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This Easy Coconut Rice recipe is so simple to make and absolutely delicious! White rice is cooked with coconut milk, shredded coconut and a few aromatics to create a flavorful side dish that you can be pair with so many meals! This is the perfect recipe when you want to add something special to the dinner table without any extra effort or fuss! Tired of boring and bland sides? Look no further than this crave-worthy rice!

Read on for simple tips and tricks on making the best coconut rice in your very own kitchen! And, don’t miss the comprehensive step-by step photographs, plus recipe video showing you exactly how easy this side dish is to make from scratch.

Overhead photo of easy coconut rice garnished with toasted coconut flakes and fresh lime zest in a white bowl with ramekins of lime zest and coconut flakes next to the bowl.

Update: This post was originally published in April 2020. I made updates to the post below to include more information about coconut rice. I also added a recipe video, plus step-by-step photos showing you exactly how easy it is to cook rice in coconut milk at home!

About this easy coconut rice recipe

Coconut milk in rice?! Yes! Absolutely, without-a-doubt, YES! Say hello to your new favorite side dish, friends!

Savory and slightly sweet, this fragrant rice has a very subtle tropical coconut taste! Spiked with aromatic garlic, mellow ginger, fresh lime zest and golden toasted coconut flakes, it’s packed with flavor and amazingly delicious! It’s perfectly tender, beautifully sticky and wonderfully creamy all at the same time! Essentially, it’s everything you never knew you needed in rice!

Plus, this recipe is insanely easy to prepare! With just a few simple ingredients and 15 minutes of active cook time you can prepare rice that is impossible to resist!

Why you’ll love this side dish recipe

  • Easy to find and affordable ingredients: This recipe requires just four simple and affordable ingredients!
  • One pot recipe: This rice is made in just one pot on the stovetop!
  • Quick to prepare: This recipe only requires 5 minutes of hands on preparation! And, with just a few quick and easy steps, you can have the best coconut rice ready and on the table in 35 minutes or less!
  • Rich, tropical flavor: This rice is creamy and bursting with tons of coconut flavor!
  • Double coconut: Double the coconut, double the yum! This rice features not one, but two types of coconut for the best flavor!
  • Easy to customize: You can easily get creative with this flexible recipe! I’ve included a few tasty mix-in and garnishing options to take your rice to the next level of deliciousness!
  • Stores great in the refrigerator or the freezer: Leftovers taste amazing and make the perfect base for lunch grain bowls or a wonderful side for quick heat-and-eat dinners!

What is coconut rice?

Coconut rice, also known as coconut milk rice, is a Thai-style dish prepared by cooking long-grain white rice in coconut milk along with coconut flakes, water (or broth) and aromatics such as garlic and ginger.

Rice with coconut milk is prepared slightly differently than the traditional rice cooking method. Typically, you bring water to a boil and then add the rice. However, for this rice you combine the grains, coconut milk and other ingredients, then bring them to a boil all together. This method produces an extremely flavorful rice with a slightly sticky and creamy texture.

What does it taste like?

Rice cooked in coconut milk is slightly sticky and creamy in texture with a very mild coconut flavor. It is savory and subtly sweet in taste.

Is it sweet?

Ever so slightly! Coconut milk rice has a very faint hint of sweetness. It does not have an overwhelming taste of sweetness, nor does it taste like dessert! While the touch of sugar in the recipe serves to bring out the coconut flavor, you can eliminate it if you prefer no sweetness whatsoever.

Is this vegan?

This recipe can easily be made vegan! To make vegan coconut rice, use coconut sugar instead of granulated sugar. Also, make sure you use vegetable broth or water as opposed to chicken broth.

Keto-friendly?

Unfortunately, this recipe is not keto-friendly. White rice is a starchy food that is high in carbohydrates and should be avoided if you adhere to a ketogenic diet.

Overhead photo of all the ingredients needed to make coconut milk rice neatly organized into individual containers on a light blue wood surface.

What is in coconut milk rice?

Thai-style rice is incredibly simple to make and only requires 7 ingredients. However, it can be made with as little as 4 ingredients if you are in a pinch!

Ingredients you need to make this tropical rice at home

  • Jasmine Rice:  Long-grain Thai jasmine rice is traditionally used in coconut rice. However, you can use basmati or another long-grain white rice if absolutely necessary. (Scroll down to read about the types of rice you can use.)
  • Coconut Milk:  Full-fat coconut milk is highly recommended for the best flavor and richest taste! (Scroll down to read about what kind of coconut milk you should use.)
  • Broth or Water:  I like to use chicken or vegetable broth for rice to add even more flavor. However, you can use water if you would like!
  • Granulated Sugar:  This recipe uses just a touch of granulated sugar (2 1/2 teaspoons) to bring out the coconut flavor. You can use coconut sugar if you need a vegan substitute. Or, you can eliminate the sugar completely if desired, however you will be missing out!

Optional ingredients for a more flavorful rice dish

While all of the below ingredients are entirely optional, each one really does provide something special and make the rice shine!

  • Unsweetened Coconut Flakes:  Finely chopped unsweetened coconut flakes provide an added depth of coconut flavor that really makes this recipe special. I highly suggest you don’t skip this!
  • Garlic:  You can add 1 whole clove of peeled garlic to the rice while it is steaming. You will remove and discard the garlic before serving. The garlic adds a melow, warm flavor to the rice.
  • Ginger: You can add 1/4-inch piece of peeled ginger to the rice as well! The ginger adds a zesty, slightly woody flavor that pairs extremely well with coconut!
  • Cinnamon Stick:  Make sure you use a good-quality cinnamon stick! Aromatic cinnamon adds a unique, very mellow sweet and savory flavor!

Angled, up-close photo of coconut milk in a small glass jar - photo of the main ingredient in the recipe.

FAQs: rice coconut milk

What kind of coconut milk should I used?

You can use either canned coconut milk, or coconut milk found in a carton in the refrigerated section of your grocery store. I prefer the canned variety because it is cheaper, more readily available and does not contain any additional ingredients. Please note that the milk found in cartons is diluted and can contain additional ingredients and/or preservatives!

Also, while you can use either full fat or light coconut milk, I highly recommend full fat for the most flavorful rice!

If using canned coconut milk, be sure to shake the can very well before opening, or stir the coconut milk thoroughly after opening. The coconut cream rises to the top of the can over time, which creates a thick layer that needs to be mixed back into the coconut liquid below.

Angled, up-close photo of uncooked Jasmine rice - photo of the second main ingredient in the recipe.

What type of rice can I use?

You can use any variety of long-grain white rice in this recipe. However, avoid using any specialty variety such as arborio, or any quick-cooking rice such as instant. Those kinds of rice varieties require a completely different ratio of liquid to rice, as well as different cook times.

  • Jasmine Rice:  Jasmine rice is a long-grain rice with a faint natural floral fragrance with a slightly sticky texture. This variety is typically used in coconut milk rice recipes.
  • Basmati Rice:  Basmati rice also works beautifully in this recipe! It is has a light nutty flavor and floral aroma. This variety also has a fluffier texture as it lacks the starch found in jasmine rice.
  • Brown Rice:  For a healthier rice dish, brown jasmine rice can be used. However, you will need to increase the cook time significantly. Instead of steaming the rice for 15 minutes, steam it for 50-60 minutes. Please note, the coconut flavor will be much more subtle if you use brown rice.

Overhead photo of rice cooked in coconut milk in a medium white saucepan with ramekins of lime zest and toasted coconut flakes next to the pan.

How to cook rice in coconut milk?

This flavorful and fragrant rice is so incredibly easy to prepare! This coconut rice recipe only requires a handful of simple ingredients and 15 minutes of active cook time!

How to make rice with coconut milk 

  1. Rinse, soak and drain the rice: Rinse the rice in a fine-mesh strainer with cold water until the water runs clear. Transfer the rice to a small bowl and soak in cool water for 10-15 minutes. Drain rice again.
  2. Combine all ingredients: In a small Dutch oven or medium (3-quart) saucepan, combine the drained rice, coconut milk, broth (or water), coconut flakes, garlic, ginger, sugar and salt. Stir well to thoroughly combine.
  3. Bring to a simmer: Place the pan over medium high heat and bring contents to a rapid simmer without stirring. Once simmering, stir ONCE to combine.
  4. Cover and cook: Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and reduce heat to low. Steam (no peeking!) for 15 minutes.
  5. Rest the rice: Remove the pan from the heat (with the lid still on) and let the rice sit for 10 minutes.
  6. Adjust seasoning: Remove the lid and use a fork to fluff the rice. Remove garlic and ginger and discard.
  7. Serve: Season to taste with toasted coconut, lime zest and fresh herbs if desired.

Step-by-step photos: Making this recipe for coconut rice 

(Scroll down for the detailed measurements and instructions in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page.)

Overhead photo collage of how to make coconut milk rice step by step with written instructions on each step.

Tips for the best coconut rice recipes

Follow these simple tips and you will have perfectly cooked rice every single time!

  • Rinse the rice: Before cooking, make sure you rinse the rice in a fine-mesh sieve. Use cold water and rinse the rice until the water runs relatively clear (Note: The water will never be 100% clear). Rinsing the rice removes excess starch from the surface of each grain and prevents the rice from becoming too sticky and mushy.
  • Soak the rice:  Soaking the rice gives the grains a head start by kick-starting the absorption of water before the rice even starts cooking.
  • Use a mixture of coconut milk + broth:  Do not try to cook the rice in just coconut milk. Coconut milk is too thick and the rice cannot absorb it fully and properly. You must dilute the coconut milk. I prefer to use broth for added flavor, but you can use water!
  • Don’t over-stir:  Stir all the ingredients together well before you place the pot on the stove. Once you start cooking, allow the contents to come to a rapid simmer WITHOUT stirring! Once the ingredients are almost boiling (rapid simmer), stir once and then cover the pot. Stirring too much will result in rice that lacks proper texture. Make sure you just stir once before covering the pot to ensure the coconut milk gets properly distributed and absorbed.
  • Use a pot with a tight-fitting lid:  You will need to cook the rice covered for 15 minutes. It’s imperative you have a lid that actually fits tightly inside your pot.
  • Allow the rice to sit:  After the rice has steamed, covered, over low heat on the stove, remove it from the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes. The residual heat will allow the rice to (slowly) continue to cook through. This creates fully rice with a perfectly cooked texture throughout.

Tips for serving coconut milk with rice

Looking for a new or exciting way to serve your rice? Below are a few unique and authentic ideas, plus some of my family’s favorite ways to enjoy this slightly sticky, tropical rice! 

What goes with rice with coconut?

You will want to eat this rice with everything! While coconut rice is traditionally paired with Thai foods, such as curry, do not limit yourself!

This rice perfectly complements any type of Tropical, Caribbean or Asian cuisine. However, it really does taste incredible with just about any meat or vegetable dish.

10 delicious dishes to eat with coconut rice

  • Spring Rolls or Summer Rolls: Keep things light and easy with chicken rice paper rolls, or crunch-it-up with a side of crispy spring rolls.
  • Beans: Coconut rice is an ideal bed for your favorite bean recipes, like easy Cuban beans, charro beans, and even taco beans.
  • Stir-fries: Scrumptious stir fries are a wonderful quick and easy weeknight option! Hoisin honey beef and zucchini shrimp pasta are my favorite dish to pair with this rice!
  • Vegetable Stir-Fry: Searching for a healthier option? Try serving your favorite vegetable stir fry with coconut milk rice!
  • Jamaican Pork: Looking to take your tastebuds to the tropics? Try pairing your rice with Jamaican pork!
  • Pineapple Sriracha Salmon: Ready to wow? Try pairing spicy, sweet sriracha salmon with coconut rice!
  • Spicy Honey Shrimp: This rice makes the perfect bed for the rich flavors found in sticky shrimp!
  • Poached Food: Prefer milder flavors? Try poaching chicken, poaching shrimp or your favorite fish, such as salmon, tilapia or cod! The delicate flavors will allow this rice to really shine!
  • Curries: Serve sweet and spicy Thai salmon curry with mango salsa over this rice for a vacation-like meal your belly will love!
  • Beef: The mellow flavors of your favorite cuban beef or mongolian beef pair perfectly with this slightly sticky rice!
  • Cumin Chicken: Generously spoon aromatic cumin chicken over a bowl of coconut rice for a meal that is sure to please!

Overhead photo of coconut lime Jasmine rice garnished with fresh lime zest and toasted coconut flakes in a white bowl with a serving spoon inserted into the rice and a ramekin of fresh lime zest next to the bowl.

Storing and freezing leftover rice coconut

Food safety is important when it comes to storage! Follow the simple tips below for properly storing your leftover rice!

Can it keep overnight?

Absolutely! Store leftover rice in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Properly stored, it will keep for up to 5 days.

Can you freeze rice?

Absolutely, coconut milk rice freezes exceptionally well! Freezing is the great way to further extend the shelf-life of your side dish! Follow the simple steps below when freezing to prevent freezer burn!

  • Cool it: Allow your leftover rice to cool completely to room temperature before storing. Since rice is moist – which is a breeding ground for bacteria – you want to cool it as quickly as possible. To quickly cool your leftover rice, try spreading it out on a large baking sheet!
  • Bag it: Transfer the cool rice to a freezer-safe storage bag. Gently press the bag to remove as much as possible before sealing.
  • Store it: Store your leftover rice flat in the freezer – this way it takes up less space and defrosts more quickly!
  • Use by: Cooked coconut rice will keep well in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • To use it: Use the rice straight from your freezer – no need to thaw! (See below for reheating your rice!)

Pro-tip: Pre-portion the rice into 1 cup or 2 cup servings for quicker weeknight meals!

How to use frozen rice?

Use frozen coconut rice straight from the freezer! The rice does not need to be thawed, as thawing can cause the rice to have a gummy texture.

How to reheat this recipe for coconut rice

  • Warm on the stove:  Transfer the frozen rice to a small saucepan. Sprinkle one or two tablespoons of water over the rice. Warm the rice over low to medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Add another tablespoon or two of water as needed to prevent rice from burning or sticking.
  • Warm in the microwave: Transfer rice to a microwave-safe container or bowl. Sprinkle a tablespoon or two of water over the top of the rice. Cover the bowl loosely with microwave-safe plastic wrap or a damp paper towel. Reheat in 1-minute increments at 100% power, stirring in between, until the rice is warmed throughout.
  • Use coconut rice directly in recipes:  Alternatively, you can add frozen coconut rice directly to soups or skillet dinners! Make sure you increase the cook time by 4-5 minutes to allow the grains to reheat!

Angled, up-close photo of coconut milk Jasmine rice garnished with fresh lime zest and toasted coconut flakes in a white bowl with a serving spoon inserted into the rice.

Creamy, sticky and totally crave-worthy, this flavorful Coconut Rice recipe will have you yearning for more!

Until next week, friends, cheers! To stellar side dishes!

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More rice side dishes!

If you love this rice dish, try one of these delicious recipes next:

The best Coconut Rice Recipe👇

Overhead photo of easy coconut rice garnished with toasted coconut flakes and fresh lime zest in a white bowl with a serving spoon inserted into the rice and ramekins of lime zest and coconut flakes next to the bowl.

Easy Coconut Rice recipe

5 from 6 votes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Inactive Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 6
This Easy Coconut Rice recipe is so simple to make and absolutely delicious! It's the perfect recipe for when you want to add something special to the dinner table without any extra effort or fuss! Tired of boring and bland sides? Look no further than this craveworthy rice!
Recipe can be scaled up or down by using the slider if you hover your mouse over the number of Servings.

Equipment

  • Fine-Mesh Strainer
  • Medium Bowl
  • Medium Saucepan (3-quart)

Ingredients 

  • 2 Cups Jasmine Rice (or Basmati) – uncooked
  • 1 (13.5 ounce) can Coconut Milk – shaken or stirred well (Full Fat or Light)
  • 2/3 Cup Chicken or Vegetable Broth (or Water)
  • 3 TBS Dried Unsweetened Coconut Flakes – finely chopped
  • 1 clove Garlic – smashed & peeled
  • ¼- inch Fresh Ginger - peeled
  • 2 ½ tsp Granulated Sugar
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • Optional Garnish: Toasted Finely Chopped Coconut (SEE NOTES), Lime Zest, Lime Wedges, Cilantro or Scallions, Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

Instructions

  • Rinse, soak and drain rice: Rinse the rice in a fine-mesh strainer with cold water until the water runs clear. Transfer the rice to a small bowl and soak in cool water for 10-15 minutes. Drain rice again.
  • Combine all ingredients: In a small Dutch oven or medium (3-quart) saucepan, combine the drained rice, coconut milk, broth (or water), coconut flakes, garlic, ginger, sugar and salt. Stir well to thoroughly combine.
  • Bring to a simmer: Place the pan over medium high heat and bring contents to a rapid simmer without stirring. Once simmering, stir ONCE to combine.
  • Cover and cook: Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and reduce heat to low. Gently simmer (no peeking!) for 15 minutes.
  • Rest: Remove the pan from the heat (with the lid still on) and let the rice sit and steam for 10 minutes.
  • Adjust seasoning: Remove the lid and use a fork to fluff the rice. Remove garlic and ginger and discard.
  • Serve: Season to taste with toasted coconut, lime zest and fresh herbs if desired. (SEE NOTES)
    Storage: Store leftover rice in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Video

Notes

  1. To toast coconut flakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spread unsweetened coconut flakes out in a single, thin layer on prepared baking sheet. Bake, removing the pan from oven and stirring every 1 ½-2 minutes, for a total of 4-6 minutes or until coconut flakes are golden brown and toasted.
  2. For the most flavorful rice: I highly suggest topping your rice with at least toasted coconut flakes and fresh lime zest!  Those two additions will really take your rice to the next level of yum!
Nutritional information is an approximation based upon 6 servings.  Exact nutritional information will depend upon the brands used and precise measurements.

Nutrition

Calories: 118kcal    Carbohydrates: 60g    Protein: 1g    Fat: 3g    Saturated Fat: 2g    Sodium: 13mg    Fiber: 1g    Sugar: 1g

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