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This Lebanese rice pudding is a perfect balance of sweet and nutty flavors. The short-grain rice is cooked in milk until tender and creamy, then flavored with vanilla extract and rose water. The pistachios add a delicious crunchy texture and flavor to the pudding. Serve this dessert cold or warm for a special treat!
The main difference between traditional old-fashioned rice pudding and this Lebanese version, called Riz Bi Haleeb, is the use of rose water to scent the rice pudding and add a hint of floral sweeteners. You can find rose water in most Middle Eastern markets or online. I like to use this Lebanese brand, but any good quality rose water will work.
why you’ll love this rose water rice pudding
- Creamy goodness. This rice pudding is ultra creamy and comforting. It’s the perfect dessert for a chilly winter night or a hot summer day.
- Rose water flavor. The addition of rose water gives this pudding a unique flavor that you’ll love. If you’ve never tried rose water before, don’t worry, it’s not as strong as you might think. It just adds a nice floral flavor to the pudding.
- Easy to make. This pudding is so easy to make. You’ll be making it all the time! Just cook the rice in milk until tender, then stir in the vanilla extract and rose water. Top with pistachios, and you’re done!
Ingredients to make Lebanese rice pudding
- Short grain rice: I like to use sushi rice or arborio rice for this pudding. You can use any type of short-grain rice you like.
- Milk: I recommend using whole milk for this pudding, but you can use any type of milk you like.
- Sugar: You can use any type of sugar you like, but I prefer to use granulated sugar or cane sugar.
- Rose water: This is the key ingredient that gives this pudding its unique flavor. You can find rose water in most Middle Eastern markets or online.
- Vanilla extract: This is optional, but I like to add a little vanilla extract for flavor.
- Cornstarch: I like to add a little cornstarch to thicken the pudding. You can omit it if you choose, but I think it makes the pudding creamier.
- Pistachios: These are optional for topping, but I think they add a nice crunchy texture and flavor to the pudding. You can use any type of nut you like, but I think pistachios are the best!
How to make Lebanese rice pudding
- Add the rice and water to a large pot.
- Cook the rice with the water until the water is absorbed.
- Add the milk along with the sugar to the pot of rice.
- Cook until the milk starts to thicken and takes on more of a pudding consistency.
Tips for making Riz Bi Haleeb
- Don’t rinse the rice. In most rice recipes, it’s best to rinse rice to remove the starchy layer, so your cooked rice is not sticky. However, we want rice pudding to be sticky! So, don’t rinse it, and it will help enhance that classic creamy texture.
- Cook the rice until it’s very tender. Rice pudding is all about that creamy texture, so you want to make sure the rice is cooked until it’s very tender. I like to cook mine for about 30 minutes.
- Add the rose water at the end for a stronger presence. If you add the rose water at the beginning of cooking, it will dissipate and be more subtle in flavor. If you want a more robust rose water flavor, add it at the end.
- Be patient while cooking. Rice pudding takes time to cook, so be patient! It’s worth the wait, I promise!
popular substitutions & additions
- Try it with sushi rice or Arborio rice. Sushi rice is a short-grain rice that is used in, you guessed it, sushi! It has a higher starch content than other types of rice, so it’s perfect for making creamy rice pudding. Arborio rice is another type of short-grain rice that is often used in risotto. It has a high starch content, so it will make your pudding extra creamy.
- Add or swap orange blossom water. I only use rose water, but you can also add orange blossom water, which has a more citrus taste that balances out the floral taste.
- Use plant-based milk. If you’re looking for a dairy-free option, try using plant-based milk such as almond milk or coconut milk.
- Omit the cornstarch. The cornstarch is optional, but I like to add it because it makes the pudding creamier. If you don’t want to use it, you can omit it.
- Add cardamom or cinnamon. For a little extra flavor, try adding a pinch of ground cardamom or cinnamon.
- Have fun with the toppings. Ground pistachios are the most popular toppings. But you can also add other types of finely chopped nuts like almonds, walnuts, and pecans. Other popular toppings include shredded coconut, cinnamon, fresh fruit, and edible flowers.
how to store & reheat homemade rice pudding
Store any leftover pudding in an airtight container in the fridge.
Lebanese rice pudding is best enjoyed cold, but if you prefer it warmed, you can reheat it stovetop over low heat or in the microwave. Be sure to stir often, so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot or burn.
how long will rice pudding last in the fridge?
Homemade rice pudding will last in the fridge for up to one week. After that, it will start to spoil and is no longer safe to eat.
Frequently asked questions
If your pudding is too thick, you can add a little more milk until it reaches the desired consistency.
If your pudding is too thin, you can add a little more cornstarch and cook for an additional minute or two.
Make sure you use short-grain rice for this recipe. Long-grain rice like basmati or jasmine will not work as well because they have a lower starch content and different cooking times and may lead to crunchy rice. Also, make sure you check the consistency of your rice before you pull it off the stove. It may need an extra minute or two.
If you don’t have rose water, you can try orange blossom water or simply omit it altogether. The pudding will still be delicious!
Yes! Just swap out the milk for plant-based milk, and you’re good to go.
This Lebanese rice pudding recipe is perfect for anyone looking for a tasty, creamy dessert. With a few simple tweaks, you can make it fit your dietary needs or preferences. Be sure to try out different toppings to change up the flavor profile. And most importantly, enjoy!
More Lebanese desserts:
- Atayef – Breakfast or dessert!
- Ghraybeh Cookies
- Lebanese Baklava
- Sesame Tahini Cookies
- Homemade Lebanese Kanafa
- Almond Milk Rice Pudding
- Sfouf (Turmeric Cake)
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Lebanese Rice Pudding
- In a large pot, cook the unwashed rice with the water until the water is absorbed, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add the milk (reserve ½ cup for the cornstarch slurry) along with the sugar to the pot of rice. Bring milk and rice to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low. Stir the mixture frequently, until the rice is fully cooked, and the milk begins to thicken, about 15 minutes.
- Dissolve the cornstarch in the remaining ½ cup of milk and transfer to the pot. Add the rose water and vanilla extract and stir frequently until mixture thickens, about 15 more minutes.
- Transfer the mixture into 5-10 bowls, and allow to cool. It will continue to thicken as it cools.
- Add the chopped pistachios or other toppings, and serve warm or chilled.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.