Easy Lebanese Rice Pudding Recipe, Riz Bi Haleeb | British + company

Gladys Soriano is the recipe developer, food stylist, and food photographer behind the Mediterranean-inspired blog. forks and foliage. Here she shares authentic Lebanese dishes and recipes inspired by her love of Mediterranean flavors (Originally published on Forks and Foliage). Take it off, Gladys!

This Lebanese rice pudding or riz bi haleeb is a delicious and floral version of rice pudding. This traditional recipe was passed down to me from my mom, and it really is the best I’ve ever had!

In Arabic, riz bi haleeb translates to rice pudding. Pretty self explanatory, right? Lebanese rice pudding begins with rice being cooked in milk, then flavored with mastic, rose water, and orange blossom water. The result is truly dreamlike. My mom’s recipe calls for heavy cream, which makes the arroz con leche creamier and richer. It also doesn’t use cornstarch like most recipes, instead relying on the natural starches in the rice to thicken it perfectly. I don’t do riz bi haleeb any other way anymore!

What I love about Lebanese rice pudding is how versatile it is. It’s not too sweet and makes a delicious breakfast or snack. But it’s sweet enough to be a light dessert!

Lebanese Rice Pudding Ingredients

Lebanese Rice Pudding Ingredients


rice pudding in a cooking pan

1. To start, rinse the rice just once. The key to making cornstarch-free Lebanese rice pudding is not to over-rinse the rice or it will lose much of its thickening starch.

2. Add the rinsed rice, water, milk, and heavy cream to a large saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir occasionally until mixture begins to boil, about 10 minutes.

3. Reduce heat to a simmer, stirring every two minutes to prevent sticking, until rice is puffed up and can be mashed with a spoon or between fingers, about 15 minutes.

4. Once the rice is cooked, add the sugar and continue stirring until the rice pudding has thickened, about 20 to 25 minutes. You can try it by leaving a plate in the freezer while you make it, then pour some pudding onto the cold plate and tilt it. If the pudding runs a bit and then stops, it’s done. If it keeps working even after it has cooled in the pan, it needs more time to thicken.

5. When the rice pudding has thickened, turn off the heat and add the ground mastic, rosewater, and orange blossom water and stir to combine. If using whole putty, place them in a mortar with a pinch of salt and crush them with the mallet until you get a fine powder. You don’t want bits of mastic in the pudding, as they can be bitter and overwhelming in one bite.

How to Serve Lebanese Rice Pudding (Riz Bi Haleeb)

rice pudding with rose petals and pistachio

While the rice pudding is still warm, transfer it to small bowls or individual serving pans. Alternatively, you can transfer it to a serving bowl. Let them cool to room temperature, then cover and place in the fridge until completely set and chilled.

No one will judge you if you eat half of it while it’s still hot. I may or may not be speaking from personal experience.

Once you’re ready to serve the Lebanese Rice Pudding, top it with crushed pistachios for a delicious nutty crunch. If you want to kick it up a notch, dried rose petals are a dreamy garnish for riz bi haleeb.

Tips for making the best Lebanese rice pudding

tray of rice pudding with spoons

  • Don’t rinse the rice more than once. We want to save your starches so that the pudding is thick and creamy.
  • Use whole milk. For the creamiest rice pudding, use whole milk instead of skim or low-fat milk. (If you’re vegan and/or dairy-free, substitute the milk and heavy cream for a plant-based milk you enjoy.)
  • Skip recipes that call for cornstarch. Rice is already loaded with starch; there is absolutely no need to add another type of starch.
  • Be patient. Not using cornstarch means the pudding will take a little longer to thicken. But it is so worth it! The rice will absorb the milk and cream slowly as it thickens the mixture to a perfect consistency and a much more flavorful rice pudding.
  • Stir frequently. You don’t want the bottom to stick and burn. Stay close and stir it and scrape the bottom every two minutes.
  • Don’t skip the mastic, rosewater, and orange blossom water. Unless you find it impossible to access them, I highly recommend that you don’t skip them, as they add such a delicious and delicate flavor to the rice pudding. it is not really Lebanese rice pudding without them. If you have to leave something out, I’d say leave out the putty. But I say this hesitantly and with a heavy heart.

Frequent questions

What kind of rice is best for rice pudding?

I found that medium grain rice makes the best rice pudding. You can experiment with different types and see which one you prefer. Short-grain rice is more starchy, so it will make a softer pudding. Long grain rice has less starch so it is a little less creamy and the rice is firmer.

Do I need to wash my rice when I make rice pudding?

Regardless of what you are doing, you should always wash the rice. For rice pudding, rinse the rice only once to remove dust and residue. But don’t rinse it any more, as we need as much starch as possible.

Why is my rice pudding so runny/thick?

A runny rice pudding means you haven’t cooked it long enough. Keep cooking and it will thicken, I promise. If the pudding is too thick, you cooked it too long. Remember, rice pudding thickens a bit as it cools. It should still be a pourable consistency when ready. If it’s too thick, place over medium-low heat and add the milk and stir until thinned a bit.

Can I make rice pudding with cooked rice?

Yes, you can use leftover rice to make arroz con leche, but it won’t have the same consistency. Place the cooked rice in a pot and add enough milk and cream to cover it and cook, stirring frequently. Follow the rest of the recipe as is, adjusting amounts based on how much cooked rice you are using.

How long will rice pudding last?

Store Lebanese Rice Pudding covered in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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