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
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 | 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.
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 🙂
- vanilla bean (use extract if you don’t have a bean)
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
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.
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.
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.
Scandinavian recipes to try this winter
- Chopped Steak with Bacon and Mushroom Gravy
- Roast Chicken with Potatoes, Apples, and Brown Cabbage
- Traditional Swedish Pepparkakor Cookies
- Finnish Salmon Soup
- Cardamom Spritz Cookies
Scandinavian Rice Pudding with Cranberry Sauce
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
notes and variations
- 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.