Dairy-Free Coconut Rice Pudding

June 2, 2014

Dairy-Free Coconut Rice Pudding recipe | One Hungry Mama

I’ve been craving rice pudding for a long while now—the kind my yiayia used to make. I remember her standing by the stove, a big pot of rice and milk simmering in front of her, with only sugar, a cinnamon stick, and lemon peed added. The rice pudding she scooped out of that pot when she was done was perfection. Sweet, creamy perfection.

And oh so wrong for someone who, like the hungry boy, has a hard time tolerating dairy.

Though he eats dairy from time to time now—sometimes with consequences, other times without (a mystery), and always with Lactaid—I still avoid desserts like rice pudding that are squarely centered on dairy. I mean, dairy is sort of the point of rice pudding.

I’ve known that I can make a good rice pudding using a dairy alternative like coconut or nut milk, but I just didn’t believe that it could be as delicious as my grandmother’s recipe. It would be something else: delicious but different. And since I didn’t want different, I just avoided rice pudding all together. Until now. I couldn’t hold out longer.

Determined to put a nagging craving to rest, I broke out a can of coconut milk and went to work creating a dairy-free rice pudding. It wouldn’t be as good, I told myself, but it might satisfy, especially if I kept myself from expecting something as good as what yiayia made.

Little did I realize.

Diary-Free Coconut Rice Pudding | One Hungry Mama

This dairy-free rice pudding is some of the best rice pudding I’ve ever had. No joke. There’s a little bit of a catch, though.

The ingredient that makes this rice pudding so decadent and delectable is cream of coconut. The sweetened kind that makes your pina colada so tasty, as in Coco Lopez.

Unsweetened cream of coconut is to coconut milk what condensed milk is to fresh milk. The sweetened kind is akin to sweetened condensed milk. It give a strong, sweet coconut flavor that’s very hard to replicate using sugar and regular coconut milk, or even unsweetened coconut cream. I barely use sweetened cream of coconut—really only for drinks like this coquito—but, when I want it, I haven’t found anything else that works. (If you have, please let me know!)

So what’s the problem? Well, the ingredients list is far from ideal and contains controversial polysorbate 60. Cream of coconut is not something that you want to have on hand, but once a year, or some such, won’t kill you. And since I don’t drink pina coladas, this pudding is my once-in-a-while cream of coconut indulgence. But, honestly, I don’t blame you if you want to skip it—and this recipe—all together.

If you’re with me, though, this is quite a treat. I served it with raspberries and chopped pecans, but mango and/or pineapple and macadamia nuts would be killer, too. I think that’s how I’ll do when I make this next, in 6 months…. with a drink umbrella, just because.

Dairy-Free Coconut Rice Pudding
(Can be shared with kids 24+ mos)*
Serves 6-8

3 cups water
1 cup short grain rice (sushi or aborio)
5 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
Peel of 1/2 lemon
3/4 cup sweetened cream of coconut (such as Coco Lopez or Goya Coco)
3/4 cup coconut milk
Ground cinnamon, for garnish

1. Add water, rice, cloves, cinnamon stick, and lemon peel to a medium pot and set over medium-high heat. Bring the water to a boil, stir to ensure that the rice isn’t sticking to the bottom, and reduce heat to medium. Allow a strong simmer until the rice is cooked and the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

2. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cream of coconut. Add the coconut milk slowly, stirring all the while, until the rice takes on a desired consistency. You may need a little more or less than the amount called for. Pull out the cloves, cinnamon stick and lemon peel and allow to cool before serving with cinnamon sprinkled on top. Fresh fruit is also a great accompaniment.

*Note: This is best saved for older children due to the high sugar content and also the fact that cream of coconut is not a pure ingredient. In fact, I might consider saving this for even bigger kids! No matter how old your eaters, be sure to serve an age appropriate portion. A little bit of this sweet treat goes a long way for, even for grown ups.

6 Responses

  1. Zanne says:

    I made this without the polysorbate 60 chemical mess, and it turned out wonderful!
    I followed your recipe, with the following changes: I used long grain brown rice, ground cloves, and ground cinnamon. No lemon; no chemical-laden cream of coconut. I made coconut milk with 3/4 c coconut and 3/4 c water, VitaMixed.
    The rice with cloves and cinnamon smelled wonderful while simmering! Added coconut milk plus a little extra water from rinsing the VitaMix. Stirred in less than 1/4 c honey. Served hot out of the pot. OMG good! Thank you for a great recipe! Now chemical free, as it should be!

  2. One Hungry Mama says:

    Zanne: Thank you so much for sharing your changes! I LOVE it and can’t wait to make your version. Woo hoo!

  3. Lisa says:

    Zanne! How horrible of you. I thought of making similar changes as well but could never so blatantly unfriendly. I’m thankful for the dairy free effort and wonderful spice ideas this place offered me. I take that with gratitude and will try to avoid the sugar and the chemicals. Thank you and blessings to all!

  4. One Hungry Mama says:

    Lisa, you’re so kind! I totally get where Zanne is coming from and, in fact, cringe at this recipe myself. Ha! That said, I had it on hand (to make traditional coquito, a Puerto Rican egg nog) and given that we almost never eat such things, I figured this was as good a way as any to use it up. After all, at the end of the day, though I always do what I can to avoid chemicals in my food, I try not too worked up. And I can’t lie: this pudding is totally delicious as written. That said, it SHOULD be worked over b/c there’s no way that an all natural version can’t be equally delicious (or more!).

    I’m glad that this gave you a jumping off point and am happy that you will avoid the sugar and chemicals!

  5. bestcerts says:

    Loove the layout. Is it a premium theme?

  6. Valerie says:

    Hi all,
    I just made this for my family and used Organic Heavy Coconut Cream from a company called “Let’s Do…Organic.” The ingredients list on the can: Organic Coconut and Filtered water. Not sure I understand the issue mentioned in the comments above. I’m perfectly happy to serve this to everyone! It is as good as One Hungry Mama promised it would be!

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