Bourbon Pumpkin Rice Pudding

bourbon pumpkin rice pudding

This is my second year contributing for October Unprocessed. Last year I created a super-tasty Wheat Berry Salad , and proof that we all continue to learn something new every day. Let me explain.

When Andrew asked that I create a dessert recipe I knew it was slightly outside my wheel house, as I am most comfortable in my kitchen as a savory cook. But, I said: “Of course. I would love to” and set off to the market to collect my ingredients for a Baked Sweet Dumpling Pumpkin Custard – a lovely seasonal recipe I was sure would be hit both in my home and for October Unprocessed.

After a day of cooking, recipe testing, photographing, editing, and writing copy I proudly sent it off to Andrew and his team, and checked it off my list of things to do. That is until approximately five minutes later when I received an email from Andrew saying, and I quote: “This looks delicious! Only one catch – the sugars can be a little tricky. White sugar doesn’t pass muster, since it’s usually bleached.”

OK but wait, I can use brown sugar, right? Surely that passes the test, Andrew.

Again, I quote his response: “And brown sugar is usually white sugar with molasses added back in.”

Feeling like my entire life had been a lie, I had to do a little more research on this. Luckily October Unprocessed already had a FAQ page on Sugars, so I didn’t need to go far to get my answers.

bourbon pumpkin rice pudding

I went back to the drawing board, or cutting board as the case may be, and started researching desserts without sugar, or no sugar desserts. My options left me with chemical alternatives which I, as a rule, avoid and am pretty sure do not pass the kitchen test. So, after a few back and forth emails regarding recipes and ingredients we finally agreed that using demerara sugar would be my best choice for a dessert recipe that still called for sugar. The flavor is similar to “traditional” brown sugar but with an additional nuttiness to it and although this recipe is not baked, it did not alter the science behind the cooking process at all. I do however plan on testing this and other recipes with muscovado and rapadura sugars, which are considered “the least processed” in the sugar world, in the next few weeks to taste the difference.

Hopefully this recipe will give you a tasty seasonal alternative for your autumn gatherings and please let me know where you are making sugar switches this season. Happy Entertaining!

bourbon pumpkin rice pudding
5 from 1 vote

Bourbon Pumpkin Rice Pudding

Pumpkin and whole grain brown rice come together in this perfect fall dessert.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Yield 8 people
Calories 375 kcal


  • 2 cups whole grain brown rice uncooked
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 vanilla bean split open
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup demerara sugar plus more for topping
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon optional
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts for optional topping


  1. Combine rice, milk, half and half, orange juice, vanilla bean, salt, sugar, and bourbon in a 4-quart pot, and bring to a boil.

  2. Reduce to a simmer, and cook for 20 minutes, or according to directions on rice package.  Do not allow all liquid to cook completely out.

  3. Remove from heat, stir in pumpkin and allspice.

  4. Top with walnuts, if using, and a little extra demerara sugar, then brown under the broiler.

Recipe Notes

If not serving immediately, the pudding can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Serve leftovers cold, or reheat with 1/4 cup milk per 2 cups of pudding and then top with demerara sugar set under broiler to brown.

About the Author

An Appealing Plan by Krayl FunchAn accomplished food and lifestyle expert, Krayl Funch’s passion for living well is evident in everything she touches. Raised in Connecticut, just outside New York City, and currently residing in Tampa Bay, she easily blends New England sophistication with Southern hospitality on her site, An Appealing Plan.

Along with continuing to work with clients and brands, Krayl’s current projects include publishing of her first full-color book, An Appealing Plan: A Year of Everyday Celebrations, filled with appealing images, seasonal inspiration and tempting recipes designed to encourage others to celebrate everyday and each season to its fullest. You can also find Krayl on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram.

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What are the non-dairy options? Can I sub the same amount of coconut milk for both the milk and half and half?


Yes, I also would like to know! coconut milk OK to sub for regular milk, but what is a non-dairy (non-processed) sub for half and half?!


Hi Zeb. Great question! I haven’t tried it with coconut milk but I say go for it. It shouldn’t effect the texture as the rice is mainly absorbing it rather than it becoming a custard.
Let me know how it goes!


The only sugar I buy now is organic evaporated cane juice, which is less than $1/lb. at Costco. Now I’m off to try this with vanilla soy milk!


Sounds like a great find Michelle! Please let me know how the soy milk works out for you!


This recipe sounds amazing, Krayl! I will give it a go also with non-dairy milk. My go-to sugar of choice these days is coconut sugar.


Sounds great Midge! I am in the process of testing out coconut sugar recipes this week! Thanks for the tip.

Karen O
Karen O

5 stars
Yum! Looks really delicious!

Jayne DeBee
Jayne DeBee

I tried to make this for my office potluck and could not get the rice to actually cook the way it was supposed to. Your directions do not say to cover and simmer, and I think your cooking time for brown rice needs to be much longer than the estimated 20 minutes. I will admit to being a little confused as to why your recipe starts with uncooked rice, but it does sound delicious. I was disappointed that my attempt didn’t turn out. I am, however, going to try again this next week.


HI Jayne ~

Sorry to hear your first attempt was not a success. Recipes can vary based on so many factors such as ingredient selection, geographic location, etc… I was able to cook my particular rice in 20 minutes however please follow the directions your particular brand offers or of course use leftover rice when you have it. Cook once eat twice!

Great suggestion on the cover + simmer addition to the recipe. I will be sure to make the adjustment.

~ Krayl