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Bolos de Arroz (Portuguese Rice Muffins)

Bolos de Arroz (Portuguese Rice Muffins)

Bolos de arroz are a traditional Portuguese muffin made with part rice flour, which gives the muffins a tender crumb not unlike a sweet cornbread. With a buttery flavor and a hint of lemon, these sweet breakfast treats are sure to please!

These mountainous, golden yellow muffins bake up super tall with a crunchy, crispy sugar crust that will drive your tastebuds wild (because we all know taste is as much about flavor as it is about texture).

Five Portuguese rice muffins on a cooling rack with one in the background and a small dish of sugar

Having spent the last few weeks editing *literally* thousands of photos from our trip to Portugal, let’s just say I’m in a Portuguese state of mind (TAKE ME BACK!) Which got me reminiscing about these surprising rice muffins we enjoyed for breakfast on more than one occasion.

(I mean, I can count on one hand the number of times a muffin was one of the most memorable bites of a trip. Actually, I can count on no hands, because it’s never happened. Until now.)

Unlike pasteis de nata which are virtually impossible to replicate in a home oven, bolos de arroz (literal translation: cakes of rice) are downright easy.

They’re oh so buttery and perfectly sweet, with a tender yet hearty crumb and just a hint of lemon that makes the flavors sing. But the cherry on top? Well, it’s not a cherry, but the crackly sugar crust on top sure is wonderful.

Three rice muffins in a row.

It took me a few tries to get the recipe right, working from some ambiguous translations of various Portuguese recipes (chemical yeast? what is that?) but I finally nailed the signature domed top and sugary crust.

The muffins are actually a mix of all purpose and rice flours, not all rice flour like you might think from the name (so unfortunately they are not gluten free).

The rice flour gives the muffins an almost cornbread-like texture. The flavor is strongly sugar and butter, with just a hint of lemon that gives the muffins a note of sophistication without tasting obviously lemony (that said, if you love lemon I think these would be wonderful with double or triple the zest).

Overhead shot of rice muffins, with one cut in half showing the tender crumb. Extreme closeup of the sugary crust that develops on top of the Portuguese rice muffins as they bake.

The bolos in Portugal are always wrapped in a vertical cylinder of baking paper, often with the bakery’s branding or just a generic graphic declaring that this is indeed a bolo de arroz that you are stuffing in your face. I’ve seen people make their own molds out of parchment, but I found some paper muffin molds on Amazon that had a similar shape. Thicker than parchment, so it doesn’t peel off quite as effortlessly, but they can be baked freestanding on a cookie sheet instead of in a muffin tin which is definitely convenient.

You could also bake these in a jumbo muffin pan (paper lined or lightly greased) or you could use a regular muffin pan, which would give you a full dozen (1 scoop of batter per cup instead of two).

Using a large cookie scoop to portion the muffin batter into the baking papers. Sprinkling sugar on top of the muffin batter prior to baking. Portuguese rice muffin cross section to show the texture. A wire cooling rack with freshly baked rice muffins on top Two Portuguese rice muffins, one cut in half and partially eaten on a white background. Closeup of freshly baked rice muffins, showing the crackly sugar topping.

This recipe only makes 6, and that’s by design: these muffins don’t keep particularly well. They’re best freshly baked, still slightly warm from the oven. Overnight they need to be stored in an airtight container otherwise they’ll be drier than the Sahara desert; unfortunately storing them in an airtight container will soften the signature sugary crust. Needless to say, just bake as many as you plan to eat that day and you’ll be golden.

Three Portuguese rice muffins (also called Bolos de Arroz) in a horizontal row.

Bolos de Arroz (Portuguese Rice Muffins)

A traditional Portuguese muffin made with part rice flour, which gives the muffins a tender crumb with a buttery flavor and a hint of lemon, and a delightful crunchy sugar crust on top.
5 stars (2 reviews)


  • ¾ cup / 150 g granulated sugar, plus more for topping
  • cup / 75 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 ½ teaspoons / 11 g baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • scant ½ cup / 100 ml whole milk, more or less as needed
  • 1 cup / 125 g all-purpose flour
  • cup / 100 g rice flour


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Arrange 6 paper baking molds on a silicone-lined baking sheet (it will help keep the molds from sliding around). You can also use a jumbo or regular muffin tin, either lined with baking papers or lightly buttered.
  • In a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together sugar, butter, baking powder, lemon zest and salt until very light and fluffy, 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Crack eggs in to a liquid measuring cup. Add enough milk to equal 250mL of liquid (this should be about 100ml, but depending on the size of your eggs may be more or less). Whisk until mostly blended.
  • In a bowl, whisk together flour and rice flour until evenly incorporated.
  • With the mixer on low, add about 1/3 of egg mixture. Increase the speed and beat until completely emulsified into the batter before addding another 1/3 of the liquid. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Repeat, mixing until completely incorporated before adding remaining liquid.
  • Add flour and mix on low speed for a few seconds just to moisten it, then increase to high for just a few seconds until light and creamy. You obviously don’t want to beat it too much, but unlike standard cake the rice flour will prevent excess gluten from forming. This final high speed mix will help bring the batter together and produce a finely textured muffin.
  • Divide batter among baking molds; you’ll want 100 grams of batter, about 2 large cookie scoops worth, per muffin. For standard size muffins use a single scoop or 50 grams worth. Generously sprinkle tops with granulated sugar.
  • Bake for about 18 minutes or until top is crackly and barely starting to brown; a toothpick inserted near the center will come out mostly clean.
  • Remove from oven and let cool slightly; serve warm or at room temperature. Muffins are best enjoyed the day they are made, but can be stored in an airtight container for 1-2 days (though you will lose the crunch on top).
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  1. These are wonderful and taste exactly like the real thing from a Portuguese bakery! Texture is perfectly airy and the sugary crunchy top is light and crisp, just like the originals. I bought what said “jumbo muffin cups” but 100grams of batter was too much and erupted and overflowed on each one in the oven. So I’d recommend using 75grams per muffin cup if you’re unsure. That being said, it was fine, as all those pieces that flowed onto my baking sheet were still delicious little bonus snacks- just didn’t look quite as beautiful. :)

    Perfect breakfast or snack cakes!!

  2. Just tried making these and they are amazing! I did not think it would taste so good, because there wasn’t much flavouring in it (just the lemon), but I am pleasantly surprised at how light, airy, creamy and lemony this was! I wonder what other toppings I could put on them. The sugar is nice, but I feel like the muffin could be a base for cupcakes 💓

  3. Made these Bolos de Arroz yesterday and they are delicious and turned out just like your photos! They tastes just like the ones I have in Portugal. I will definitely be making them again and this will be my go to recipe. Quick tip: they are best when they are fresh, but if you eat them the the next day just put them in your toaster oven for a few minutes to get back that sugary top crust.

  4. Can you sub in gluten-free flour for the all purpose flour? 

    • I have not tested this recipe with gluten-free flour, so I can’t say for sure. If you try it definitely let me know!

  5. Hi. Thanks for the recipe. I am portuguese living in Manchester. Where I can find this rice flour? What brand did you use? Many Thanks

    • This recipe uses regular rice flour, not to be confused with sweet or glutenous rice flour (what they use to make mochi). I’ve used Bob’s Red Mill brand as well as the rice flour (but I’m based in the US).

  6. I made these twice: once as written and once with all rice flour (I used brown rice flour). They were better with all rice flour, more like traditional the rice cupcakes I’ve had before.

    • Hi Jen, did you replace the all-purpose flour with rice flour by weight or by volume? I’ve been wanting to make these and I’d be curious to try them with all rice flour!

  7. Wonderful recipe! I’ve been trying to figure out how to use all the rice flour I purchased, and this is the best recipe I’ve tried yet!

  8. I tried your recipe and it was super delicious but just a heads up-bolos de arroz doesn’t translate to bowl of rice, bolo means cake. So it translates to “rice cake” sorry. Just thought you should know!  Looking forward to making more cakes, thank you! X

  9. Judging from the photos, you’ve nailed the recipe, your “bolos de arroz” really look like the real deal. I’ll definitely give them a shot.
    Just one remark about the text: “bolos” isn’t literally “bowls” but “cakes” – “cupcakes” may also do, probably – I’m native Portuguese, nit English ;)

  10. Hmm speaking of ambiguous translations, bolo de arroz is not a direct translation of bowls of rice. It’s ‘Rice cake’. 

  11. You mentioned Bolo De Arroz translates to bowls of rice. Bolo in Portuguese means cake. So the translation would be “rice cake”

    Your recipe looks fantastic and I plan on making them in the next couple days.

    These can also be frozen. They aren’t bad when they are thawed either.

  12. Stunning! Super easy (thanks to great instructions) and delicious. I used lime zeat instead of lemon. 

  13. Hi! Love your recipes! Thank you so much for sharing. Could you please recommend a brand of rice flour? 

    Thank you! 

  14. I assume the sugar is sprinkled on before baking?

  15. Born in Portugal, now living with my family in Philadelphia. Privileged and blessed to be able to go very often to see my family and am totally looking forward to retiring there one day. Beautiful country and people. Thank you for the recipe! My daughter and hubby love these muffins, so I will definitely try it out!

  16. The texture on these looks perfect!!! 

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