Risalamande – A Danish Christmas Eve Dessert.

If you like rice pudding, you’re going to love Risalamande, a fancified Danish version of rice pudding that’s full of almonds, velvety whipped cream and topped with a cherry sauce.  With NO calories!!  Provided you just look at it.

Risalamande in a clear glass with cherries and sauce dripping into the pudding.

Skip right to the recipe.

I know.  I don’t even like dessert and I think it looks delicious.  More shocking is the fact that I think it tastes delicious. This because I find a nice bag of salty potato chips are the best dessert. This Danish Christmas tradition of a rice pudding concoction however gets my full support for Christmas Eve dessert.

I love it.

But I’m generally a big fan of rice pudding precisely because of the fact that it isn’t too sweet.  It’s rich and creamy and everyone knows that all the best desserts are made with rice.  Just ask my good friend Mango Sticky Rice.

Risalamande (translates to almond rice) is what’s traditionally served on Christmas Eve in Danish households. Except my childhood Danish household apparently, where tradition was to pass around Creme de Menthe and ashtrays.

A couple of years ago I thought I’d try it out myself to see if it’s a Danish tradition I’d like to resurrect for my annual Christmas Eve party. Now that 2 years have passed I know that I do indeed love it but have no idea whether I’ll be able to have a Christmas Eve party this year.

Curses Covid.

Making this dessert is really simple.  You cook some basic rice pudding, stir in some almonds and whipped cream then top it with cherry sauce.

Copper pot filled with danish rice pudding with sliced almonds being stirred in with a wood spoon.

The one extra special thing about Risalamande are the almonds.  And not just the almonds, but the one, single whole almond that gets added to it. 

The tradition is to serve all of the rice pudding and whoever gets the whole almond wins a prize.  If you’re the one who finds the almond  you’re supposed to tuck it in your cheek or hide it so no one knows it’s been found.  That way everyone is forced to eat all the rice pudding in the entire house thinking the almond might still be available to be found.

Evidently leftover rice pudding is a sin worse than carpeted bathrooms in a Danish household.

Pouring whipping cream into a stand mixer with an antique wood cabinet with garland in the background.

Also just so you know, Danes love butter and whipping cream, just as a general rule. And that is why we love the Dane’s. Of course they offset all that fat in their diet by eating pickled herring.  Nobody’s perfect.

Stirring whipped cream into delicious rice pudding in a large black bowl with a gold spoon.

Just a photographic reminder to add the whole almond because it’s easy to forget when you’re in a whipped cream coma.

Cherry sauce cooling in a copper pot on a marble countertop.

You can go as complicated or as easy as you want with the cherry sauce. I made my own out of frozen cherries, sugar and water but if you like things easy and just want to dump a can of cherry pie filling on top, feel free.

Risalamande in a clear glass topped with a bright red cherry sauce, on a wood table with cedar branches around.

Just don’t expect it to look like this if you do.  Cherry pie filling will be a bit gloppy, although if you heated it up it will become runnier.

Cheery glasses of danish rice pudding, Risalamande with cherry sauce on top, on a wood table surrounded with cedar branches and twinkle lights.

Risalamande – Danish Rice Pudding

Risalamande - Danish Rice Pudding

This Danish dessert is traditionally served on Christmas Eve but feel free to whip it up any time of year.
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Danish
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients

Rice Pudding

  • 1 cup white rice (long grain or arborio)
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 cup almonds (chopped, blanched)
  • 1 almond (whole)

Whipped Cream

  • 1.5 cups whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 bean vanilla

Cherry Sauce

  • 16 oz cherries (frozen)
  • 3 tbsp sugar (or to taste)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp water

Instructions

Rice Pudding

  • Add rice, milk, sugar and a pinch of salt to pot and heat until small bubbles start to form around edge of pot.  Stir occasionally.
  • Once bubbles form, cover pot with lid and simmer for apx 1 hour until rice is soft.  
  • Remove from heat and add in chopped almonds and 1 whole almond. Allow to cool.

Whipped Cream

  • Whip 1.5 cups of whipping cream.  Once it starts to thicken, add the sugar.
  • Once whipped, gently stir in the seeds from one whole vanilla bean.

Cherry Sauce

  • Mix together 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of water to form a slurry.
  • Simmer cherries, 1/4 cup of water and 3 tablespoons of sugar in a pot until the cherries are softened.  
  • Once softened and warm, add the slurry to the pot of cherries and bring to a slight boil.  Simmer until thickened.  Remove from heat.

Putting it all together

  • Gently fold the whipped cream into the rice pudding.  Serve in bowls or cups, topped with the warm cherry sauce.

Notes

People will say IT IS VITALLY IMPORTANT YOU USE ARBORIO RICE.  It isn't vitally important.
People will say IT IS VITALLY IMPORTANT TO USE REGULAR, LONG GRAIN WHITE RICE.  It isn't vitally important.
In other words, use whichever you have and it'll be delicious.
If you simmer your rice and milk mixture too long it'll get very stiff and solid after it has cooled. This is  normal, just add a bit of milk to loosen it up if you want, but the whipping cream will do all the loosening you need really.
This is all done to taste. If you like a sweeter rice pudding, add more sugar. Ditto for the cherry sauce.
 

Don’t be alarmed at all the steps. It’s not hard to make, but there are 3 components: the rice pudding, the whipped cream and the cherry sauce. 

 A big spoonful of rice pudding dripping with cherry sauce with glowing twinkle lights and cedar branches in the background.

It even looks Christmassy which guests will appreciate. If you are being asked not to get together this holiday season I really think you should still do some kind of special Christmas food. Whatever you like. It doesn’t have to be Risalamande, it could be shortbread cookies or bacon wraps or whatever food your family serves specially during the holidays.

If I am home alone and feeding only myself I’ll consider this rice pudding but will probably go for the slightly less popular Christmas Eve rice dessert of chicken fried rice.

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Risalamande - A Danish Christmas Eve Dessert.

86 Comments

  1. Inger Hummelshoj says:

    Hi Karen, I’d like to make this for New Year’s Eve, but would prefer only a half portion. Would it work to just halve all the ingredients?

  2. Lee says:

    Wow! So yummy! I’ll be making this a lot more often.
    I took a picture but I don’t see where I could post it.

  3. John Guest says:

    Made it last night – rave reviews despite my usual failure to follow the recipe accurately. Whoever got the almond kept quiet about it.

    • Karen says:

      It’s hard to keep quiet about chewing an almond in the midst of mushy rice pudding, lol. ~ karen!

      • Zenah El-Rafih says:

        My Danish neighbour used to make this every Christmas for us until we moved. Except she didn’t add the almonds! And the rice pudding was not the least bit sweet but the cherry sauce was. I didn’t realize how much I missed it till I saw your recipe, I will definitely be making this tomorrow! Thanks!

  4. jan says:

    My son is the real cook in this house and will be making this beautifully festive dessert for Christmas. I just know my eyes will roll back in my head from the deliciousness. Thank you!

  5. RK Henderson says:

    Carpeted bathrooms are a sin everywhere. Just one short step from gold toilets, and a lot less hygienic.

  6. Cherie says:

    Now this will be interesting Christmas Eve dinner and multinational. In my family it was always tortiere before midnight church service — or whatever — and then oyster stew made with fresh oysters, never canned and cream and butter. Dessert was cookies, fruit cake, and any number of other choices, never rice pudding but this year….? Well, it will be an odd one for sure so might as well make it truly odd with tortiere as the main course served with chow chow and/or cranberry sauce and a green veg, followed by, you guessed it, this amazing rice pudding. I have lots of frozen cherries and some kirsch so here’s to the Danes. It has been our tradition to have many friends join us for Christmas Eve tortiere but given we are childless and have only our elderly Sheltie as family living with us, we will probably get royally soused (not with the green stuff, though. yuk!), toast Bonnie Henry who has been amazing although she has ruined our Christmas Eve tradition, eat far too much and enjoy the Danish flavour with more alcohol, perhaps my homemade cherry brandy. Cheers!

  7. Petra says:

    Yum, lovely excuse to eat lots of whipped cream.

    About the pickled herring….wouldn’t be Christmas without it. We embellish it with red as well. Pickled red beets. diced red skinned apples, thinly sliced red onions and dressed with sour cream. Bring on the calories! January is weeks away.

    • Eileen says:

      It wouldn’t be a German Christmas without it!
      No longer being able to eat fish or raw onions really sucks.
      (Dear Santa, all I want for xmas is to be able to eat those things again…oh, and garlic).
      : /
      I guess I’ll just have to make the Danish rice pudding?

    • Karen says:

      I like allllll those things. Just somebody remember to throw out the pickled herring please, lol. ~ karen!

  8. Mary W says:

    I love rice pudding – but mine is always a slightly off white color never glorious white as you have shown. What gives it that brightness? I can’t believe something that I thought was totally out of style and left to the dust bin of history is a Christmas tradition – I WILL certainly make this for my Christmas Eve dessert as my whole family adores my cream colored rice pudding. and not as cottage cheesy looking since mine is less rice individualized so maybe I cook it too long? Resulting in a yellower, bumpless dessert? How could I love it more? I’m going to try and find out.Maybe tonight just to be safe for Eve eating.

  9. Deni says:

    This is absolutely delicious. We love it. Thanks so much for sharing .

  10. Linda J Howes-Smyth says:

    I always thought we hid money in the plum pudding just to get everyone to eat it. Initially just stuck inside it, then wrapped (someone must have decided it was more sanitary) and tucked under it. It was a dessert no one had room for, so stuffed full of everything else we gorged ourselves on, and this was a way to ensure it didn’t get left over. Ultimately we just picked out the money and left the pudding on the plate.
    Love pickled herring.

  11. Ole says:

    Norske Risengrot is made with short grain rice, served with a bit of heavy cream (not whipped) stirred in and with cinnamon and sugar on top. Eaten just before the children troop out to the barn to feed the horses their Christmas Eve prize of carrots.

  12. Klaus says:

    Risalamande has been a tradition in our home for as long as I can remember.
    We start on Little Christmas Eve (the night before Christmas Eve) by having hot rice pudding – without the almonds and whipped cream – we top it with a pat of butter and sprinkle it with a cinnamon and sugar. Then on Christmas Eve we have the Risalamande and cherry sauce. I keep eating until the bowl (the big serving bowl – not just my bowl) is empty, no matter if the whole almond has been found or not. I love this stuff.
    We also, traditionally, gave out a marzipan pig as the prize. We now give out a chocolate Santa, although I really prefer the marzipan pig.

  13. Agnes says:

    Yum!!!! I’ll finally be busting open that can-o-cherries that has been waiting patiently in my cupboard. Looking forward to Christmas even more now. Thanks for the recipe!

  14. Julie says:

    omg I snorted! “tradition was to pass around Creme de Menthe and ashtrays.” Weren’t the 70’s great? LOL

  15. Kat - the other 1 says:

    Has anyone tried this with soy milk?
    Or almond milk, or coconut milk?

    We’d have to skip the cream… but I’m curious to try this.

    Ps. Due to allergies, not against dairy.

  16. Cathy Marsollier says:

    I think that traditions are wonderful. But do you serve this before or after the ashtrays and creme de menthe?

  17. Victoria Andersson says:

    In Sweden we call it Ris a’ la Malta, (rice from Malta) don’t know how it got that name but there it is. We top it with an orange sauce or chop up fresh oranges and mix in. Sooo good! The problem I’m having in the US is finding the rice that’s suitable for making rice pudding, should be rounder and thicker. Is the Arborio in your recipe rounder?
    Thanks for your inspiring and funny posts!

  18. Deja View says:

    So RICE IS IMPORTANT, though, right? Because, like, I live in SoCal and rice is basically illegal here. I’m not seeing this with anything less than rainbow quinoa. Also, what are cherries? Are they like goji berries, but hydrated? Help

  19. Christine D' says:

    The creme de menthe and ashtrays comment leveled me! 🤣😂🤣

    Danish/Norwegian here. This was a tradition in our family too, when we were growing up. There was no cherry sauce- in our family the adults drizzled a cherry liqueur over it called Cherry Heering (like a kirsch). We kids got a splash of the juice from the maraschino cherry jar. The finder of the almond won a marzipan pig (if you consider that winning). I’ve begun the tradition again and can’t give that pig away even with a $20 under it!

  20. Marna says:

    Yum! I will have to try this. My husband and I are parts of various Scandinavian countries, plus a few others too. :)

  21. Renee Ryz says:

    Thinking how good those cherries would be with a splash of Kirsch…mmm. My Grammie (Hungarian) always made a baked rice pudding that you sliced and ate warm with some milk over it. We also had what we called “cinnamon rice”, made with left over rice, an egg & milk with vanilla & cinnamon. Ate that alot for breakfast – satisfying filling comfort food for us, made some for my daughter the other day when she was over, and she said it just feels like home.

  22. iLah Hartung says:

    As a Swede, we spent Chrisrmas Eve with our compatriot immigrant families, so lutefisk —the real kind, not the Norwegian method — was the primary main course, with boiled potatoes. Yes the warm rice pudding, with the almond trick, as well. This dessert likely got short shrift as we all had to trek out to the Swedish Lutheran Church (ah, what a glorious beauty still in Chicago) for the Midnight service. I never liked it as being too mushy, but the better dessert was the baked rice pudding for dessert on real Christmas Day, still a favorite in the family. But recalling the almond, my job was to soak the almonds in hot water to release them from the skin, and added them to the raisin spice mix served in the hot glogg as the aftermath to the Swedish meatballs and ham. I can still catch the aroma of the glogg heating and drinking it after the meal of meatballs, on Christmas Day.

    • Karen says:

      Frikadeller meatballs? Or tiny Swedish meatballs? I guess … being that you’re Swedish it would be Swedish meatballs now that I think about it, lol. ~ karen!

  23. Anna says:

    I love Danish rice pudding! I’ve made it for our family feast for the past 10 years. My version (from a Swedish cookbook ‘Vinterns Goda Ting’ (Winter’s Good Things) has a very simple cherry sauce: heat a jar of good quality black cherry jam in a saucepan, with a table spoon or two of ruby port. So simple, and so very good.

  24. Shelagh says:

    Every August I make brandied cherries.
    They are ready at Christmas.
    They won’t be glossy and quite as pretty as a thick cherry sauce but oh my the taste!
    Sadly we have nut allergy folks who come for Christmas Eve, so no almond hunt for us. What kind of a prize?

  25. Heather says:

    Thanks! Definitely making this. So pretty!

  26. Karen says:

    I’m not the biggest fan of the taste of whipped cream so I follow my grandmother’s recipe which adds 1 or 2 tablespoons of sherry into the mix. It just gives it that little something extra. To those of you who are new to the recipe: remember to remove the skin from the whole almond otherwise it’s far to easy to spot and then who will have all the belly aches?

  27. Mary W says:

    Not only do I adore rice pudding, I love how Christmasy this looks. Once the clan has left on Christmas Day and I’m alone with the beautiful twinkling lights and merry glow of family, I will eat this delicious concoction by myself and be so grateful for family, food, and friends like you. It will be the perfect way to spend my day. Dishes can wait till morning.

  28. charissa says:

    OMG… CREME DE MENTHE AND ASHTRAYS!!!!! Reading this made me laugh so hard that I tinkled. tmi. i know. can’t help the honesty because I think we might hv grown up in the same houshold from that comment. Seriously… my face hurts from laughing now. This looks lovely and great for a simple Christmas. I can’t wait to try it. Thank you for your lovely blog that lifts and inspires (and makes me tinkle😉) u r my favourite words. Witty, Irreverent, Sassy, and True. Merry Christmas.

  29. Jacquie Gariano says:

    I was just looking for a new Christmas Eve dessert….and here it is. Thanks so much. I love the cherry sauce addition. so colorful for Christmas. Being able to make it the day before is an additional plus. I had a Norwegian grandmother and she was the worst cook in the world. Boiled every thing to death.

  30. Martina says:

    Ya, Norwegians have this dessert too. I love it.
    Have you ever tried glorified rice? Very Midwest America dish. Rice dessert with marshmallows, pineapple etc. I remember years ago a friend would grumble this time of year because her MIL insisted that friend make glorified rice for every Christmas Eve dinner. Friend thought dish was ghastly.

    • Jan in Waterdown says:

      Gawd that sounds awful lol! Reminds me of that 3 cup salad with canned Del Monte fruit and marshmallows and something else…… uch

  31. Jamieson says:

    FunFactTM: Growing up in the 70s and 80s, our bathroom not only had carpet in the bathroom, it was wall-to-wall avocado green SHAG carpet. It was also in the hallway and throughout the kitchen. At least it matched the avocado green appliances, which was a coincidence because the carpet was repurposed from my mom’s office after they renovated (it was virtually new when we got it).

  32. Jody says:

    This sounds very much like a recipe my mom got from the Old Mill restaurant many many many years ago. It is so delicious. I like the whole almond tradition. something like having a money cake for your birthday.

  33. Debbie says:

    Crème de Menthe and ashtrays had me cracking up! I’m going to try this even though we’re predominantly Scottish and German and due to a second marriage Polish on my side. It may not be “traditional” but it sure sounds delicious!

  34. Eileen says:

    I’m on board with this, except for the whipped cream. If I leave that out then it’s just almond rice pudding instead of Risalamande, right? ‘Cause whipped cream makes my tummy hurt and my tongue go “yuck.”

  35. Beth Kollé says:

    YES, you can make the rice part the day before serving, just warm it slowly on the stove, adding small amounts of milk as necessary to get it smoothe, because the rice will have absorbed some of it overnight.
    YES – use a kind of rice that gets mooshy when cooked in milk for an hour. There is a kind of rice that holds its shape through that process, though, and it just is the wrong kind of rice. Sorry, I don’t remember which kind, so you’ll have to experiment.
    OTHER FRUIT you can use for riskrem (Norwegian name) would be lingonberries. In a pinch, use Lingonberry Jam from IKEA, it’s a bit tart, tastes great!
    Beth in Seattle

  36. Jen says:

    I could eat oatmeal for every meal and rice pudding for every dessert. And probably never poop again.

  37. LISA STEELE says:

    Yum! My mom and grandmother used to make rice pudding. We’r Finnish, so slightly different, but pretty much the same! I am going to try your recipe. Also, the Danish almond tradition was just featured on one of the Hallmark Christmas movies! The film crew must have been peeking in your window while you were making yours!

  38. Marilyn Meagher says:

    Creme De Menthe and ashtrays ….🤣🤣🤣🤣. I’m having company for dinner Saturday night.im making this! It looks amazing!

    • Karen says:

      I gave some to Lisa because I had SO much and she lovedddd it. For myself I’d do less sugar and a tiny bit less whipped cream, but any normal person would want it as I’ve written the recipe here. ~ karen!

  39. Peter Oster says:

    We always had it hot with a dab of butter and cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on top but no almond. (Almonds showed up as almond paste in the almond ring on Christmas morn.). You also forgot the gallons of strong coffee served at all holiday meals.

  40. Jenny W says:

    We are a tree nut free house here, but I am definitely going to try this rice pudding with whip cream and cherry sauce instead of raisins and brown sugar sauce – so festive looking!

  41. Birgitte Lyngsø says:

    We do eat risalamande every christmas eve. However we serve it in a bowl
    so everybody seach for this whole almond . The sauce will be served on the side and some prefer it a little warm to give a nice contrast to the cold pudding.
    It is an easy dessert because you mostly make it the day before Christmas Eve.
    By the way I put only a spoonful of sugar in mine….the cherry sauce makes it sweet enough to me. Glædelig Jul!

    • Karen says:

      Yes, a lot of Danes have barely sweet dessert. In North America they like it sweeter. I prefer it less sweet. Probably somewhere between a true Danish version and a North American version. ~ karen!

  42. Kris says:

    This looks and sounds delicious!
    Karen, your photos are so beautiful!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Kris. Get ready for my photos to be bad again in a few days. I got a new camera and I’m just figuring it out, lol. ~ karen!

  43. Jo says:

    How much of this can I do the day before? Can I make the rice pudding the day before? Can the whip cream be made the day before? I got the Cherry sauce covered that’s easy. I’m trying to do is less stress as possible over the Christmas season. Thanks for the help. This sounds great!

    • Sigi says:

      You can definitely prepare the rice pudding the day before, as Risalamande is often made with leftovers of risengrød: hot rice pudding eaten with cinnamon sugar and butter. Also delicious !

    • Karen says:

      The rice pudding can be made the day before, just remember it sets up quite stiff in the fridge so you can either mix it and mix it to loosen it up or add some milk. I wouldn’t whip the cream the day before. Do that and mix it together the day of. ~ karen!

  44. Anita Jensen says:

    I have been following you for quite a while now. I am always admiring your energy and spirit and the multitude of projects you take on (and with such great results). Your name suggests some kind of Danish connection, but I was not sure. I am so glad and proud to learn that you are indeed Danish!

    • Karen says:

      I am indeed. Half Danish and almost half Irish (just found out the Irish part a year or so ago, lol) My father’s parents were from Denmark. ~ karen!

  45. Caryl says:

    Am I missing when the chopped blanched almonds enter the pudding or do we eat them while concocting the rest of this memorable concoction?

  46. Louann says:

    The Norwegians also eat it for their Christmas eve meal. It’s yummy but so so rich.

  47. KATHLEEN HARTZELL says:

    Oh, this is so fun! We had Swedish rice pudding, with a whole almond, which meant that the person who found it would be next married. Only later on did I stop to think this rather bizarre, as my father was Already married, duh, so….

    We also had another pudding which my Swedish grandmother made which was, roughly spelled to replicate her translation in English: “sheet pudding”. And my mother, gasping to stop her laughter uttered the words, yes, I am certain that it is that. Oh my, how could anyone ruin any meat in such a fashion as to have it deserve that name!!!!

    And we Swedes LOVE our pickled herring. I took it to a holiday potluck and it was eaten up, but I saved a few pieces for appetizers tonight, and my non Swede husband gobbled it up, as usual. We always buy the jarred versions at the market and add our own sour cream,

  48. Karen Packer says:

    I grew up in a Danish household and we have always had this dessert on Christmas Eve. The prize for finding the whole almond was a marzipan pig. However, lately the prize has been a Terry’s chocolate orange since so few people enjoy marzipan these days!
    BTW Karen, I used to live down the street from you but moved to Alberta several years ago. Love your posts!

  49. Loreen says:

    Every year I like to try a festive desert, thanks for making it so easy this year. I still get teased about my pomogrante reduction topping that was pucker tart and the panda cotta too sweet, but it did look good.

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