Risalamande (Danish Rice Pudding)

5 from 9 votes

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Risalamande (or Ris a la mande) is a Danish rice pudding that is served around Christmas. This creamy, sweet pudding is a delicious dessert that everyone will love, whether or not you have Danish roots!

Danish Christmas rice pudding in two bowls with raspberry sauce on top.
Featured with this recipe
  1. A Family Christmas Tradition
  2. Risalamande: A Tradition that Started in Denmark
  3. Mandelgave (aka Almond Present)
  4. When to Celebrate
  5. Risalamande Ingredients
  6. Vanilla Sugar
  7. Tips for Making Risalamande
  8. Frequently Asked Questions
  9. Other Danish Recipes to Try:
  10. Risalamande (Danish Christmas Rice Pudding) Recipe

Risalamande (or Ris a la Mande) is a Danish rice pudding that is typically served on or around Christmas Eve as a dessert. Though the name is French (riz à l’amande) it is a very Danish dessert.

In the 1800’s the Danes wanted to up their rice pudding game and make it more fancy than just a plain rice porridge (Risengrød). They added some cream and almonds to the recipe and risalamande was born. Throughout the years, some warm cherry sauce and vanilla sugar was added to give it a brighter flavor. This is still how it is served today.

A Family Christmas Tradition

I love Christmas traditions. I love hearing about other peoples’ traditions and I love our own little traditions. Some of our traditions go way back, and some have been established within the last few years. Either way, in my opinion, traditions make Christmas extra special and unique for each family.

No two Christmases are the same and I love that. Risalamande (and Mandelgave) is a tradition we have been celebrating for over 15 years now and I hope it continues for generations to come.

A spoon taking a scoop out of a bowl of risalamande.

Risalamande: A Tradition that Started in Denmark

My husband served his mission in Denmark and told me about the Danish traditions that they do there and I LOVE them. Since our family has Danish ancestry (and since he lived in Denmark) we decided that we wanted to incorporate many of them into our own Christmas traditions. Risalamande (and Mandelgave) specifically, is a tradition we have been celebrating for over 15 years now and I hope it continues for generations to come.

Mandelgave (aka Almond Present)

To add to the Danish Christmas tradition, there is a fun, traditional game called “mandelgave” (or “Almond Present). This is where a single, whole almond is mixed into the risalamande and hidden before serving. The skin of the almond is carefully peeled or shaved off to make it harder to find. The rice pudding is served in a very large bowl and everyone scoops a heap into their own, smaller bowl to eat.

Whoever finds the single, whole almond in their bowl will get a little wrapped gift or prize! The finder of the almond will often keep it a secret from everyone else until all the pudding is gone and watch the fun play out before revealing they have the almond. In Denmark, a common prize for the winner is a marzipan pig, but it can be anything you would like!

A whole almond on a spoonful of rislamande.

When to Celebrate

Our family celebrates our “Danish Christmas” on December 23rd. In Denmark the 23rd of December is called “Lille Julaften” or “Little Christmas Eve” (the day before Christmas Eve). If you are in Denmark on this day, you would likely have a big meal. Then, on actual Christmas Eve, you get to open presents, sing songs, serve rice pudding, etc.

We roll all the Danish celebrations into one day and do it all on the 23rd. I love doing this because it is like having three days of Christmas celebrations/traditions: Little Christmas Eve, Christmas Eve, and Christmas!

Ingredients to make risalamande including milk, rice, almonds, and vanilla sugar

Risalamande Ingredients

  • Arborio Rice – This is the typical rice that is used for any rice pudding. It is an Italian short-grain rice. It can be found in most grocery stores.
  • Milk – We like to use whole milk for creaminess, but 2% will work. Using skim milk may alter the texture and you may not get the creamy rice pudding you are hoping for.
  • Vanilla Sugar – This is what gives risalamande its unique, sweet flavor. Vanilla sugar is not easy to find but it is a MUST for the recipe. You can find it at World Market, most European markets, or you can order it online. You will usually find them in little individual packets as pictured below. Can’t find vanilla sugar anywhere? No problem! See the next paragraph.
  • Sugar – Added in for sweetness and a bit of texture to the pudding.
  • Almonds – The almonds should have a coarse texture. You can get this by chopping roughly with a knife or pulsing a few times in a food processor. Remember to scrape the skin off of one whole almond to use for people to find!
  • Whipping Cream – Not half and half. You need to be able to whip it into whipped cream for this recipe so it needs to be heavy cream.
  • Cherry or Raspberry Sauce – Traditionally, a cherry sauce is used. The cherries they use in Denmark are different from the cherries you can find here in the States so we usually opt for a raspberry sauce.

Vanilla Sugar

As mentioned above, vanilla sugar can be difficult to find. The good news is that it can be made at home with some granulated sugar and a fresh vanilla bean (not dried). Just slice open the vanilla bean pod and scrape out the seeds with a sharp knife. Combine the seeds and ½ cup of sugar in bowl and whisk together until well incorporated. Place the vanilla sugar in a glass jar with a lid and store until ready to use. Don’t throw out that vanilla bean pod! Allow it to dry out (this may take up to a week), then cut it up and add it to the sugar jar. If you can’t find vanilla sugar OR a vanilla bean pod, worst case scenario, you can add a teaspoon of fresh, high quality vanilla extract to the mix.

Two packets of vanilla sugar.

Tips for Making Risalamande

This recipe is easy enough to make, but here are some tips to help you get started if it’s your first time making rice pudding.

  • Cook the rice low and slow. Don’t rush the process. Yes, it takes a while for the rice to soften, but it’s worth it. Let it simmer, don’t allow it to boil. Cooking the rice too quickly can cause the milk to burn or the rice to stick to the pan.
  • Use pre-chopped almonds, then give them a run-through with a knife to coarsely chop. Chopping whole almonds can be a pain. Just remember to have at least one whole almond if you are going to play “madelgave”.
  • The traditional topping for risalamande is a warm cherry sauce. You can make your own with fresh market cherries or by use cherry pie filling. We usually go for the raspberry sauce since fresh cherries are difficult to find in the U.S. in the winter.
  • Serve it warm, at room temperature, or cold. I prefer this rice pudding warm, but other people prefer it cold. It’s personal preference, so try it both ways and see!
A bowl of risalamande with warm raspberry sauce.

“I Made this for a gathering and it was a hit, everyone loved it! Will definitely make it again!”


Frequently Asked Questions

Where does Risalamande come from?

Risalamande originated in Denmark.

During which festival is risalamande the popular Danish almond rice pudding eaten?

 It is traditionally served at Christmas dinner and also Christmas lunch (julefrokost).

Is pudding rice the same as arborio?

They are very very similar but not exactly the same. They are both a short-grain white rice but arborio is a little more firm in the middle. Pudding rice is more starchy and works well with sweet recipes. Either can be used for this recipe.

How do you store risalamande?

This risalamande dessert can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for five to seven days long.

Other Danish Recipes to Try:

Whether you want to make a traditional Little Christmas Eve meal, or just want to try some Danish food, these recipes are fantastic. Give them a try!

Two bowls of risalamande next to golden spoons

Risalamande (Danish Christmas Rice Pudding)

5 from 9 votes
I love the tradition of serving Ris a La Mande (Danish Rice Pudding) on Little Christmas Eve! A delicious, traditional dessert if you have Danish roots!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Danish
Servings 6


For the rice pudding:

  • 1/2 cup Arborio rice (it MUST be this kind of rice)
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 3 Tablespoons vanilla sugar (do NOT use vanilla extract…this can be tricky to find, see above)
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup almonds finely chopped using knife
  • 2 1/4 cups whipping cream whipped

For the sauce:

  • 2 cups frozen raspberries
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 Tablespoons water



  • Bring milk to a simmer slowly in a large pot over low heat.
    Milk in a Dutch oven
  • Add rice, keep simmering until rice is tender, stir every 3 min or so to prevent rice and/or milk burning at the bottom. This step takes approx 40 minutes. 
    Arborio rice in a Dutch oven with milk being stirred
  • While the rice is simmering you can make the raspberry sauce and chop the almonds.
    Raspberry sauce in a bowl
  • When rice is tender and has thickened, remove from heat and let it cool slightly.
    Softened rice on a spoon to make rice pudding
  • Add vanilla sugar, sugar and almonds.
    Arborio rice in a Dutch oven with milk being stirred
  • Fold in whipped cream.
    Whipped cream being folded into rice pudding to make risalamande
  • Keep warm or chill before serving (we actually like the rice pudding warm… but some like it chilled. Either way works).
    Whipped cream being folded into rice pudding
  • Serve with raspberry sauce or warm cherry sauce.
    A bowl of risalamande with warm raspberry sauce


  • In medium sauce pan, place frozen raspberries and 2 Tablespoons of water, heat until thawed, add sugar and stir. Let simmer for approx. 3-5 minutes.
    Frozen raspberries in a saucepan with sugar
  • Strain seeds (catching the juices/pulp over a bowl), discard seeds and put juices back in the sauce pan.
    Raspberries being pressed through a strainer to remove seeds
  • Mix cornstarch with water and add to the sauce SLOWLY to thicken. You probably won't need all the mixture. This step can be omitted if you want a more natural and thinner sauce.
    Raspberries being simmered into a sauce on a stovetop
  • Serve sauce warm.
    Raspberry sauce in a bowl


How to store risalamande 

This risalamande dessert can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for five to seven days long.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 690kcalCarbohydrates: 79gProtein: 19gFat: 36gSaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 49mgSodium: 106mgPotassium: 736mgFiber: 11gSugar: 38gVitamin A: 596IUVitamin C: 21mgCalcium: 395mgIron: 3mg

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This recipe was adapted from Food.com.. click here!


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About the author

Erica Walker

Erica lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, Jared, an attorney, and her three beautiful girls. Beyond the world of recipes, she loves adventuring with everything from kayaking, to cruising, to snowboarding and taking the family along for the thrill ride.

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  1. Hi Erica,
    Thanks for sharing the recipe. I was actually on the familyrecipies site looking fora Danish Gullasch recipe (it’s cooking as I write)and found this.
    My husband is Danish and we lived in Demark for 8 years. l love their Christmas traditions! Just a couple of comments about the recipe. I live in the Seattle area and I’ve always had a difficult time finding a good “grød” rice. In the last few years I have used sushi rice. It has worked well, but it has to be rinsed really well to remove some of the starch before cooking, or the ris ala mande gets too sticky and clumpy. I have used Arborio rice but it is more difficult to find here. Also I noticed that you don’t mention blanching the almonds before using them. It’s really easy to do. Just place raw almonds in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Let them sit for about 5 min. and the skins slip right off. It’s easier to hide the single almond when they are white. 😉
    I agree with other reviewers that it is difficult to find a good pork roast with the skin attached. I will for sure try Asian markets in the area. One comment I have about American pork roast is that the pork here is very fatty, and it’s difficult to get that fat layer just under the skin rendered out so the skin becomes crispy. It’s delicious if it’s cooked correctly though.

  2. 5 stars
    I’ve never tried making my own rice pudding until this recipe. It was great! Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. 5 stars
    I’m a huge fan of trying international dishes and love a good rice pudding (and rice in general haha) Normally I make a rizogalo (greek version) but I liked that this was not as thick and the raspberry sauce was divine on top.

  4. Hey everyone, I am from Denmark but have lived many years in Dallas, Texas.
    We can get the Flaeskesteg cut by Asian Butcher Stores, never thought to look there until
    somebody found it and that is where all the Danes go around Christmas Time, they also
    make it with the Svaer cut.
    Many regards, Regitze

    1. Thanks for the great tip! I had no idea you could get a Flaeskesteg at an Asian butcher store. Thanks for taking the time to comment and let us know!

  5. So glad to come across your post! I studied abroad in DK (Copenhagen / Allerod) and fell in love with Danish food, culture, and traditions – Jeg elsker Danmark! My partner and I have started the tradition of replacing an American christmas “open house” for friends with a traditional Danish Christmas meal. We found the ONLY way to get the right cut of pork was to utilize a local butcher and show photos of what we want. There was a great article in Saveur that helps too! https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&q=http://www.saveur.com/paul-cunningham-danish-christmas-menu&source=gmail&ust=1481641542687000&usg=AFQjCNFpC6vYVtbXJoE0BVQPBDOIRzLtkg

    I will have to try vanilla sugar! I remember cooking with it in DK but haven’t seen it here. Instead, we boil a vanilla bean with the milk and scrape the pod to release the seeds into the liquid before adding the rice. TONS of flavor and adds those pretty vanilla flecks! You can find the pods for cheap at TJ Maxx or Marshals!

    Hope this helps, and thanks for posting! Glædelig jul

    1. Kaitlin– wow Thank you.. or should I say “Tusand tak” 🙂 We got the vanilla sugar at a local Russian store haha it was so random that we came across it. Thank you for the fun Danish article. My husband LOVES Danish Christmas stuff (I do too)! We just need to figure out the pork with the crackling. He has been BEGGING for that each year but I honestly don’t even know where to begin. I am a little intimidated to try to make it because it is literally one of his favorite Danish foods ever and I am afraid I will mess it up and ruin all his good memories of it LOL

      1. As a dane i might have a suggestion about how to get the good crackling – if you havent figured it out already. Ofcourse the skind need to be salted. But if the cracklings arent crackling, then use the grill setting on the oven for a minut or two. Should do the trick.
        Since you havent posted a recipe for flæskesteg, i was wondering if you put bay leafes and cloves(?) (what i know as nelliker) in between the crackling? tastes sooo good.

        And also, about the sauce for ris a la mande, always use cherrysauce. anything else is wrong in my opinion 🙂

        1. I have yet to attempt flæskesteg actually! I can’t find the right cut of pork here in the states. I need to look harder so I can try out my husband’s recipe he brought back from Denmark. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! Mange tak!;)

  6. I’ve always preferred the texture and flavour of Basmati rice for this. Remember to save one whole almond for the end and make a game of it. The one who gets the whole almond gets a prize! I use Cherry sauce. Easy to make if you can get canned sour cherries (in glass is best) then reduce and thicken the juice with corn starch and sweeten to your desired taste. enjoy.

    1. Love the “almond game”! When we play, usually the person who has the almond waits til all of the pudding is gone to reveal he/she has it 😉 That way they can watch everyone eat until they are stuffed haha

  7. I married a Dane and his Mother taught me how to make the rice pudding and other Danish food. Your recipe is a little different but I’m sure it is tasty. We celebrate the Danish way for the dinner the day before Christmas but do traditional on the 25th. All his cousins served there missions in Denmark.

    1. That is awesome! My husband always raves over Danish food. How cool that you had so many who served missions there, and that you married a Dane! I am sure you have lots of yummy recipes in your collection. Do you have one for pork with crackling (Fleskastai?) I butchered the spelling on that… haha

  8. Hi Erica,
    Being Danish and having lived in the US for 11 years now, I too have had difficulties tracking down a proper flæskesteg. Good news is I have found William’s Pork, an online British butcher’s shop that has specialized in Danish holiday pork. I am getting flæskesteg and medisterpølse from them this year. Glædelig jul!

    1. Anja– Thank you so much!!!! My husband will be so excited! I wonder why it is so difficult to track down flæskesteg here? Hopefully now you can have a little taste of home this Christmas 🙂 Glædelig jul!!

  9. Thanks for sharing this recipe! I lived in Denmark a couple years back and loved the ris a la mande aspect of the Christmas meal. This year I’m sharing with tradition with my new husband and his family.

    I am wondering how many servings does this recipe make?

  10. Hi Erica.

    A little greeting from a dane. I was searching around for a english recipe to give to my penpal since it was a bit easier than translating it myself and finding the exact words for some of the ingredients. Its nice to see you have taken our little tradition so much to heart. It will always be one of my favourite traditions of danish christmas. There is a slight twist to the game in most families where the person who finds the almont tries to hide it so that all the others continue to eat the pudding in the hunt for the almont. So the entire game gets a nice “YOU HAVE IT! IM SURE YOU HAVE IT!” twist that causes great amusement to the entire family.

    I will have to admit that im a traditionalist and will insist on it being served with cherry sauce!;-)

    Im not sure if there are any other danish parts of your christmas traditions but would love to help with a few recipes if you want any.

    Have a lovely day and a happy christmas when the date gets there.

    Greetings from Denmark

    1. Hello Casper!
      Thank you so much for your note!!! I love hearing about others’ Christmas traditions… especially Danish ones! We have been wanting to make “Flæskesteg” but for the life of me I can’t find the right cut of pork in the U.S.! Do you have a good recipe for that?
      If you search around our site we actually have several Danish recipes, check them out and let me know what you think! Thanks again for your nice comment! -Erica

  11. Oh, I look forward to trying your version. I make a similar version but it makes a huge batch and sometimes it’s difficult to scale it down. I also love and actually prefer raspberry sauce. Cherry sauce is not my thing, but that is the way the Danes prefer it. I typically make it with a fancy short grain rice, since I could never find the Arborio. It’s pretty good that way. I would be interested to know when your hubs served in Denmark? I served there in 1999, 2000. Anyway, great recipes. Thank you!

    1. Rachel- thank you so much for your comment! I am with ya– I like the taste of raspberry best! He served there 2000-2002 so maybe you crossed paths! Last name was Walker

  12. Thanks for the recipe! Love, love risalamonde! We use cherries for the sauce, but have tons of raspberry bushes. Usually use them for rødgrød med fløde but should use some and give raspberry sauce a try. My husband is from Denmark and he loves it when I try to make his favorite Danish dishes. He too served his mission in Denmark. What years did your husband serve?

    1. He served in the Copenhagen Mission but rarely served in the city– hr spent most of his time out in the country. What years was your husband there? He said in Denmark they typically use cherries but I just like the flavor of raspberries better 😉

  13. Hi,
    I was searching the internet to find an English recipe for Ris A La Mande, as our cook has promised to make it for tonight and I´m not quite sure he knows what I´m talking about – not his fault as he is from Asia, and most likely have never seen or heard about it before. I found your recipe and the story behind. It´s so funny that you do ¨the almond-thing¨ – and it seems like you have a lot of fun with it, too.
    I have some comments for your recipe though – maybe you can try it next ¨Little Christmas Eve¨? – but as all families, you also might stick to your own tradition (I know we do in my family ;-)),
    It is possible to use vanilla extract – but much more difficult to get the right quantity. Usually the rice porridge intended for Ris A La Mande will be cooked together with a real Vanilla pod ( the empty pod is still full of flavour and the vanilla corn goes into the Ris A La Mande instead of vanilla sugar). Whether or not chopped almonds will be added to the Ris A La Mande is different from family to family – and it is always the base for a good discussion – Especially if a new member has been added to the family 🙂 I absolutely prefer lots and lots of chopped almonds in my Ris A La Mande, which also makes the almond extract, which some families uses unnecessary.
    Many – not all – people also pour a dash of port wine or the like into the Ris A La Mande.
    I would like to know where you got the idea with the Raspberry sauce from? I have never seen or heard about raspberry sauce being served for Ris A La Mande before. It might be some local family recipe – but the most common thing is to serve it with cherry sauce – (here is again basis for a good discussion, since some people like it served cold while others prefer it to be served hot 🙂 ). I have heard that some people do serve it with strawberry sauce, if cherry is unavailable or if they just like strawberry better – but I have never tried it my self. As I said: cherry is the most common.
    I loved to read about how you have incorporated this danish meal into a Christmas tradition of your own – it sounds like it is nice time to see family and friends every year on ¨Little Christmas Eve¨:-) Some families do serve roast pork on Christmas eve – but most serve it as the second meat, and will serve roast duck or roast goose as the ¨Main Attraction¨on the table.
    However, we really do love the roast pork with crispy cracklings, and it is served almost year round – many people even grilled in the summer time 🙂
    Today is exactly 7 months before (Danish) Christmas – so merry Christmas in advance from a Dane is currently situated in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

    1. Thank you SO much for this comment! The idea of the raspberry sauce was my own– my husband did mention a cherry sauce and we may try that next year! We just did raspberries because that is what I had on hand 🙂 Thank you for your advice on the vanilla, I am sure that our readers will appreciate that! I would love to talk to you more about Danish recipes if you are interested! My husband only had a few that he brought back. He said the “shawarmas” there are amazing (even though they aren’t originally from Denmark). I have yet to try them. I am dying to travel to Denmark! Any recommendations I need to know about?