Vegan Rice Pudding - Chef Abbie Gellman MS, RD, CDN

Vegan Rice Pudding

Chef Abbie Gellman RD

A one-pot dessert, my Vegan Rice Pudding is delicious served warm or cold.  Made without dairy and granulated sugar, my take on the traditional rice pudding is sure to leave you satisfied.

Vegan Rice Pudding

Rice pudding has always been a favorite dessert of mine.  It is great cold and warm, but I tend to make it most during the cold Winters we have here in New York.  It is easy to make, and simple to scale up to feed a crowd.  As a kid, I loved how tongue tingling sweet and creamy it was, but now I find the traditional rice pudding to be a bit too heavy and decadent.

After a bunch of recipe tinkering I have come up with the perfect alternative, my Vegan Rice Pudding!  It will leave you satisfied, but not stuffed!  Even if you are a meat-loving, cow’s milk drinking type (I am!) I think you will enjoy the lighter take on this classic dessert.  Keep reading to learn why I chose each of the ingredients in my Vegan Rice Pudding.

Arborio Rice 1

If you are new to rice pudding, then making a dessert with rice probably sounds strange, but trust me, it works! Arborio rice is best known for its use in risotto. Risotto is a traditional Italian dish that could be considered the savory version of my Vegan Rice Pudding.

Risotto is typically made with chicken broth for the cooking liquid, and butter for fat and creaminess, and herbs like parsley and thyme for aromatics.  In both risotto and my Vegan Rice Pudding, arborio rice is used for its high starch content that after cooking lends an extra creamy taste and smooth mouthfeel.

Arborio rice is a short-grain rice, named for the region of northwestern Italy it was first believed to be grown in.  It is an oval shaped grain that is about a quarter of an inch long, and is typically sold as a white rice. Unprocessed, brown arborio rice is available, but far less common.

Arborio is known to be a “starchy rice,” starch is how plants store energy and all have a varying ratio of amylopectin to amylose.  Arborio is high in amylopectin starch, which is easily broken down and digested, and turned into sugar.  The other type of starch is amylose, which is resistant to digestion and higher in resistant starch.  Brown rice is much higher in amylose starch than arborio rice is.

Plant-Based Milk

To make my Vegan Rice Pudding, the cooking liquid is adjustable to your preferred plant-based milk.  Check out my post on Vegan Hot Chocolate to learn more about plant-based milk!  Almond and coconut milk are my preferred options.  For coconut milk in this recipe I prefer to use the type found in cartons, not in cans.  The cartons of coconut milk are typically in the refrigerator section with almond, oat and other plant-based milks.

Coconut milk in a carton has less of a coconut taste, higher water content, and lower fat content than its cousin in a can.  If you are crazy for coconut flavor go ahead and use it from a can for my Vegan Rice Pudding.  A 15-ounce can of coconut milk will not be enough liquid, so you could try supplementing the rest with water––although I have never tried this!

Maple Sugar

I love maple sugar! In just about everything I make, granulated sugar has been replaced by maple sugar, which is maple syrup that is boiled down until you are left with a solid sugar.  You may have noticed from recipes like my Vegan Oatmeal Cookies and Healthy Blueberry Crisp that I love this sugar substitute.  Maple Sugar is twice as sweet as regular sugar, but has (slightly) less calories per gram. 2


Cinnamon is a must in my Vegan Rice Pudding, and adding a cinnamon stick while it cooks will infuse the subtle cinnamon flavor into the pudding without overpowering the dish. Adding a garnish of cinnamon as a garnish is visually appealing and will impart a pop of cinnamon flavor!

If you do not have cinnamon sticks you can follow the ratio of one, three inch cinnamon stick equals a ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon.3  So, add about a ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon while the Vegan Rice Pudding cooks.  In addition to adding great flavor, cinnamon has a number of health benefits, including being a potent antioxidant with anti-inflammatory effects, and increasing the effect of the hormone insulin. The active compound, cinnamaldehyde has shown to help fight bacterial and fungal infections.4

Let’s Get Cooking!

Now that we have talked through the ingredients and learned the health benefits of making my Vegan Rice Pudding, it’s time to get mixing! If you have ever made risotto, you know that it is a labor of love, which involves a bit of stirring.  After adding all the ingredients, you will need to stir frequently.  This will help the rice release its starches, turning into a creamy dessert and prevent the rice from sticking and burning. Enjoy!

Similar Pages

Looking for more vegan desserts? Try my Vegan Hot Chocolate, Vegan Oatmeal Cookies, and Healthy Vegan Pumpkin Mousse.


  1. What Is Arborio Rice? Basic Arborio Rice Risotto Recipe – 2020. MasterClass. Accessed December 17, 2020.
  2. Nutritional Information – Vermont Maple Sugar Makers. Accessed December 2, 2019.
  3. GourmetSleuth. Cinnamon stick. Gourmet Sleuth. Accessed December 18, 2020.
  4. 10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Cinnamon. Healthline. Published July 5, 2018. Accessed December 18, 2020.
Side Shot, Vegan Rice Pudding

Vegan rice pudding

5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Chef Abbie Gellman RD


  • 2/3 cup arborio rice rinsed and drained
  • 1 quart coconut milk carton or almond milk (or a mixture of the two)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup maple sugar
  • Optional: 1/3 cup raisins
  • Garnish: ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon


  • In a large sauce pan over medium-high heat, add rice, coconut milk, cinnamon stick, salt, and sugar. Mix together well and allow to just boil then decrease heat to low, cover, and cook for 25-30 minutes. Check occasionally and stir.
  • Add raisins (optional) and cook for an additional 15 minutes, stirring frequently until creamy and the liquid is mostly evaporated. If liquid evaporates too quickly, add some to the rice mixture.
  • Serve warm or cold, garnished with ground cinnamon.


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