How to Make Coconut Rice

Coconut Rice with a sprig of cilantro

How to Make Coconut Rice ~ coconut rice is rich and creamy with a subtle tropical flavor that is so much more than a side dish for chicken or fish. It instantly upgrades stir frys, rice bowls, and curries. Kids love it plain, and it’s good for them!

how to make coconut rice pin

This creamy, tropical rice is subtly flavored and has a dreamy texture ~ it’s wonderful with Asian and Southeast Asian foods, as well as Hawaiian and Polynesian recipes. It’s definitely something you want to have in your recipe file, in fact, why not memorize it, because after you’ve tasted it you’ll want to use it all the time. (I always have a couple of cans of coconut milk and a bag of jasmine rice in my cupboard.)

What is coconut rice?

  • Coconut rice is rice, either brown or white, that is cooked in a combination of water and coconut milk.

Coconut Rice with a sprig of cilantro

What does coconut rice taste like?

  • You might be surprised to learn that coconut rice has a very subtle flavor, and it doesn’t taste like dessert!
  • A dash of salt and a touch of sugar serves to bring out the coconut flavor, but it’s still a background note.
  • Coconut rice will not overpower or compete with whatever you serve it with.
  • Coconut rice has a very appealing moist creamy texture which is just as important as the flavor.

I use Jasmine rice for this recipe

  • You can use your favorite white or brown rice, but I use jasmine rice.  Jasmine rice is a long grain rice with a natural floral fragrance that I love. Jasmine rice can be used like any white rice, but it’s especially lovely in Thai, Chinese, and Vietnamese dishes. Basmati rice is also perfect for making coconut rice.

Jasmine rice

Canned coconut milk is a pantry staple

  • I use unsweetened, full fat coconut milk for the best flavor, but if you’re cutting calories you can use the lite version. Coconut milk is a staple in my kitchen because it works in both sweet and savory dishes; I’ll can use it in everything from Coconut Rice Pudding to Thai Coconut Lime Soup. Shake the can first before using.

Thai Coconut Milk

How to make coconut rice

Making coconut rice is easy, you’ll cook it just like regular rice, except that some of the cooking water will be replaced with coconut milk. As the rice cooks it absorbs the rich coconut milk.

  • Measure out your rice and put into a pot.
  • Take the amount of water your package or recipe requires, and replace at least half of it with coconut milk. You can use more or less depending on your taste. Be sure to shake your can of coconut milk to blend the water and coconut fat together.
  • Add a pinch of salt and a touch of sugar to bring out the coconut flavor.
  • Cook as usual.

Is coconut rice healthy?

  • Yes! Many people are surprised to learn that coconut milk is quite healthy and can add to the nutrient value of already healthy rice.
  • The saturated fat in coconut milk does not seem to raise bad cholesterol levels and it can help raise the good kind.
  • Coconut milk has been shown to help in weight loss, and regulating insulin levels.

Coconut Rice in a bowl with cilantro and lime

Garnishes for coconut rice

  • sliced or chopped jalapeño peppers
  • chopped cilantro
  • toasted coconut
  • lime wedges
  • sliced green onions
coconut rice in a small floral bowl
3.79 from 78 votes

How to Make Coconut Rice

Coconut rice is rich and creamy with a subtle tropical flavor that instantly upgrades stir frys, rice bowls, and curries. Serve it as a side with chicken or fish too.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Asian
Cook Time 15 minutes
Yield 6 servings
Author Sue Moran


  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked jasmine rice
  • 15- ounce can of unsweetened full fat coconut milk you can use the lite version
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt more to taste


  • Put all the ingredients in a heavy bottom saucepan and give it a good stir. Heat to a boil over medium high heat, stirring often to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • Once the rice comes to a boil, give it a final stir, turn the heat to very low, cover, and let cook for 15 minutes.
  • Fluff, and serve.

Cook's notes

Coconut rice is not suitable for the Instant Pot because coconut milk can clog the pressure vent.
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

What to serve with coconut rice


You Might Also Like


    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    November 3, 2020 at 11:31 am

    Are the ingredient ratios the same if using Basmati rice instead. TIA!

  • Reply
    Yvette Skalka
    August 27, 2020 at 12:38 pm

    5 stars
    Thanks for the recipe! Everyone loved it with BBQ pork chops & grilled lime shrimp. (Surf -N-Pork…lol)
    Will be making again. Very subtle flavoring. I doubled the recipe, delicious!

  • Reply
    June 28, 2020 at 2:40 am

    5 stars
    Made this rice last night. It was a hit! Everyone loved it. I used basmati rice instead. I topped it with cilantro. Yum. Definitely will make again.

  • Reply
    May 28, 2020 at 1:10 pm

    If I make this in a rice cooker do I need to change any of the amounts?

    • Reply
      May 28, 2020 at 1:33 pm

      I can’t say exactly Howard, I would follow your machine’s instructions for that, but you should be able to do this in your rice cooker.

  • Reply
    May 16, 2020 at 6:03 pm

    I am trying coconut rice for the first time. But there is a lot of fat in the regular can of coconut regular milk. I guess I should’ve gotten the light one? Will it be too thick, I’m wondering even with adding the water?

    • Reply
      May 16, 2020 at 6:18 pm

      I find it works great Michele, but you can use the lite if you prefer.

  • Reply
    October 24, 2019 at 1:02 pm

    I know you said you can’t use an instant pot, but can I make this in a rice cooker?

    • Reply
      October 24, 2019 at 2:23 pm

      The rice cooker should work fine, and since your original question I’ve learned that you can make this in the Instant Pot, I’m going to update the post asap.

  • Reply
    June 13, 2019 at 2:58 pm

    Can I use coconut cream instead of milk?

    • Reply
      June 13, 2019 at 3:52 pm

      I thought about that, and yes, you could, but you’d want to thin it down with water, and be sure to look for the pure, unsweetened cream, some of it is sold with lots of additives for cocktails.

  • Reply
    June 12, 2019 at 11:45 am

    I’ve always wanted to try coconut rice but never have. I even have a can of coconut milk so I’m ready. What a great detailed post. Is the rice overly moist when done cooking? Thanks!

    • Reply
      June 12, 2019 at 2:09 pm

      Hey Tricia ~ the rice is moist but not overly so, the grains are still separate, as you can see in the photo.

Sharing is Caring

Help spread the word. You're awesome for doing it!

Grab my latest e-book

for free!

Subscribe to get first dibs on all my new recipes, plus extra subscriber only benefits!


You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please visit our website.

You have Successfully Subscribed!