Simple, Delicious, Delicately Sweet
This is a superb but easy recipe for coconut rice pudding. The flavor is delicately sweet, which makes it rather gentle and comforting, but it's also rich, creamy, and filling.
While the word "pudding" may have you thinking of dessert, this dish also makes a delicious breakfast or snack. Coconut rice pudding is an excellent potluck dish, since it complements many other dishes and can be served warm or at room temperature. It's always been a hit when I've made it for guests or potluck events!
All of the ingredients are shelf stable, which means you can easily keep these items on hand in case of a "dessert emergency" when you need to put something together quickly. It's also a very forgiving and adaptable recipe, which adds to its charm and convenience.
This vegan recipe is gluten free, as long as you use gluten-free vanilla. (Gluten-free vanilla is not made with alcohol, which uses gluten in the processing.)
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6–12 servings (makes 6 cups total)
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked rice (preferably jasmine)
- 2 cans coconut milk (full fat version)
- 3/4 can water (use the coconut milk can for water)
- 1/2 cup sugar or other sweetener
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (gluten free if necessary)
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
- 1/4 cup lightly toasted coconut flakes or almond slivers for garnish (optional)
- Combine coconut milk, water, and sugar in a medium-size saucepan so that the sugar dissolves.
- Add rice to the saucepan, then bring to a simmer.
- Continue to simmer for 20–25 minutes—depending on the kind of rice used; brown rice will take longer—until most of the liquid is absorbed. Stir occasionally. Add more liquid (coconut milk, water, soymilk, or other vegan milk) as necessary to cook the rice without burning it.
- If using raisins, add them shortly before the rice has finished cooking. You may need to add more liquid, since raisins absorb moisture.
- Add cinnamon and nutmeg when most of the water is absorbed.
- Remove from heat once the rice is cooked. (If the rice is starting to burn before it's done cooking, turn off the heat and allow the rice to sit and continue to absorb liquid.)
- Add vanilla and mix to thoroughly combine ingredients.
- Serve topped with toasted coconut flakes or toasted almond slivers, if desired. This dish may be served warm or at room temperature.
- You may need to add additional liquid to leftover rice pudding if it becomes too dry in the refrigerator.
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Adapt the Ingredients to Suit Your Needs
One of the things I really like about this recipe is that it is so flexible. This means that, as long as you have some coconut milk and rice in the pantry, you should be able to make this without much fuss. That's one of the reasons I consider this to be a "quick and easy" recipe!
- I prefer to use jasmine rice with this recipe, though any rice that cooks in about 20 minutes will do. White rice works fine, and I've used arborio rice with excellent results. Brown rice doesn't yield the creamy results of white, though short-grain brown rice can be used in a pinch.
- This recipe calls for the full-fat version of canned coconut milk. However, "lite" coconut milk can be substituted. If you do this, then replace the water with soymilk or other vegan milk. The coconut flavoring won't be as strong, but it will still be creamy and yummy.
- This is a gluten-free recipe, so long as gluten-free vanilla extract is used. "Standard" vanilla extract is made with alcohol, which contains gluten as a result of how it is processed. If you are making coconut rice pudding for someone who is gluten free but do not have the right kind of vanilla extract, you can omit that ingredient and still have perfectly delicious results.
- Don't have nutmeg? Use allspice. No allspice? Just add a bit more cinnamon.
- This recipe yields a mildly sweet pudding. If you prefer it to be sweeter, just add more sugar.
This is a very forgiving, adaptable recipe—so feel free to whip up a delectable variation to suit your needs or as a reflection of whatever ingredients you happen to have available!
Mind the Rice
Once the rice is simmering in the coconut milk, you can step away from the stove and take care of other things.
However, this is NOT like cooking rice in water, and it cannot be left completely unattended for the 20 minutes or so it takes to cook.
Cooking the rice in coconut milk means that the rice can become stuck to the bottom of the saucepan and burn. It needs to be stirred occasionally, and then more frequently as more of the liquid is absorbed.
If the liquid is mostly absorbed but the rice isn't sufficiently cooked, just add some more liquid to the saucepan. This can be coconut milk, water, soymilk, or other vegan milk. If the rice is almost done but is sticking and starting to burn, simply remove it from the heat. The rice will continue to absorb the liquid and cook, even if it's not simmering.
More Details About Preparing Coconut Rice Pudding
This recipe is even more delicious and attractive when topped with toasted coconut flakes. Coconut flakes can be toasted by baking at 350°F in a toaster oven or by dry heating in a frying pan. Either way, it is important to toast it LIGHTLY in order to properly bring out the flavor.
Leftover coconut rice pudding may need to be slightly reconstituted if it becomes too dry in the refrigerator. Simply add some liquid, such as soymilk. It can be enjoyed cold, room temperature, or warm.