Comfort Dessert: CREAMY RICE PUDDING with Vanilla Poached Pear (or Quince)

May 24th, 2021


This is the kind of comforting dessert I love to make on these cold dark evenings – when snuggling by the fire with a good book in hand is prioritised. I am not really a pudding person but there is something about the cooler weather that has me craving something a little extra after dinner. My children certainly aren’t complaining!  Scroll down for the recipe.

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Have you seen my first recipe section in the latest edition of NZ Gardener?  I was thrilled to be asked by editor Jo McCarroll to write a monthly 5 page (!) food section for the magazine. As you can probably guess the recipes focus on seasonal produce from the garden with ideas on preserving, fermenting, and large batch cooking. This month (May) was all about late-season cooking apples, and you may still be able to pick up a copy before the June issue comes out next week – where I deep dive into one of my favourite ferments, sauerkraut. Check it out!

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Creamy Rice Pudding  with Vanilla Poached Pear (or Quince)

Creamy, lightly spiced rice pudding topped with vanilla poached pear. I initially made this recipe with poached quince earlier this month, which was a real treat (maybe, tuck that one away for next year). But it is equally delicious with pear - make sure to use firm pears, such as Beurre Bosc or Packham so they hold their shape while cooking. 
Servings 4
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes


For the poached pear

  • 2 cups (500ml) water
  • 1/4 cup (50g) sugar
  • 1 tbsp mild honey or extra sugar
  • ½ lemon juice, and zest peeled into strips
  • ½ vanilla pod, split (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 3 large pears or quince, peeled

For the rice pudding

  • ½ cup medium-grain white rice
  • 2 tbsp sugar or honey
  • 1 cup (250ml) water
  • cups (375ml) milk – I used oat milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla paste or 1 tsp extract
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • pinch of salt


  • Prepare the poached pear (or quince). Combine the water, sugar, lemon juice and zest, and vanilla in a saucepan. Slice the peeled pear into 1cm wedges adding to the pan as you go to prevent browning. Cover with a lid and simmer over a low heat for 15-20 minutes, until tender.
  • Use a slotted spoon to scoop the cooked pear into a bowl – discard the lemon zest. Crank up the heat and cook the syrup until it has reduced by a half, about 10-15 minutes. Pour the syrup over the pear.
  • Make the rice pudding while the pear is cooking. Place all the ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, over a low heat for about 20-25 minutes, until the pudding is thick and creamy. Stir regularly.
  • Serve rice pudding warm topped with poached pear and syrup. Also delicious topped with preserved plums or peaches.

Join the Conversation

  1. June Mackenzie says:

    Hello Nicola, do enjoy your recipes. Your rice pudding had me thinking back to the foods of my childhood. Money was very scarce, rationing limited ingredients but I seem to recall that we consumed more grains. Always porridge with salt….no sugar, and a favourite was baked barley pudding. Cooked slowly in the oven with milk(powdered?) a mob of butter and served with a spoonful of jam. It became creamy with a golden skin, wonderfully filling and nourishing and so often was the evening meal.
    New Zealand grows top quality, inexpensive grain and we don’t make sufficient use of them nowadays.
    I always put barley in my soups, occasionally in stews, but it would be lovely if you would consider thinking of another couple of recipes for using it.
    June Mackenzie
    Bay of Plenty

    1. Hi June, thanks for the lovely message. I love the sound of baked barley pudding. I enjoy cooking with barley too and adding it to soups. I recently shared a recipe on for Mushroom Orzotto, you can find the recipe here:
      It is rather delicious! I will endeavor to cook up a few more barley recipes this winter.

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