This healthy rice pudding recipe is naturally sweetened and yields the most creamy and wholesome dessert. It’s easy to customize and perfect for the cooler months.
During the cooler months when I’m craving something cozy and comforting after dinner, nothing beats a bowl of rice pudding.
If you are unsure of this glorious dessert, it’s essentially a sweet and thick dessert with rice as the base. It’s similar to sago, but a little more creamy. My version has been lightened up, but I promise you’ll never be able to tell.
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What makes this recipe healthy?
Instead of heavy cream and butter, I use almond milk to simmer the rice, and instead of any white sugar, I sweeten it with a touch of maple syrup.
Here are some reasons why you’ll love this recipe:
- It’s diet-friendly. This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free. This means people with lactose intolerance, gluten sensitivity, and a vegan lifestyle can enjoy this pudding.
- Versatile. I love how you can enjoy it as a hearty breakfast, a classic dessert, and an indulgent late-night snack. Its comforting flavors are perfect for chilly winter days when you just want to curl up in a blanket!
- Customizable. Cook with your favorite spices and flavors, use different milks, and go gaga with the toppings.
The pudding itself needs just three ingredients but I like to add a simple apple topping to round out the dish. Here is what you’ll need:
- Uncooked rice. While you can use any rice for this recipe, I prefer a more starchy rice that fluffs and maintains its structure, like basmati rice. To keep things healthier, opt for brown rice that ticks both boxes.
- Unsweetened almond milk. Look for unsweetened, unflavored almond milk. It’s a great alternative to regular milk and has a fraction of the calories.
- Maple syrup. As mentioned earlier, I opted to use maple syrup instead of white or brown sugar. A little goes a very long way it it makes the pudding taste even more delicious.
- Apple. Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, or Fuji are all good for baking!
- Cinnamon. Adds to the cozy feelings of the dessert and also pairs so well with apples!
Find the printable recipe with measurements below.
How to make a healthy rice pudding
What I love about this recipe is that it’s super hands-off. All I need to do is stir every so often and voila- it’s done!
Step 1- Make the pudding. Add the rice, almond milk, and maple syrup to a small saucepan and bring it to a simmer. Next, cover the saucepan and let it simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Step 2- Make the topping. When the pudding is almost done, make the topping by microwaving the chopped apple with cinnamon and a splash of water.
Step 3- Assemble. Serve the warm pudding in bowls and add a spoonful of the apple topping over each one.
Recipe tips and variations
- Cook slowly. Depending on the pan you use, the cooking time to achieve a thick and creamy pudding differs. Also, don’t increase the flame to hasten the cooking- it’ll only make the rice stick to the pan.
- Avoid overcooking the rice. Like the above point, do not overcook the rice, or it will be soggy and starchy. Once most of the liquid has been absorbed, it’s ready to be served.
- Make it creamier. I sometimes like to swirl through a tablespoon or two of cream or replace 1/4 of the milk with it. Yes, it will add some extra fat and calories, but the creaminess is unmatched.
- Serve it hot or cold. I’m a strictly hot rice pudding kind of person, but my family actually prefer it cold. If you fall into that camp, too, just chill the pudding in the fridge for an hour or two. You may need to add some milk to thin it out.
- Add mix-ins. Instead of adding toppings, fold through your favorite mix-ins during the last 5-10 minutes. Fruits, raisins, nuts, and peanut butter are all fabulous options.
To store. Store the pudding in an airtight container in the refrigerator for four to five days.
To freeze. Transfer the leftover rice pudding to freezer-safe bags, flatten out, and freeze for up to three months. To thaw, defrost in the microwave on defrost mode or in the refrigerator overnight.
More healthy pudding recipes to try:
Frequently Asked Questions
Use grains like quinoa, farro, or steel cut oats instead of rice for a different texture and flavor. You may need to adjust the cooking time as per the grain used.
Yes, this rice pudding uses no ingredients that are derived from gluten so is suitable for celiacs.
I’ve tried this recipe with brown rice, basmati rice, and long-grain rice successfully. White rice and jasmine rice will yield a more thicker pudding, whereas short grain rice will yield a more thinner one.
Healthy Rice Pudding
- In a small saucepan, add the rice, almond milk, and maple syrup. Place it over medium heat and bring it to a simmer.
- Once simmering, reduce the heat to low, cover the saucepan, and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Just before it's ready, microwave the diced apple with cinnamon and a splash of water for 1-2 minutes, until the apple softens.
- Remove the rice pudding from the heat, serve in bowls, and top with the apple mixture.
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