Risengrød – Traditional Danish Christmas Rice Pudding

Risengrød – which is understood as Danish Christmas rice pudding is a Danish main course that is so sweet many consider it a dessert. Risengrød you will only find served in households and almost only during the Christmas season. The traditional dish is a warm dish that many consider part of their childhood and there is even a song about it. There are different ways that this dish can be prepared and there is an extensive history and points of lore attached to Danish Christmas rice pudding (Risengrød).

History of Risengrød

The Danish dessert is said to date back as far as the middle ages and most likely originated from Persians or somewhere in the Middle East. Officially though, risengrød origins have records in Nordic history, dating back to 1542 in Malmö in what now is Sweden but back then was part of the Kingdom of Denmark. Back then, risengrød was made with either rye, oats, or even barley with water due to how milk and rice were luxury items back then. It was during the Christmas season that it was served with rice, milk, cinnamon, and butter to show one’s status.


Risengrød (Traditional Danish Christmas Rice Pudding)

Total Time 1 hour
Servings 4


  • Big pot


  • 200 g rice porridge
  • 3 dl water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • l whole milk
  • Cinnamon sugar
  • Butter


  • Pour the rice, salt and water into the pan, bring to a boil and let it cook for 3-4 minutes.
  • Now pour in the milk and bring it to a boil again while stirring.
  • Let it all boil while stirring regularly for approx. 45 minutes on even heat until the porridge has reached the right thickness.
  • Serve with cinnamon sugar – calculate 1 tbsp. sugar to 1 tsp. cinnamon – and a dollop of butter.
  • If you want to make your rice porridge under the duvet, it is between step 2 and 3 you put it to bed. Place the lid on the pan and place it in the middle of the bed on a thick, woolen blanket. Wrap the blanket around the pot and then the duvet, and leave it for 1-2 hours and never more than 3 hours as you then risk the temperature falling and the porridge becoming bad.

Risengrød, Santa and his Helpers

As all Danes know Santa Claus is from Greenland. And Santas helpers love Risengrød. Often danish children leave a bowl with Risengrød to julenissen in the nigh. Julenissen is kind of a Santas Helper or Pixie or Christmas Elf.

One of the most famous danish Christmas shows (for children) and Christmas songs relate to Santas Helpers and their love for Risengrød. You can see the video below, and be aware of the way the Nisse adds a piece of butter to the pudding. That is the right way to do it, which most Danes have tried to and failed at:

Most Danes do not share the bowl like in the video – I guess that is more a thing for Santas Helpers – and you normally a small bowl each with cinnamon sugar and a small piece of butter in the middle which melts out over the rest of the Pudding.

Also, see other danish recipes here for example the recipe for frikadeller (Danish Meatballs).

risengrød danish christmas rice pudding

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