Brazilian rice pudding in cups with star anise and cinnamon sticks

In the spirit of celebrating all things Brazilian, we’ve asked native Rosana McPhee to share her recipe for arroz doce – rice pudding Brazil-style!

Arroz doce, also known as rice pudding, originated in Asia thousands of years ago and is a firm-favourite sweet treat in many cultures around the world. Early sweet rice recipes made their way to Europe around the thirteenth century, and reached Brazilian soil via Portugal in the sixteenth century, where both countries adapted the dish to include cinnamon.


In Brazil, arroz doce is very well known. It has become one of the traditional dishes of the June festival Festa Junina, which celebrates the Catholic saints John, Peter and Anthony, as well as marking the end of summer and the beginning of the harvest months.

This aromatic and velvety recipe has evolved over the years. Some versions call for cream or condensed milk instead of regular milk, which gives it a different consistency.

Here’s my very own homemade version, passed down to me from my grandmother. Try serving up with chocolate syrup, freshly grated coconut, roasted peanuts, a dash of rum, orange or rose water and guava paste. The possibilities are endless!


Makes 8 to 10 portions

360g white rice
5 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 lemon or orange
1 litre of milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 large organic egg yolks
150g caster sugar
ground cinnamon
Optional: star anise

  1. Place the rice, 800ml of cold water, the cloves and cinnamon stick in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Peel in the rind of the lemon or orange (how much depends on how zesty you like it) and cook the rice according to the packet instructions.
  2. Once the rice is cooked, discard the cloves, cinnamon stick and lemon or orange peel, then add the milk, butter and a pinch of sea salt.
  3. Turn the heat up to high, bring to the boil, then lower the heat and let the milk thicken the rice mixture until creamy, stirring occasionally.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and the sugar together in a bowl.
  5. When the rice reaches a velvety consistency, remove it from the heat. Slowly add the yolk mix to the pan, all the while blending vigorously with a whisk to avoid scrambled eggs!
  6. Let the rice cool slightly before serving. Finish by sprinkling over some ground cinnamon and star anise, if you have any. Enjoy either hot or cold.

For more Brazilian food inspiration, take a look at what some of the country’s top Instagrammers have been snapping and sharing

About the author

Rosana McPhee

Rosana McPhee is an award-winning Brazilian food and travel blogger, living in London. She documents her adventures on her blog, featuring beautiful recipes that tell the stories of Brazilian food and beyond.

Rosana McPhee