Scandinavian Rice Pudding with Cranberries

Scandinavian rice pudding with cranberry sauce

Scandinavian Rice Pudding with Cranberries is the very definition of comfort food, no matter what corner of the earth you currently call home. If you’ve got a stove, a saucepan, some pantry staples, and a bag of cranberries, you’re in luck!

Scandinavian rice pudding with cranberries

Scandinavian Rice Pudding with Cranberries

Rice pudding is one of those rare desserts without an ounce of decadence. It feels wholesome and nourishing! How nice when it’s cold outside and you’re craving something sweet. Although rice pudding is often served chilled, I love it best warm from the pot. The vanilla and cardamom are extra aromatic and it’s the most comforting treat ever.

Scandinavian rice pudding with cranberry sauce

Scandinavian rice pudding | risgrynsgröt (rice-grain-porridge)

Just about every country that has access to rice claims a rice pudding. This one has been made in the Scandinavian countries for centuries, and has long been a part of Christmas celebrations. It’s essentially rice cooked in sweetened milk, spiced with vanilla bean and cardamom or cinnamon But each Scandinavian country has its special variation.

  • Swedish risgrynsgröt is served with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a pat of butter for breakfast, or with berries for a festive holiday dessert.
  • Norwegian risgrøt is traditionally served on the 23rd of December or “Lillejulaften” (Little Christmas Eve.)
  • Danish risalamande involves almonds..many Scandinavian rice pudding recipes call for a whole almond that is planted in the pudding, the person who finds the almond will have good luck in the New Year. Risalamande is often served with a warm cherry sauce (could also be raspberry or plum) which inspired my cranberry sauce.

rice pudding in a pot with ladle

What you’ll need to make Scandi rice pudding

  • rice ~ I like to use Arborio rice. The firm glossy grains (traditionally used for Italian risotto) have the best texture for rice pudding, in my opinion. They’ll stay firm and keep their shape without disintegrating.
  • whole milk or a combination of milk and cream. I used 5 cups milk, 1 cup cream. The cream takes it into holiday territory 🙂
  • sugar
  • vanilla bean (use extract if you don’t have a bean)
  • cardamom

You’ll also need a heavy bottomed saucepan. The heavy bottom helps conduct heat evenly so the pudding doesn’t scorch. This is helpful for all kinds of puddings and custards. I like to use a silicone spoonula as well, because that makes it so easy to scrape the sides and bottom of the pan. What did I ever do before spoonulas??

For the optional (but highly recommended) cranberry sauce

  • fresh cranberries
  • sugar

Scandinavian rice pudding in a glass

Method for making rice pudding

  • Put the milk and cream into a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium high heat.
  • Scrape in the vanilla bean seeds (throw the pod in too) and add the cardamom and rice.
  • Bring the mixture up to a simmer, then turn down the heat and cook at a gentle boil for about 45 minutes, or until the rice is tender. The pudding will be thick but still runny. It completely firms up as it chills.
  • Ladle the pudding into individual jars or glasses and chill.

Note: the pudding may still seem soupy when it’s done, and that’s normal. Just be sure you’ve cooked it for about 45 minutes and the rice tastes tender. It will solidify in as it chills in the refrigerator. 

ladling rice pudding out of a pan

A simple cranberry sauce takes just minutes

You’ll just need to heat the tart berries with sugar and a splash of water to get things started, in a saucepan. The berries will burst as they heat up and create an almost instant sauce. Cranberries are naturally high in pectin, so there is no need to artificially thicken it.


making cranberry sauce

The combination of the tart fruit sauce and the creamy pudding is quite unique and lovely, but if you don’t want to bother with the sauce, sweetened whipped cream works just fine, too.

Nordic rice pudding with cranberry sauce

Scandinavian recipes to try this winter

rice pudding jar with spoon


Scandinavian rice pudding with cranberry sauce
5 from 6 votes

Scandinavian Rice Pudding with Cranberry Sauce

Scandinavian Rice Pudding with Cranberries is the very definition of comfort food, whatever corner of the earth you currently call home.  If you've got a stove, a saucepan, some pantry staples, and a bag of cranberries, you're in luck!
Course Dessert
Cuisine Scandinavian
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Yield 6 servings
Author Sue Moran


  • 5 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 heaped cup arborio rice
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • seeds from a vanilla bean

Cranberry sauce

  • 3 cups raw cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • splash water


  • Put the milk and cream, rice, sugar, cardamom and vanilla seeds to a simmer. Turn down the heat and cook, uncovered, for about 40-45 minutes until thickened. Stir often, and pay more attention after about 30 minutes, when it starts to thicken. You don't want it to scorch on the bottom or sides of the pan. The pudding is done when the rice is plump and tender, and the custard has thickened somewhat. Note: the rice pudding will thicken further as it chills.
    adding short grain rice to milk and cream
  • Pour the pudding into individual bowls or glasses. Let cool, then chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. You can also serve warm, if you prefer. Serve topped with cranberry sauce.
    rice pudding in a pot with ladle
  • To make the cranberry sauce put the cranberries, sugar, and a splash of water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar.
    making cranberry sauce
  • Boil, stirring often, for about 5 or so minutes, until the berries burst and the sauce is glossy. You can serve this warm or chilled, on top of the pudding.
    Scandinavian rice pudding with cranberry sauce

Cook's notes

  • The pudding may still seem soupy when it's done, and that's normal. Just be sure you've cooked it for about 45 minutes and the rice tastes tender. It will solidify in as it chills in the refrigerator. 
  • Substitute cinnamon for cardamom if you prefer.
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

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    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    Vikki Gilligan
    October 24, 2021 at 8:18 am

    Hi Sue! We LOVE your recipes! If we want to serve this warm, we’d just serve from the pot into bowls with the cranberries- letting it cook a little? We’ve been cooking for my in laws once a week and the last 4 weeks have been all your recipes! Fantastic meals.

    • Reply
      Vikki Gilligan
      October 24, 2021 at 8:19 am

      Letting it cool not cook a little bit.

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      October 24, 2021 at 9:14 am

      Yes for sure Vikki, I think rice pudding is best when warm 🙂

  • Reply
    January 1, 2021 at 9:46 am

    Hello! Happy New Year!
    Have you ever made this in a slow cooker?

    • Reply
      January 1, 2021 at 12:49 pm

      No, sorry, I haven’t tried that Lezlie.

  • Reply
    Polly Yo
    December 5, 2020 at 1:05 pm

    Is the cream half and half or whipping cream?

    • Reply
      December 5, 2020 at 2:44 pm

      Hey Polly ~ when I refer to cream I mean heavy cream, or whipping cream. You could also substitute half and half.

  • Reply
    Kari LeBlanc
    December 5, 2020 at 9:29 am

    5 stars
    I’m going to call this recipe Hygge perfection ??
    So fragrant and luxurious… I also tried it with a dollop of Trader Joe’s Seville Orange marmalade ??

    • Reply
      December 5, 2020 at 10:18 am

      Haha, nice description, and thanks for the idea of using marmalade with rice pudding, I LOVE that!

  • Reply
    December 4, 2020 at 12:33 am

    5 stars
    Hey Sue! Read about your recipe or suggestions for rice porridge or pudding … we cook the porridge and eat it for lunch on Christmas Eve as a tradition, but it can be bought ready-made in the grocery store all year round and is also served as school lunch at this time. We have a special rice called porridge rice meant for this particular porridge there is also the tradition to hide an almond in the porridge pan the person who gets the almond will get married in the coming years Rice a la Malta with orange and sometimes raisins are on most Christmas tables as a classic dessert also served in schools I do like your rec. and the lovely way you presents easy to understand and many good / good features … inspiring

  • Reply
    parul mody
    December 3, 2020 at 7:04 pm

    5 stars
    Hi Sue,
    I have been following your recipes for quite some time now and though I haven’t tried out many recipes cause I live in India and many ingredients are not easily available here. But this recipe is very Indian and we call it Kheer in India. It is made every now and then and instead of vanilla extract we put cardamom, saffron, nutmeg and nuts like almonds, cashews, pistachios and raisins… It’s one of my favorite dishes and my comfort food…lol. Love your recipe too and will try out with any fresh available berries in my area… Thanks for the recipe…

  • Reply
    December 3, 2020 at 2:13 pm

    I love this recipe, however, you stated to use vanilla extract in place of vanilla bean seeds if desired. You did not list the amount of vanilla extract to use. Could you please list this as well? I am anxious to try this.
    Thanks so much,

    • Reply
      December 3, 2020 at 2:40 pm

      I’d start with a teaspoon Debra, but you could up that amount, to taste.

  • Reply
    Diane B Cottingham
    December 3, 2020 at 6:47 am

    I love your recipes — there are fun, tasty & written is such a casual manner that I know that each one I start will be a success. Thank you for doing a super job! Re the Cranberry Pudding — could this be converted to an Instant Pot recipe?

    • Reply
      December 3, 2020 at 7:08 am

      Great question, and I tried that, but unfortunately it doesn’t work. Milk ‘steam’ clogs the pressure cooker and is a no-no. Luckily most of the time the rice cooks pretty much on its own, you just have to keep an eye on it now and then.

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