Kheer is a subtly sweet, creamy, and deliciously aromatic Indian dessert popular throughout India. Also known as Indian rice pudding, it is made with simple ingredients including rice, milk, sugar, and cardamom.
Rice Kheer Recipe
Rice kheer is my very favorite sweet Indian dessert. Creamy with just a touch of sweetness, it’s easily flavored aromatic spices, chopped nuts or dried fruits, and tastes delicious warm or chilled.
The very first time I tried this Indian rice pudding (more than a decade ago) also happens to be the first time I met my mother-in-law. Back when my (now) husband and I were dating and still in college, we’d drive to his hometown for the weekend to see his mom and feast on her delicious food.
If you’ve never tried kheer then you’re in for a treat!
What is Kheer?
Kheer, also known as Payasam, is a type of rice pudding that originated and is still popular throughout the Indian subcontinent. The word “kheer” is derived from the Sanskrit word for milk, ksheer. Most often made using a combination of milk, sugar (or jaggery), and rice, it is not uncommon to find kheer made with broken wheat, millet, tapioca, vermicelli, or sweet corn. It is flavored with coconut milk, rose water, cardamom, saffron water, raisins, or other dried fruit, cashews, pistachios, or almonds.
Kheer is made by simmering rice in milk until the rice is cooked and the mixture has thickened.
RELATED: Easy Rice Pudding Recipe
Ingredients & Frequently Asked Questions
- Long-grain rice (I used basmati rice)
- Whole milk
- Ground cardamom
- Dried fruit
- Ghee and Saffron strands (optional)
Can I make kheer with sweetened condensed milk?
If you wish to add condensed milk, wait until the kheer has finished cooking and the pot has been removed from heat. Stir in approximately 1/2 cup of condensed milk, taste, and add more only if you wish for additional sweetness. Remember, this recipe calls for added sugar – you may wish to reduce how much sugar is added until after the condensed milk is incorporated.
How to make kheer using jaggery?
Jaggery is a type of cane sugar.
Cook the kheer until rice is fully cooked and milk starts to thicken. Remove from heat and allow it to cool slightly. Next, add the liquid or grated jaggery. Allow it to rest at room temperature for approximately 10 minutes or until it dissolves slightly. Place the pot back on low heat. Continue to cook until the jaggery melts completely.
Can I make this recipe vegan?
If you follow a vegan diet or you’re sensitive to dairy products, try substituting regular milk with almond milk, soy milk, or coconut milk.
What is the rice to milk ratio for kheer?
The rice to milk ratio is 1:16. For every 1/4 cup rice you will need 4 cups milk. Yes, this ratio sounds completely crazy, but it works.
My kheer isn’t thickening, what’s going on?
It may feel like forever before you start to see your rice softening and the liquid thickening. This is completely normal, but with a little (or a lot!) patience, it will happen. I will often double or even triple the recipe because it does take so long to make.
How to Make Kheer Recipe (Indian Rice Pudding)
Grab your ingredients and a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven because next up is the step-by-step instructions for making this delicious kheer recipe.
1. Rinse the rice – Transfer the rice to a small bowl and fill with cold water. Drain the starchy water through a fine-mesh strainer then repeat – rinsing and draining – until the water runs nearly clear. Drain well.
- Some cooks recommend soaking the rice for 30 minutes or so before cooking. It will speed up overall cook-time, but I have found that, in order to reach optimal consistency, the kheer needs a little extra cooking time anyway. So, unless you prefer a souper kheer, I recommend skipping the soaking and just get right to cooking.
2. Bring the milk and water to a gentle boil – Add the water and milk to a large, heavy-bottomed pot set over medium-high heat. Bring to a gentle boil, stirring often to prevent the milk from scorching.
3. Cook – Immediately reduce heat to medium, medium-low. Stir in the rice. Cook, stirring often until the rice is soft, completely cooked, and slightly mushy. This may take anywhere from 25-45 minutes.
4. Sweeten and season – Stir in the desired amount of sugar and cardamom powder. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the kheer has thickened to the desired consistency.
- Note- the kheer will continue to thicken as it cools
5. Garnish and serve – In the last 5 minutes or so of cooking, stir in the nuts and raisins, if desired, or leave them out and add them as a garnish. Remove from heat and serve warm, or allow to cool and serve chilled.
Leftover kheer will keep for up to 5 days when stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
More Rice Recipes,
How to Cook Basmati Rice (Perfectly!)
Thai Mango Sticky Rice Recipe (Khao Niaow Ma Muang)
Basmati Rice with Fresh Herbs and Caramelized Onions
If you try making this Rice Kheer Recipe, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.
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Kheer Recipe (Indian Rice Pudding)
- ¼ cup basmati rice - or other long-grain rice
- 4 cups milk - use whole milk for best creamiest results
- ¼ cup water
- 6 tablespoon granulated sugar - (reduce to 4 tablespoons for a less sweetened kheer)
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ¼ cup cashews - chopped
- ¼ cup pistachios - chopped
- raisins or dried cranberries - to garnish
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- Transfer the rice to a small bowl and fill with cold water. Drain the starchy water through a fine-mesh strainer. Repeat rinsing and draining until the water runs nearly clear. Drain completely.
- Add the water and milk to a large, heavy-bottomed pot set over high heat. Bring to a gentle boil, stirring often to prevent the milk from burning.
- Reduce heat to medium. Add the rice. Cook the rice, stirring often, until the rice is soft and completely cooked.
- Stir in the desired amount of sugar and cardamom powder. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the kheer has thickened to the desired consistency. (note - kheer will continue to thicken as it cools)
- In the last 5 minutes or so of cooking, stir in the nuts and raisins, if desired, or leave them out and add them as a garnish.
- Remove from heat and serve warm, or allow to cool and serve chilled.
- For best results, use whole milk to make this kheer recipe. Low-fat milk is too watery.
- Optional: add the ghee directly to your kheer after it's finished cooking or toast the cashew nuts in 1 tablespoon of ghee over medium heat until golden.
- To flavor your kheer with a bit of saffron, carefully crush your saffron threads and transfer to a small bowl filled with 2-3 tablespoons of warm milk. Mix to combine. Add it to the kheer after it has been cooking for approximately 25-30 minutes.
- If you don't have any ground cardamom, substitute using 2-3 whole green cardamom pods. Add them directly to the milk and rice when cooking. Remove before serving.
- Kheer is more like porridge in texture than it is pudding. It is not super thick, but it also shouldn't be super runny- somewhere in between.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)
This is easily my favorite dessert now!