Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding: A Sublime Vegan Dessert
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“OMG creamy coconut rice pudding is my one favorite dessert in the whole wide world!!!” said no one ever. Well, not if they went through the British school system at a particular time, like Yours Truly.
If you were a student in a British school, chances are high that the words “rice pudding” strike fear into your heart and send chills down your marrow.
I get it. I am one and wild horses wouldn’t have been able to drag me to declare it my choice of pudding at my Desert Island Meal.
But…. that was in the Before.
Now, I am a convert! I have bought into the delights of a well-made, delicately sweetened pudding that is a rice pudding. I can honestly say that my vegan coconut rice pudding, with the added oomph of one or two secret ingredients – ones I am perfectly happy to share! – is a definite hit around these parts.
No, I’m not blowing smoke. Listen – scores of Asians can’t be wrong, can they, tucking into yummy, creamy rice puddings on the regular? So let’s crack this and banish the ghost of ghastly school puddings forever!
First secret ingredient – Coconut milk
This one ingredient elevates the rice pudding from wallpaper paste to manna from the heavens. No exaggeration! Go for the low-fat variety if you are planning on eating a boatload of this (you just might!).
There’s no rice pudding without rice, yes, but which variety of white rice is the question? I vote for short-grain rice. Why? They are plump and contain more starch – so they tend to stick together more than other varieties like Basmati. Exactly what you would want in a creamy rice pudding!
Well, duh! All puddings need sugar, yes. As this is a special one, I’d say go for the added oomph of vanilla sugar. Coconut and vanilla come together to dance on your palates like Torville and Dean, and you will be one happy bunny!
If you do not have vanilla sugar handy (who does?!), just toss a teaspoon of vanilla extract through a tablespoon of sugar. (You can use brown sugar instead of white for a more caramel-y flavor.)
Salt, just a pinch mind you, enlivens a pudding. This might seem counter-productive but there’s nothing like a teeny weeny smidge of salt to cut through the sweet and add some pizzazz to your pudding.
If there ever was a spice that loved coconut, it is star anise. The delicate floral notes of the star anise mingle beautifully with the coconut, resulting in a subtly fragrant flavor profile. Yum-MY!
Secret ingredient number 2: pineapple!
Work with me here. If I am to be successful in my mission to eradicate decades of gloopy mess masquerading as a delicacy, I need to roll out some big – and unusual – guns. Pineapple’s fruity and tangy kick is just the ticket!
How many calories does this coconut rice pudding have?
Here’s a quick overview of 1 serving:
First, the good news: this delicious bowl of creamy goodness is gluten-free, dairy-free, and totally vegan-friendly! Yes, we have only gone and made a vegan coconut rice pudding. Go us!
Second, if you gasped loudly on seeing the fat content, there’s a way around it. Low-fat coconut milk – they are still just as flavorful but have half the fat content of the full-fat ones.
How to make the best coconut rice pudding
We are really going to town on the tropical flavor today, so get ready! What we have here is an easy coconut rice pudding recipe that we have tweaked to perfection.
- Take a large saucepan, larger than what you think you might need. Pour in the coconut milk. The words to remember are “medium-low heat”. This is important so the rice cooks at a gentle boil, absorbing the goodness of other ingredients, without fear of a burned pan.
- Add in the rice, stirring things up so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. Happy memories, remember! Cover with a lid but not all the way. If you don’t have vanilla sugar or vanilla extract, toss a vanilla bean into the milk.
- Once the rice becomes nice and soft, add in the sugar, salt, and spice. You can vary the amount of sugar you are using based on your sweet tooth.
- Tip: you can add a cinnamon stick too and add a nice note of sweetness.
- Do not forget to give the contents a good stir every couple of minutes, especially after 15-20 minutes of cooking time. On low heat, the dish would take around 30 minutes to come together.
- Now is the time to go with the toppings: I went with pineapple chunks. You can totally puree the chunks and top up your pudding.
- Serve hot (or cold, if you prefer!) in fancy glass bowls and bowl over your guests.
Can the coconut rice pudding be made ahead?
In a word: yes. I admit this is largely a matter of preference. I love this pudding when it is fresh and hot. I am told that it tastes great refrigerated too.
So, I say: go for it. See into which camp you fall: hot or cold. Remember to add a little bit of coconut milk to loosen it up while reheating, as the rice would have absorbed the liquid as it cooled down.
Can I use regular milk instead? How about almond milk?
If you are not vegan, you can totally make this with regular cow’s milk or even half the quantity of milk combined with some canned coconut milk or coconut cream. It would still taste delicious, I promise you.
I do not know about almond milk though. If you are trying this recipe with almond milk, don’t forget to share your experiences with us in our comments section below!
How to store and reheat the coconut rice pudding?
Coconut milk can split quite easily, especially if it is a hot day out or you turned a blind eye to the ‘gentle simmer’ part. So, it is best to refrigerate the pudding as soon as you are done.
You can then have it cold or warmed up gently in the microwave, in short, 30-sec bursts if you (like me!) prefer it nice and steaming.
I don’t like pineapples. What else can I top my rice pudding with?
A simple dusting of ground cinnamon, orange zest, grilled bananas, mango chunks, cashew nuts, and raisins sauteed in ghee (not suitable for vegans), toasted coconut flakes … the question you ought to ask is what can’t you top up your coconut rice pudding with!
More coconut milk recipes
So you have a spare can of coconut milk and now are looking for some fresh recipes, huh? Good thing you have come to the right place, eh what, cos we have a few options for you to try.
This Vegan Coconut Curry is so easy to make, we call it ‘no effort curry’.
- ½ banana
- Pour the coconut milk in a pot. Give it some heat – medium.1 can coconut milk
- Stir in the rice once the milk just starts to boil. Reduce the heat to low quickly. Seriously! If the coconut milk is too hot the fat will separate from the rest and it wont smooth and creamy.¼ cup short grain white rice
- Flavour things up with vanilla extract, sugar, anise star and salt.1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 star anise, 1 pinch salt
- Optional: mash the banana and stir it in.½ banana
- Stir occasionally and let it simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes until things get well creamy. Cover the pot with a lid.
- If you use canned pineapple: add 3-4 tbsp of pineapple juice to the rice mix to give it a fruity kick.½ cup pineapple chunks
- Serve with diced pineapple chunks.
- Optional: Blend the pineapple and layer the puree on top of your serving of rice pudding.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my coconut rice pudding recipe and the suggested tweaks. Were you rice pudding lovers already (and was I part of a minority?)?
What tips and tricks do you employ while making your own coconut rice pudding? Do share!