Healthy Rice Pudding


5 from 12 votes
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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.

healthier rice pudding in a bowl with cinnamon on top.

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.

Table of Contents
  1. What makes this recipe healthy?
  2. Ingredients Needed
  3. How to make a healthy rice pudding
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. Storage instructions
  6. More healthy pudding recipes to try:
  7. Frequently Asked Questions
  8. Healthy Rice Pudding (Recipe Card)

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.

Ingredients Needed

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.

healthy rice pudding in black bowl with apple compote on top.

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.

Storage instructions

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.

old fashioned rice pudding on a spoon.

More healthy pudding recipes to try:

Frequently Asked Questions

What other grains can I use to make this pudding?

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.

Is this recipe gluten-free?

Yes, this rice pudding uses no ingredients that are derived from gluten so is suitable for celiacs.

What other rice options can I use?

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 recipe.

Healthy Rice Pudding

5 from 12 votes
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.
Servings: 4 servings
Prep: 1 minute
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 26 minutes



  • 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.


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.


Serving: 1servingCalories: 134kcalCarbohydrates: 28gProtein: 2gFat: 2gSodium: 165mgPotassium: 92mgFiber: 2gSugar: 13gVitamin A: 21IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 175mgIron: 0.2mgNET CARBS: 26g
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Arman Liew
Tried this recipe?Give us a shout at @thebigmansworld or tag #thebigmansworld!

Arman Liew

I’m a two time cookbook author, photographer, and writer, and passionate about creating easy and healthier recipes. I believe you don’t need to be experienced in the kitchen to make good food using simple ingredients that most importantly, taste delicious.

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Recipe Rating


  1. I love a good apple and cinnamon rice pudding.. and it definitely takes me back to my childhood! Wish I had a bowl of this right now Arman.

  2. Oh God, I hate that I didn’t know about this place when I was in NY! The Q&A is perfect.
    We have ricepudding in our Supermarket. It tastes like an artificial edible punishment with something in it which they call rice.
    I prefer homemade – thanks for the recipe!

    1. We shall go there together! Ugh, our rice pudding is like glue. I could stick paintings on my wall with it!

  3. I’ve never had rice pudding before. Remember I was a picky eater growing up and I still haven’t outgrown all my strange food tendencies. I do love some apple and cinnamon though. If you add fruit to anything, you can count me in. Also, I happen to love fat too. Mmmm.

  4. This looks so good! I am a huge rice fan! I feel like I say this about every recipe you do but I think we just have similar tastes 🙂 I love me some rice for brekkie, so delicious and filling 🙂

  5. Rice pudding is one of my favourite (sweet at least) childhood dishes and I’ve been intending to finally have it again soon. Actually, I was hoping for this weekend but with all the Easter treats around I can’t predict if it’s going to happen or not. Rice pudding brings back so.many.memories for me. Especially that of my mum letting it cook ‘in bed’. From what I’ve seen on blogs American rice pudding is prepared differently from German but I can’t see why modifying our recipe using your Apple Cinnamon idea here wouldn’t work. It sounds really good and I actually happen to have quite the stash of that tea on hand, too.
    Oh, and yes, Rice to Riches has been on my “for when I finally visit New York” list for years. I should really start saving up for that trip, I guess …

      1. If only it wasn’t for a limited travel budget I’d grab my bags and be off right now.

  6. Rice to Riches is awesome, we went so many times when we lived in NYC. Some of my favorites are Sex Drug & Rocky Road and the Coast to Coast Cheesecake. Clearly you were inspired because this look AMAZING!

    1. YES! I loved the Sex Drug and Rocky Road- I need to try the cheesecake one- We should totally have our first blogger catch up there! 😉

  7. I’ve had coconut rice pudding before and it was great! The next closest thing I’ve had is tapioca pudding, which was ok. I do not go out of my way to buy it. I am certainly a fan of all your dessert for breakfast recipes! I can’t wait for your e-cookbook!
    Can you do a post about developing an e-book? I would love to read about that!

  8. I need to be on a low-fat diet (goddammit), but I think I will take the gallbladder attacks and lack of digestion for Rice to Riches. I will literally go to New York JUST for this! And dessert for breakfast is a serious requirement. I can’t do savory for breakfast; it always has to be sweet. I prefer my leftover Chinese for lunch, thank you!

  9. I’ve actually never had rice pudding before! I’ve never even seen it on a menu around here. Maybe it’s just not a popular thing in Canada? I’ve seen it so much on blogs lately though so I’m definitely intrigued.

    Dessert for breakfast? Always.

  10. With all the rice I’ve eaten over the years, I feel like I’ve definitely had rice pudding before… I just haven’t called it that. But I actually probably end up eating sweet rice more often than savoury. Blame the sweet tooth…

  11. I love infusing teas into grains! It’s so good! (NOT OPTIONAL!) Haha!
    This rice pudding sounds and looks so yummy and creamy! XOXO

  12. Dessert for ALL THE MEALS! I’ve never been to NY, so that should answer the question about Rice to Riches, but I now feel the need to have rice with allllll the toppings.

  13. I have to be honest here, I’m not a big fan of rice pudding but this one looks so good, it might change my mind.
    Have a great weekend my friend!

  14. Have you been reading my mind? I’ve been itching to make a rice pudding recipe for the longest time. Thanks for the reminder! I plan to go in the cardamom/mango/almond direction. Pinning now 🙂

  15. THIS.
    110% we’re going there together when you’re here. That place makes me so happy. It’s the antithesis of moderation and healthy living, but in that sense, it’s almost all about moderation and healthy living.
    P.S. When you go to New York you need to go to Rice To Riches.

  16. I like rice pudding…sometimes. If I’m ready for the texture, we’re good to go!! I DO love EVERYTHING apple-cinnamon, though 🙂

  17. Ive never had rice pudding either!! But now i’m thinking i would be a superfan! I cant wait for this mystery recipe, the suspense is killing me. i kind of want it to be PBandJ but then again that may be the overload of yesterday’s national peanut butter and jelly day =l I feel like i need to venture out of my oat-zone (do you get it? ozone? ugh i want to punch myself) but anyways yes expand my horizons to morning RICE and add in some cinnamon swirl cellucor protein and BOOM. i can’t even take this magic. but lets be honest i eat dessert for breakfast and breakfast for dessert so really, there’s an abundance of options for this in my life 😀

    1. ohhhhhhh it DEFINITELY involves PB…I’ll have to name it Mere.

      Hahaha ozone. Dude, I can’t effing wait to hang out.

  18. Never been there but it sounds very cool. I love how NY has places like that dedicated to making one type of food awesome in every way! I used to frequent a peanut butter place and a separate chocolate place with my friend years ago. I never gave rice pudding a fair shot, this looks really good though!

  19. What a clever recipe with the tea addition, Arman! We’re actually heading down to the city next week, so I think I need to check out this Rice to Riches place. Sounds like my kind of heaven! I’ll get you one (any flavor!) and save it for you. What would you like??

    1. You’re heading to the city? Look at you being all fancy! Please clean it up for the king to arrive, the king being me.

      Just kidding. But seriously check it out, I had some rocky road one which I reckon you’ve love!

  20. Yum!! Rice To Riches has been on my list for years and I can’t believe I haven’t been there yet (I add another place to my list almost daily)!! SO many amazing eats in NYC it’s ridiculous. P.S. still awaiting response from my cousin 🙂

  21. Not going to lie, I”m a bit skeptical. But then I’m not a big rice person (though I like wild rice the best, so you have that in your favor). The Rice pudding I think of is disgusting and I”m not a fan. So maybe be combining a few things that I’m not big on they will cancel each other out and I will be like ALL THE RICE PUDDING

    1. Dude. I used to despise rice pudding due to it’s terrible texture but I promise you this is epic. EPIC. EPICCCCCC.

  22. We live in NYC and Rice To Riches is one of our favorite places. Trying your receive because rice pudding is the bomb!

  23. I love using rice (so affordable!) in other ways outside of a savory dinner side…this looks yummy and I already love this tea and have it on hand too! SCORE!

  24. Ohh you’re making me wish it was the middle of winter- what perfect comfort food this would be to wake up to! Love the use of apple cinnamon tea too! I just googled “Rice to Riches” & seriously bro- what a menu!! I will take 1 of everything, especially the Hazelnut Chocolate Bear Hug!!