6-Ingredient Arroz con Leche (Colombian)

I’ve been tinkering with this recipe, and after several different variations, this is the latest, super creamy Colombian arroz con leche version with tres leches, instead of two (whole and condensed milk).

With the addition of evaporated milk, the result was creamier. I’ll add a side-by-side comparison of arroz con leche colombiano below, with and without evaporated milk.

Side view of bowl of Arroz con leche colombian with powdered cinnamon

What Is Arroz Con Leche?

Arroz con leche, or traditional rice pudding, is a decadent milk-based rice dessert with a touch of sweet cinnamon and vanilla. The best part is that it’s a really fail-proof and comforting dessert, whether warm or cold.

Truly, the only thing to look out for is making sure it doesn’t burn by keeping the heat low and stirring frequently. Otherwise, you can’t go wrong as long as you have a can of condensed milk.

This Colombian rice pudding has rich notes of vanilla that slowly develop when milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla are cooked together on low heat. It’s heaven!

What Makes Arroz con Leche Colombiano Different?

I love arroz con leche, and every variation is delicious. Recipes vary by country and region, and the most glaring difference between Colombian arroz con leche is that it’s made without citrus.

This simple recipe starts with long-grain rice cooked in water and milk, then slow-cooked with condensed milk, whole milk, evaporated milk, cinnamon, and a hint of vanilla extract until it forms a thick, creamy texture.

Even in Colombia, there are subtle variations in different regions of Colombia or even households, and some include raisins in their recipe. However, growing up, my mom made it without raisins.

Side view of Arroz con leche colombiano in a bowl with cinnamon

Here are some of my other favorite arroz con leche recipe variations.

Rice Pudding Cubano

Cuban arroz con leche is slightly different and incredibly delicious. Cuban rice pudding is cooked with cascara de limon or lemon zest in addition to the traditional ingredients – cinnamon, condensed milk, and evaporated milk.

Spanish Arroz con Leche

In Spain, arroz con leche is made with lemon peel or orange peel without condensed milk and instead has sugar and milk. 

Top Tips

  1. When cooking arroz con leche, cook the rice with water on low heat for a quicker cook. Once the water has evaporated, add the whole, evaporated, and condensed milk.
  2. Condensed milk is sweet and requires no additional sugar in the recipe.
  3. Stir, and stir to prevent it from burning or sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  4. Serve warm or cold. Both are delicious!

Ingredients and Substitutions

Milk (Whole, Evaporate, and Condensed Milk)

Arroz con leche (Colombian) recipe is made with delicious whole, evaporated, and condensed milk. This is an updated recipe, where I added evaporated milk to the recipe and noticed that it turned out much creamier than just milk with condensed milk, which is how I’ve made it for years.

Evaporated milk is slowly cooked whole milk that is (only) slightly thicker than whole milk, and we could call it much more concentrated milk because 60% of the water is evaporated.

Condensed milk is slow-cooked milk and sugar that thickens and develops into a heavenly milky syrup. I am a huge fan of condensed milk in my recipe because it adds depth and a layer of flavor and richness.

However, if you want to substitute condensed milk for sugar, you can. Instead of a can of condensed milk, combine two cups of milk and sugar and cook slowly until it thickens. Cook the combination of milk and sugar over low heat until it turns an off-white color.

Overhead shot of Leche combination for arroz con leche (Colombian)

Cinnamon (Canela)

Should I cook the arroz con leche with powdered cinnamon or cinnamon sticks?

This recipe calls for organic ceylon cinnamon, and I am hesitant to use cinnamon sticks because there are brands who advertise natural cinnamon sticks when they’re genuinely a different plant that is much cheaper.

Ceylon cinnamon is considered a true cinnamon because it comes from the bark of the cinnamon tree cassia cinnamon stick alternative, so make sure it’s labeled Ceylon.

Rice (Arroz)

This arroz con leche recipe is made with long-grain jasmine rice. There is room to swap jasmine rice for another other than long-grain or whichever medium or short-grain rice you have in the pantry.

Keep in mind that by making this recipe with medium to short-grain rice, the recipe will turn out thicker. Shorter grain rice is naturally starchier, so it thickens with the milk mixture much faster.

Storage and Reheating

Storage

Arroz con leche can be safely stored in the refrigerator for a few days, a week at maximum. Read this new post if you’ve wondered how long you can store arroz con leche in the fridge.

Freeze arroz con leche to last a few more weeks, and defrost before serving. To freeze it without freezer burn, store it in an airtight container, leaving room for the rice mixture to expand, so don’t overfill the container.

Keep it in the freezer for 3-4 months. This is perfect if you love making big batches of your favorite recipe.

Reheating

For a cold bowl of arroz con leche, you can defrost it after freezing or serve it cold right out of the fridge. 

If you prefer a warm bowl of arroz de leche, warm a serving in a small pot and add a splash of milk if it’s too dry. 

Instructions For A Simple and Delicious Arroz Con Leche (Colombian) Recipe

Step 1

Rinse the rice in a fine mesh strainer until the water is on the clearer side, only slightly cloudy. Add the rinsed rice to the dutch oven with water and cook on low heat.

Tip: Cook On Low Heat

Cook on low heat to prevent the rice from burning or sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Step 2

Once the water has evaporated, the rice will be partially cooked.

Add the whole, condensed, and evaporated milk to the cooked rice (note that the rice will not be fully cooked), add the cinnamon and vanilla extract, stir, and cover. 

Cook for 30 minutes on low heat. 

Tip: Continue to Stir

When making arroz con leche, it’s important to keep an eye on it and stir it well using a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.

The sugar in the milk, especially the condensed milk, can crystallize and burn much quicker, so it’s best to be cautious. By stirring it regularly, you’ll get a delicious and creamy dessert without any burnt bits.

I prefer to use a silicone spatula to stir the mixture, and it helps to remove any pieces that have started sticking to the bottom.

Overhead shot of creamy, cooked, arroz con leche (colombian) in dutch oven.

Step 3

After 30 minutes, remove the cover and stir well. Then, increase the heat only slightly to get the milk to come to a quick boil, stir, and turn the heat off.

When the milk comes to a boil, it gives the recipe a delicious, sweet, scalded milk flavor.

Tip: Consistency Once It’s Done

When it comes to making the perfect rice pudding, it’s all about finding that sweet spot.

You want the rice to be fully cooked and the milk thickened into a creamy consistency that still coats the rice.

Remember that the rice will absorb all the flavors and will continue to thicken once it’s off the heat.

The flavor you’re looking for is a cozy mix of cinnamon, sweet milk, and vanilla.

Step 4

To serve, pour the rice pudding into a bowl or small mug. Sprinkle cinnamon on top and enjoy the creamy goodness (warm or cold)!

Arroz Con Leche With and Without Evaporated Milk

Of these two recipes, the first was made without evaporated milk, and the one on the right was made with evaporated milk. I noticed it turned out creamier and slightly more caramelized.

This is now my new favorite recipe.

Note: If you’re not a fan of evaporated milk, replace it with a cup of whole milk.

If you love a good milk-based sweet dessert, try this super lemony lemon tres leches cake recipe incorporating three kinds of milk.

side view of arroz con leche colombiano

Arroz con Leche Colombiano (Colombian Rice Pudding)

Olga Muñoz
Simple and Creamy Arroz con Leche (Colombian) Recipe
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Colombian, Mexican
Servings 8 people
Calories 442 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups White Rice Jasmine
  • 3 cups Water
  • 1 can Condensed Milk
  • 5 cups Whole Milk
  • 1 can Evaporated Milk
  • 1 tsp Ceylon Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/8 tsp Salt Optional

Instructions
 

  • Step 1
    Rinse the rice in a fine mesh strainer until the water is on the clearer side, only slightly cloudy.
    Add the rinsed rice to the dutch oven with water and cook on low heat.
    Overhead shot of Rinsing Jasmine Rice for arroz con leche
  • Step 2
    Once the water has evaporated, the rice will be partially cooked.
    Add the whole, condensed, and evaporated milk to the cooked rice (note that the rice will not be fully cooked), add the cinnamon and vanilla extract, stir, and cover. 
    Cook for 30 minutes on low heat. 
    Overhead shot of Cooked, creamy arroz con leche in round dutch oven
  • Step 3
    After 30 minutes, remove the cover and stir well. Then, increase the heat only slightly to get the milk to come to a quick boil, stir, and turn the heat off.
    NOTE: Don’t worry if the milk still seems a little runny at first – the rice will keep absorbing it and thickening everything up even after it’s off the heat.
    Overhead shot of creamy, cooked, arroz con leche (colombian) in dutch oven.
  • Step 4
    To serve, pour the rice pudding into a bowl or small mug. Sprinkle cinnamon on top and enjoy the creamy goodness (warm or cold)!

Notes

Tip: Cook On Low Heat

Cook on low heat to prevent the rice from burning or sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Tip: Continue to Stir

When making arroz con leche, it’s important to keep an eye on it and give it a good stir using a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
The sugar in the milk, especially the condensed milk, can crystallize and burn much quicker, so it’s best to be cautious. By stirring it regularly, you’ll get a delicious and creamy dessert without any burnt bits.
I prefer to use a silicone spatula to stir the mixture, it helps to remove any pieces that have started sticking to the bottom.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 442kcalCarbohydrates: 73gProtein: 13gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 39mgSodium: 176mgPotassium: 514mgFiber: 1gSugar: 36gVitamin A: 429IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 382mgIron: 0.5mg
Keyword Arroz con Leche, arroz con leche colombian, arroz con leche colombiano, Condensed Milk, Dessert, Rice Pudding, Spanish Rice Pudding
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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13 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    My mom makes the best arroz con leche, and this recipe closely mirrors hers. I can’t wait to try this! Great job. I love your website and the beautiful pictures of your dishes.

    I heard you on ” Yo Quiero Dinero” and I was curious to see what you were cooking up!

  2. 5 stars
    I made this arroz con leche for NYE, and everyone loved it so much I had to leave you a quick comment to let you know how good it was.

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