Easy Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding Recipe

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This easy coconut rice pudding recipe makes a comforting, lightly sweetened dessert, and is made from simple kitchen staples.

Closeup of a dessert cup of rice pudding garnished with toasted coconut, with a spoon digging in.

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If you are one of those people who doesn’t like dessert to be overly “sweet”, finding one that hits the spot might be difficult. Well, coconut rice pudding could be just what you’re looking for. It’s got a subtle sweetness and a wonderfully creamy texture that’s not too heavy but so satisfying.

A Look into Rice Puddings

If you haven’t had a creamy rice pudding before, it’s actually a very loved dessert in Southeast Asia, and is referred to as kheer. It’s also a favorite dessert in the Caribbean, specifically Puerto Rico, and the Puerto Ricans call it Arroz Con Dulce.

It’s also famous in the Middle East and China, and every place has their own little twist to rice pudding. But the basis remain the same – milk and rice turned to a delicious pudding.

This coconut rice pudding recipe is closest to the Puerto Rican Arroz Con Dulce. Arroz Con Dulce is typically infused with a warm blend of spices like cinnamon stick and cloves, and often includes raisins, giving it a deeper, more complex taste.

Closeup of a dessert cup of rice pudding garnished with toasted coconut with another cup of pudding in the background.

It’s the kind of dessert that’s cozy enough for a chilly evening but also light enough for a summer day. You can also make it a dairy-free rice pudding by omitting the whole milk and just adding more coconut milk, another plant-based milk, or water in its place.

Why You’ll Love this Coconut Rice Pudding

  • It’s naturally gluten-free and can easily be made dairy-free by using only coconut milk, or another plant-based milk.
  • It’s perfect for a crowd or a cozy night in for two.
  • It’s budget-friendly and uses simple ingredients.
  • It be served warm or cold!

Ingredient Notes

ingredients to make coconut rice pudding, with ingredients

Coconut Milk

Full-fat canned coconut milk is the star of the show! Its rich creaminess is the foundation of our delicious pudding, and gives it a great coconut flavor.

You can use light coconut milk, or coconut milk from a carton instead, but the pudding will be less rich and creamy.

Whole Milk

I tried making this pudding with all coconut milk but found it a little too dense and gloppy. I found adding a little regular milk gave it the perfect texture. You can substitute it with lower-fat regular milk, but the texture will be slightly lighter.

If using plant-based alternatives, choose an unsweetened variety with similar fat content to whole milk. Oat milk and almond milk would work well.

Water

Some water is needed to cook the rice. It helps in ensuring the rice doesn’t become too heavy or overly rich with just the milks.

Sugar

I found a mixture of regular sugar and maple syrup gave this rice pudding a perfect level of sweetness.

I use white sugar but you can also use brown sugar for a more caramel-y flavor and darker color.

Arborio White Rice

Short grain rice like Arborio rice or carnaroli rice is ideal for its creamy texture and high starch content, which helps thicken the pudding. This is the type of rice used to make Italian risotto. However, you can use other short-grain rice varieties like sushi rice or calrose.

Don’t rinse the rice – the starch is what helps the pudding thicken. If you can’t find arborio rice, medium-grain white rice or long-grain rice like jasmine rice will work in a pinch, but the texture will be less creamy.

Just don’t use brown rice – that won’t work in this coconut rice pudding!

Salt

A pinch of salt is crucial in desserts. It balances the sweetness and enhances the overall flavor of the creamy rice pudding.

Egg

Adds richness and helps bind the pudding together. For a vegan coconut rice pudding, you can use a tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons of water whisked in at the end.

Vanilla Extract

The vanilla extract complements both the coconut and the maple syrup, rounding out the flavors. You can also add vanilla bean paste.

Maple Syrup

Adds a unique, rich sweetness. It’s a natural sweetener and brings a lovely depth of flavor, different from regular sugar.

Toasted Coconut Flakes

Coconut flakes on the top add a delightful crunch and enhance the coconut flavor. Toasted coconut brings out a nutty flavor that pairs wonderfully with the creamy pudding.

Don’t forget to watch the video!

Most of my recipes include a short step-by-step video tutorial. Just scroll down to the recipe card, or use the “Jump to Video” button at the top of the post!

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Begin by placing a medium saucepan on the stove and adding in the coconut milk, whole milk, water, sugar, arborio rice, and a pinch of salt. Crank up the heat to high, bringing everything to a boil.
milk mixture and rice simmering in a medium saucepan
  1. Then, turn down to a medium-low heat and let it simmer for about 20-25 minutes. Keep an eye on it and stir often, ensuring that the rice becomes tender. Once that’s done, dial the heat down to low.
milk mixture and rice simmering in a pot with a wooden spoon in the pot
  1. In the meantime, take a medium bowl and get to whisking the egg, maple syrup, and vanilla extract together.
egg, vanilla extract, and maple syrup in a bowl
whisked egg, vanilla extract, and maple syrup
  1. Next, carefully scoop out about half a cup of the hot coconut milk and rice mixture and gradually whisk it into the egg mixture. This is important – it prevents the egg from cooking too quickly and curdling. Do this step once more with another half cup of the hot mixture.
adding milk and rice mixture to the egg mixture
  1. Now, gently pour this tempered egg mix back into the saucepan. Keep the heat on low and stir everything continuously for about 5 minutes. You don’t want it to start boiling. At this point, the pudding will still be quite soupy, but that’s okay. It thickens up as it cools down.
adding tempered egg to the saucepan
mixing coconut rice pudding with a wooden spoon
  1. Take the saucepan off the heat. Let the pudding cool until it’s just warm.
closeup side view of coconut rice pudding with a wooden spoon in it
  1. To toast the coconut flakes, add them to a dry pan and toast over medium low heat till they turn golden brown.
toasting coconut flakes in a pan
  1. Serve it up in your favorite bowls and sprinkle some toasted coconut on top for that perfect finish.
serving coconut rice pudding in a dessert bowl
a closeup of coconut rice pudding in a dessert bowl topped with toasted coconut flakes.

Toppings and Add-In Suggestions for Coconut Rice Pudding

  • Coconut rice pudding is versatile and pairs well with a variety of toppings and add-ins.
  • Sliced bananas, mango chunks, pineapple, or berries on the top of your coconut rice pudding add a fresh, sweet contrast.
  • You can also add chopped almonds, walnuts, or pistachios to provide a crunchy texture and nutty flavor.
overhead view of a dessert cup of rice pudding garnished with toasted coconut.
  • A sprinkle of cinnamon on top tastes great but don’t go overboard with it! You can also add a cinnamon stick to the milk mixture while you’re cooking the rice.
  • Add dark or milk chocolate shavings make for a luxurious and indulgent topping.
  • You can also swirl in some caramel sauce for a rich and decadent twist.

Storage Instructions

Let your coconut rice pudding cool completely at room temperature for about 2 hours. Then, transfer it to airtight containers or individual ramekins. You can store your pudding in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Closeup of a dessert cup of rice pudding garnished with toasted coconut with another cup of pudding in the background.

More Cozy Desserts

Vegan Chocolate Mug Cake

Toffee Apple Cake

Chocolate Almond Biscotti

Frequently asked Questions

Can I make coconut rice pudding ahead of time?

Yes, coconut rice pudding is great for making ahead. Prepare it 1-2 days in advance and refrigerate in an airtight container. The flavors even improve over time. For serving, enjoy it cold or reheat on the stove or in the microwave. If it’s too thick after refrigeration, simply stir in a bit of milk.

Can this rice pudding be made vegan?

To make a vegan coconut rice pudding, just substitute whole milk with a plant-based milk. Skip the egg or use a vegan egg replacer. If needed, use a little cornstarch and water to thicken the pudding.

Tell me what you think!

If you try this recipe, l’d be so grateful if you’d leave a comment and a rating in the recipe card. I love to hear your feedback, and your tips can help other readers too!

Closeup of a dessert cup of rice pudding garnished with toasted coconut, with a spoon digging in.

Coconut Rice Pudding

This easy coconut rice pudding recipe makes a comforting, comforting, lightly sweetened dessert, and is made from simple kitchen staples.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate Save
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Ann Otis

Ingredients

  • 1 13.5 oz can coconut milk full fat
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup short grain arborio white rice
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • toasted shredded coconut for topping optional

Instructions

  • To a medium saucepan, add the coconut milk, whole milk, water, sugar, rice, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to medium-low and simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently, until the rice is tender. Reduce the heat to low.
  • Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, maple syrup, and vanilla.
  • Slowly ladle about a ½ cup of the coconut milk-rice mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly until well combined. Repeat with another ½ cup of the coconut milk-rice mixture. This will temper the egg mixture so that it doesn’t curdle when added to the pot.
  • Pour the tempered egg mixture into the pot and continue heating on low, stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Do not let the mixture boil. Note that it should still be a fairly soupy at this stage, as it will continue to thicken as it cools.
  • Remove from heat, let cool until just warm, and serve, sprinkled with toasted shredded coconut.

Video

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