Rice pudding is a dish made from rice mixed with water or milk and sometimes other ingredients. Different variants are used for either desserts or dinners. When used as a dessert, it is commonly combined with a sweetener. In the United Kingdom, rice pudding is a traditional dessert, and is very popular. Rice pudding is traditionally made with pudding rice, milk, cream, sugar and is often, but not always, flavoured with vanilla, nutmeg or cinnamon. It can be made in two ways, in a saucepan or by baking in the oven. In a saucepan, it is made by gently simmering the milk and rice until tender and then the sugar is carefully mixed in. Finally, the cream is mixed in and it can either be left to cool and be served at room temperature, or it can be heated and served hot, it should have a very creamy consistency. When made in the oven, the pudding rice is placed into a baking dish and the milk, cream and sugar are mixed in. The dish is then placed in the oven and baked at a low temperature for a few hours, until the rice is tender and the pudding has a creamy consistency. Whilst cooking, the pudding may develop a thick crust which adds an interesting texture to the pudding. An alternative recipe, frequently used in the North of England, uses butter instead of cream, adds a small pinch of salt and requires the pudding mixture to stand for an hour or so prior to being cooked. Such puddings tend to set firmly when cooled, enabling slices to be cut and eaten like cake. If eaten hot, the pudding was traditionally served with cream poured on top in wealthy households, and with full fat milk where cream was not available.
Placing a spoonful of sweet jam or conserve onto the pudding is also a very popular topping. Ready-made rice pudding, which is pre-cooked and ready to eat, is sold in tin cans or pots and is very widely available and found in most supermarkets and shops. Because it is canned, it has a very long shelf life.