If you love light and creamy desserts, Turkish rice pudding recipe is for you! Creamy and rich with a golden top, this baked rice pudding is also gluten-free. Learn how to make this tasty dessert with this tutorial and step-by-step photos.
Middle eastern and Mediterranean cuisines are known for decadent, tasty deserts. From Iran's saffron ice cream and cardamom muffins to Turkey's almond cookies, our desserts are filled with amazing flavors. They're light, easy to eat and usually not too sweet. Today's dessert recipe is a world famous one called Sutlac, known as rice pudding in many countries.
What is sutlac?
Sutlac (soot-laahch) or firin sutlac is a Turkish baked rice pudding made with short grain rice and milk. It's made on the stove in a large pot, then divided between oven safe bowls (usually made of clay) and baked in the oven until the tops are browned and settled. Then it's cooled in the fridge for a few hours before serving.
In addition to short grain rice, Turkey is also popular for its milk-based desserts and sutlac is one of the most loved desserts in Turkey that you can find in many restaurants and bakeries. There are even "Milk dessert shops" in Turkey called muhallebici which sell all kinds of milk-based desserts from chocolate puddings to rice puddings and everything in between. Turks often make sutlac at home in individual clay cups or ramekins. Making this gluten-free dessert at home requires quality ingredients and a bit of time.
What is special about this recipe?
Turkish rice pudding is very special because of its creamy texture and golden topping. Even though rice pudding is a world-renowned dessert, each country approaches it with its own style. Many rice pudding recipes don't call for the baking step and also add egg yolk to thicken it. To make this baked rice pudding, we don't use eggs and use cornstarch to thicken the dessert.
Some recipes call for spices such as cinnamon or dried fruit like raisins but this rice pudding recipe doesn't include any of that. Unlike many other similar desserts, this rice pudding is actually baked in the oven so the top gets brown and set. It's always served cold and it's common to make it in advance. This baked rice pudding recipe is not overly sweet so it's not overwhelming at all and is pretty light for its creamy texture.
What goes into Turkish rice pudding
It's amazing that a dessert this tasty calls for such simple and easy-to-get ingredients. To make this recipe, you need just a few ingredients:
- Short grain rice
- Whole milk
In the old days, people would make sutlac with fresh milk. However, these days whole milk will work just as well. And, as you can see in the list of the ingredients, this is a baked rice pudding recipe without eggs which makes it even easier to make. If you're looking for a reliable gluten-free dessert recipe, this is going to be your new favorite.
How to make rice pudding the Turkish way
- Cook the rice: In a large pot, cook the rice with two cups of milk until it's completely cooked. This will take about 30 to 45 minutes depending on the rice.
- Make the rice pudding: Add four cups of whole milk to the cooked rice. Bring to a simmer and add the vanilla extract and sugar. Mix the cornstarch with milk to make slurry and add that as well. Cook for about 25 minutes or until it starts thickening and sticks to the back of the spoon (please check out the step-by-step photo below).
- Bake in the oven: Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Divide the rice pudding between oven-safe ramekins and place them in a 9x13 baking pan. Fill the pan halfway with water (this is to prevent the rice pudding from drying and keep it creamy). Bake the rice pudding in the oven for about 15 minutes until the tops are brown. Check constantly to make sure they don't burn.
- Refrigerate: Once the rice pudding is cooked, let them cool at room temperature and then refrigerate for at least three hours before serving.
What kind of rice to use
When it comes to Turkish rice pudding, I always use short grain rice. You can use any brand or type but make sure it doesn't have a strong flavor. I don't recommend using jasmine or basmati rice for this recipe as they have more flavor and also have longer grains.
Can I use cooked rice to make rice pudding?
Rice pudding is a great way to use up plain cooked white rice. Most rice will triple when cooked so for this recipe you need about 1 ½ cup cooked jasmine rice. To make rice pudding with cooked rice skip the first step (cooking the rice) and start by mixing the cooked rice and four cups of milk to simmer and proceed with the instructions mentioned in the recipe.
Using low fat or non-fat milk for this recipe
Turkish rice pudding is meant to be very creamy and rich. Therefore I don't suggest using low fat or non-fat milk to make it since they won't deliver that creaminess.
How to make vegan rice pudding
This recipe is not vegan since it uses whole milk. However, you can use coconut milk instead of whole milk to make this into a vegan rice pudding recipe. Rice pudding made with coconut milk will have a subtle coconut flavor as well.
Storing homemade rice pudding
You can refrigerate this dessert for up to 4 days. Make sure not to cover the ramekins too tight otherwise the tops might get wet.
Can I make this recipe in advance?
You can make this rice pudding recipe in advance and serve it at your convenience. If doing so, make sure you do not cover them tightly, otherwise they will be wet on top.
Can you freeze rice pudding?
Rice pudding is mainly made with milk, so if you freeze it freezer burn may occur or the milk may crystallize. I don't recommend freezing this dessert but you can definitely make it a couple of days in advance.
Looking for more Turkish recipes? Here are some suggestions:
- Gozleme (Turkish stuffed flatbread)
- Turkish red lentil soup
- Vegan lentil meatballs
- Turkish baked cod recipe
Turkish Rice Pudding Recipe (Sutlac)
- ½ cup short grain rice
- 6 ⅓ cups whole milk divided
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- Place the rice and 2 cups whole milk in a large pot. Cook over medium heat until the rice is fully cooked.
- Add 4 cups whole milk to the cooked rice and bring it to a simmer.
- Add in vanilla extract and sugar and stir well.
- In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and the remaining ⅓ cup whole milk to make a slurry. Add it to the rice and milk and simmer over medium low heat for about 25 minutes until it thickens.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and place 4 oven-safe ramekins in a 9x13 baking pan.
- Divide the rice pudding between the ramekins. Fill the baking pan halfway with water. This will prevent the rice pudding from drying.
- Bake in the oven for 15 minutes until the tops are brown. Check constantly to make sue they're brown enough for your liking.
- Once the rice pudding is ready, cool it at room temperature and then refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.
- If using cooked rice, skip step one and proceed with the recipe.
- You can make this rice pudding recipe a couple of days in advance.
- Refrigerate the leftovers for up to 4 days.
- You can use any kind of short grain rice for this recipe.
- Low fat and non-fat milk cannot be used in this recipe.