’s sweet but not too sweet. I recommend adding a little cinnamon on top, but that is completely optional. I’ve seen some recipes add raisins, but I’ll have none of that here. My husband thinks they would be a nice addition, but on this one he doesn’t get a vote.

This recipe is simple, but it is high maintenance. In other words, this takes a long time to make, and you have to babysit it the whole time. Depending on the temperature of your milk and the type of stove you have, it takes a long time to bring the milk to a boil. Do not use high heat to try to speed up the process. Trust me, I speak from experience and it’s not pretty because the milk will simultaneously burn to the bottom of the pot and boil over and end up on everything. Literally everywhere. DO NOT DO.

I used medium heat to bring it to slow boil. You’ll need to closely watch the milk during this step and stir it frequently. (So don’t get A.D.D. and walk too far away, see above.) Then when you’re ready to add the rice to the milk mixture, you have to stir the mixture constantly. I drag a stool in front of my stove so that I can sit, stir, and ponder about what else I could be doing instead of boring stirring. It’s an annoying process, but trust me it’s worth it.

I’ve made this rice pudding many times over the past 20 years so I’ve learned a thing or two along the way. If I had one piece of advice to offer then I would say that you must use whole milk. My mom and I have both tried it with lower fat milks and it comes out too watery. If that doesn’t bother you then ignore my advice, but a little extra fat in your milk goes a long way to improve the texture of the final result.

By the way, rice pudding is not a Greek dish, although I did get this recipe from a Greek cookbook and it is similar to how my mom and yiayia (Greek grandma) makes it. I don’t make it often. Quite frankly, I’m just not usually in the mood to babysit the pot for so long. I love it though and so does my family so that’s why I make it. My family says that mine tastes better than my mom’s or yiayia’s and that’s a huge compliment because they are amazing cooks.

Rizogalo – Rice Pudding Recipe
(Makes 6 to 8 servings)


  • 3/4 cups white rice
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups water (plus a bunch of warm water for soaking the rice)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ground cinnamon, for topping


  1. Place the rice in a bowl and add warm water, enough to cover the rice completely. (Note that this is NOT the cooking step!)
  2. After about 10 minutes, rub the rice between your fingers and then drain the water. (The starchy water should be discarded.)
  3. In a big pot on the stove, add the milk and the 2 cups of water, and scald it. (That’s when it is bubbly and steaming but not yet to a full boil.) To scald it, use medium heat and stir occasionally. Do not put the lid on the pot. When you see tiny bubbles and steam that means it’s done. (It took about 40 minutes for me.) Stir frequently during this step.
  4. Add in the rice, sugar, and salt. Cook it on medium heat for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened and the rice is cooked. Stir the mixture constantly during this step.
  5. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
  6. Let the rice pudding cool a bit and store it in the refrigerator. If you are storing it for later, put it into any container with a lid. If you are serving it to guests soon, then I like to divide it into portions and cover each serving container with plastic wrap.
  7. Optionally sprinkle cinnamon on top of the rice pudding just prior to serving (because not everyone likes cinnamon).

Source: Opaa! Greek Cooking New York Style

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