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January 15, 2021

Rice Pudding: With No Dairy or Refined Sugar

by Anne Paddock

Last year I was walking around New York City and zeroed in on a sign in a restaurant window that said “Finally, A Rice Pudding That Doesn’t Suck” that cracked me up laughing. I then took a picture even though I had no idea why. Probably because the sign just made me laugh with its truth.

Rice pudding is a total comfort food that is pretty hard to screw up but often is because people use cheap or crappy ingredients or don’t give the dish the attention it requires.  There’s no way around making a fantastic rice pudding except to use exceptional ingredients and to remember to always stir when the rice is cooking (just like risotto).

There are three things rice pudding has to be:  creamy, slightly sweet, and delicious. So, the trick to making a plant-based rice pudding without refined sugar or dairy but with these attributes can be challenging.  The obvious liquid is a nut milk but many nut milks have little flavor, too many additives, and separate.  Replacing refined sugar is tough because most options are just as bad (or worse).

Recently, I used Medjool dates – Mother Nature’s candy – as a sweeter (instead of refined sugar) and Milkadamia (a non-dairy milk made from Macadamia nuts that’s super creamy and doesn’t separate like some nut milks do) and the recipe is worth sharing because the end result is a super creamy slightly sweet rice pudding that dazzles in texture and flavor.

Super easy to follow, the rice pudding recipe below can be made with raisins or without (I prefer without but many people prefer rice pudding with raisins). Don’t skip the vanilla extract or cinnamon as these additions add depth and flavor to the pudding.

Rice Pudding


  • 1-1/2 cups Jade Pearl Rice
  • 4 cups unsweetened Milkadamia (a shelf stable Macadamia Nut Milk available nationwide)
  • 4 ounces Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)


Place the rice into a medium-sized pot.  Add 1 cup of Milkadamia and blend with a spoon. If using raisins, add the raisins now. Stir in the cinnamon and vanilla.

Place 4 ounces of pitted Medjool dates (5-6 dates) in a blender with 1 cup of Milkadamia. Allow to soak for 10 minutes.

Pulverize the dates in the milkadamia for about 30-40 seconds. The consistently will be a slightly thickened nut milk. Add this mixture to the rice mixture in the pot. Turn the stove on medium and bring to a simmer, stirring every few minutes so the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Turn the heat down to medium-low.  When the liquid is almost fully absorbed (5-6 minutes), add another cup of Milkadamia and again stir every minute or two. When the liquid is almost fully absorbed (4-5 minutes), add another cup of Milkadamia. Again, stir often until the liquid is almost all absorbed (4-5 minutes). Total cooking time should be about 15 minutes. Turn the heat off and either put the lid on to keep warm or scoop into serving dishes.

Sprinkle vanilla powder on top and add a piece of fruit. Serve.

Store leftovers (covered) in the refrigerator.

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