Rice pudding is one of my all-time favourites and a brilliant example of the three-key-ingredients principle. The vanilla isn’t essential, nor is the cream – you can make the pud with just a litre of milk if you prefer.

Serves 6


A large knob of butter (30g)
100g pudding rice
800ml whole milk
200ml double or single cream (or an extra 200ml milk)
½–1 vanilla pod (optional)
50g caster sugar


1. Preheat the oven to 140°C/Gas 1. Use half the butter to grease a fairly deep oven dish, about 2 litres in capacity.

2. Melt the remaining butter in a saucepan over a low heat and add the rice. Heat very gently for a minute or two, stirring, until the rice is lightly coated with butter. It shouldn’t fry or even sizzle.

3. Add the milk and cream, if using, to the pan, and stir well. Split the vanilla pod, if using, and scrape out the seeds, adding these and the pod to the milk. Add the sugar and stir, keeping the heat very low, until the sugar is dissolved and the milk warm. Transfer the mixture to the buttered dish.

4. Cook in the oven for 2½ hours, stirring the pudding gently every 30 minutes – separating the grains and working the surface skin back into the pudding – but don’t stir for the final half hour, to allow a golden skin to form. Turn the oven up to 170°C/Gas 3 for the last 10 minutes to brown the skin a little.

5. Allow the rice pudding to cool for a while before serving. It’s good warm or at room temperature rather than piping hot. Try serving it with one of the added-extras suggested below.

6. A dollop of raspberry jam and/or a sprinkling of toasted flaked almonds is an easy way to jazz up this classic pudding. Caramelised apples are lovely served with rice pudding: fry some fairly thin apple slices in butter until tender and lightly browned, then add a shake of sugar and cook for another couple of minutes until glazed. (If it’s for grown-ups, add a splash of apple brandy or Calvados to the apples and let it reduce for a minute or two.)

7. Caramelised bananas are also scrumptious with rice pudding: slice a couple of not-too-ripe bananas thickly on the diagonal and cook as for the apples, above. Rum is the optional booze.

See more of Gill Meller’s favourite comfort food recipes

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