Mexican Hot Chocolate Arroz Con Leche (Rice Pudding) Recipe

The beloved comfort food known as rice pudding in America is called arroz con leche in Mexica. Simple ingredients of rice, whole milk, and sugar cook together in a pot to make a rich and creamy treat. This version by recipe developer Tess Le Moing calls for additions of cocoa powder, cinnamon, chili powder, and cayenne, which nod to the classic flavors of Mexican hot chocolate.

One great thing about rice pudding is that you can enjoy it hot or cold depending on your mood or the weather outside. When served hot, its texture is looser,and the intensity of the spices comes through more — perfect for chilly nights or rainy days. When served cold, the texture of the arroz con leche thickens while the spices mellow out, making the drink ideal for a hot summer dessert. However you choose to enjoy it, we suggest topping it with a dollop of whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon.

Gather the ingredients for Mexican hot chocolate arroz con leche

First, you'll need to simmer whole milk, sugar, salt, and long-grain white rice until thickened. Then, you'll add cocoa powder. The type of cocoa powder you choose will affect the final flavor of the rice pudding. Natural cocoa powder has a fruity chocolate flavor, while Dutch-processed cocoa is more mellow and smooth and will result in a darker pudding. Last, you'll finish the dish with ground cinnamon, chili powder, cayenne, and a dollop of whipped cream.

Step 1: Boil the milk

Combine the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Step 2: Add the rice

Stir in the rice and reduce heat to medium-low.

Step 3: Cook until thickened

Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, until the rice is soft and the pudding thickens to the consistency of yogurt, about 40–50 minutes.

Step 4: Add the cocoa and spices

Stir in the cocoa powder, vanilla, cinnamon, chili powder, and cayenne.

Step 5: Serve, or chill

Serve warm, or transfer the pudding to a large bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to serve cold.

Step 6: Top with whipped cream and cinnamon

Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon to serve.

Can you use low-fat milk or dairy-free milk for rice pudding?

You can use low-fat milk or dairy-free milk alternatives when making rice pudding. It's important to note, however, that these milk substitutes will give your rice pudding a looser consistency. But, they will firm and thicken up nicely when cooled in the fridge.

If using a dairy-free option, such as almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, or oat milk, note that each type of milk alternative will give a unique flavor and texture to the pudding, so feel free to experiment and find the one that suits your taste preferences best. Also, keep in mind that some varieties may be sweeter than others. You may need to adjust the sugar amount in the recipe to achieve the desired sweetness. Whether you choose low-fat or dairy-free alternatives, simply substitute an equal amount for the whole milk. The end result will be slightly lighter in texture but still delicious and creamy.

What type of rice is best for making rice pudding?

Short-grain and long-grain rice can be used to make rice pudding, but they will have slightly different textures. Many resources swear by short-grain white rice like Arborio because its higher starch content results in a creamier and thicker rice pudding. It also absorbs liquid well and holds its shape, giving the pudding a dense consistency. Le Moing prefers using long-grain rice in her rice pudding recipe because it gives a lighter and fluffier texture. It has less starch and tends to remain separate when cooked, which is preferred for a lighter dessert.

Ultimately, the decision is based on personal preference and desired outcome. Short-grain rice gives a rich and creamy pudding, while long-grain rice offers a lighter one. Whether you crave indulgent creaminess or a more airy feel, choosing the right rice ensures that your rice pudding aligns perfectly with what you're craving.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Arroz Con Leche (Rice Pudding) Recipe
5 from 11 ratings
This recipe for arroz con leche, known as rice pudding in the U.S., imparts the bold, spicy flavors of Mexican hot chocolate into the dessert.
Prep Time
5
minutes
Cook Time
50
minutes
Servings
2
servings
a bowl of chocolate rice pudding topped with whipped cream and cinnamon with a spoon in it
Total time: 55 minutes
Ingredients
  • 2 ½ cups whole milk
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup long-grain white rice
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus extra for garnish
  • ⅛ teaspoon chili powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons whipped cream
Directions
  1. Combine the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Stir in the rice and reduce heat to medium-low.
  3. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, until the rice is soft and the pudding thickens to the consistency of yogurt, about 40–50 minutes.
  4. Stir in the cocoa powder, vanilla, cinnamon, chili powder, and cayenne.
  5. Serve warm, or transfer the pudding to a large bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to serve cold.
  6. Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon to serve.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 405
Total Fat 11.9 g
Saturated Fat 6.8 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 32.8 mg
Total Carbohydrates 65.0 g
Dietary Fiber 3.4 g
Total Sugars 41.0 g
Sodium 720.7 mg
Protein 13.0 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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