This rice pudding is sweet, creamy and flavored with the dynamic duo of fall flavors – apples and cinnamon. Even better, it’s made from pre-cooked (read take-out leftovers) rice and is ready in about 30 minutes!
I was late to the rice pudding game. I had it for the first time about a year ago, and it was definitely one of those “Where has this been?” moments. Rice pudding is so comforting and satisfying, and sooo easy to make! I still can’t believe I was missing out for so long.
When I was a kid, my Dad used to make tapioca pudding from a box every once in a while, when he had a craving for it. I’m pretty sure I was the only one who ate it with him. I don’t think I ever asked why, but those cravings seemed to hit whenever The Wizard of Oz was on tv. This was so long ago that we didn’t have a VCR or cable yet, and on-demand and streaming content weren’t even an idea. Back then, your favorite movie on television was an EVENT. One of the networks would show the movie once a year, and it was on those nights that Dad and I would sit in the living room together, watching Dorothy and eating tapioca pudding. The first bite of rice pudding brought those moments back, and I fell in love.
The flavor is sweet, of course, creamy and redolent with vanilla. Many people eat their rice pudding cold, but I love it still warm when every bite is like pulling your favorite blanket just a bit closer around you. In this recipe we ramp up that comfort food factor with apples, cinnamon and brown sugar. The end result is fall in a bowl, curled up in your favorite sweater, watching your childhood favorite movie. It’s just that warming, soothing and comforting.
- Apple – A variety of apple that holds up well to cooking is ideal. Softer eating apples and saucing apples cook down easily, which is great for applesauce, but will get lost in this dish. Granny Smith is a tart apple used for cooking and can be found in nearly any grocery store. I also like Braeburns, Winesaps, Northern Spy, and even Honeycrisp for this recipe.
- Rice – This recipe is designed to be made with rice that is already cooked. The rice you have left from dinner the night before is great, take-out rice works very well and is what I used this time. White rice, brown rice, jasmine, basmati, any kind of long grain rice will do. Just don’t use risotto or any previously flavored rice! The onion or garlic or parmesan cheese in your risotto will not complement apple and cinnamon.
- Milk/Cream – Puddings are usually dairy based, but you have some wiggle room here. I used 1 1/2 cups of milk and 1/2 cup of cream. You can substitute half and half or even more milk for the cream if you want. You can also swap out some of the milk for more cream if you want a richer pudding. I have never tried this recipe with plant-based milks, so I can’t offer guidance. If you do try this recipe with a plant milk, please drop me a comment below and let me know how it works for you!
- Spices – We’re going to use a cinnamon stick and star anise to flavor the pudding, along with some vanilla extract. If you don’t have star anise, leave it out, the pudding is still going to taste great. No cinnamon sticks? No worries. Just add 1/2 – 3/4 tsp of ground cinnamon with the milk, based on your tastes.
- Raisins – they’re optional. Many recipes for rice pudding include raisins, and millions love it. I say they’re optional, and I am opting against. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
How to Make Apple Cinnamon Rice Pudding
- Prep the apple – The apple for this recipe is going to be peeled, cored and shredded. The reason why I chose to shred the apple is because I want the flavor of the apple and the variation in texture that apple offers, but I didn’t want chunks of diced apple. I wanted the apple to blend with the rice. Shredding the apple is easiest on the large holes of a box grater. The apple is going straight in the pan in the first steps, so since you’re not holding the grated apple for any length of time, you don’t need to treat it with lemon juice to stop it from turning brown. It won’t have time!
- Saute the apple – Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the shredded apple and brown sugar, and cook 5-6 minutes until the apple gets soft and starts to brown.
- Add remaining ingredients – Once the apple is soft and starting to brown, add your rice, milk, cream, and flavorings. I tied my cinnamon sticks and star anise in a bit of cheesecloth to make them easier to pull back out when the pudding was done, but there’s no harm in just throwing them in the pot. It’ll just take a minute to find them and fish them out at the end.
- Cook the rice pudding – Simmer your rice pudding, covered, 15-20 minutes, until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. People say that all the time, here’s what it looks like when you swipe your finger down the length of the stirring spoon:
A note about the funky-looking tool in the above picture, and in a number of other posts – that is a spurtle. It’s a traditional Scottish stirring tool that has been used for centuries when preparing porridges and oatmeal. They are awesome! Spurtles are really useful tools and great multi-taskers. I use mine for spreading frostings and peanut butter, mixing ingredients, stirring while I’m cooking, and they are the all-time champs for gently folding in egg whites or whipped cream without deflating cake batters and mousses. Even better, they are made of wood, so they’re safe for non-stick and enameled cookware without leaving ugly metal marks or damaging the cooking surfaces! If you want to have a spurtle of your very own, you can find them here.
Apple Cinnamon Rice PuddingCourse: Breakfast, Desserts, Fall, Recipe, Rice, Vegetarian, WinterCuisine: American, Indian, Chinese
This rice pudding is sweet, creamy and flavored with the dynamic duo of fall flavors – apples and cinnamon.
1 large apple, see note below
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 cups cooked rice
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup cream
1 cinnamon stick, or 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 star anise, optional
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup raisins, optional
- Peel and core apple. Shred with a box grater on the side with the large holes. Set aside.
- Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add apples and brown sugar and cook for 5-6 minutes until the grated apple softens and begins to brown.
- Add all remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
- Simmer, covered, 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pudding has thickened and coats the back of a spoon.
- Remove cinnamon stick and star anise.
- Serve warm, or chill and serve cold.
- Look for a variety of apple that is good for cooking. Granny Smith, Braeburn, Northern Spy, Honeycrisp, etc.
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