Norwegian Risgrøt Rice Porridge

Story by Holly
Norwegian Risgrøt Rice Porridge
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When my husband and I were newly dating, I remember having a conversation with him, where we took turns sharing our family’s holiday traditions. My husband is Norwegian, and as he spoke I found myself captivated by his telling of what an Erickson Christmas looked like. I could picture it so clearly; every one of his family members in their Norwegian sweaters, homemade lefsa in one hand and gjetost (norwegian goat cheese pronounced “yay-toast”) in the other, and (because they're all musical) some happy and lively tune playing in background. A merry gathering indeed. Now after some years of being a part of many of those food and song traditions, there is one that has come to stand out to me more than the others: a heart-warming, soul satisfying, Norwegian dish that is humble and almost too easy, but is impossible not to love. Risgrøt.

...a heart-warming, soul satisfying, Norwegian dish that is humble and almost too easy, but is impossible not to love. Risgrøt.

Of all the traditional Norwegian food my husband has memories of, Risgrøt has got to be my favorite. His whole family (parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc.) adoringly refer to this dish as “rice-mush.” Not the most appetizing name, I know, but it’s delicious, trust me. I can think of nothing more comforting and soothing to enjoy on a cool morning than a steaming bowl of rice that has been combined with cardamom and vanilla and simmered in milk until tender.

Norwegian Risgrøt Rice Porridge
Norwegian Risgrøt Rice Porridge

This dish is traditionally served on Christmas Eve for breakfast, lunch, or (as was the case in years gone by in my husband’s family) for dinner. What I like most about it is its simplicity.  The ingredients are ones you're likely to have on hand. It's not fussy or frilly, and yet somehow, it's perfect. I love that we are now incorporating this Risgrøt into our own smorgasbord of Christmas traditions with our young kids, and hope to do so for many years to come. It makes me so happy to think that one day it will be a part of their holiday memories just as it was for my husband. To me, Risgrøt encompasses the sacred, if not glamorous, side of the holidays; warm, hearty, and full of love. I hope you can enjoy a bowl with your family this Christmas, just as I will be with mine. God jul (that's Merry Christmas, in Norwegian, of course).

Norwegian Risgrøt Rice Porridge

Norwegian Risgrøt Rice Porridge

Serves 2


1 cup long grain white rice
2 cups water
4 tbsp sugar
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped or 1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 gallon (7-8 cups) whole milk
2-4 tbsp butter
2 tsp ground cinnamon
berries (optional)


  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, bring the rice and water to a boil. Lower heat to a heavy simmer and, stirring occasionally until water has absorbed. This step usually takes about 10 minutes. 
  2. Add the sugar, vanilla bean seeds or extract, and ground cardamom. Stir a few times to incorporate. 
  3. Bring heat back up to medium (medium-low if you are using a gas range). Add milk 1/3 of a cup at a time. We recommend stirring constantly, which ensures you don't scorch the milk. It takes about 5 minutes for each cup of milk to thicken and about 45 minutes in total to get all of the milk incorporated into the porridge. We use 7 cups of milk, but if you like a thinner consistency, we recommend adding the last cup of milk.
  4. Once all of the milk is incorporated and there is no longer any liquid in the pot, spoon the porridge into 2-4 bowls. Sprinkle each serving with a 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon and put a 1 tablespoon sized dab of butter atop the cinnamon. Serve with fresh, frozen or dried fruit.