Traditional Norwegian Risgrøt, Rice Porridge Recipe

Rice pudding cinnamon

 

A Christmas tradition in countless Norwegian homes is to prepare Risengrynsgrøt, or rice porridge, for lunch during the day of Christmas Eve. White rice is cooked in milk for nearly an hour until tender and thick, then salt and sometimes sugar and vanilla is added. Often shortened to say simply “risgrøt”,  this porridge is traditionally topped with sugar and cinnamon, and a dab of butter in the center. Often times red juice is served to drink with this meal. One important reason to prepare this porridge during the day of Christmas Eve, is that the leftovers are used to make a traditional dessert commonly served after dinner. This desserts is called “Riskrem”, or Rice Pudding, in which whipped cream is added to the porridge. The mildly sweetened, fluffy dessert is topped with a red berry sauce. Inside the pudding is hidden one single white, blanched almond, and whoever finds it while eating gets a prize, usually a pig-shaped marzipan candy.  This pudding is a bit different from the rice pudding you find in stores in America, which tends to be overly sweet and the rice not as tender. Riskrem is soft and light tasting, and nicely balanced with the berry sauce on top. Here is a link to this delicious dessert!

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In this post I will give you the recipe and use pictures to show you how to make risgrøt, which is eaten throughout the year in Norway. It is a very typical Saturday lunch for families all over the country. Riskrem, or rice pudding, however, is strictly used for Christmas and New Year’s.

In the following picture you’ll see most of the ingredients needed for risengrynsgrøt: water, rice, milk, salt, vanilla sugar, and in addition I usually add some white sugar, which I forgot to add when I took the picture. But you all know what sugar looks like, so I trust you’ll be just fine.

Rice pudding
The best rice to use for this recipe is medium grain, , white, and not the standard long grain. My camera is not the greatest for up-close pictures, but if you look at the following picture, you can see the difference between long- and medium grain rice. The medium grain rice is the bag to the left. This type of rice has a rounder shape, and works well in creamy dishes such as risotto, as it tend to be stickier and cling together better. It is also used for sushi.

Long medium grain rice
Using a pot with a heavy bottom is important, as milk tends to burn easily if the bottom is thin. Since this porridge will cook for close to an hour, a heavy pot is needed.

Start out by boiling 1 part rice to 2 parts water on medium low heat, uncovered, until most of the water has absorbed. Stir now and again. This will take approximately 10 minutes. I like to stir with a flat turner as I find it easier to scrape the whole bottom of the pot, preventing sticking and burning (especially after milk is added.)

You can use a lid if you want, but leave it on a crack so that some steam can escape. You may need slightly less milk if you use a lid. I seem to remember my mother keeping her wooden spoon inside the pot while cooking, which kept the lid on a crack.

Rice pudding
Add milk little by little, about a cup or two at a time. Stir well, then simmer on low heat. This is how it’s traditionally done; however, I sometimes pour all of the milk into the pot in one sitting and stir while bringing up the temperature again. Then obviously lower the heat once it’s back to a simmer. Milk burns easily though, so I have to pay attention and stir a lot when doing it this way.

I doubled the recipe below, as I wanted plenty of leftovers for a good amount of Riskrem dessert. So my pot may seem more filled than yours will if you follow the amounts suggested in the recipe.

Definitely use whole milk for this recipe, or at the very least use 2%. Whole works better as it leaves the porridge creamier and tastier, but even more so, low fat milk burns more easily.

Rice pudding 3

Let simmer over low heat until thickened, stirring well every 5 minutes or so to prevent milk from sticking to the bottom and burning. Every time you see that a lot of the milk has absorbed, keep adding more. The amount you add each time is not too important, unless you add so much that it stops boiling entirely. Then you may have to bump up the heat temporarily while stirring and paying close attention so it doesn’t burn. Cook on as low heat as possible while still seeing it bubbling gently as it simmers. Just barely bubbling, no more, to prevent burning. Toward the end, as it really thickens, it will burn more easily, so don’t forget to check.

Rice pudding
Keep adding milk until rice is tender and the risgrøt is thick and creamy. The amount of milk needed will depend on how thick and tender you want the rice and porridge to be. You may use more or less; like most Norwegians, I actually never even measure the milk, I just keep adding more until it has reached the consistency we like. All in all the cooking time will be around an hour from beginning to end.

It may seem like a daunting task to be waiting a whole hour while stirring so frequently. Personally I set the timer so I won’t forget, then I go about cleaning up the kitchen or a different activity close by where I can hear the timer, and the time goes by pretty quickly. It’s not a big job: Simmer, add more milk, stir every so often. That’s about it.

Rice pudding

Next picture: Not quite thick enough yet. If the rice is not completely tender, add more milk and continue to simmer.

Rice pudding
In the following picture, the risengrynsgrøt is thick and the rice nicely tender. It is now done!
Add salt, sugar, vanilla powder, stir well and serve immediately while still hot. If it sits a while after done, it will continue to thicken; you can add some more milk to thin it before eating.

If you don’t have access to vanilla sugar, vanilla extract may be used instead (but use only 1 teaspoon if you do, as it’s much stronger!) Just keep in mind that vanilla extract will add a slight ivory tint to the porridge, so if you are at all able to get a hold of vanilla powder, it will make for a whiter and prettier porridge. Personally I shop for extras whenever I am in Norway; other European countries will have it as well, and it’s possible that IKEA carries it. Otherwise I have found it in supermarkets here in the US, in the international shelves, or in specialty stores. Even AMAZON carries it! Just check out this link!

Rice pudding cooking

During Christmas, I reserve 4 cups to put in the refrigerator for our Riskrem dessert. Otherwise we just eat and finish the leftovers little by little the next few days.

Rice pudding
Risengrynsgrøt, or Rice Porridge, is traditionally served in bowls with cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on top, and a dab of butter in the center. Red juice is usually served to drink, although my family prefers it with milk. Yes, I know, more milk! Yum! This authentic Norwegian recipe makes for a perfect Saturday lunch! Please comment and rate this recipe if you try it; option is found immediately under the recipe. Thank you!!

Rice pudding cinnamon

 

4.5 from 8 reviews
Traditional Norwegian Risengrøt: Rice Pooridge
 
Cook time
Total time
 
This white, creamy rice porridge is served throughout Norwegian homes during most of the year. Leftovers can be used for Riskrem, a traditional Norwegian Christmas dessert.
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast or Lunch
Cuisine: Norwegian
Serves: 5-6
Ingredients
  • 1½ c White, medium grain rice
  • 3 c water
  • 5 c whole milk
  • 2 Tbsp white granular sugar
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 2¼ tsp vanilla sugar (preferred), or ¾ tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Let rice simmer in water in a heavy pot, uncovered, and stirring occasionally on low heat until most of the water is absorbed. This will take approximately 10 minutes.
  2. Add a bit of milk (approximately ¼ or ⅓ of the total milk needed), continuing to add more over the next 45-60 minutes while simmering on low heat. Stir well every five minutes or so. (An alternative is to add all of the milk right away, then stirring a lot as you raise the heat a bit to let it come to a simmer, then of course lower the heat again to keep at a simmer.)
  3. Add more milk whenever the porridge thickens as the milk absorbs, until rice is nicely tender and porridge is thick and creamy.
  4. Add sugar, salt, and vanilla powder; stir well and serve while hot. If vanilla powder is not available, you may use vanilla extract; however, this brown liquid will change the color of the porridge and it will not be as white as it should be.
  5. If the porridge gets too thick, add more milk to thin it.
  6. Serve in bowls and sprinkle with cinnamon and white sugar, and a dab of butter in the center. Serve red juice to drink with the meal.
  7. Leave leftovers in the refrigerator, and thin with milk when reheating.

 

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44 Responses to “Traditional Norwegian Risgrøt, Rice Porridge Recipe”

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  1. Mike Rundhaug says:

    I’m going to try this, Therese! Sounds good.

  2. Satie says:

    I already ate porridge, but that I can remember my host mom (I was an exchange student in Norway) told me that you can’t stop stirring, then, when it reaches the way that you want you just need to keep stirring until the rice is good enough. Or, you can put it in the oven and leave it there for almost one hour
    -3

    • Terese says:

      If the pot you’re using has a thin bottom, then it can be necessary to stir the whole time. If you use one that is more heavy duty, there really should not be a need to stir all the time. Most people would not have time for that anyway, and with a proper pot, they usually have great success stirring only every few minutes. I usually let it go 5-10 minutes between stirring the first half of cooking time, depending on the heat setting as well, then toward the end, when it thickens up, I find it necessary to stir more often. Lower heat though, less stirring.

    • joan walsh says:

      what temp to you set oven to and does it stick. how do they prepare it. thanks

      • Terese says:

        I’ve never made it in the oven, but I decided to do a search of Norwegian recipes. And I found a suggestion regarding making risgrøt in the oven:
        Preheat oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare the first steps on the stove top until the milk has been added and come to a simmer. Then put a lid on the pot, place in the oven, and let sit for about one hour.
        Hope that helps!

        • Terese says:

          I now have tried making it in the oven, and it worked very well. After talking to my brother who still lives in Norway, I followed the directions above for first cooking with water, then adding all of the milk, and brought it to a simmer. Then I put the pot into the oven with the lid on and turned it on 250 degrees, then turned the oven off and let it sit for a good hour. It was perfect!!

  3. Anne Brande says:

    After our family grew my husband and I realized that we could no longer just by risen grot in the store packages and bring them to the states. My husband who grew up in Oslo experimented with Aborio rise and our family could enjoy risen grot. However my husband who travels a lot wasn’t always around to prepare it and it is a Saturday night tradition in our American Norwegian household. It was wonderful to find your recipe and more importantly your step by step instruction, much more detailed and thorough than he has ever been. Thank you so much 😊

  4. SherryD says:

    My grandmother made what she called “Rice Pudding” (she was Swedish and my grandfather was Norwegian). Her recipe is very similar to this but she cooked the rice with water, sugar, salt and butter; then when it was done she added milk, eggs and vanilla and poured into a 9×13″ pan, sprinkle with cinnamon, bake until set, and then she always served it cold with whipped cream.

  5. Audrey says:

    My grandmother used to make this for me. I went once a week to set her hair and always got this at least once a month. Love the stuff. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  6. Alicia says:

    Thank you for posting this recipe. My sister-in-law made this & brought it to our Luciadagen potluck. It was so good! I asked for the recipe & she sent me to your site. I’m definitely making this right away. Delicious!!

  7. Alexander says:

    What is the serving size? I am wanting to bring it to my school for the children.

  8. Alexander says:

    will it work with long grain rice?

  9. Greg says:

    I’m going to try to make this for my daughter who is doing a little breakfast potluck around “Nordic” dishes. Wondering–if I were to make this ahead of time (evening before a morning event) should I keep it warm overnight in a crock pot or refrigerate it and heat it In the morning?

    Thnx!

    • Terese says:

      Definitely refrigerate and reheat the following morning. You may need to add a bit of extra milk as it will thicken further as it sits. I would NOT keep it warm overnight as the grains will continue to expand and get overly mushy, like how pasta would. And it would get awfully thick, too. Refrigeration works very, very well. 🙂 Hope it turns out wonderfully!

  10. Richard B. Jones says:

    Have you ever made it in a rice cooker?

    • Terese says:

      No, I have not. I’m not familiar with how they work, so I don’t know if this recipe will work in a rice cooker. If anyone tries it, please let us know how it works out!

  11. I was interested I reading about the rice pudding. My Grandfather immigrated from Norway in 1867 as a young boy. He remembered a lot of traditional dishes including the rice pudding. He always called it yulegrot ,so I had some trouble finding the correct recipe, due to spelling and pronunciation. .I love the pudding and make it often, not waiting for Christmas . Yum ! Thanks for letting me share.

    • Terese says:

      Yes, people sometimes do call it julegrøt when serving it for Christmas. This expression translates to Christmas porridge. 🙂 Thank you for your comment, it was fun to read about your background and how you like to eat it year round! Sorry you had trouble finding the correct type of recipe, but glad you ended up here on my site in the end! God Jul, Merry Christmas!

  12. Julia Patterson says:

    Thank you! My grandmother passed away this year. She immigrated to the US from Norway after WWII. She made Riskreme every Christmas Eve. This recipe turned out great! Can’t wait to move on to step two tomorrow. She would be so proud.

    • Terese says:

      I’m sorry for your loss! I’m so glad to hear this recipe worked out well for you! I’m sure she indeed would have been proud and happy to see you continuing these traditions! 🙂 Thank you for your comment, and Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  13. Elaine T says:

    I wish I knew my grandmother’s recipe for Risengrot. I remember that she used to put out a quart or a pint of scalded heavy cream in a bowl to sour for 4 days. Then, just before serving the “grot” was ready to be served, she would add a teaspoon or so of lemon juice and again boil and stir it. It would separate into a yellowish buttery-looking clear fluid on the top and rue or something (whey?) on the bottom. The bottom part would be added to the risengrot and the clear yellow would be dabbed on the middle of each serving in a little pool instead of butter. Years ago, my mother and I tried to do it this way, but something has changed in the way heavy cream is processed and this process just didn’t work — it wouldn’t separate and it tasted bitter. So in more recent years, I have just used sour cream from the store. Anyone else use sour cream?

    • Terese says:

      That’s interesting! I’ve never heard of doing this for risengrøt. Lemon can be used to separate milk during cheese making, so you would then end up with whey and curds. But I’m not sure what happens when separating cream, since cream is primarily fat, and also when culturing it first like your grandmother did. I sure would have liked to talk with her and ask her about it! 🙂 Thank you for sharing, I enjoyed reading your comment!

      • Terese says:

        Thinking more about it, there is another recipe (Norwegian) in which you simmer sour cream and a couple of other ingredients to make a very nice, smooth, rich porridge called sour cream porridge. During the process, yellow liquid that looks like butter will start to pool on top, and we would then skim that fat off to use when serving. It sounds like your grandmother used some steps from this recipe and combined it with risengrøt. She obviously first made homemade sour cream, and then separated it to get the yellow fat out of it. I’m sure it tasted very good!

  14. Elaine T says:

    By the way — I find that rice for risotto works best. My grandmother insisted on Carolina rice.

  15. Dave Hensley says:

    We have a Norwegian exchange student staying with us, made this today for Christmas lunch, was very close to what her family makes, thank you.

  16. Eve says:

    The end result is exactly like what I grew up eating and still do. Arroz con leche, my mom would make it on chilly evenings or cold mornings. Now I’ll have to make it to prepare that amazing dessert you make with cream and red sauce! Yum!

  17. Jeni says:

    we use only one cup of rice and let it cook with the milk all day. I dont use any water and end up using a whole gallon of milk. My kids like to sweeten it with red cookie sprinkles 🙂

    • Terese says:

      Thank you for your comment! The reason Norwegians cook risgrøt with water first, is to save on milk (which is expensive in Norway) and to speed up cooking time. The water used in the beginning absorbs quickly into the rice to kick start the softening process, and since it’s hidden inside the rice, it doesn’t affect the flavor at the end. Cooking it this way saves you money by using less milk, and it’s done in an hour.
      I’m glad you’ve found a way that works for you, however, maybe someday you’ll try the above recipe, which is how risgrøt is traditionally made and the way Norwegians love it. If so, I hope you’ll come back and give me a rating based on how you like it done this way. Thanks again for your comment! 🙂

  18. Karin Flores says:

    My aunt Martha made this every year.my favorite. I am so happy, because my sister wanted it. Now we can enjoy it.thank you. My dad dad was born in kristiansand norway. I have been there to visit my family. It is the cleanest place I have ever seen.

    • Terese says:

      I’m glad you found this recipe, and hope you’ll enjoy it for years to come! Kristiansand is a beautiful city and surrounding area! I grew up just a few hours north of there.

  19. Mary Brumbaugh says:

    Last year at this time I was in Bergen Norway.(My mother is 100% Norwegian. Her grandparents all emigrated from near Oslo.) I loved the rice pudding and am anxious to try your recipe. Our family never made it. We do make lefsa and fruit soup though. Will let you know how it turns out.

    • Terese says:

      How exciting! Bergen sure is a beautiful city with the mountains all around you and such charming houses by the ocean, cute little streets etc. I hope you enjoyed your stay! I hope you’ll enjoy this recipe for years to come!

  20. Kristin says:

    Perfect!! I just tried this in Fosnavåg, Norway a few weeks ago and have been searching for the perfect recipe. This is it!! Thank you!!

  21. Karen I Ford says:

    My Mother made this for us when we were sick, instead of oatmeal for breakfast, and not just for Christmas. I still love it and it is the one thing I can eat when I have been ill.

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