As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Some recipes may contain affiliate links that earn me a small commission, at no additional cost to you.

A Naturally Gluten-Free & Delicious Pistachio Rice Pudding

If you’re game to try something new for dessert, I guarantee this will be a pleaser!

I drew inspiration for this dessert while browsing through the many fantastic recipes released by the New York Times Cooking. It’s based on a recipe adapted by Priya Krishna who sourced it from Sara Mardanbigi and Edgar Rico, the owners of Nixta Taqueria in Austin, Texas. The rice pudding is a take on sholeh zard, a Persian rice pudding, but it also is influenced by the Mexican dessert, arroz con leche (rice with milk).

My adaptions to the original recipe

After trying the recipe and loving the results, I have only changed a few ingredients and made some minor adjustments to the method. The spices and vanilla give an extra boost to this traditionally bland pudding. It almost has a savoury flavour to it, but this is balanced cleverly with the addition of the strawberry coulis sauce and cinnamon.

What rice do I use?

a large spoon holding some short grain rice

Using short-grain rice will give the rice pudding a smooth texture. If you happen to come across milk pudding rice, this will do the trick. Alternatively, you can also use glutinous rice.

How to garnish the rice pudding:
Strawberry Coulis Sauce

Making a strawberry coulis* is straightforward and adds a delicious zing to the milk pudding. *A coulis is basically a puree and thinned down fruit or vegetable sauce.

Pistachio Nuts

Buy a regular snack pack of already salted, roasted pistachios. The saltiness complements the sweet pudding and the roasted notes add another layer of flavour to the dessert.

Cinnamon Powder

Not only does cinnamon taste amazing in desserts, but it is also good for you. Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties, helps with blood pressure and improves gut health.


Adobe photo of an individual pistachio rice pudding
three bowls of pistachio rice pudding

Pistachio Rice Pudding

by Sandra, Fun Without Gluten
This is a naturally gluten-free dairy dessert combining cinnamon, cardamom, saffron and vanilla flavours with short-grain rice. After a gentle simmer for an hour, the rice pudding is ready to be topped with chopped pistachio nuts and homemade strawberry coulis sauce.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Mexican, Persian
Servings 6



Rice Pudding

  • 250 g glutinous/short grain rice/milk pudding rice
  • 1 litre water, to cook the rice
  • 750 ml milk
  • 250 ml cream
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • or
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 green cardamom pod, crushed
  • or
  • ¼ tsp cardamon powder
  • 1 tbsp ground turmeric
  • 2 saffron threads
  • 1 tsp ice-cold water, to mix with the saffron thread
  • tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp butter, cubed
  • 2 egg yolks

Strawberry Coulis Sauce

  • 125 g fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 50 g caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar


  • 6 fresh strawberries
  • 50 g salted pistachio nuts, chopped
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon powder


Rice Pudding

  • Crumble the saffron threads between your fingers and add them to the ice-cold water in a small bowl. Leave them to soak for 10 minutes.
    soaking saffron with ice cold water in a small bowl
  • Bring 1 litre of water to a boil in a large pot.
  • Add the rice, stirring often. Let the water continue to boil for 3 minutes. The rice is ready when the grains begin to soften around the edges, but still have a bite to them.
  • Drain the water from the rice in a sieve or colander. Set it aside.
  • Rinse the pot with cold water to allow it to cool down. Return it to medium heat on the stove. Alternatively, use another clean pot.
  • Add the milk, cream, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon stick, cardamon, turmeric, saffron water and salt. Bring to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally. Keep the heat at a constant temperature. The aim is to let the spices slowly infuse into the milk and cream for a rich flavour. This should take between 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Add the rice. Turn the heat down to low and cover the pot. Allow to simmer for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom so that no rice sticks to it. It will appear like a loose pudding and should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  • Add the butter cubes, mixing in thoroughly. Remove from the heat and allow to cool down for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Mix in the egg yolks, one at a time. It is important that the rice has cooled down for 5 minutes, otherwise, the eggs will scramble and will make the pudding look unattractive. The pudding should look velvety.

Strawberry Coulis Sauce

  • Mix the strawberries, sugar and 3 tablespoons of water in a small pan.
  • Bring to the boil, then lower to a simmer on medium heat and allow the strawberries to cook down to a jam-like consistency. Add more water if it appears too dry. This should take 10 to 15 minutes for fresh strawberries and 15 to 20 minutes for frozen. 
  • Mash the cooked strawberries with the back of a wooden spoon. Pour into a jug to garnish the pudding later. I like to keep some pulp intact to add a bit of texture, but if you like it completely smooth, blend it in a food processor.


  • Divide the rice pudding into ceramic bowls. Pour the strawberry coulis sauce over a third of the pudding. Garnish the remaining pudding with the chopped pistachio and cinnamon powder. Serve warm or chilled.


  • Keeps for 3 days chilled
  • Not suitable to freeze
Keyword gluten-free dessert, naturally gluten-free
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Please mention @fun_without_gluten or tag #funwithoutgluten!
GDPR Cookie Consent with Real Cookie Banner