Arroz Con Leche Recipe

Why Cuban Women Make Great Wives

All the young people in my big, fat, Cuban family seem to be getting married all of a sudden. I think there’s something in the water.

My nephew, Michael got married in Miami last summer (which gave us an excuse to GO to Miami, but that’s not important right now) and now there are two more weddings coming up, one in February and one in March.

What do the weddings in my family have to do with Cuban food recipes, you may ask?

Well, a little Spanish song keeps going off in my head about “wanting to marry a girl from the capital who knows how to sew and play and do other stuff...”

“Arroz con leche. Me quiero casar…..” ("Rice with milk. I want to marry….") What is that all about?

Seriously. What's the connection? And who comes up with this stuff? It must be a Cuban thing.

Of course, as is so often the case with the nonsensical rhymes we methodically repeated as kids, it breaks down some when translated into English. Not really sure what the rice pudding thing has to do with the desire for marriage, but because it’s been playing relentlessly in my head, I realize that I suddenly have an extraordinarily Pavlovian craving for arroz con leche.

So what does this mean to us, Marta?

It means that you, my friends, are the direct beneficiaries of my sudden craving for arroz con leche.

And, happily for my husband, I just happen to be a Cuban girl from the capital who can sew and play and do other stuff, but that’s really not important right now. 

Arroz con Leche Recipe


  • 1 cup rice (short grain)
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 strips of lemon peel (or zest)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • grated cinnamon and or cinnamon stick for garnish

1) Wash the rice – this gets rid of much of the starch. To wash, place the rice in a large saucepan, cover with water and swirl around. The water will get cloudy. Pour out the cloudy water, use a strainer to keep the rice in the pot. Repeat 3 or 4 times until the water is clear.

2) In the same saucepan, over high heat, mix the following ingredients: rinsed rice, 2 1/2 cups water, cinnamon stick, lemon peel and a pinch of salt. Bring to boil.

3) Reduce heat, cover and simmer until water is mostly absorbed and rice is tender. About 15 to 20 minutes.

4) Remove cinnamon and lemon.

5) While the rice is cooking whisk together the condensed milk, evaporated milk and the vanilla.

6) Stir the milk mixture into the cooked rice.

7) Cook uncovered over medium low heat, stirring occasionally until liquid is mostly absorbed and you begin to see the texture of the rice as the liquid becomes absorbed. The mixture will take on a slightly caramel color – THIS IS A GOOD THING. Stir in sugar.

8) Remove from heat and spoon into individual serving dishes. Sprinkle with cinnamon and chill for about an hour before serving.