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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 5 hr (includes chilling time)
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 6 servings 
The difference between Turkish rice pudding and other rice puddings is that sütlaç is baked in the oven, which gives it a delicious caramelized topping. Milk based desserts are very popular in Turkey and sütlaç is a classic. Though it is common to make the sweet at home, it can also be found at almost every Turkish restaurant and muhallebici (milk-based dessert shop). Sütlaç is even tastier the next day once it's completely chilled. Some cooks garnish it with hazelnuts, though I prefer pistachios.



  1. Rinse the rice a few times and put it in a large pot with 2 cups water. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the rice is fully cooked and not much water remains, about 25 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  2. Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.
  3. Add 4 1/2 cups milk to the rice and stir to combine. Stir in the sugar and vanilla extract. Mix the cornstarch with 1/2 cup water and the remaining 1/2 cup milk in a small bowl or measuring cup. Stir the mixture into the rice and cook over medium heat, stirring often to prevent the bottom from scorching, until the mixture has thickened slightly and the rice is very tender, about 30 minutes (see Cook's Note). Remove from the heat.
  4. Place six 6- to 8-ounce ramekins or small oven-safe clay bowls in a large baking dish or roasting pan. Using a ladle, divide the rice pudding among the ramekins, filling them almost to the rim. Fill the baking dish halfway with warm water.
  5. Carefully transfer the baking dish to the middle rack in the oven and bake until the tops of the sütlaç start to caramelize and brown, about 15 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 475 degrees F and continue to bake until the tops are nicely caramelized and browned in spots, 5 to 10 minutes more. Keep an eye on them since they brown easily.
  6. Remove the ramekins to a cooling rack and let them cool completely. Then refrigerate the sütlaç for at least 3 hours and up to 3 days. Before serving, top each ramekin with pistachios.

Cook’s Note

The boiled rice mixture should still be very runny; it will set as it cools. So make sure not to overcook it on the stovetop or it’ll become too thick when refrigerated.