Cooking rice with coconut milk is a more exciting way to add creaminess and nutty flavor to your plain-cooked white rice dish. It’s a delightful and delicious side dish that adds a touch of tropical flavor to any meal. With just a few simple steps, you can learn how to cook rice with coconut milk at home.
It is no lie that we love coconut in our house; we usually eat fresh coconuts with roasted corn on the cob, and we also combine it together with dates to chew as a snack, oh such a delicious snack!! I have used coconut milk as a base for rice pudding, and smoothies, or even as an ingredient in curries and soups.
The freshly cracked coconut works well when combined with tiger nuts and dates to make tiger nut milk. You can use it for making homemade protein bars or granola bars, it tastes heavenly!
In fact, I have used coconut countless times for many recipes and they always turn out deliciously amazing. And today, we are making sweet coconut rice with coconut milk. But beyond just cooking the rice with coconut milk, there are so many other ways that you can incorporate coconuts into your dishes.
Related- How to Cook Rice Pilaf
What is coconut rice?
This coconut rice recipe is all about infusing the nutty and sweet flavor of coconut milk with spices into fluffy long grain white rice to create a delicious side dish. It is one of the most delicious and flavorful side dishes out there that pairs perfectly with chicken curry sauce, roasted chicken thighs, and other varieties of grilled meat.
You will first need to add all your spices and seasonings into the rich creamy coconut milk and boil for a couple of minutes followed by the prewashed rice. Trust me this extra step of seasoning the milk first makes a big difference, it allows the flavors of those seasonings and spices to thoroughly blend with the coconut milk creating a rich and flavorful base for your rice.
When it comes to cooking coconut rice, the kind of coconut milk you use can make all the difference. I used two whole fresh coconuts for this coconut rice recipe because it has the most richness and creaminess. Below is what I did.
I first cracked open the nuts and cut the meat into small pieces and with the help of a blender, I was able to grate the flesh into a smooth pulp and finally strain it using a cheesecloth to extract the Pure Coconut Milk. This process was so easy and it took about just seven minutes to achieve it.
However, if you find it difficult to extract coconut milk from scratch, I recommend you use full-fat canned coconut milk from the grocery store. This will also give your coconut rice a rich and creamy result. See notes below for substitutes.
Why you will love this rice with coconut milk
- Easy to prepare- Cooking rice in coconut milk is surprisingly easy and requires a handful of ingredients with minimal effort. You can prepare it really quickly in under 40 minutes for a quick dinner.
- One-pot meal- It is a one-pot meal with minimal prep time, this makes clean-up so easy.
- Versatility- This rice dish pairs well with just about any protein or vegetable you throw into it and can be enjoyed on its own or paired with grilled meat, curries, or stews.
- Customizable- All the seasonings and spices are easy to find and can easily be adjusted to your preference.
- Incredibly delicious- When you take a first bite of this fragrant rice, you’ll be satisfied with a perfect balance of spicy and slightly sweet taste, with tender creamy grains of rice.
Trust me, it is worth the extra effort. Below are the step-by-step procedures for cooking rice with coconut milk.
Video on How to Make Coconut Rice with Coconut Milk
Ingredients for rice with coconut milk
- 2 medium-sized fresh coconuts or canned coconut milk
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cups long-grain white rice
- 2 tablespoons shrimp powder or crayfish
- 1 medium-sized carrot, diced
- 3 minced garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup frozen peas
- 2 beef bullion cubes
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt, add more to taste
- 1 sprig of spring onion to garnish
Steps on how to cook rice with coconut milk
Coconut rice is simply white rice cooked in coconut milk instead of water. The milk not only adds flavor but also creates the true taste of the tropic and helps balance the sweetness of the dish.
The main secret to achieving a perfectly flavored pot of rice lies in the few spices and seasonings used in this rice.
Learn how to cook rice with coconut milk by following the step-by-step procedures listed below.
Total time spent 35 minutes
Rinse and soak long-grain rice in water
Rinse the rice thoroughly until the water runs clear and soak it in water for about 15 minutes just before cooking it. This helps to remove excess starch from the grain making it fluffier when cooked.
Crack open the coconut
Carefully crack open each coconuts with a hammer or any hard object, and drain out its water into a small bowl (which by the way is super refreshing on a hot day). Use a sharp knife to take out its white flesh from the tough outer shell and rinse the flesh under a running tap to get rid of sand or debris.
Make sure to cut the coconut flesh into smaller pieces before blending, it makes it easier for the blender to spin.
Extract the coconut milk
Cut the white flesh into smaller pieces and transfer it into the blender along with 2 cups of water and blend it into a smooth pulp. Strain this mixture through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth until all that’s left behind is a creamy white liquid. You can blend the coconuts in batches and use a total of 4 and 1/2 cups of water to do so.
Using full-fat coconut milk will result in rich, velvety textured rice with a sweet coconutty aroma. It is also very easy to extract the milk from scratch.
Season and bring the milk to a boil
Place the coconut milk on heat; combine chopped onions, cayenne pepper, garlic, shrimp powder, thyme, and beef bouillon cubes, salt, and bring everything to a boil over medium heat. Boiling the milk first helps infuse a lot of flavors and get the cooking process started just before the rice is added.
Take time to season the coconut milk just before going in with the prewashed rice, it is what helps to bring out the natural sweetness of coconut rice. But make sure to keep the spices simple so they don’t overpower the flavor of the main ingredient which is the coconut.
Add the rice and bring to a simmer
Once the coconut milk has come to a boil, add the soaked rice and stir to combine nicely. Place a lid on tightly and bring everything to a rolling boil and then lower the heat to simmer until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the grains, this takes about 12 minutes.
I used 4 cups of coconut milk to cook 2 cups of rice, the amount you need may depend on the type of rice you are using. You want the coconut milk to come up about an inch above the level of your rice.
Read about: Rice ratio to water using different cooking methods.
Add vegetables and continue cooking
When the liquid has reduced, add the diced carrots and green peas to the surface of the rice, cover, and continue to simmer on low for 8 minutes until the water is fully absorbed.
Adding veggies like carrots and peas bring a pop of color and flavor to this rice with coconut milk. You can also use bell peppers and green beans if you want and make sure to add them towards the end to preserve the crunch.
Garnish and leave to rest
After that, garnish with spring onions, turn off the heat, and let it sit covered for another 10 minutes to ensure perfectly cooked fluffy grains.
To garnish your coconut milk rice, you can use chopped scallion, cilantro, or parsley. Also, toasted shredded coconuts could be sprinkled on top of the rice for an extra burst of flavor and crunchiness.
Side dished for rice with coconut milk
- Throw in some stir-fried veggies like bell peppers, carrots, and corn on top for some added texture and vibrancy.
- Try serving up coconut rice with air fryer chicken drumsticks, they make a good accompaniment to this succulent chicken.
- Some refreshing tropical fruits like mangoes, pineapple, or papayas can be eaten with this rice, they add an extra zing of freshness to the meal.
- Pair this savory dish with some fruit punch made from fresh pineapples or strawberries for an added burst of tropical flavor.
- Another tasty dish would be this Jamaican brown stew chicken
- If you love seafood, pair this delicious coconut rice with grilled shrimp, chicken skewers, or even crispy fish tacos.
- You could also try serving it alongside baked salmon or roasted pork tenderloin for an extra special meal.
- And don’t forget about topping your rice either with chopped cilantro, scallion, shredded coconut flakes, and lime wedges. All of these will take your rice to the next level.
What is coconut rice made of?
Coconut rice is made of long-grain rice with coconut milk and warm spices. The creamy coconut milk gives the rice its rich and creamy flavor, transforming plain white rice into a rich tropical meal. Some of the spices I used in this dish include onion, garlic, thyme, shrimp powder, stock cubes, black pepper, cayenne, and salt. I also threw in a few vegetables like carrots, peas, and scallion for added crunch and color.
Is coconut rice made from coconut milk or cream?
This coconut rice is made with coconut milk, and not with coconut cream. The coconut milk adds the perfect touch of sweetness and creaminess to your rice instead of using water. However, I have seen other variations of this rice dish made with coconut cream.
How long does rice cook with coconut milk last in the fridge?
After cooking your rice in coconut milk, leave it to cool completely, then scoop it into an air-tight container and place it in the fridge for up to 4 days. This can last up to 4 days in the refrigerator without losing its original taste.
Can I freeze cooked coconut rice?
You can make a big pot of coconut rice and store the leftovers in the freezer. Simply leave your cooked rice to cool completely then scoop it into an airtight container or freezer bag and pop it in the freezer for later use. I don’t usually freeze coconut rice for more than 2 weeks since I can easily make a fresh batch during the week. However, you can make a large batch of this rice and freeze it for 2 months in separate bowls.
When you’re ready to eat, simply thaw the portion you need in the fridge overnight or heat it up in the microwave for a few minutes until heated through.
Is coconut rice sweet?
Cooking rice with coconut milk adds a touch of sweetness and creaminess to your rice dish. What makes the coconut rice slightly sweet is the creamy coconut milk. The naturally occurring sugars in coconut milk itself add a hint of sweetness and make this rice dish stand out from regular white rice cooked with plain water.
Substitutes for fresh coconut milk
These are my go-to tips if using canned coconut milk: Make sure to look out for a brand that uses high-quality coconuts with no added sweeteners or artificial flavors in them. You want the natural goodness of pure coconut milk for your rice.
Pour the milk from the can along with two cups of plain water or add an extra can of coconut milk so that you will have enough milk to cook 2 cups of rice but I recommend combining both milk and water for the best results. If you are cooking 1 cup of rice you will need 1 can (13.5 ounces) of coconut milk plus 1 cup of water for perfect fluffy coconut rice.
Also, remember to shake the can really well before opening it, sometimes the cream and liquid do separate during storage. If the milk is too thick, mix in equal parts of the water and use it to cook your rice.
Other variations of rice with coconut milk
- Coconut rice with tomatoes- This combination is so special, it looks exactly like jollof rice but with a coconutty flavor. Simply add some juicy diced tomatoes to the milk along with the rest of the ingredients and cook. The tomatoes make the rice even more vibrant.
- Using coconut powder- You can also prepare coconut rice with coconut powder. the powder is sold in most grocery stores. You just need to mix coconut powder with some warm water until it forms a creamy consistency then use the creamy liquid to cook the rice following the above recipe.
- Make it spicy- You can more heat to the rice by using crushed scotch bonnets or jalapeño peppers.
- Toppings- Add pineapple chunks and diced mango, cashews, or raisins when serving for a sweet tropical twist.
- Rice- Swap out regular white rice with basmati, or jasmine rice. This recipe doesn’t work so well with brown rice, risotto rice, or short-grain rice.