Portuguese Sweet Rice is a delicious and comforting dessert that is perfect for any occasion. It is made with rice, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and lemon zest producing a rich and creamy dessert.
Looking for a Arroz Doce (Portuguese Sweet Rice Pudding) recipe just like your Titia or Vavo made? This is one of the best rice pudding recipes available and is exactly the classic version for a Portuguese party, or together. In fact, you don’t have to be Portuguese to make or enjoy it.
A few things I love about Portuguese Sweet Rice is that it is pretty inexpensive to make. Chances are, you might have short-grain or Arborio rice on-hand, whole milk, butter, lemon extract, and cinnamon? If not, stores like Price Rite, or Aldi have these staples for a much cheaper price than mainstream markets.
Portuguese Sweet Rice Ingredients
Lemon – Add a vibrant flavor to the rice. You can use fresh lemon peel, zest, or lemon extract. Some people use vanilla extract or substitute orange peel for an equally delicious flavor.
Rice – A short grain rice works better. I like to use Arborio rice for ours because it is tasty.
Water – This is needed to help cook the rice and will be absorbed.
Milk – Needed to help cook the rice and provide a creamy, rich texture.
Sugar – You will need sugar to sweeten this Portuguese dessert.
Eggs – Adds color and a rich creaminess to the rice. These cook as they temper.
Butter – Adds flavor and richness to the rice pudding.
Salt – Helps to balance the sweetness of the rice.
Cinnamon – Adds a finishing touch flavor and garnish to the rice. Some people use a stencil to create a pretty lattice pattern.
How to Make Arroz Doce
In a thick-walled medium saucepan, add your milk, 2 cups of water, butter, and rice bring these items to a boil over medium heat.
Once your mixture is boiling add your lemon zest, extract, pinch of salt, and sugar.
Reduce heat and simmer over Low heat for 25 minutes-stirring frequently. If you do not stir frequently, your rice will stick to the bottom of the pot and burn.
Separate your egg yolks (if you have not done this already).
After 25 minutes, remove rice mixture from the heat, and stir in 1 egg yolk at a time rapidly (to temper the eggs) to prevent scrambled eggs. If you do it too slowly the yolks will cook.
Place pot back on burner and cook on the lowest heat setting for 5 minutes stirring frequently.
Add rice to a serving dish or 13 x 9 Pyrex.
Top with a generous amount of cinnamon.
The rice will thicken as it cools.
Recipe Tips for Success
- Use a 5-quart, thick-walled stockpot for this recipe. I find cheaper, thinner versions can scorch the rice/milk mixture. I also use a large wooden spoon to stir the rice pudding as it cooks.
- Use short-grain or Arborio rice for a creamier pudding that will cook faster.
- Use light cream for a richer flavor.
- Use white sugar for a traditional flavor.
- To zest a lemon, use a zester or a sharp knife to remove the thin, colored part of the peel. Be careful not to remove any of the white pith, as it is bitter. Lemon gives this rice such a burst of beautiful flavor. I used two lemons since I really love the flavor, however, you can dial it down to just one large lemon rind. If you do not like lemon peel in your rice, scoop it out immediately once the pudding is done.
- Use lemon extract for a more intense lemon flavor – add a teaspoon.
- Use egg yolks for a richer and creamier pudding
- Use butter for a richer flavor although margarine could be used but is not preferred.
- Use a pinch of salt to balance the sweetness.
- Sprinkle with cinnamon for a touch of spice and tradition. Some people like to make a design like a cross hatch.
Storing Rice Pudding
You can leave it at room temperature for the day (it tastes yummy warm or cold), but I recommend refrigerating any leftovers you might not need until the next day. Simply cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 5 days. This does not freeze well.
If you love this Portuguese Rice Pudding you might also love this Chourico Stuffed Quahogs by Sizzling Eats.
More Portuguese Recipes to Try Today
Homemade Portuguese Sweet Rice Pudding (Arroz Doce)
- 6-quart stockpot
- wooden spoon
- Measuring cups and spoons
- In a thick stock pot, add your milk, water, butter, and rice bring these items to a boil over medium heat.
- Once your rice is boiling add your lemon zest, extract, pinch of salt, and sugar
- Reduce heat, and simmer over low heat for 25 minutes-stirring frequently.
- Separate your egg yolks (if you have not done this earlier).
- After 25 minutes, remove rice from heat, and stir in 1 egg yolk at a time. This is called tempering the eggs- it will cook them.
- Place pot back on burner and cook on lowest heat setting for 5 minutes-stirring frequently.
- Place in a nice serving dish, a Pyrex, or in individual cups.
- Top with a generous amount of cinnamon & enjoy!
- Refrigerate any leftovers.