Sunday, February 26, 2012

Grandma's Rice Pudding

Today's post is a tribute to my grandma, Eleanor Mittermaier, who passed away last week after living a beautiful life for 91 years. In the About Me section of this blog, I mention that I was raised among cooks. Grandma Mitt(ermaier) was one of them. In fact, the photograph of me as a kid on that page was taken in her kitchen — she let me lick the beaters! It's no wonder I loved her.

Grandma Mitt had a legacy of her own, and she was special to so many. Among her many talents, she was known for was her ability to whip up a killer rice pudding.

Grandma's recipe and her fabulous retro tablecloth

It was a dish that could often be found in her refrigerator, and I can picture my grandpa enjoying it after a day at work and a home-cooked meal. My grandpa worked in the same building as my dad in the latter part of his life (Retirement? Not for old Joe!). Often, Grandma Mitt would send Grandpa to work with a fresh tray of rice pudding (and maybe a Tupperware of fruit salad that she threw together) to pass along to my dad. She took care of her sons long after they flew the coop!

This rice pudding is a simple, old-school, and delicious dessert. It's consistent and reliable, but surprisingly not too sweet or heavy. It's made on the stovetop, so even your oven gets a break with this one. And the ingredients are easy and cheap too.

Grandma didn't use vanilla bean, but I thought I'd jazz it up a bit. 

Upon hearing about my grandma's passing, my friend texted me, "...I will always have fond memories of her rice pudding at the shore." It was that positively pervasive, people!

For the last 8 years or so, my grandma suffered from Alzheimer's and she had to stop cooking altogether. Fortunately my aunt had her recipe recorded. Upon her passing, I was eager to try the recipe to recreate what so many of us enjoyed our whole lives, in some cases! When I tasted the final product, I was instantly transported to a time where she was with us, both in body and mind. What a delicious way to keep alive the spirit of someone so special.

Grandma's Rice Pudding (makes a 9x9 pan — serves about 9)

1 cup sugar
1 cup white rice
8 cups milk, divided (I used 1% milk, and it was great!)
1/8 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 vanilla bean (or 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract)
Cinnamon for dusting

In a large pot, combine sugar, rice, 7 cups of milk, and salt. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring often to ensure the rice doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot. While the milk mixture heats up, split the vanilla bean in half and scrap each side, adding to the milk. Throw the bean pod into the milk mixture as well (they're expensive enough — might as well steep every ounce of flavor out of it!). (If you're using vanilla extract instead, add it along with the egg/milk mixture in the step below.)

An easy, one-pot treat. Give your oven the day off! 

When the milk mixture comes to a boil, turn heat to low, cover, and cook about 50 minutes until milk is reduced and thickened and the rice is cooked. Be sure to stir occasionally as it simmers.

When rice is cooked, remove vanilla bean pod and set aside to cool. In a small bowl, combine eggs and remaining 1 cup of milk, and beat together (if you're using vanilla extract, add that now also). Add to the milk mixture on the stove, stirring as you add it. Turn heat up to medium-high and bring mixture to a boil again, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Once you can handle the vanilla bean pod, scrape any remaining vanilla goodness from the inside of the pod and discard.

Pour the rice pudding into a 9x9 pan (or serving dish of your choice) and dust generously with cinnamon. Chill in the refrigerator 1-2 hours, or until cooled and set, before serving. Delicious plain or with fresh berries!

Click here for a printable recipe! 


  1. What a lovely post, Danielle! I can't wait to try your recipe. (And I love your grandmother's tablecloth, too!) xo

    1. Thank you! It was easy and sooo good! :)

  2. Aww, what a sweet tribute to your grandmother. I'm so sorry for your loss.

    1. Thanks Amy. I know that Kevin recently lost his grandmother too, so you're probably familiar with reminiscing about wonderful people!

  3. Thanks for sharing such a heartwarming story! Recipes from grandparents and the stories that go with them are the best. I'm sorry for your loss, but happy to know memories like this one will still live on.

    1. Thank you Joy! And what a delicious way for them to live on! :)

  4. I love your pudding but I love how you make that table cloth of yours more!

    A pink vinyl tablecloth Specialist

    1. Thank you Dee! It was my grandmother's so it's had some good use over time!

  5. Thanks for sharing this! Sorry to hear about your grandmother. I'm really glad you posted this, as my grandmother used to make it as well, but stopped because (according to her) the rice that they make now didn't work. Not sure what she meant by that, but will have to give this a go!

    1. Thanks Josh! It's funny b/c my Grandma's recipe was so "loose" b/c she basically had it memorized and probably fudged a thing or two when she made it. But with a little trial and error, I think this is really close to her masterpiece! When I tasted this version of the recipe, I thought, "I've done it!!" :)


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