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Raspberry Rice Salad Dessert: A Taste of North Dakota

My grandma made this dessert for every special occasion over the years. To this day, it remains one of my favorite sweet treats.

Raspberry rice salad came to North Dakota from our Scandinavian ancestors.

Raspberry rice salad came to North Dakota from our Scandinavian ancestors.

My Grandma's Dessert Recipe

This is one of my favorite desserts—and it is the recipe that my grandma made for every special occasion over the years. Christmas, graduations, baby showers, potlucks, you name it; this salad is as familiar as a comforting hug.

The creamy texture of the sweetened, glorified rice is complemented perfectly by the sweet raspberry sauce topping. Served chilled, this is a refreshing recipe to serve as a dessert after a yummy Sunday dinner or as a side dish during a hot summer’s day BBQ.

What Is Glorified Rice?

Glorified rice is a sweet dessert that is made by cooking rice with sugar, adding different types of fruits (like pineapples, maraschino cherries, or fruit cocktail), and then chilling. In North Dakota, where I grew up, glorified rice salads are a cultural staple whose roots come from our Scandinavian heritage. This dish has shown up at church potlucks and family events for generations.

Glorified rice is as much a part of North Dakota/Upper Minnesota culture as Ole and Lena Scandinavian jokes and learning to “talk Minnesotan” ("ya, sure, ya betcha," anyone?).

While many other cuisines have their own take on rice pudding—for example, both the Italian and Mexican versions are typically made with cinnamon and sugar—glorified rice is a slightly sweeter take. Another difference is that it is prepared on the stovetop rather than in the oven.

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Ready in: At least 2 hours (including chilling)
  • Yield: Approximately 8-10 servings


For the rice salad:

  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups whipped cream

For the raspberry topping:

  • 2 packages frozen raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch


  1. In a pot or pan, cover the rice with water. Cook slowly for 25 minutes. (My grandma recommends using a heavy pan for this recipe, as the mixture will become quite dense.)
  2. Add milk and sugar to the pot. Cook for 25 more minutes, or until milk is gone.
  3. Let the rice mixture cool on the countertop at least 30 minutes, or until it is no longer hot to the touch. Then transfer to the fridge until completely chilled (1 to 2 hours).
  4. While the rice is cooling in the fridge, prepare the raspberry topping: In a saucepan, add the frozen raspberries and cornstarch. Use a wire whisk to mix over medium heat until thickened. You want the mixture to resemble a jelly-like consistency. Cool the topping on the stovetop for about 30 minutes; then transfer it to the fridge to chill.
  5. Once the rice mixture has chilled, fold in the whipped cream.
  6. Top with raspberry topping.
  7. Serve chilled and enjoy!
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Recipe Tips and Notes

Although this recipe does take a couple of hours to make, most of the time is spent waiting for the salad to chill and cool down between steps. Otherwise, it's very easy to prepare! Here are some tips to help you along.

  • Thickening: If you need the rice mixture to thicken, add extra cornstarch.
  • Cooking: When cooking the rice mixture, keep the lid closed and cook at a slow simmer so that the rice can absorb all of the liquid.
  • Substitution for rice: If you use minute rice or instant rice instead of regular white rice, only use about 2 cups of milk and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to help the mixture thicken as it cooks. You want a thick, creamy custard-like texture when the rice, milk, sugar mixture is ready.
  • Substitution for raspberry topping: You can substitute raspberry jam for the topping.
  • Citrus option: For a hint of citrus, squeeze half a lemon into the rice, milk, sugar mixture after it has finished cooking. The lemon gives a sweet, puckery complement to the raspberry topping.
  • Added sweetness: To make the raspberry topping sweeter, sprinkle in an additional 1 to 2 teaspoons of sugar.
  • Make ahead: You can make this ahead the night before. Just cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge.
  • Serving tips: This salad is best served chilled. Be sure to serve it within a day or two, as it can get watery after that period.

History of Scandinavian Culture in North Dakota

Immigrants came to North Dakota from several Scandinavian countries, including Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland. Most settled in east and north-central North Dakota beginning in the 1870s.

Today, North Dakota's department of tourism estimates about 38% of the state's population is of Scandinavian descent, with about 33% being Norwegian.

With the mass immigration in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Scandinavian people brought with them their Lutheran Christian faith and rich food heritage—including lefse, lutefisk, and of course glorified rice, which is a popular dish that still appears at many community events today!

North Dakotan Summers

Summertime in North Dakota means welcoming hot summer days after a long, harsh winter—followed by bountiful harvests of our rich farmland. One of the sweetest things that North Dakota summers produce is raspberries.

My grandma grew up on a farm that produced hundreds of berries each summer, and she is an expert raspberry jam maker. Throughout the winter, her raspberry jam showed up on toast for breakfast, as holiday cookie garnishes, in afterschool snacks, and of course in this recipe.

My family still picks pints and pints of raspberries from that farm each summer, which is probably why raspberries became my favorite fruit and one of my favorite foods. When it comes to raspberries, the recipe possibilities are endless.

If you are a raspberry lover, this is the recipe for you!

I Hope You Enjoy This Recipe!

This is such a happy, feel-good recipe that is perfect for so many different occasions. You can serve it up in a big bowl and bring to a potluck, or you can place it in small Mason jars or little dessert cups and set them out as individual servings at a party, bridal shower, or baby shower. The sweet flavors are great for the spring and summer—but they work just as well during the holidays or even for Valentine’s Day (it's red and white, after all). I hope you enjoy this little taste of North Dakota!

Do you have a favorite recipe for glorified rice, raspberry or otherwise? Please share them in the comments below!

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