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Recipe: oat milk rice pudding

I’ve noticed a shift in my attitude toward food the last few years. Instead of enjoying it, I began to resent the thinking about, making, shooting, and even the consumption of food. That’s when I recognized my blog was no longer my way to document the recipes I liked, but rather the recipes I felt an obligation to post. It’s a stupid mindset: anticipating what others will like. That’s a formula for unhappiness. That’s not for me.

Around the same time, I let a number of nagging physical injuries pile up to the point where being active seemed to further damage my body than help it. I had had enough. It was high time I got my shit in order and put health first – both mental and physical – and that takes time. I’m using a combination of yoga, ice, ibuprofen, stretches, rest, physical therapy, and exercise to get myself back on track. Just in time for sliding season.

backcountry ski touring

resorts are opening more terrain each day

getting pups out to play in the snow

the first skijor of the season

Thanksgiving skiing is usually full of new aches and soreness when the season kicks off, but we hit the ground running (or skiing) early this year with those October storms and some indoor training. Instead of the traditional big turkey dinner carb bomb, we kept dinner normal and loaded our week with lots of outdoor exercise. I felt better about life, about myself. I just felt better. I can sustain this.

a little turkey, cheese, apple, dog treat indulgence for the pups

naptime after running around outside

Part of feeling better was that I had stopped eating dairy. You know how chocolate is that thing many people can’t resist? I can’t resist dairy. Well, I can resist milk – I’m not a fan of milk. But I love those delightful treats that come from milk and cream like custard, ice cream, mousse, pastry cream, whipped cream, caramel, pudding. It used to be the gastrointestinal distress was worth the gamble, but it’s not. It really isn’t.

Then a few months ago there was a brief discussion of alternative “milks” on public radio. Someone said they liked oat milk the best. I’m the person who regards food fads with great skepticism until they are no longer fads. I’m that person who discovers this awesome new thing years after everyone else has. So that’s me with oat milk. I merely wanted a non-dairy option for cold milk tea. I loved it. Then I wondered if I could make rice pudding with oat milk. And I did.

arborio rice, vanilla bean, oat milk, salt, sugar, cinnamon stick

As far as I can tell, the oat milk (or almond milk – I haven’t tried it, but people list the two as interchangeable) can be a 1:1 substitution for regular milk. I chose arborio rice because I like starchy short grain rice for pudding. You can use long grain, medium grain, brown, sushi, jasmine. I’m not sure about sweet rice or black rice, but you get the general idea. The method is pretty straightforward: keep it on a low simmer for over an hour (up to 90 minutes) and stir often.

bring the oat milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt to a low simmer

add the rice and sugar and simmer until the rice is tender

Rice pudding is not a difficult recipe, but it requires babysitting. The stirring is to keep the bottom from accumulating into a gloppy mess. Bonus: oat milk doesn’t burn the way regular milk does, so it will be a little more forgiving. My rice took 75 minutes to become soft to my liking. I found the pudding got a little too thick around 65 minutes, so I poured an additional 1/2 cup of oat milk into the pan.

thick and creamy

Once the pudding is done, you can serve it warm or chill it completely and serve it cold. I like both. It keeps up to 5 days in the refrigerator, beyond which I can’t really say because I ate it. All. It’s creamy, and nicely flavored with cinnamon and vanilla, and I don’t miss the dairy one bit. If you’re looking for a non-dairy, or vegan, or more sustainable rice pudding – here you go.

topped with persimmon and pomegranate

great for breakfast or dessert

Oat Milk Rice Pudding
[print recipe]

4 cups oat milk or almond milk, plus more if needed
1 stick cinnamon
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
pinch of salt
1 cup arborio rice
3-4 tbsps granulated sugar (to taste)

Bring 4 cups of oat milk (or almond milk), cinnamon stick, vanilla bean (pod and seeds), and a pinch of salt to barely a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir the rice and sugar into the pan and return to a simmer. Keep it on the lowest simmer possible for 60-90 minutes (it took me 75 minutes) until the rice is tender, giving it a good stir every 3-5 minutes. If the pudding gets too thick before the rice is cooked through, stir in more oat or almond milk to achieve your desired consistency. Remove from heat. Makes 4 cups. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

rice pudding chinese eight treasure rice pudding almond vanilla chia seed pudding chinese chicken congee

23 nibbles at “sustainability”

  1. Melanie says:

    I hate when I do things with meeting the expectations of others as the reason. I’ve loved your blog and especially your photos but I’m glad you’ve realigned the things important to you. I’m also glad you verbalized it because that helps the rest of us. Always love the puppy pictures and how much they enjoy each other.

  2. Megan Jordan says:

    I’ve always loved your blog, and I don’t follow it for the recipes. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE recipes and yours are fantastic, but I love getting a glimpse into your life, beautiful photography, your human family and dog family, and your incredible CO scenery and activities. My favorite memory was getting multiple people in my office to guess your dog’s DNA. It was a huge game between us all and the reveal was super fun.

  3. Jill Hyde says:

    I’m sensing a change …. do what feels right for you! Honor your body. love, jill

  4. Jane M. says:

    Jen, while you are full-blooded Chinese and I am only half-Japanese, we appear to share the Asian lactose intolerance trait. I only recently discovered a GOOD tasting lactose-free milk at my local Aldi. It’s expensive at $3.19 for a half gallon when you contrast the cost with the common 99¢ price for a gallon of regular milk. However, it’s worth the expense since I can now enjoy it without the ensuing G.I. problems I’ve experienced through out my life. Its shelf-life and taste is good.

    I’m the only family member with this anomaly. My son has NO issues with milk. What took the dairy industry so long (I’m in my late 60’s) to remedy this? I just happen to have a jar of Arborio rice and will be making your pudding in the very near future. Thank you. Get well soon!

  5. Pey-Lih says:

    Good for you! I admire your honesty and for recognizing that your health and emotional well being is top priority.

    I agree that anticipating what your fans would like or not is a recipe for unhappiness; your fans will remain as your fans, because we enjoy what we are reading in addition to your culinary creativity. I, too, love oat milk, as my stomach cannot tolerate too much dairy products. I dabble 2% cow’s milk in my cuppa every morning, but plant based milk for everything else.

    Thank you for this rice pudding recipe – I will make it this week! Can I substitute the arborio rice with sweet Thai sticky rice? I am guessing it’s similar texture.

  6. Lois Bruce says:

    I also don’t read your blog for the recipes. I am not much of a cook, but I love reading about cooking! Mostly, I just enjoy reading about your dogs and family. I am going to try the rice pudding for my husband who loves dairy and suffers for it. I am so glad you are figuring out how to take care of yourself. I hope you can find a way to make your blog a pleasure for yourself. It is a pleasure for me!

  7. Marissa Drake says:

    Only you know what will make your heart happy. Our happiness is only an extension of if you are well. Your blog is yours, we are just bystanders who get a chance of watching someone else. It is a completely selfish thing for us and a completely selfless thing for you. Just because you have done this for years, doesn’t mean you have to continue. Listen to your heart. We will love you and honor you no matter what. Be well. That will always be the most important entry.

  8. Mary Karen Euler says:

    Thanks for taking good care of your dear self! Your Faithful Readers are delighted with every morsel you share, but also understand your content choices and pace…

  9. Lisa says:

    Do what feels good. I’m with you on the recognition that dairy is falling off the list of approved foods for my body.

  10. Kristin says:

    You have so many wonderful recipes in your archives, that we are probably covered for almost any eventuality. Thanks so much for them! Like other people, I am here for YOU. I always enjoy whatever you share, be it food, dog, nature…buuuut….also being lactose intolerant and a huge rice pudding fan, I am super happy to see this here! I do keep a Costco box of Lactase handy at all times but I will definitely try this with the oat milk!

  11. farmerpam1 says:

    I agree, not really here for the recipes, although they’re always foolproof, and always delicious. Friends think I’m a good cook because of you, lol…. the Bao buns in particular have helped my reputation! I cut most dairy also, almond milk does it for me, although now Ill give oat milk a chance. So yeah, you do you…..that’s what we love!

  12. Catherine says:

    I’ve been figuring out the non-dairy route myself. I really like oatmilk too, and can recommend hemp milk as well. I just made pumpkin pie using a half coconut cream, half cashew milk “half and half”, baked in a piecrust made with vegan butter (which is a cultured coconut/cashew blend as well) and it is so good! I’m looking forward to any more experimenting you find yourself doing in non-dairy land. And I’m just going to throw this out there – I can personally highly recommend working with a PT trained by the Postural Restoration Institute – I know there are practitioners in the Boulder area. It was an eye-opening re-introduction into how my body works, and amazingly effective.

  13. Katie says:

    I’m just a lurker but wanted to say how much I appreciate all the effort you’ve put in over the years. I really hope you do what feels best for your body and spirit – this blog shouldn’t be the cause of losing your love of food! Sending you good wishes for the new year and hopes for much rest and relaxation.

  14. Pey-Lih says:

    Update: I used Thai sweet rice, and it worked great! I used cinnamon powder and pure vanilla extract and threw everything in a rice cooker. However, I did soak the Thai sweet rice overnight, threw out the water and rinsed again. Added all the ingredients listed (2 tsp organic cane sugar), and it is seriously delicious! And a lot more healthy than using coconut milk. The oat milk is a great alternative with less saturated fat.

  15. Katy says:

    Long-time reader who supports you putting your health first! Like others have said, I love your recipes but also follow your blog for the dogs, photography, thoughts about food, and outdoor adventures. You’ve made me really want to try cross-country skiing! Hope the new year brings you rest, health, and fun. Now, for the milk. My husband is allergic to casein, so we have a long history with non-dairy milks. Oat and rice milks (unsweetened if you can find them) are my favorite because I find them to be the most neutral-tasting, and therefore good for both sweet and savory recipes. I haven’t found any recipe where oat milk can’t be substituted 1-to-1 for dairy milk. because the milk isn’t doing much “work” in the recipe. The places where you have to get more creative are those that use cream, sour cream, or cheese, because those have a different texture and fat content. In these situations, I often turn to a non-dairy bechamel, which does a better job of mimicking the richness. It works very well for lasagna, sausage gravy, enchiladas, cream-based soups, vegetable gratins, etc.

  16. Trolleira says:

    Hi Jen, did you try to make the rice pudding in the oven? My mom always did it this way, so she didn´t have to babysit the rice. First, bring the milk to the boil on the stove with salt and lemon peel, some sugar if you like, add the rice, stir and let it bring again to the boil. Than put it in the preheated oven.

    Have a nice holiday and just the right new year!

  17. sarah says:

    I agree with HEALTH first! Then when you want to post a recipe you will. I love your blog for the images, the life in Colorado, the dogs and your parents :) so cute. And your honestly. Happy New Year

  18. Anna says:

    Ooooh! I like your dogs: so cuuute! So lovely faces asking for a treat! And very beautiful pics!
    This rice pudding reminds of my childhood – my mom cooked that for me. She also put some pumpkin to it before it’s done. And that was a perfect breakfast!
    Thank you for sharing the recipe! I’ll cook it soon for my kids – they should know what their mother ate when she was at their age :)

  19. Anna says:

    *such lovely

  20. jenyu says:

    Melanie – I think I’ve found a balance for myself, but I appreciate your sentiments :)

    Megan – That is so cute (and I hope someone was close to guessing the right combo!). And it’s okay to follow the blog for whatever reason you want <3

    Jill - Thank you, friend.

    Jane - Thank you! Lactose-free milk doesn't sit well with me either, but I think avoiding milk in general is my best bet, and the non-dairy options are getting better. Hope you enjoy the rice pudding.

    Pey-Lih - I imagine you can substitute most rice varieties, but I haven't tried others. Thai sticky rice sounds good!

    Lois - So sweet of you! I admit there are some blogs I followed only for their dogs and not the food ;) xo

    Marissa - xoxo

    MK - Thank you for understanding. I'm finding a good balance now (just posting less). xo

    Lisa - It's sad because so many delicious things are made with dairy!

    Kristin - Thank you, and I hope you enjoy the rice pudding without the ill-effects :)

    farmerpam1 - You ARE a good cook, silly! ;) xo

    Catherine - Thank you for the recommendation! I seem to be stabilized and doing well, but it's always nice to have options out there :)

    Katie - Thanks for commenting. I really do appreciate hearing from the "lurkers" and knowing I'm connecting with folks out there who love dogs or scenery or skiing or the food :) xo

    Pey-Lih - Ah, fantastic! Thanks for the update!

    Katy - Oh, I hope you DO try xcountry skiing. It's accessible and doesn't require a lot of skill to get started - so good to just get outside in winter to put you in a better mood! Thank you for the tips on dairy substitutions!

    Trolleira - Oh, I have not! That sounds like a great method I should try - thank you! xo

    sarah - Thank you :* xoxo

    Anna - How sweet and what a lovely memory! xo

  21. Lindsey says:

    I am also a longtime lurker….and seriously behind on playing catch up on your blog and recipes. I first came here for your recipes ( I honestly wish I could remember how I first got here) and now enjoy everything you share. I’ve learned a lot from you regarding Chinese culture and food, and just food in general (huckleberries, what porcini and chanterelle mushrooms look like fresh) and have made so many of your recipes countless times. Just the other night we had angry edamame (again) but I got to introduce it to my niece this time and she inhaled it. She said “It burns so good!” and I just smiled. I’ve shared your fried mochi rice with so many friends and family, including a newly made (pre-COVID) Malaysian coworker/friend, and he was beyond impressed. He came back to me and said “But…but…you’re white. How did you make this?!” and I know he meant it with sincere awe and wonder. I simply said ‘There’s this cool blog I check-in with and she makes authentic shit!” So thank you for all the time and energy you’ve put into this blog. You make me want to run away to the mountains, learn how to forage and ski, and bake and cook even more than I do now. I’ve been lactose intolerant for many moons and I feel your pain. I’ve got myself some oat milk, both arborio and sweet rice at home, and will definitely try this recipe soon. I know it’s been a while since you made this post, and it seems you’re on the up and up as much as you can be. I hope you are still doing as well as can be. And now….off to hoard more of your recipes :)

  22. jenyu says:

    Lindsey – Thanks for your comment! I am terribly behind in keeping up with the blog, but wanted to tell you what a chuckle I got reading this. I hope you are hanging in there as we prepare to reach escape velocity on what has to be the crappiest year in a long while. Be well and stay safe. xo

  23. Susan Legien says:

    Guten Tag from Germany!
    I have just discovered you by looking for a recipe for rice pudding made with oat milk.
    Not only have I got a recipe but I‘ve spent an enjoyable hour or so reading your blog!
    How interesting, lovely photos!
    What was an awful year has now spilt over into this one but at least we have the best part of the year before us and can only look forward with hope that things will improve!
    Keep well, stay safe… now let me get my rice pudding cooked!

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