Easy Vegan Arroz con Leche Recipe (Mexican Rice Pudding)

This easy vegan arroz con leche recipe, or Mexican rice pudding, is a classic Mexican dessert. It’s creamy, sweet, and can be served chilled or warm. Plus it’s also a budget friendly dessert the whole family will love. I really do think you’re going to love this vegan version of arroz con leche!

Easy Mexican vegan arroz con leche recipe
Vegan Arroz con Leche Recipe Made Easy

Mexican Rice Pudding

Arroz means rice and con leche means with milk. Arroz con leche is what we in Mexico and across Latin America call rice pudding.

Traditionally the most basic arroz con leche is made with just white rice, whole milk, cinnamon and white sugar. But of course there are variations to this, as families all add their own touches. Some will use vanilla and a citrus peel for extra flavor.

There are also variations to the milk and sweeteners used, but more on that below.

Anyway you make it, there’s really no going wrong with these basic ingredients.

Easy Mexican vegan arroz con leche recipe

Vegan Arroz con Leche

You can’t get simpler than a dessert recipe that requires just 6 ingredients and is made in one pot right on the stove. That is the case for this vegan arroz con leche.

Just like the traditional recipe, which is a dairy based dessert, this dairy free version too can be made thick or as creamy as you’d like.

Ingredients needed for Mexican vegan arroz con leche.
Ingredients for Vegan Arroz con Leche

Mexican Vegan Rice Pudding Ingredients

As I previously mentioned, this vegan arroz con leche recipe needs just 6 simple ingredients — all pantry ingredients that I bet you already have in your cupboard.

  • Rice: You’ll need long grain rice for this recipe. This is what’s traditionally used in Mexico and that is what this recipe is tested with.
  • Cinnamon Sticks: If possible try to use canela or Ceylon cinnamon for a more aromatic rice pudding recipe. In a pinch you could use ground cinnamon but the stick will give you a stronger flavor.
  • Water: Water is used to cook the rice and cinnamon in the first step.
  • Plant-based Milk: I like to use an unflavored and unsweetened almond milk (Silk is a good choice). But have also tested it with soy milk, both are delicious but I feel the almond adds better flavor. See below other vegan milk options.
  • Sugar: You’ll want to use an unrefined vegan sugar. I use cane sugar. Turbinado or muscovado are also good options. Below are some sweetener variations you could try.
  • Raisins: I’m not the biggest fan of raisins but I always add a little bit to the pudding. You can choose to use or omit or adjust the amount that you’d like.

Easy Arroz con Leche Recipe Without Condensed Milk

Growing up my mom made THE BEST and creamiest Mexican arroz con leche.

Her secret was that she use evaporated milk, regular milk and condensed milk. These 3 milks make for a delicious dessert — be it quite decadent and caloric…but still delicious! It’s kind of like a tres leches rice pudding.

Though there are vegan condensed milk options out there, my recipe is a bit healthier and uses just almond milk and sugar, so this recipe is made without condensed milk.

Easy Mexican vegan arroz con leche recipe

Ingredient Variations

As I previously mentioned, there are different variations. Below are some that come to mind, but there are countless.

Citrus Peel or Zest

To begin with some people add citrus peel to the traditional recipe, and you can too with this vegan rice pudding recipe. The most common is orange peel, but you could also do lime or lemon peel.

They each give the pudding a slightly different touch of flavor, but all add a nice burst of freshness to the sweet tones. If you don’t want to add the peel you could instead add some citrus zest when serving the pudding.

Dairy-Free Milk Variations

Instead of almond milk you could use any of the following vegan non-dairy milk of your choice: soy milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, oat milk — oat will probably give you the creamiest option. But really you can use any kind of dairy-free milk you’d like and find your favorite.

Sweetener or Sugar Variations

For the sweetener I just used the traditional basic sugar, but raw cane sugar which is vegan.

Other options would be to use muscovado sugar, or piloncillo would be a delicious alternative. I believe that coconut sugar would give this creamy Mexican treat a slightly healthier version. That with coconut milk would give you like a coconut arroz con leche.

Other sweetener options would be agave syrup or maple syrup.

Arroz con Leche with Cinnamon
Arroz con Leche with Cinnamon

Aromatic Spices Variations

Whole canela sticks are the aromatic spice most commonly used, but you could also use vanilla extract or star anise for yet another variation in taste.

Chocolate Rice Pudding

A fun variation for the chocolate lover is to mix in some cacao powder when you add the milk. You can use 2 tablespoons or more.

Yet another chocolate version is to use chocolate chips instead of the powder. You can either top with the chips or mix them in once the rice pudding has chilled so that they don’t melt completely.

How to Make Vegan Arroz con Leche
The Creamiest Vegan Arroz con Leche

What Type of Rice is Best

The traditional recipe uses long grain rice. It’s also what this recipe uses.

In a pinch I’ve also used short grain rice, it’s also called arborio rice. It will require more liquid so be aware of that, but will be quite creamy. Japanese sushi rice in a pinch could also be used. The one I wouldn’t really recommend using is brown rice. It takes forever to cook and the flavor won’t be the same, try to stick to the white rice or long grain if all possible.

How to Make Mexican Vegan Arroz con Leche

Making this easy dessert requires very minimal effort. Though this is my vegan version it’s incredibly close to the traditional rice pudding I grew up eating in my Mexican home.

How to make dairy free Mexican arroz con leche
How to Make Mexican Arroz con Leche

Step 1

In a large pot add the rice, cinnamon stick then pour in the water. Turn the heat to medium heat and allow the water to come to a boil. Turn the heat to low, cover the pot and simmer for about 10 minutes. Allow to simmer until nearly all of the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender.

How to make dairy free Mexican arroz con leche

Step 2

Once the rice is tender then you can pour in the vegan sugar or sweetener of choice, the raisins, almond milk or dairy milk of your choice. Put the lid back on the pot, turn the heat to a low simmer and cook for 8 more minutes or until the rice and the raisins is nice and plump. The milk will have thickened up and not be as thin.

Stir now and then to make sure it has not stuck to the bottom of the pot.

Carefully without burning yourself taste the arroz con leche and adjust either the cooking time or adding more sweetener or extra milk to make it thinner or thicker.

Recipe for making dairy free vegan Mexican arroz con leche rice pudding.
Cooked Vegan Arroz con Leche Ready to Serve

Step 3

Once cooked you can remove from the stove and allow this creamy vegan rice pudding to come to room temperature before either serving or storing in an airtight container.

Traditional Mexican Arroz con Leche Recipe
Vegetarian Arroz con Leche Made with Condensed Milk

Vegetarian Version

If you’d rather make the traditional dairy based Mexican arroz con leche, I also have that recipe. Go check it out on my YouTube channel, because I won’t be publishing the recipe here on the blog.

Cooking Tips

The best and most useful tips I can give you when it comes to making Mexican arroz con leche are to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn and to taste test to make sure the rice is tender — no one wants a hard rice pudding.

If you like experimenting with the flavors then test out the different plant-based milks to test out the creaminess and flavors until you find your favorite.

You could try the different spices and lemon zest or aromatic orange zest or peel all will create different versions of arroz con leche.

Don’t skip the cinnamon, it adds a nice aromatic flavor to the already creamy rice pudding.

Something that I’ve always wanted to try, and maybe will do next time, is to try making this pudding but with leftover rice. It would be a great way to use those leftovers and would cut down on the cooking time. Of course as long as the rice is just steamed plain without any seasonings!

How to Make Vegan Arroz con Leche

How to Make it Creamier

To make the pudding creamier you simply add more milk and continue to simmer until it thickens up a bit. Once the arroz con leche cools, or is stored in the refrigerator, it will thicken up and you can simple reheat or served chilled and pour in a bit more milk. But don’t over do it or the sweetness and other flavors will be watered down.

Taste

The taste of this Mexican vegan arroz con leche is sweet, creamy, tender, cinnamony, and just so delicious.

It’s amazing how the simple ingredients can create a most delicious dessert that you can make right at home and not have to buy at the grocery store or wait to enjoy at a restaurant.

The best part is dipping your spoon into the cup and getting that first bite!

Easy Mexican vegan arroz con leche recipe

How to Serve

The great part about this pudding and why it becomes one of peoples favorite desserts, it’s because it can be served warm during the cooler months or chilled during the warmer months.

You can serve it as a dessert or even as a snack. I know some people enjoy it for breakfast too, but I much prefer a savory breakfast to a sweet one.

If you want to take this creamy dessert to yet another level then you could top it with seasonal fresh fruit. I love berries, plums, and peaches on mine.

There is a type of arroz con leche empanada where the pudding is used as the filling. It looks so delicious, this recipe in Spanish looks easy enough to follow. But for a shortcut I would just use ready made pie dough and stuff with the rice pudding you make from my recipe.

How to Store

Allow the arroz con leche to come to room temperature before storing. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months, when ready to use do thaw out in fridge preferably the night before.

How to Reheat

To reheat on the stove top, place in a small pot, add a splash of almond milk and heat for a few minutes on low heat. Check the temperature before serving.

In the microwave you can reheat for a few minute, but add more almond milk or it will thicken too much.

Easy Mexican vegan arroz con leche recipe

Easy Vegan Arroz con Leche Recipe (Mexican Rice Pudding)

Nancy Lopez & MexicanMadeMeatless.com
This easy vegan arroz con leche recipe, or Mexican rice pudding, is a classic Mexican dessert. It’s creamy, sweet, and can be served chilled or warm. Plus it’s also a budget friendly dessert the whole family will love.
5 from 16 votes
Save Recipe
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Mexican, Mexican vegan, vegan
Servings 8 servings
Calories 139 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 1 whole cinnamon stick canela or Ceylon
  • 2 1/2 cups of water
  • 3 cups almond milk unsweetened & unflavored
  • cup raw cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup raisins or to taste

Instructions
 

  • In a large pot add the rice, cinnamon stick then pour in the water. Turn the heat to medium heat and allow the water to come to a boil. Turn the heat to low, cover the pot and simmer for about 10 minutes. Allow to simmer until nearly all of the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender.
    How to make dairy free Mexican arroz con leche
  • Once the rice is tender then you can pour in the vegan sugar or sweetener of choice, the raisins, almond milk or dairy milk of your choice. Put the lid back on the pot, turn the heat to a low simmer and cook for 8 more minutes or until the rice and the raisins is nice and plump. The milk will have thickened up and not be as thin.
    How to make dairy free Mexican arroz con leche
  • Stir now and then to make sure it has not stuck to the bottom of the pot. Carefully without burning yourself taste the arroz con leche and adjust either the cooking time or adding more sweetener or extra milk to make it thinner or thicker.
    Recipe for making dairy free vegan Mexican arroz con leche rice pudding.
  • Once cooked you can remove from the stove and allow this creamy vegan rice pudding to come to room temperature before either serving or storing in an airtight container. Serve with a generous sprinkle of cinnamon.
    Easy Mexican vegan arroz con leche recipe

Video

Notes

Please note that as the rice sits it will absorb more of the milk. Add a bit more when reheating to thin down again.
Instead of almond milk you could use any of the following vegan non-dairy milk of your choice: soy milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, oat milk — oat will probably give you the creamiest option.

Nutrition

Serving: 8servingsCalories: 139kcalCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 2gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0.05gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 128mgPotassium: 67mgFiber: 1gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 0.4IUVitamin C: 0.3mgCalcium: 124mgIron: 0.3mg
Keyword arroz con leche, mexican rice pudding, rice, vegan dessert
Tried this recipe?Mention @MexicanMadeMeatless or tag #mexicamademeatless!

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28 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Oh, wow this was sooo good! I have never made it before and was so happy with how it turned out. Thanks for a great recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    I just tried this and it was incredible! I love that you made it vegan. My family loved it!

  3. 5 stars
    As simple as this sounds, I loved the addition of raisins and cinnamon. So good! Such a light and refreshing snack!

  4. 5 stars
    Growing up in the UK rice pudding was a favourite dessert. But there they make it with short grain rice and cream, so it’s quite starchy and calorific! I like this vegan version. Lighter, healthier and still delicious! ( btw you have a typo in the second paragraph where you say arroz means milk!)

    1. Thank you Jacqueline for catching the typo!

      I’ve had rice pudding in Europe and yes it’s definitely different. The vegetarian version in Mexico is also quite caloric, I also prefer this healthier and lighter version.

  5. 5 stars
    I love a good rice pudding for dessert and sometimes as a breakfast treat. Your recipe is terrific. Extra points for being vegan. Thanks so much, I am going to try it.

  6. 5 stars
    Arroz con Leche is a recipe that I never tried making myself before. I always thought it was harder to make and it wouldn’t turn out quite well. Following your recipe, we made it for the first time and it was really delicious. My toddler loved it too, thanks a lot for such an easy-to-follow recipe!

  7. 5 stars
    This recipe looks super tasty and I love the fact that it is vegan and can be served both hot and cold as well.

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