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Mrs. Vasso’s Rizogalo

Krystian Dennis from United States

5 minutes
Cooks in
40 minutes
Country of origin

This recipe was shared with me by Mrs. Vasso, my friend Tolis’ mom on a trip to Athens, Greece. I came to Greece for a friend’s wedding and stayed with Tolis in Athens before heading to Zakynthos, an island in the west of the country. On my last morning in Athens, I woke up to a bowl of rizogalo waiting for me for breakfast. I thought to myself, “oh, no! rice pudding.” I hate rice pudding. It’s cold. It’s mushy. It’s baby food. As a polite southern girl, I knew I had to eat it without complaint, so as not to offend my hostess. So, I sat down and decided to power through it and head to meet my friends for our road trip. I took my first bite and it warm and creamy, with just a hint of sweetness. The rice was toothsome and the lemon essence made this distinctly Mediterranean, altogether different than the rice pudding I am used to. I was comforted by the waft of cinnamon. I was in love. I ate literally every grain of rice. Mrs. Vasso told me, in her heavy accent, that she would have made it sooner, if she knew I loved rizogalo so much. I asked her for the recipe. She lit up, saying that she wished her daughter, Penny, would learn to cook like her. I still have the dinner napkin that she wrote out the recipe on. I converted this recipe from metric units to share with you. P.S. the wedding was tons of fun, but the rizogalo was the highlight of this trip.


  • 1/2 cup arborio rice
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 5 cups milk
  • peel of 1 lemon, pith removed
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ground cinnamon to serve


  • Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat in a double boiler.
  • Add rice and toast lightly.
  • Add milk, lemon peel, cinnamon stick and salt. Bring to just a boil. Stir in rice.
  • Reduce to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Beat together egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl.
  • To temper eggs, spoon about 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks, about 2 tablespoons at a time, stirring continuously.
  • Reduce the heat to low and add the egg/milk mixture into saucepan, stirring constantly.
  • Cook until mixture begins to thicken and the rice is cooked but not mushy.
  • Remove from heat. remove lemon peel and cinnamon stick. Stir in vanilla extract. Spoon into serving bowls and sprinkle with ground cinnamon.


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