A Perennial Summertime Favorite: Lemon, Vanilla & Cardamom

Freshly squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest make this flavor pop
Fresh Lemon Juice & Zest is the only way to make this flavor!

This is a wonderful lively fruit rice pudding flavor to have on hand. You can dress it up or enjoy it's simple elegance, all on its own. My Farmers' Market customers will surely recognize & remember this delicious favorite. The beauty of this one is that the 3 main ingredients are in perfect balance and harmony with each other. This flavor was a Summer time staple on my menus for the Retail Stores and at the Markets. It would also appear regularly, especially at the Holidays. I have made many thousands of containers of this flavor, and Yes, It too is one of my all time personal favs!

This recipe is very easy to make and is super soft & smooth. New people trying this flavor for the first time often refer to it as being soft textured like a gelato. The fresh lemon juice & lemon zest combine beautifully with the rich Madagascar Vanilla and a hint of ground cardamom. I am a cardamom fan but caution needs to be exercised here. Once you add cardamom to your pudding, you can't take it back out! So, I would advise people to follow the recipe and if you want a bit more cardamom, add it to the individual serving as you are sitting down to enjoy it. If you add too much to your pudding, the taste can grow with time and take over the other main flavors. I use an alcohol based pure Madagascar vanilla extract in my rice puddings. They retain their true flavor and richness far better than an artificial extract, even when they are cooked. The alcohol itself evaporates off during the making of the pudding.

Cardamom is a beautiful spice to work with but use caution or it will take over your dish
Cardamom seeds from inside the pods can be freshly ground in a spice grinder and stored.

What you will need:

2 medium sized pots with lids, a strainer that sits inside of a bowl, a long metal spoon, a rubber spatula, a lemon juicer (if you have one), a lemon zester or kitchen grater (if you have one), a heat proof/food safe container with lid, measuring spoons & cups or a kitchen scale (if you have one), a small knife and cutting board


15 oz Calrose medium grain rice

13 + 1 oz coconut milk (14 oz in a regular can)

10 oz white or Organic raw sugar

4.5 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 1/2 tsp pure Madagascar vanilla extract (alcohol based)

1/4 tsp ground cardamom seeds

fresh lemon zest


  1. Place the Calrose rice in the strainer that sits inside a bowl. Rinse the rice under running water and strain. Repeat 2 more times. Set aside to drain.

  2. Using a light dish soap wash the whole lemons. With a lemon zester or small kitchen grater remove the lemon zest from the outside of the lemons. Set it aside. Cut the lemons in half crosswise and using a lemon juicer or using your hands, squeeze the juice out of the lemons until you have 4.5 oz worth of juice.

  3. Place the juice in a medium sized pot along with 2 oz of water and 4 oz of sugar. Over a medium heat, bring the lemon juice to a medium boil. Reduce the heat and continue to cook and stir for another 5 minutes, making sure that all of the sugar has been dissolved into the sauce. Add the reserved lemon zest and continue to cook for another 2 or 3 minutes. Empty the lemon sauce into a small bowl and set aside.

  4. In the second medium sized pot place 32 oz of water and 1 oz of coconut milk. Bring the pot to a boil. Add the rinsed and drained Calrose rice to the hot water. Stir to ensure that the rice isn't stuck to the bottom. Reduce the heat to it's lowest setting. Cover and set a timer for 20 minutes.

  5. In the 'lemon' pot (no need to wash it first), add 13 oz of coconut milk, 13 oz of water and 6 oz of sugar. Bring the pot to a medium boil. Reduce the heat to a slow simmer and add the reserved lemon sauce, the Madagascar vanilla and the ground cardamom powder. Cover and allow the mixture to simmer on the lowest setting, covered.

  6. Once the rice has cooked for the 20 minutes, turn off the heat and allow it to continue to cook and to absorb more liquid for an additional 10 minutes.

  7. Once it has rested the 10 minutes, empty the hot cooked Calrose rice into the lemon sauce mixture. Using a wire whisk break up any clumps of hot cooked rice and incorporate them well. Bring the whole mixture back up to a medium boil. Turn off the heat and empty your Lemon, Vanilla & Cardamom Fruit Rice Pudding into a heat proof/food safe container and cover.

  8. Place your pudding on the counter or on a cooling rack for 15 to 20 minutes, covered. You can now place the rice pudding in the fridge to cool completely. It will keep in the fridge, covered, for up to 2 weeks. Or, you may choose to portion and package some of your pudding into freezer grade containers to enjoy at a later date. They can be frozen for a few months.

  9. Consult our How to Freeze & Thaw blog post for best results. Consult our Simply Fruit Rice Puddings: Basic Ingredients post and our Basic Cooking Instructions post for more tips & tricks on making your very own Lemon, Vanilla & Cardamon fruit rice pudding.

This flavor goes beautifully with other citrus, all berries, pears & plums. Have fun with it. Add some gelato, yogurt, whipped cream or whipped coconut milk to top it off.

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