This slow cooker rice pudding, a riff on Indian Kheer, is a gluten-free, vegetarian, homey dessert you can serve either warm or cold.
I came to love kheer during Jewish holidays growing up when my grandmother would make it. For this recipe, I break from tradition and use rice cereal instead of whole grains of rice, resulting in something different, but familiar. I just prefer the creamy texture. I use a slow cooker to keep it simple, and I flavor the pudding with two kinds of almonds and oranges because they remind me of my grandmother.
It’s absolutely meant to be incredibly sugary, with the nod-to-Florida oranges cutting through with a bit of brightness.
What is Kheer?
Kheer is a type of Indian pudding typically made with whole grains of rice, milk and sugar. Depending upon the region where it is made it is also called payasa, payasam or phirni. It is often enjoyed at festivals and holidays and can be flavored in numerous ways.
Kheer was first shared with Jews by their Indian neighbors during the Jewish Diaspora. As a result of their kindness enjoying Kheer has also become a part of certain Jewish traditions, specifically for the Bene Israel (Jews of India).
Kheer is delicious any time of year, but in my family we like to serve it especially during autumn Jewish holidays, when we share the sweetest dishes possible to ensure the future itself is truly sweet.
My recipe is based off of the version I grew up eating in my grandmother’s Florida kitchen with the air conditioning on high and the smell of orange blossoms in the air.
I, however, love the flavor of rice pudding and not the texture so I’ve made a few modern adjustments to meet my tastes and pay homage to the way my grandmother made it using oranges.
Use Rice Cereal Instead of Rice for Creamy Pudding
This recipe is unique because the base is rice flour, not grains of rice, so the results are smooth. It’s the toppings that give this texture, not the pudding itself. You really are going for extra smooth. (Like you! Smooth.) My version is closer to classical pudding than what most of us think of as rice pudding, which is a terrific way to go.
For the results I like, I locked in on Nabisco Cream of Rice Cereal, which you can find right next to Cream of Wheat in the cereal aisle of pretty much any grocery store.
You can also buy rice flour. The brand doesn’t matter, you just want the ingredients to be “ground rice.” This recipe doesn’t work with glutinous rice flour – aka mochiko, so give that a pass.
Rice Pudding it Gluten Free, Vegetarian and Can be Vegan
Kheer rice pudding is an easy-to-make delicious dessert to feed a crowd with varying dietary needs.
It’s naturally gluten-free and vegetarian. If you also have vegans at your dinner or holiday gathering it’s easy to adapt this recipe to meet their dietary needs as well.
Just swap out the dairy with equal amounts of your favorite milk alternative and you’re good to go. Just use the highest quality ingredients you can. The pudding is simple and each thing you add, shines.
How to Flavor Rice Pudding?
Try out any of the versions below:
- Cook with 1/4 cup of cocoa nibs stirred in and serve with a splash of coffee on top.
- Add 2 tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice while cooking and serve with 2 peeled and slice apples sautéed in a 1/4 cup of salted butter until brown.
- Replace 3/4 cup of the milk with carrot juice. Stir in a hearty pinch of turmeric, half a cup of golden raisins and 2 heaping tablespoons of chopped fresh ginger while cooking and serve it with a drizzle of honey.
- Add 1 tablespoon each of vanilla and ground cinnamon while cooking and serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream.
- Replace all the dairy with coconut milk and serve it with toasted, shredded coconut
How to Serve, Store and Reheat Kheer
- To store: Press some plastic wrap directly on top of it of the pudding before storing in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- To serve cold: Simply scoop out or cut portions, give it a little stir and top with the garnishes.
- To reheat: Place the pudding in a medium saucepan on the stove, stir in 1/4 cup of whatever milk you used in the first place (or water) for every 1 cup of pudding and stir over low heat until it’s incorporated and warm.
- You can also reheat in the slow cooker the next day using the same ratios. Put it on low for an hour and have your toppings ready.
More Delicious Pudding Recipes
- Creamy Chai-Spiced Vegan Rice Pudding
- Rice Pudding
- Vegan Chocolate Pudding
- Chia Pudding with Blueberries and Almonds
- Chocolate Pudding
- Easy Lemon Pudding
Slow Cooker Orange Almond Rice Pudding
You can replace all of the dairy in this recipe and use coconut milk instead. If using coconut milk use a mixture of light and full-fat. You will need 5 (14 ounce) cans. You can also skip the nuts and use toasted coconut instead.
- 1 gallon whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon almond extract
- 2 cups rice cereal or rice flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups blanched almonds, rough chopped, divided
- 4 large oranges
- For garnish:
- 1 cup candied almonds (dragée or Jordan) (optional)
- Special Equipment:
- 8 quart Slow Cooker
Combine dairy through almonds:
To your slow cooker add the milk, heavy cream, almond extract, rice flour, sugar and salt. Whisk well to thoroughly combine the ingredients. Add 1 cup of almonds and stir.
Add orange peel to slow cooker:
Use a vegetable peeler to remove four thick strips of the zest from 1 orange. Add to the slow cooker and stir.
Turn the slow cooker on:
Everyone's slow cooker is a little different. If you have an older slow cooker it might take a little longer. You know if your slow cooker runs hot or low, so please plan and adjust the time accordingly.
Set the slow cooker on high and cook for 2 to 3 hours or low for 4 to 6.
Stir the pudding:
Two or three times during cooking, go ahead and stir the slow cooker ingredients making sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the slow cooker.
Prepare the almonds for garnish:
While the pudding is cooking, crush the remaining 1/2 cup almonds by breaking them up, one or two at a time with the side of a chef’s knife into smaller pieces, or cracking them with the bottom of a heavy pan until you have uneven pieces. Don’t grind them to powder, you’re just trying to make the whole almonds smaller. Set those aside. If using the candied almonds repeat the process. You will use both for garnish.
Zest, peel and segment the oranges:
Use a microplane or zester to remove the orange zest from the remaining three oranges and place it in a medium bowl.
Once they’re zested, peel the oranges and discard the rind.
Working over the bowl with the zest to catch the juice, use our hands to separate the orange segments and remove the pulp from the outer membrane of each segment. Discard the membrane. Add the pulp to the bowl with the zest and juice.
It’s a little bit messy and a whole lot satisfying.
You can also supreme the oranges with a knife if that’s more your style, but the rustic look of the hand torn oranges is classic for this dish.
Stir and remove the orange peel:
Give the pudding a good stir. If it's soft, creamy and thickened, but still loose it's ready to serve. Remove and discard the orange peels. You can serve rice pudding warm, room temperature or cold.
It will continue to thicken as it cools. For a loose consistency serve it warm from the slow cooker (it will be loose, but it shouldn't be watery or soupy, think honey or ketchup), for a thicker consistency serve at room temperature or for the thickest consistency (solid) serve it cold.
If it chills and becomes too thick for your tastes, just rewarm on the stove or in the slow cooker and stir in a little milk 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time until it reaches your desired consistency.
Divide the pudding into individual bowls leaving enough room to garnish with the orange mixture and almonds. Top each with an equal amount of blanched almonds, orange mixture and crushed candied almonds, if using.