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Vegan Rice Pudding With Coconut Milk

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This delicious rice pudding recipe will give you much more than a taste of childhood in a dessert bowl. It is super rich and creamy, naturally vegan, and really quick and easy to make with only five simple and healthy ingredients.

coconut milk rice pudding

I have to admit – I actually never liked rice pudding as a kid. So, I put a lot of thought into this coconut milk rice pudding recipe. The goal was to make it taste like a real dessert – creamy and full of flavour, no matter how simple the process of making it was. 

That is why today I can finally present to you… The only rice pudding recipe you will need! Made with coconut milk, it is naturally dairy-free, but you don’t have to be vegan to fall in love with this creamy goodness.

This tasty dessert can be eaten hot or cold and topped with any kind of toppings that you like. 

coconut milk rice pudding

Ingredients for the vegan coconut milk rice pudding

To make the best vegan rice pudding with coconut milk, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Arborio rice or another rice variety of your choice – keep reading to find out how to choose the best rice for rice pudding;
  • Plant milk of choice – I like to use oat milk, soy milk or homemade almond milk for this recipe;
  • Full-fat coconut milk (60% or more coconut) – in combination with the starch from arborio rice, the naturally fatty coconut milk will make your rice pudding extra creamy and rich;
  • Vanilla extract or powdered vanilla;
  • Maple syrup or agave syrup – or any other sweetener that you prefer (even non-carb sweeteners such as xylitol are good);
  • Toppings of choice – fresh fruits, fruit jam, roasted nuts, nut butter, cinnamon…

Which type of rice is the best for pudding?

The shortest answer would be – arborio rice. This variety is the best for making a smooth, thick rice pudding.

Arborio rice is normally used for making risottos, and it will give you a super creamy result with the amount of sticky (amylopectin-rich) starch it contains.

Still, choosing the perfect rice variety is actually a matter of personal preference. When I was a kid, Croatian moms used the most basic long-grain white rice. We never knew which variety it was, but it was always the cheapest rice every household had in their pantry.

It is also possible to make rice pudding with short-grain rice such as the originario variety (very similar to sushi rice). I like that option better than the tender and tasteless regular long-grain rice that we have here in Croatia because it results in a creamier pudding.

different rice varieties
Different rice varieties: arborio (left), originario (middle) and regular long grain (right).

However, the best rice puddings that I tried over the years were the ones made with the arborio rice variety. They were always super creamy, with the perfect size and texture of rice grains (regular long grain is just too tender, and originario is a bit too tiny for my taste). 

The only type of rice I would not recommend for making rice pudding is parboiled, or any rice that was pre-treated with heat to make it easier to cook. This kind of rice is impossible to make into a creamy dessert because its starch has been gelatinised.

Understanding starch in cooking with rice

Starch is present in all grains and has the function of storing energy for the plant. It consists of two components: amylose and amylopectin. Both are glucose polymers – amylose is a straight molecule that is easy to break down, while amylopectin is a more complex, branched molecule. 

Short and medium-grain rice varieties are typically richer in sticky (amylopectin-rich) starch, while long-grain rice types, with some exceptions such as jasmine or glutinous rice, are richer in dry (amylose-rich) starch. 

This is the reason why short and medium-grain rice will give you the creamiest result when used in cooking. The amylopectin-rich starch that they contain will hold the pudding together, thicken it perfectly and make its texture extra smooth and creamy.

coconut milk rice pudding

Can I make rice pudding with whole-grain (brown) rice?

Yes, it is possible to make rice pudding with whole-grain rice too, but it will not taste the same. Personally, I don’t prefer it because it gives the dessert a more nutty flavour and the consistency will never be as creamy as with arborio rice. 

But if that is something you like, then why not! 

Just remember that whole-grain rice needs much longer to cook. I would soak it overnight to shorten the cooking time, and keep an eye on it while it’s on the stovetop to see if it needs any extra liquid (in that case, just add some more plant milk, preferably warm or hot).

Cooking the rice pudding

This recipe is insanely simple: you will just need to put all of the ingredients into a pot, bring it to a light simmer and continue cooking over low heat until the rice is cooked (it usually takes around twenty minutes).

Stirring is necessary, but you don’t need to stir religiously as you would do with risotto. An occasional stir every few minutes to prevent sticking and make sure that all the rice gets cooked evenly will be enough. 

cooking rice pudding
Stir the rice pudding regularly while it’s simmering over low heat.

Check on the rice after fifteen minutes of simmering to see if it is cooked. It should be fully cooked (so not al dente), but don’t overcook it so as not to make grains too soft or mushy.

When the rice is cooked, the consistency of the pudding will still be very liquid. This is how it should be; at this point, you can remove it from the heat and cover the pot with a lid. Let it sit like that for another fifteen minutes to thicken as the rice absorbs some more liquid.

cooking rice pudding
When the rice is cooked, turn off the heat and put a lid on the pot. After around fifteen minutes, it will thicken and look like in the second picture. If you decide to cool it in the fridge, it will thicken even more.

Choosing the best toppings for vegan rice pudding

This tasty homemade coconut milk rice pudding can be served with any kind of toppings that you like. Here are some of my favourites:

coconut milk rice pudding

Serving and storing the coconut milk rice pudding

This delicious and creamy rice pudding can be eaten hot or cold – both versions are amazing and it really only depends on your personal preference. Cold pudding will be a little bit thicker than warm, but super silky and dreamy nonetheless.

coconut milk rice pudding

If you choose to have it warm, just transfer it from the pot into dessert bowls after it has thickened enough and serve it with your favourite toppings.

If you prefer it chilled (this is my choice most of the time!), wait until it cools down to room temperature and transfer it to the fridge for about two hours before serving.

Rice pudding can be stored in the fridge in a closed pot or container for up to three days.

coconut milk rice pudding
Yield: 4-6 portions

Vegan Rice Pudding Recipe (With Coconut Milk)

coconut milk rice pudding

Enjoy this simple recipe for a super creamy and rich rice pudding with coconut milk. It is naturally vegan and really quick and easy to make with only five ingredients.

Cook Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  1. Put the rice, oat milk, full-fat coconut milk, agave and vanilla in a pot.
  2. Bring to a light simmer over low heat.
  3. Continue cooking over low heat, stirring regularly, for about twenty minutes or until the rice is cooked. It should be simmering, not boiling. It can take more or less time for rice to be fully cooked, so keep an eye on it after fifteen minutes.
  4. When the rice is fully cooked, you can turn off the heat and close the pot with a lid. Everything will look quite liquid at this point, but that is how it should be - it will thicken over the next fifteen minutes or so.
  5. Let it sit with the lid on for another fifteen to twenty minutes so that the rice absorbs more liquid and the rice pudding thickens.
  6. If you like to have your rice pudding warm, transfer it into dessert bowls and serve it with toppings of choice.
  7. In case you prefer it cold, leave it in the pot with the lid on and let it cool down to room temperature. Then transfer it to the fridge and let it chill for at least two hours.
  8. Store the rest of the rice pudding in a closed pot or a container in the fridge for up to three days


Add more or less sweetener to adapt to your taste.

Instead of agave or maple syrup, you can use some non-carbohydrate sweeteners such as xylitol.

Combine the rice pudding with your favourite toppings. I recommend fresh fruits, fruit compote or jam, natural nut butter and toasted nuts. A more spicy, wintery combination with cinnamon, ginger and orange zest also works great.

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