Here's the Easiest and Most Delicious Way to Use Up Your Leftover Rice


There is nothing more soothing than pudding. As desserts go, it is the simplest of pleasures, nursery food in all of the best possible ways. Whether your fond memories are for commercial snack packs or tubs, homemade boxed versions in either instant or cooked varieties, or legit from-scratch custards, thickened with egg yolks or corn starch, in any flavor under the sun, it’s all nostalgic and delicious delight.

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Easy never tasted so awesome.

One of the pudding recipes many people love, but hesitate to make at home, is rice pudding. Having to balance getting the rice cooked through, suspended in a creamy pudding, and finding a place on the edge of sweet and savory, can be a bit complicated. Some are stove-top versions, some baked. Some flow like a great risotto, some are so solid they can be sliced into squares. And while there is nothing wrong with going down the rabbit hole of recipes and testing, I am here to say that really satisfying rice pudding is mere minutes away, as long as you have one key ingredient.

Cooked rice.

And make no mistake: This is not fancy rice pudding. Or even classic rice pudding with a few extra ingredients blended in for good measure. This is I-want-rice-pudding-right-now pudding. No eggs, no muss, no fuss. Which makes it perfect for quarantine days when you’ve got some leftover rice and don’t really feel like baking another batch of cookies (or banana bread), and something sweet would really help.

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How to make the world’s easiest rice pudding

Here’s the basic recipe: For every half cup of cooked rice you have left over, you’ll need a half a cup of dairy and two teaspoons of sweet:

  • The rice can be white, jasmine, basmati, brown… whatever you have around.
  • The dairy can be milk, half and half, cream (or a combination), or even a plant-based milk.
  • The sweet can be as basic as granulated sugar, but you can also experiment with brown sugar, honey, maple sugar or syrup, or even more exotic things like date syrup or coconut sugar.
  • A pinch of salt is nice, as is a splash of vanilla or a dash of spice like cinnamon or nutmeg.

The steps could not be easier:

1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.

2. Cover, turn the heat to low, and cook for about 6-9 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed by the rice and it has a puddinglike texture. (If you like it looser, you can add more dairy; if you like it thicker, keep cooking.)

Fun variations on the world’s easiest rice pudding

Experiment with different combinations and additions.

  • Plain white rice with coconut milk and coconut sugar (with some shredded coconut mixed in) makes a rice pudding that tastes like the inside of a Mounds bar and is very happy with some shaved dark chocolate on top.
  • Brown rice cooked with whole milk and date syrup can be garnished with granola and berries for a breakfast rice pudding.
  • Jasmine rice with half and half, sugar, and vanilla cries out for sliced of fresh mango or peach. Further, you can experiment with the temperature you serve at: Warm, room temp, or cold all work. Serve plain or with a garnish of lightly whipped cream, chopped toasted nuts, fresh fruit, or a swirl of jam. It’s all good, as they say. But it really, truly is.

Is this the rice pudding you are likely to make for a dinner party? Probably not. But it is a rice pudding that is such an easy elevation of leftover rice, you’ll find that you start to make extra for dinner or order a bonus quart when ordering in Asian food, just to have leftovers to make pudding with. Let the comfort commence!

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