Rustic Eats | How to Make the PERFECT Arroz con Leche
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Rustic Eats | How to Make the PERFECT Arroz con Leche

Don’t tell my mother, but this arroz con leche recipe is better than hers. Yes, I said it, and I have zero regrets! Arroz con leche is a popular Latin American dish served either hot or cold. It’s a popular dessert commonly served at parties, but it can also be eaten for breakfast. It’s a universally loved dish as there are different, but similar, variations of this delicious recipe throughout the world.  

It’s highly likely you tried this dish during your travel program in Costa Rica. Perhaps your host family made this for you at some point during your homestay. If you’d like to recreate the warmth and sweetness of this easy (and inexpensive) dessert, then read on or watch our video for how to make the perfect arroz con leche. 

Here are the ingredients and step-by-step instructions for making Costa Rican Arroz con Leche:


  • 3 cups white rice 
  • 2 tablespoons of butter (optional)
  • ½ tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon citrus zest (optional)
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • ½ can of sweetened condensed milk 
  • 1 can of evaporated milk 
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 3 ½ cups of water
  • pinch of salt


  1. In a medium or large sauce pan combine the 3 ½ cups of water and 3 cups of rice, butter, cinnamon stick, and cloves.
  2. Boil on high heat until water disappears. Stir frequently to avoid rice burning or anything sticking to the bottom. 
  3.  Once water is gone, add 2 cups of hot water, citrus zest, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract, and pinch of salt. 
  4. Boil and stir until you have your desired consistency. Boil less if you like more milky, or boil more if you like it on the dry side. 

You can probably get into a debate about whether arroz con leche is best served hot or cold. It’s completely up to you! You can serve arroz con leche at any temperature. Plus you can garnish your serving with raisins, nuts, pineapple, a dash of cinnamon, or other fruit. 

If you’d like to go to Costa Rica and try arroz con leche (as well as other traditional foods) here’s more information about our student travel programs


About the Author

Janette Daneshmand

Social Media Manager

Janette Daneshmand was born and raised in Southern California, a stone’s throw away from the original Disneyland. Janette spent an unforgettable summer in western Europe and Florence on a study abroad program during her time at Cal State Fullerton. In 2016 she moved to Manchester and worked for a craft magazine publisher as a professional crafter and later at a marketing agency that specializes in life science and biotech businesses as a social media manager. She connected deeply with Rustic's mission of philanthropy, travel, and training students to build the skills they need to create impact.