Portuguese Rice Muffins (Bolo de Arroz)

I still remember the smell of warm “bolo de arroz” coming out of the bakeries in the early morning. I’m talking about the traditional muffins, made with rice flour. It seems nowadays those are more difficult to find, and many of the so-called “bolo de arroz” are actually made with wheat flour. I had the same problem when I was in the quest for the recipe to make the muffins and my online search disappointingly only brought a few results with a mix between wheat flour and rice flour. Some didn’t even asked for any rice flour at all. How can one make a rice muffin without rice as the main ingredient?

Do you think I resigned? No way! I needed to reproduce my beloved rice muffins with the same flavor. So I start to think about those attributes I have registered in my mind. And I thought about the soft and airy texture, the pale yellow color, the smooth lemony fragrance and the crispy top crust with sugar. Oh the top was my favorite part with the granulated sugar attached. Not powdered sugar, as we see in many bakeries. Since that was my absolute preferred part of the cake I usually would save it to eat for last. Typical.

Unwrapping the emblematic paper around the cake was another delight, part of the imaginary of eating a truly portuguese rice muffin. Unrolling the paper that normally would have written “Bolo de Arroz – Fabrico Proprio” or “Bolo de Arroz tradicional” and you’ll be assured that was a real rice muffin.

Breakfast or snack, the perfect time to eat one of these is exactly anytime. They are simple. There’s no cream and seriously there’s no need for anything else. No wonder it is the choice of people with special dietary needs. They are gluten-free (if made only with rice flour of course) and not too sweet. I remember it was commonly served after doing a regular check-up. A rice muffin and a glass of warm milk, the delectable breakfast after a few hours with an empty stomach. Nothing else would taste better.

I probably should have made these in a popover pan, to be more similar with the traditional ones. But I couldn’t wait to go buy one, so this time I made it in a muffin pan and using a few silicone molds as well. They didn’t ended as high as the “real” ones, although it rendered many more. Since I wasn’t happy with any recipe I bumped into, I developed my own using exclusively rice flour. And after the first bite, while still warm (it was impossible to wait, but there’s no regrets), I think I’ve found my “bolo de arroz” revisited. It has precisely the same aroma, taste and everything in between. If only you could have seen me doing the happy dance…

Portuguese Rice Muffins (Bolo de Arroz)
Yields 18
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
  1. 6 tbsp butter
  2. 1 cup sugar
  3. 1 cup whole milk
  4. 2 eggs
  5. 1 egg yolk
  6. 2 cups brown rice flour
  7. 2 tsp baking powder
  8. 1/4 tsp baking soda
  9. pinch of salt
  10. Zest of 1 organic lemon
  11. Juice of 1/2 lemon
  12. Granulated cane sugar to sprinkle on top
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F.
  2. Prepare a muffin pan with paper baking cups and/or line a baking sheet with individual silicone muffin molds.
  3. In a large bowl of a stand-mixer (or hand-mixer) whisk the butter with the sugar about 3 minutes, until creamy.
  4. In a small pitcher, mix the eggs and egg yolk with the milk, lemon zest and lemon juice and add to the previous mixture.
  5. In another bowl, whisk the rice flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and slowly add to the batter, beating until well blended.
  6. Pour the batter half way into each of the muffin cups.
  7. Let it rest for about 20 minutes.
  8. Sprinkle granulated cane sugar on top and bake for 20 minutes.
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24 Responses to Portuguese Rice Muffins (Bolo de Arroz)

  1. Oh these are just so happy!!They certainly make me happy.

  2. Oh, I am intrigued by this one… GREG

    • It’s nice to be intrigued! I hope you give it a try and if so, please come back to tell what you think, thanks ;)

  3. What fantastic pictures. This recipe looks so tasty.

  4. ohhhhhh, me like a lot! Must smell yummy from the oven.

  5. Looks delicious! Could white rice flour be used? I don’t have any brown rice flour, not sure where I can get it…and I really would like to make these tomorrow.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • White rice will work fine too. Have fun baking tomorrow! :)

  6. Hi Teresa,

    I love this lemony post – lemon zest and lemon juice in muffins, and lemony water to top it off. Perfect for breakfast!



    • So glad you liked! I’m also a lover of anything lemon, thanks for stopping by.

  7. Kate at #

    I’m always happy to find interesting muffin recipes because i think most American style muffins are boring, or too heavy, or too sweet. This sounds good and I will try them soon. Thank you!

    • And I’m happy that you found it interesting, thank you!

  8. Being portuguese your native language, i say to you: é muito bom encontrar blogueiras portuguesas espalhadas pelo mundo, com blogs fantásticos e receitas tão nossas :)
    Um beijo do Norte de Portugal.

    • Obrigada Ameixinha! Que bom ter encontrado o meu blog, beijinhos. Norte rules! ;)

  9. Elle at #

    So sweet and pretty! I love recipes that can take you back to another time and place. Happy you were able to reproduce this one!

  10. Kara at #

    hello, thanks for this recipe! But I had to double the measurement of rice flour, the other mix was too watery – what kind of consistency do we need to achieve for the batter? I put about 4 1/2 cups rice flour but maybe 4 would do. Turned out really good :)

    • The batter is not too much watery but not very thick as well, and the muffins turn out very soft. I’m glad you were able to achieve good results with the change you made too.

  11. Nora at #

    Olá :) After a visit to Portugal, I fell in love with Bolo de arroz, they’re simply wonderful. I live in romania, and it took a lifetime to find rice flour, but I finally found some at an organic food store…unfortunately my Bolo de arroz did not turn out the way I expected them too…the rice flour I used was very grainy and rough, making the cakes also very grainy :( Is there an american brand of rice flour you would suggest ordering instead?

  12. jan at #

    Fantastic recipe – loved these little beauties . Aaaaaaaaaaaagh memories of Portugal!
    Muito obrigada!

  13. Mona at #

    Lovely! I made these, with only slight modifications. Thank you. :)

  14. Margarida at #

    Esta receita sem glúten veio mesmo a calhar, anda há séculos à procura da receita certa! só tenho uma dúvida :) aqui em Portugal costumo usar sempre as medidas em gramas, e vejo muitas receitas em “cups” quantas gramas são? Obrigada! ;)

    • A equivalencia do cup em gramas varia sensivelmente conforme o ingrediente. Pode facilmente “googlar” o valor que quer converter de obter a quantidade pretendida. Como referencia, 1 cup de farinha são cerca de 120 gr, 1 cup de acucar granulado equivale a 200 gr, 1 de acucar amarelo são 180 gr, 1 cup de manteiga são 240 gr e por ai adiante. No caso de líquidos, 1 cup são 240 ml. Neste caso:
      6 tbsp butter = 85 gr
      1 cup sugar (granulated) = 200 gr.
      1 cup whole milk = 240 ml
      2 cups brown rice flour = 280 gr.

      Espero que ajude. Note que eu nunca usei a medida metrica para fazer esta receita, dai não poder garantir os mesmos resultados. Obrigada e “Happy baking”!