Trinidad Sweet Rice

29.1.23 | Recipe by Renz

A thick milky rice dish, Trinidad sweet rice recipe is the perfect sweet dessert. It's a simple recipe of rice simmered down in milk and spices. An amazing comfort food option.

Two glasses of Trinidad sweet rice topped with fruits and a dusting of cinnamon powder.

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Today I'm teaching you how to make Trinidad sweet rice which is a sweet and milky rice dessert that is a derivative of Thiakry which is a rare indigenous West African dessert. This sweet, creamy, and mildly tangy rice treat originated in Senegal and Gambia. From there, enslaved West Africans brought it to the Caribbean and American South. I also encourage you to follow the story through the original dish thiakry from West Africa and southern rice pudding from the United States.


What is sweet rice?

In Trinidad, this glutinous rice dish is a simple, sweet flavorful dessert. We also may refer to it as a rice pudding.

It is the sweeter version of rice porridge and has a looser consistency than say sticky rice. To me, it falls right in the middle of the two. It is sweet, and milky and is usually used as a snack or a dessert.

The rice is boiled in spices till nice and tender then simmered through in sweet milk and spices.

It can be eaten warm, at room temperature, or cold. I much prefer to have this amazing dessert warm.

Thiakry and sweet rice.

A lot of foods traveled across the continents, brought through by our ancestors and some of them had to adapt based on what was readily available to them at their new destination. Showcasing the resilience of dishes and traditions.

Thiakry originally used millet couscous for its creamy, sweet, and tangy version. And the Trini version incorporated rice as its simple grain.

List of ingredients needed

This is a simple recipe using common ingredients. This dessert was usually served after eating spicy dishes to temper the palate.

Ingredients to make rice pudding stored shared out.

  • Uncooked rice - I use my regular rice (white long grain) but you can also use jasmine rice or basmati rice.
  • Condensed milk - If you like to have sweet coconut rice, use coconut-flavored condensed milk.
  • Milk - This can vary. I use whole milk, and people use evaporated milk or even coconut milk.
  • Nutmeg - you can use grated or fresh.
  • Ginger - this can be optional but I love having a little bit in it.
  • Cinnamon sticks - cinnamon powder can also substitute but see notes below for amounts.
  • Bayleaf.
  • Aniseed.
  • Cardamon seeds.


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Deep pot - A large dutch oven pot or just make sure that the pot is a really good nonstick one.
Hand grater.
Wooden spoon.

How to make sweet rice

In a deep pot put your cups of water to boil with the spices: cinnamon sticks, aniseed, ginger, bay leaf, and cardamom. Boil this on medium heat.

A pot full of water, bayleaves, aniseed and ginger ready to boil to make Trinidad sweet rice.

While the water is boiling put your rice in water and wash it and rinse it out a few times.

When the water is boiling, add the drained rice to the pot and let that come to a boil, then lower the heat to low/medium heat. We want this to simmer until the rice gets tender.

You may need to add more water if your liquid has decreased and the rice is not yet ready. This can take about 15 minutes.

Once the rice is soft and the liquid has reduced, then add your milk (whole, evaporated, coconut, or other milk of your choice) and let the rice continue to simmer. The milk will start to thicken.

Rice and milk simmering on a stove to thicken.

Make sure you are stirring the pot occasionally to avoid any sticking.

Once the milk has simmered in, remove the cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, and any other big pieces of spices that may be in the pot. 

Start adding in the condensed milk and sweeten it as you prefer. I love mine to be on the sweeter side.

Simmered down rice and milk with spices, sweetened with condensed milk.

If you are using raisins you can add them in now. 

This dessert can be eaten hot, warm, or cold.

Toppings for sweet rice

Sweet rice is a great dessert and it can be made even better when it's topped with delicious ingredients. Toppings can vary from sweet, to savory.

Toppings can include nuts, dried fruits, desiccated coconut flakes, miniature marshmallows, mini chocolate chips, and cinnamon sugar.

You can also use chopped-up fresh fruit. Examples would be some ripe mangoes, strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries.

Not only are these toppings tasty but they also make the dish look more aesthetically pleasing as well.

Sweet rice should always come in all its glory with these savory and delicious toppings that amplify the sweetness of this delightful dish.

Cooked sweet rice, served out in two dessert glasses topped with dried fruits and cherries.

How to store leftovers

Having leftovers is always possible. We don't want any wastage so here is the best way to store.

Any leftover rice mixture needs to be placed in an airtight container and placed in the fridge. It's good to be there for up to five days.


Milk - Whole milk can be substituted for evaporated, coconut, oats, or almond milk. Any milk that is nice and full.

Spices - If you don't have fresh spices you can use powders.

Rice - already have cooked rice and what to use that? You can for sure. Add the rice, enough milk to just cover the rice (for example 2 cups cooked rice and just about 2 cups milk), and spices to your pot. Simmer on medium-low heat till it thickens.

A scoop of rice pudding with toppings on fruit and dusted cinnamon.


* If you want this to be a thicker consistency, simmer it in the milk for a longer period of time. Make sure you stir often so it does not burn.

* On the other hand if you like it to have more liquid, add more milk. I suggest starting with the milk amount I have and letting that thicken, then adding the additional milk till you get the consistency you prefer.

* I use white rice (any type) but you can use brown rice also. Just know that the color will be darker.

* You can use brown sugar instead of white, but it will darken the dish in color. Also, the taste will be a little different.

More sweet Trini desserts